ISDC has a strong NewSpace flavor this year

I’m at the airport waiting to catch a flight to Chicago for this year’s International Space Development Conference, the annual conference of the National Space Society. (I was already supposed to be there, but Untied, er, United, canceled my flight last night.) This year’s conference has a particular emphasis on NewSpace, more so than conventional space companies. Some highlights:

On Thursday morning Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures, will announce the company’s “New Venture”, according to the title of his talk. This is likely to be the exclusive marketing agreement with Armadillo Aerospace the company announced last month; at the time the company said they would announce additional details at ISDC. We’ll hopefully learn more about the deal and why Space Adventures, which had de-emphasized suborbital space tourism in recent years in favor of orbital spaceflight, is jumping back into this market.

Virgin Galactic will be represented by its new CEO, George Whitesides, who returned to the company earlier this month after roughly 18 months at NASA in several roles, including chief of staff to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. With Virgin and Scaled continuing their captive carry flights of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, hopefully we’ll get some updated details about their plans for upcoming tests and introduction of commercial service. Whitesides is scheduled to speak late Saturday afternoon.

On Friday morning there will be updates about the progress of XCOR Aerospace and Bigelow Aerospace by XCOR CEO Jeff Greason and Bigelow DC Operations Director Mike Gold, respectively. XCOR is working on its Lynx suborbital vehicle, so we may learn more details about the progress they’re making on their prototype. Bigelow, as Aviation Week reported earlier this month, is ramping up its marketing efforts for its inflatable orbital habitats. Bigelow will also benefit from the new interest in commercial crew transportation as part of the NASA fiscal year 2011 budget proposal. On Friday afternoon Masten Space Systems president and CEO Dave Masten will talk about winning $1.15 million in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge last year, and presumably their ongoing efforts as well.

There are also several other talks from representatives of the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Spaceport America, and several other NewSpace companies, including a panel Saturday morning on “The ‘NewSpace’ Paradigm”. So the next few days should offer a good opportunity to see where much of the NewSpace industry stands as of 2010 and what companies think their prospects are.

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