opce spacebusiness


April 21 - 23, 2024

The University of Alabama in Huntsville // Huntsville, AL

The Business of Space Conference brings together top academics, business leaders, innovators, and policy influencers working on the new space economy. Our lineup of distinguished speakers includes key contributors to The Oxford Handbook of the 'New' Space Economy, edited by Anthony P. D'Costa. Engage in two days of curated sessions featuring keynote presentations and interactions between researchers and space economy industry stakeholders. The discussions and deliberations are designed to provide not only the state of knowledge on the new space economy but also shape the course of future academic and policy research.



National Space Club Members

Space Club Rate

Register by April 18.
Verification Required

Deadline Extended:

We are extending the registration deadline through April 18th exclusively for National Space Club Members!
Not a member? Join here.

Keynote Speakers


opce spacebusiness matthewweinzier

Matthew C. Weinzierl, Ph.D.

Senior Associate Dean and Chair of the MBA Program at Harvard Business School; Professor of Business Administration; Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research

Learn more »

opce spacebusiness tinahighfill copy

Tina Highfill, Ph.D.

Senior Research Economist at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Learn more »

Lunch Speakers


Todd May, Ph.D.

Todd May, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, KBR Science and Space (S&S) Unit

Learn more »

Hank Alewine, Ph.D.

Hank Alewine, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Accounting at The University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Business

Learn more »

Additional Speakers




Sunday, April 21

AC Hotel // Downtown Huntsville
Jason Greene, Ph.D. // Welcome

Enjoy drinks and hors d'oeuvres while networking with leading academics, business leaders, innovators, and policy influencers working on the new space economy.

Monday, April 22

Shuttle Schedule

The conference will be held at the UAH Student Services Building. If you are staying at the AC hotel, please meet in front of the hotel starting at 7:20 a.m. for free transportation to the UAH campus. The shuttle will run continuously until 8:30 a.m.

Charles L. Karr, Ph.D. // President, The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Welcome to the Inaugural 2024 Business of Space Conference.

Anthony P. D'Costa // Conference Emcee

Matthew C. Weinzierl, Ph.D. // The Revolution in the Roles of Public and Private Actors in Space Since 2000

The roles of states and the market—of governments and businesses—in human space activities changed dramatically over the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Behind that shift was a maturation in the use to which humans sought to put space: from the start of the space age in the 1960s through roughly 2000, space was primarily a frontier to be explored and dominated; by 2020, it was rapidly becoming the site of an economy to be developed. The strengths of governments made them the natural drivers of space activity early on, while their weaknesses necessitated an increased role for businesses as ambitions for space evolved. But governments’ roles in space have not so much diminished as changed. Just as states and markets are inextricably linked in terrestrial economies, so too must they be in a space-based economy, with their respective strengths and weaknesses defining the complementary roles they play. We will explore the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contracts of the mid-2000s (and their descendant programs of the early 2010s), the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, and NASA’s Commercial LEO Development program of the 2020s. Along the way, we will touch on some concepts developed by economists to help structure our thinking about the roles of states and markets in terrestrial economies.

Greg Autry, Ph.D. // Entrepreneurship and Commercialization in the New Space Economy

The New Space Economy has been defined by a process of commercial disruption of existing governmental-led space activities. We will examine the role of entrepreneurial activity in that process. There are many parallels between New Space and previous disruptive technology cycles, including the Personal Computer and Internet. There are also unique aspects of the space domain that complicate entrepreneurial endeavors including larger capitalization requirements, outsized dependence on governmental customers, safety regulations, national security interests, and geopolitical concerns. These unique aspects are viewed through a historical lens. The analysis suggests that challenges with financing and governmental influence repeatedly delayed commercialization attempts within the industry and stymied early entrepreneurial endeavors. Significant adaptation, away from the traditional model, was required for entrepreneurial success. Successful New Space entrepreneurs redefined the traditional relationships between the entrepreneur, investors, and the customers. Incumbent firms also looked to adapt their models, with varying degrees of success. We will compare the New Space Economy “investment bubble” and “hype cycle” to previous tech industries. This analysis indicates that macroeconomic conditions have induced an early correction in the New Space economy, vs. previous technology industries. The uncertain results of this premature cooling offer a rich opportunity for future research.

Enjoy a cup of coffee and connect with industry stakeholders.

Presenter: Nodir Adilov, Ph.D. // The Economics of the Satellite Launch Industry
Discussant: Mike Bender

The international market structure of the launch industry has undergone significant changes over the past six decades, transforming from a stable duopoly (United States and Soviet Union) prior to the 1990s, to an oligopoly dominated by the United States, the EU, China, and Russia, since then. Recent trends in the industry show a rapid growth in the number of total launches (as well as the ratio of objects per launch), indicating increased launch frequency and greater international participation. A significant industry development is the deployment of mega-constellations of satellites, with companies like SpaceX innovating reusable launch vehicles and the capacity to deploy numerous satellites per launch.

Launch costs are subject to economies of scale, and per-unit launch costs are critical for profitability. Historically, launch costs have been opaque, but studies suggest that average costs have decreased substantially since the beginning of the 21st century, with a more substantial cost reduction for commercial launches relative to non-commercial launches. The decline in average satellite mass has also contributed to lower launch costs per satellite. A challenge for small satellite launchers in the industry is the "chicken-or-egg" dilemma, where high initial investments in new technologies require consistent future demand to justify the costs.

Ward Hanson, Ph.D. // Space Economy and the Internet

The composition of low earth orbit (LEO) activity has changed dramatically in the past decade. Since 2015, commercial communication satellites have dominated LEO satellite launches. Internet access is the driving force for this rapid expansion. We will highlight the economic forces pushing this growth, the externalities from the burgeoning activity, and the potential impacts of these LEO-based Internet capabilities on terrestrial economies.

As with all new products and services, success requires sufficient demand. Early LEO efforts such as Iridium failed the basic market demand requirement of providing sufficient value for the money given terrestrial alternatives. More than three decades of experience regarding consumer and business demand for Internet services exist. We will look at the probable global demand for LEO-based Internet constellations.

After, we will explore the other half of the economics of LEO-based Internet, i.e. the physics and economic factors shaping supply. These factors include the ongoing improvement in electronics components, the market structure of firms creating the LEO constellations, the role of spectrum, the rationing effects of risk and interest rates, and the role of both private and public financing.

Last, we will consider how the dramatic expansion of LEO activity creates multiple externalities, some obvious and some emergent. Positive externalities include economic development in regions previously cut off from the modern telecommunications network. Negative externalities include debris and astronomical interference, with various mitigation possibilities. More ambiguous impacts include dual-use capabilities of the new systems, antitrust and other policy concerns from a dominant provider, and potential impacts on local cultures and norms.

Speaker: Todd May, Ph.D. // The Dangers and Promise of Space
Discussant: jason Greene, Ph.D.

Space truly is the final frontier. It is a vast expanse waiting to be discovered, at once both fully of beauty and promise, and simultaneously dangerous. Since the dawn of humankind, it has drawn our imagination and our eye. It holds our planet in its orbit and provides sustenance through the sun, and yet, it also holds extinction event level power. What shall we make of it then? Shall we fear it, explore it, conquer it? This talk examines the possibilities in light of the current state of world affairs, with a fresh look.

Connect with industry stakeholders.

Presenter: R.J. Briggs, Ph.D. // Satellites, Space Debris, and Orbital Management: Economics and Policy
Discussant: Sarah Georgin, Ph.D.

In the 66 years since Sputnik, humanity has launched an estimated 15,880 satellites into orbit. Over half these satellites (~8,600) remain active, and we continue to launch more into space every year. Satellites are at risk of collision with each other as well as collision with other space debris. As the number of satellites and debris increases, so does the risk of collision. The risk is therefore cascading in nature: a set of small incidents can accumulate to lead to a catastrophe that damages or destroys many satellites and renders some orbital regions too polluted for use. We will build a foundation for understanding this issue as a common management problem. Beginning by defining orbitals more carefully and providing some information and facts about their use, we will then discuss orbitals in terms of the economic principles of rivalry and excludability, which are critical for understanding the commons problem and provide a framework for valuing the issue and finding workable policy solutions. The economic literature on satellites and space debris estimates the costs associated with the space debris problem and develops some solutions in detail: we summarize the relevant findings. We will conclude by describing the current state of policy for orbital management, identifying the forms of solutions so far attempted, their advantages and drawbacks, and potential alternatives.

Colonel Todd J. Benson // U.S. Space Force Commercial Space Strategy
Discussant: Hank Alewine, Ph.D.

The Space Force released its Commercial Space Strategy April 10, which details how the service is retooling processes and cultivating commercial partnerships to increase U.S. competitive advantage. The Commercial Space strategy aligns with the Department of Defense Commercial Space Integration Strategy released on April 2. The strategy signals a fundamental mindset shift for the Space Force and how it supports the Joint force; the service will institutionalize and operationalize commercial capabilities by integrating space goods, services, and activities.

The Space Force will implement four lines of effort to achieve this strategy: (1) Collaborative Transparency; (2) Operational and Technical Integration; (3) Risk Management; and (4) Secure the Future. Priority mission areas for new commercial integration are Tactical Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Tracking; Space-Based Environmental Monitoring; Positioning, Navigation, and Timing; and Space Access, Mobility and Logistics; as well as the continued integration of commercial capabilities into mature mission areas like Satellite Communication, Launch, and Space Domain Awareness. The Space Force will use four criteria, in line with DoD policy and guidelines, to inform decision-making related to utilizing commercial space solutions: (1) Operational Utility; (2) Feasibility; (3) Resilience by Design; and (4) Speed to Fielding. Space Force support to combatant commanders relies on the ability to operate in space freely, effectively and with certainty. The pacing challenge is moving aggressively to challenge U.S.’ space supremacy and the ability to operate there – partnering with industry under Commercial Space Strategy guidance will enhance national security and fortify capabilities.

Read the article here.

Enjoy a cup of coffee and connect with industry stakeholders.

Shawn Kantor, Ph.D. // The Economic Legacy of the Space Race in the United States

Did the Cold War-era Space Race stimulate sustained technological progress and catalyze job creation and new industries? The impact of NASA’s research and expenditures, especially on the widely touted Moonshot, on manufacturing, employment, and the broader economy remains ambiguous. This chapter aims to contribute empirical evidence to describe the legacy of the Space Race, examining whether NASA’s expenditures resulted in broad-based, positive economic spillovers and whether the effects on the economy were enduring or transitory. We argue that public R&D conducted by NASA contractors increased manufacturing value added, employment, and capital accumulation in the narrow set of industries and places that received space-related funding. Such benefits did not spill over to non-space industries. We also show that patent innovators moved to opportunity created by the space mission in certain places, but this countervailing negative economic effect on neighboring areas was not sufficient to generate a wedge between local and national effects. The iconic Moonshot R&D program had meaningful economic effects for both the local and national space related sectors, but the magnitude of the effect was no different from other types of government expenditure programs.

Jason Greene, Ph.D. // Dean, UAH College of Business

Thank you for joining us at the 2024 Business of Space Conference.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center // Explore on Your Own

Attendees are eligible for a discounted rate to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Transportation is not provided.

See details below

Shuttle Schedule

The shuttle will transport participants to the hotel. Please meet in front of UAH SSB at 3:00 p.m. for free transportation.


Tuesday, April 23

Welcome to Day Two of the Inaugural 2024 Business of Space Conference,

Tina Highfill, Ph.D. // Concepts and Methodologies in Measuring the U.S. Space Economy

An accurate understanding of the size and composition of the space economy is necessary to support effective policymaking and business decisions. Measuring the space economy involves many factors, including defining the scope of the economic production attributed to space-related activities and obtaining data sources to support the chosen definition. There currently exists many different ways to measure the space economy including using input-output tables, using public financial reports, and surveying companies directly. Various metrics to quantify the space economy also exist, such as revenue, output, value added, and employment. We will review the various concepts and methods used to measure the space economy from official statistical agencies, international space agencies, private industry groups, research institutes, and academia. The strengths and weaknesses of the differing approaches are discussed, along with suggestions for improvement and a discussion about the possibilities for converging on a common framework to measure the space economy.

Presenter: Akhil Rao, Ph.D. // The Economics of Space Development
Discussant: Bruce Morris, Ph.D.

Water ice on the Moon is the closest extra-terrestrial source of spacecraft propellant. Lunar-derived propellant can thus be a valuable resource for space exploration and development, with orbital satellites a potential near-term market. While rocket launches to develop orbital and lunar infrastructure impose environmental damages on Earth, satellites can also mitigate drivers and consequences of climate change. Lunar propellant may also reduce the need for rocket launches to replenish satellite fleets and reduce orbital collision risk, offsetting some of their initial environmental impact. The economic development of outer space in the coming century and its effects on human welfare therefore depend on how markets invest in satellites and lunar mining, and how governments intervene to shape cislunar development for humanity’s benefit. To answer these questions, we develop an economic theory of cislunar development involving lunar ice mining and satellite propellant demands, terrestrial capital investments, and environmental externalities. While space development can improve human welfare on Earth and may necessitate government support, it may also harm welfare and necessitate regulation. We describe the structure of welfare-enhancing space development policies and their implications for climate change and orbital sustainability, terrestrial inequality, and human expansion into the solar system.

Enjoy a cup of coffee and connect with industry stakeholders.

Jeffrey Wagner, Ph.D. // The Economics of Sustainable Space Waste Management

Increased commercial activities in low Earth orbit and beyond require the design and implementation of sustainable waste management strategies. We will focus upon the economic opportunities and challenges firms and regulators navigate when formulating such strategies. Beginning with the economics of terrestrial sustainable waste management and then looking at how it extends to the extraterrestrial domain, focusing on two promising debris control policies with emphasis on their feasibility within the current regional political economic infrastructure. First, a satellite debris cap and trade approach with free initial allocation of debris permits to founding members with the U.S. seems promising within the existing FCC mandate. The incentive to be a ‘founding’ member is the windfall of valuable tradeable permits, just as occurred with the set-up of the U.S. sulfur dioxide permit market. The US FCC also seems able to attach debris permit policy to any satellite operator outside the US seeking access to the US satellite communication market. Second, there may be ways of further incentivizing robust sharing of satellite design/operation information and debris take-back effort via facilitation of intellectual property licensing and cooperative R&D arrangements. We will conclude with suggestions for future research.

Presenter: Ken Davidian, Ph.D. // New Space Industry Research Emergence
Discussant: Christine Kretz

Delve into the intricacies of variance and process research methods in the context of industry emergence research. Emphasis is on the importance of employing both research methodologies to gain a comprehensive understanding of industry emergence phenomena. Variance research methods are described as adopting a positivist research philosophy, relying heavily on data identified through indices and metrics calculation. These methods utilize mathematical functions to calculate dependent variables from independent variables, predominantly using linear models amenable to statistical analyses like regression and variation analyses. Variance research is noted for its wide adoption in academia and practice, though it operates under certain assumptions about the entities being studied.

These entities are assumed to have a fixed set of characteristics that vary over time, necessitating the inclusion of these characteristics as independent variables to adequately model the phenomenon. On the other hand, process research methods focus on understanding how events lead to outcomes, providing a narrative of the sequence and timing of events. This approach is crucial for studying phenomena that are not constant and change as a result of the research, a scenario often encountered in social sciences and human behavior studies. We will focus on the need for multiple research perspectives, highlighting that both variance and process research methodologies contribute valuable insights to organizational change studies. It draws an analogy with the story of the blind men and the elephant, suggesting that a complete understanding of industry changes requires multiple perspectives, akin to how different individuals provide varied descriptions of an elephant based on the part they touch.

In conclusion, we must push for an increased emphasis on process research activities, particularly in the space sector where variance research methods predominate. It provides a detailed example from the suborbital tourism industry to illustrate the benefits of industry emergence process research, ultimately advocating for a balanced approach that leverages the strengths of both variance and process research methodologies.

Hank Alewine, Ph.D. // Accounting for the New Space Economy

The New Space Economy (NSE) will both influence and be influenced by accounting themes and considerations. Yet, a dedicated space accounting discipline is only in its infancy as a developing organized field of inquiry. Specifically, how will financial and non-financial information be captured, recorded, reported, verified, and analyzed by stakeholders to help ensure effective decisions that successfully achieve space-related strategic objectives? To help organize, analyze and evaluate accounting’s role in the NSE, we utilize an adapted zoom framework that first explicates present and future attributes of the accounting discipline and the corresponding concepts, issues, and challenges within the NSE. After establishing this foundation, we then conclude by detailing three suggested pathways to transition the extant space accounting discipline towards effectively addressing future NSE goals. Pathways involve advances in 1) codification of space accounting information, 2) space performance measurements, and 3) cost analysis for space infrastructure and activities.

Jason Greene, Ph.D. // Dean, UAH College of Business

Thank you for joining us at the 2024 Business of Space Conference.

Enterprise Tour: Blue Origin

Join us for an enterprise tour of Blue Origin.

The shuttle will leave at 1:15 p.m.

See details below


Tour Options

Blue Origin

Enterprise Tour

Blue Origin

  • Participation spots are limited.
  • U.S. citizenship is required.
  • Competing company/sector verification is required.


NOTE: The enterprise tour has been rescheduled for April 23 at 1:30pm.

Deadline to sign-up and complete the verification steps is Tuesday, April 16th at 12:00 pm (CST)

Sign Up

Participant Verification Requirements

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Tourist Destination

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

  • Enjoy discounted general admission to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center for a discounted rate of $20 per person.
  • Please show your conference badge at the ticket desk to receive the discounted rate.

Museum Details

NOTE: Transportation is not provided.

Venues + Location

AC Hotel by Marriott

Welcome Reception

AC Hotel by Marriott Huntsville Downtown

435 Williams Avenue SW
Huntsville, AL 35801


UAH Student Services Building

Conference Presentations

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)
Student Services Building
1201 John Wright Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899



AC Hotel by Marriott Huntsville Downtown

435 Williams Ave SW | Huntsville, AL

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Why should I book at the official conference hotel?

  • Benefit from FREE scheduled transportation to and from the UAH campus.

  • Enjoy the conference welcome reception without the need to travel.

  • Continue informal conversations and networking with fellow attendees who are also staying at the hotel.

Book Your Room

Explore the Rocket City!


Explore Huntsville

Huntsville Attractions

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore all the Rocket City has to offer while you’re in town. You’ll find we have a variety of attractions, whether you're interested in education, arts, nature or just pure entertainment. There’s no such thing as being bored in the Rocket City!

Things to do in Huntsville




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Fathia Hardy

Fathia Hardy
Director, Office of Professional and Continuing Education