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Science

Group Gathers in Austin to Talk Private Space Business

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The cancellation of government-backed space missions is sparking a private industry push into skies over Texas.

From Texas Standard:

When you think of space, what do you see? Planets, stars, maybe a satellite or a shuttle? Well, some business people are seeing green. A group of space entrepreneurs is meeting in Austin this week to lay the framework for how Texas could be the launch pad for the private space industry.

The event is called Space ATX. Its director, Gary Cadenhead, also runs the Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization program at UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business. Cadenhead says now is the perfect time for companies to look skyward.

“Since NASA is no longer playing the major role it was, there have been a number of companies launched which are commercializing the ‘new space industry,’ if you will,” Cadenhead says.

But how easy is it to make money in space? It costs quite a bit to get traditional gear out there. But Cadenhead says the space economy works just like the earthbound economy: Start at the nano-level. The buzz right now is all about micro-satellites, commercial space travel and asteroid mining.

Of course, it all begins with people. Barton Ballfrass is the founder of Fathom Academy, a private space training company.

“We need laymen, blue collar workers – and a workforce of them, to start enabling all the things we're talking about,” Ballfrass says. “It’s all really cool, only if you have men.”

Ballfrass is betting that, like any new industry, there will be challenges like bad ideas and bad investments, but he says those are the building blocks to a new frontier.

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