As the global community continues to grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Atlantic Council is open for business. Our business, meetings, and events, however, are occurring virtually. For more information, please read an update from our President and CEO.

Join the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center and Amazon Web Services for a jointly presented discussion with experts on how new technologies and business models can increase space safety by assuring trust in satellite orbits, debris removal, and orbital collision warnings.

Event description

Space operations and exploration continue to drive scientific discoveries that improve the lives of humankind globally. Government space agencies and commercial companies are planning, designing, building, and operating complex space missions that pave the way for the people of Earth to continue exploring and expanding in order to inhabit space in the future. As humans move into space, the migration of data and computation to the cloud offers governments and companies a technological path to accelerate their space exploration efforts and positively impact our lives here on Earth. The aerospace and satellite solutions sector is adopting cloud services and infrastructure to execute their most complex, innovative, and critical space projects to ensure mission success.

Space is transitioning from an industry heavily driven by government funding and strategy to a commercially focused and self-sufficient market. The private sector now regularly invests in rockets, satellite hardware, and experiments in space to advance their business interests, driving a shift in how the space industry operates and thrives. As NASA and other space agencies gradually transition responsibility for orbital safety activities to the commercial world, private companies will increasingly assume the risks of space travel and operations in space.

As governments focuses on even riskier and more difficult space exploration missions, many speculate that they will increasingly delegate more established functions like managing low Earth orbit, where the ISS resides, over to private enterprise. However, there are many necessary changes that need to be made in order for commercial entities to maximize their ability to innovate in space, including streamlining licensing processes, increasing staff to manage and assess applications, and modernizing safety processes and systems.

More investment and public private partnerships are needed from the government in order to ensure that the US continues to be a leader in space innovation. As more countries operate and explore space, the landscape becomes more congested and contested. Rival nations are innovating and deploying military space innovations with brake neck speed. The commercial space community is working to modernize space management mechanisms on the Earth and in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) that support the innovation and safety demands of the space industry so that space remains available for everyone.

Key players in the space safety community are working to improve debris mitigation and safety capabilities that exceed government debris management guidelines. Collisions with debris are a leading risk to safe operations in space as well as a source of new debris. New data sources are being launched to measure and reduce that risk by providing commercial collision warning services for LEO. New satellite companies are launching spacecraft into LEO to de-orbit older satellites and eliminate sources of debris. These new debris mitigation advances are transforming the space community and Making Space Available for Everyone.

Discussion co-hosts

Dr. David Bray
Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center

Mr. Shayn Hawthorne
Senior Manager


Dr. Joseph Bonivel, Jr.
Nonresident Senior Fellow, GeoTech Center
Atlantic Council;
Subject Matter Expert
United States Department of Defense

Mr. Paul Jurasin
Director of New Programs and the Digital Transformation Hub
Cal Poly State University

Ms. Jody Medich
CEO and Co-founder

Dr. Michael Nicolls
CTO and Co-founder
LeoLabs, Inc.

Mr. Simon Reid