The Meeting Place for Space Technology

Space Tech Expo USA 2021
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

From asteroid mining to NASA’s self-driving Perseverance Rover exploring the possibility of ancient life on Mars, interest in space exploration and discovery is at an all-time high, with Space Tech Expo USA a premier industry event in North America.

Known as “America’s Meeting Place for Space Technology,” the free-to-attend exhibition will be held in Long Beach, California from October 6 to 8. The 2021 installment showcases the latest innovations and technologies from technical designers, manufacturers, sub-system suppliers and others in the commercial, civil, and military space industry.

Featuring more than 40 speakers and about 250 exhibitors, the two-day event will welcome some 3,000 space-technology-industry professionals, and present an abundance of networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities “alongside the largest supply-chain exhibition of its kind,” according to organizers.

At this popular Space Tech Expo most attendees represent prime, subsystem, or assembly organizations, such as Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, Boeing, IBM, Raytheon and Virgin Orbit. Many representatives focus on hardware development for spacecraft and ground stations, with an expanding attendance of reps involved with software applications and technologies for manufacturing, engineering and operations.

“Every year, Space Tech Expo also welcomes many representatives from NASA and other space agencies across the world,” says Senior Conference Producer Nicole Heins from Smarter Shows, a Tarsus Company. “Most attendees focus on technology development, and research and development.”

A Business-to-Business (B2B) trade event open to aerospace-industry professionals, government and academia, this year’s Space Tech Expo will focus on recent developments including manufacturing, investment in space, and the latest technologies, including Industry 4.0 and its role in the global space supply chain, while keynote speakers will discuss important issues facing the sector today.

This year’s Space Tech Expo represents a continuation of its predecessor, the Spacecraft Technology Conference, created almost a decade ago. It was launched in 2012 to bring together global decision makers, supply chain experts, suppliers and customers to identify present and future market growth opportunities for the design, manufacture and pre-launch testing of spacecraft and space-related technologies.

“Coinciding with the end of the era for NASA’s space shuttle program, there was a requirement for the supply chain to network with the new commercial players in the industry,” says Heins.

“Set against the technology-rich backdrop of Los Angeles, California, USA, the show’s planned technical programming, comprehensive hall offerings and targeted networking opportunities are anticipated to offer both exhibitors and attendees a unique opportunity to share in a one-of-a-kind marketplace of ideas via one of the most targeted return-on-investment channels ever offered to the industry at large.

“Ever since, Space Tech Expo has grown on this focus and programming and has now become a well-established annual event on the U.S. West Coast.”

Like other events affected by COVID-19, Space Tech Expo’s last face-to-face event was held in 2019. The last in-person Expo was a resounding success, with attendees enjoying conference sessions and gaining perspectives for the future from different companies.

Now, once again, event organizers welcome the return to a face-to-face gathering, with attendees looking forward to reconnecting with peers and discussing the future of the U.S. space industry.

“Aside from experiencing the long-anticipated face-to-face networking, attendees will learn the latest on technology developments to speed up time to market, improve efficiency and reduce cost of manufacturing of space (sub)systems for civil, national security and commercial missions” says Heins. “They will hear nationwide perspectives from industry experts on investment and technology development within the industry.”

Following the success of the European sister show, the decision was made to make the Space Tech Conference a free-to-attend event. With informative discussions on key developments in the U.S. space industry from a national security, (Lunar) exploration, and commercial development vantage point, attendees will hear high-level industry experts sharing their insight on important developments and challenges facing space engineers and manufacturers today.

The free event is expected to draw a wider audience from primes, integrators, and agencies, “affording more engineering and technical members access to the full range of programming,” says Heins.

This year’s Space Tech Expo brings together bigger-picture industry developments, including key technological innovations, challenges, and requirements; “reconnecting the industry in person to enable the market to collectively accomplish the fast manufacture of secure, reliable and sustainable spacecraft and reach their ambitions across civil, national security and commercial space,” says Heins.

The conference agenda and speaker list are available to view or download as a PDF at

The conference will also explore technology and engineering developments in depth, and highlight recent developments including software capabilities and optimization for the space industry.

This includes the digitalization of engineering, developments within data analysis and software capabilities to optimize downstream applications, and the integration and optimization of on-board processors for future spacecraft, along with hardware optimization for future civil and national security missions including material innovation, and electronics and electrical systems.

The theme of the Expo’s opening day, Thursday October 7, is Innovation and Collaboration. Featuring keynote speaker Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of the Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA, the event will feature lively panels on increased collaboration across industries including speakers from Northrop Grumman, Redwire, and other companies and organizations.

Topics that will be covered are how the industry has developed and changed since the start of the pandemic, what lessons have been learnt, the impact of COVID-19 on the space supply chain, and how record-breaking private investments in 2020 and early 2021 are maturing the market.

“The first day also covers the increased collaboration between the space industry and the advanced tech industries, and in particular covers software and digitization innovations that will enhance spacecraft engineering and manufacturing as well as mission operations,” says Heins.

The theme of Day Two, Friday, October 8, is Constructing Building Blocks for an Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Future in Space. With a panel discussing innovation, manufacturing and implementing advanced materials and their abilities to withstand challenges in space, speakers include Daniel Sullivan from EAG Laboratories, and Timothy S. Dyer, President at Elcon Precision LLC.

The informative discussion will cover the challenges of implementing new materials which are not necessarily space-certified, developing innovative materials able to withstand radiation and drastic temperature changes, and more.

Later in the day, the conference addresses key challenges regarding implementing and sustaining a diverse, equal, and inclusive workforce who will carry the future of the U.S. in space – the time is now to make a change.

“The conference closes with a forward-looking view on how to sustain and develop a thriving low-Earth-orbit economy,” says Heins. “The session looks at lessons learnt from establishing a service-based LEO infrastructure and how this success can be carried over to the next step in U.S. space: a thriving and collaborative lunar economy.”

Having put together an outstanding array of speakers, exhibitors and sponsors, organizers of Space Expo are excited about the participation of NASA’s Kathy Lueders as a keynote speaker.

And on the topic of technology developments, speakers include Blake Bullock, Vice President of National Security at Northrop Grumman; Dr. Alain Berinstain, Chief Innovation Officer at Space Tango; and Steve Lindsey, Senior Vice President for Strategy with Sierra Space.

On the subject of manufacturing and engineering improvements, speakers include Avi Shabtai, CEO of Ramon.Space; Rick Hefner, Program Director at Caltech; Jeff Hay, CEO at RDI Technologies; Rahul Areja, Vice President with VJ Technology; Chris Clardy, Vice President for Business Development, Strategy and Technology with Cobham Electronic Solutions; and many others.

Welcoming hundreds of exhibitors, this year’s Space Tech Expo will see the likes of Additive Manufacturing LLC, Arralis, Axon Cable, Cryoworks, Crane Aerospace, DEWEsoft, Experior Laboratories, HC Starck, Kyocera International, MAXAR , Motiv Space Systems, Mynaric, Orban Microwave, Printech Circuit Labs, and others (An up-to-date list is available at

Event organizers are already making plans for the 2022 Space Tech Expo USA, again at Long Beach, California in May. Next year’s Expo will see a conference program reflecting the latest developments “from a technical and thought-leadership level perspective, including topics such as lunar technology innovation, robotics, on-orbit servicing, and additive manufacturing, among many others,” says Heins.

The upcoming Space Tech Expo USA – making its long-awaited return to LA – will see its new home in the aerospace manufacturing hub of Long Beach, reconnecting with the space manufacturing supply chain.

“The meeting will enable buyers and manufacturers along the space supply chain to meet with suppliers and service providers to once again see technological advancements live and in action,” promises Heins. “Attend the free exhibition and conference to gain a 360° view of the technological space market to implement the manufacture of secure, reliable and sustainable spacecraft.”



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