Implications of Space Station Privatization: Policy and Planning Ahead

When: Thursday, April 26, 2018

Time: 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Where: University of Colorado Boulder Boulder, CO

On Thursday, April 26th, 2018, Secure World Foundation, the University of Colorado Boulder AeroSpace Ventures, and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade hosted an evening panel discussion and networking reception from 5:30pm to 7:30pm on “Implications of Space Station Privatization: Policy and Planning Ahead” in Boulder, CO.

It has been a stated goal of the U.S. National Space Policy to “purchase and use commercial space capabilities and services to the maximum practical extent.” In a number of low Earth orbit (LEO) applications, new commercial capabilities are advancing to the point where their use to serve governmental needs are becoming increasingly viable. One such area is the microgravity research platform capability currently provided by the International Space Station (ISS).

In its FY2019 budget proposal, the Trump Administration proposed ending NASA funding for ISS operations in 2025 and transferring operations of the facility to the private sector. In response Senators Nelson (D-Florida) and Cruz (R-Texas) have suggested such a transition might be premature and any decision should be driven by the needs of industry and of the national space program. Concurrently, several private companies in the U.S. are developing plans to field smaller privately-operated space station platforms.

Any future of commercial development and national space exploration policy will involve ending governmental support of the ISS, and how—if at all—to use that facility moving forward. This panel session was intended to discuss a number of policy questions and issues that must be explored in planning for that transition including: relationships with international partners, impact to national and local aerospace industry development, impact to academia and its ability to conduct microgravity research, the regulatory context for privately-operated space stations, questions related to return on investment of public funds, and timing and process for capabilities transition; among other topics.

Refreshments were provided. 

Introductory remarks:

  • Abby Benson, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation and Industry Collaboration; Executive Director of AeroSpace Ventures at University of Colorado Boulder
  • Jay Lindell, Major General (Ret), USAF, Aerospace and Defense Industry Champion at Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade  


  • Louis Stodieck, PhD, Center Director, BioServe Space Technologies

  • Jack Burns, PhD, Director and Principal Investigator, Network for Exploration and Space Science, University of Colorado Boulder

  • Melissa Sampson, PhD, Advanced Programs, United Launch Alliance

Moderator: Ian Christensen, Director of Private Sector Programs, Secure World Foundation

For further information, please contact SWF Director of Private Sector Programs, Ian Christensen.

Last updated on May 2, 2018