What is it about Seattle that’s led some folks to call it the “Silicon Valley of space,”and how far can space entrepreneurs go in the next 20 years? One of the panels at Friday’s Xconomy Seattle 2035 conference tackled those questions – and added a couple of shorter-term predictions as well.
Jason Andrews, the CEO of Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc., listed three reasons why Seattle is up there with Southern California, Silicon Valley, Texas and Florida’s Space Coast when it comes to commercial spaceflight.
First, there’s access to software developers: Space operations have become much more computerized, and that means space-minded entrepreneurs can draw upon the talent fostered by Microsoft, Amazon and other tech titans.
That was a big factor behind SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s decision to set up an engineering campus in Seattle. (“A lot of you guys don’t seem to want to move to L.A.,” he told his Seattle prospects during a January visit.) It’s also a factor behind the shift of Spaceflight’s HQ from Tukwila to Seattle’s Westlake Avenue. (Andrews joked that Musk “went a thousand miles … I went 15.”)
When it comes to engineering talent, the leading role that Boeing has played over the past 99 years has to count as a huge boost to Seattle’s stature in aerospace.
Second, there’s access to the experts on big data. The next generation of small satellites, including the constellation due to be put into orbit by Andrews’ BlackSky Global venture, will be sending down huge volumes of data. In BlackSky Global’s case, that takes the form of ...