Booming and Competitive: Vandenberg hosts 2nd Annual Assured Access to Space Industry Days Forum

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Quijas
  • Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

A new, exciting age in Space has begun, with established companies such as NASA, SpaceX, and the United Launch Alliance staking their claim in the space launch industry. And in this new age, comes competition, with companies emerging through the woodworks to throw their hat into the ring.

On September 15 and 16, Vandenberg Space Force Base held the second annual Assured Access to Space (AATS) Industry Days Forum where senior military leaders, intelligence officials, government leaders, academia, and launch service and solution providers gathered in-person and virtually to discuss activities and policies that will bolster the development of the space domain.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Devon T. Christensen, chief of range policy and integration, spoke on who attended the forum, and what they can bring to the table.

“We had current launch providers, such as SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance who are very well versed in launching with the government and have been for years,” said Christensen. “Then there are emerging launch service providers such as Relativity, Astra, and Firefly for example, and some of these up-and-coming companies are trying to push the boundaries, using carbon fiber and 3D printed rockets.”

The space industry, however, is not limited to putting payloads into orbit. A host of companies that provide cybersecurity and system engineering support attended the event. These companies play a vital role by handing the logistical side of the AATS enterprise.

Mr. Mark D. Bontrager, Space Systems Command technical director, spoke on the importance of relationships with these industry partners.

“Our nation needs assured access to space, and the most effective way to ensure that access, is through a partnership with industry,” said Bontrager. “Forums like this provide an environment for information flow, as we need to have industry and government pulling in the same direction.”

Bontrager also cites how vital the state of California is to industry, and to Vandenberg, as it is home to the Western Range.

“One very valuable part of this conference is the participation by the state of California and the local economic development community,” said Bontrager. “They bring a capability that will energize the industry and allows it to grow and thrive to support the Vandenberg mission.”

The AATS Industry forum allowed launch and range stakeholders from government and industry to receive and discuss opportunities and solutions on topics including current and future business, technical, and operational plans and practices on both the Western and Eastern Ranges.