Alabama’s ‘Rocket City’ shows off advantages at international space conference

Alabama’s ‘Rocket City’ shows off advantages at international space conference
Huntsville's spot at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C., is strategically placed near the NASA exhibition. (contributed)

A Huntsville team including business leaders, economic development specialists and elected officials is representing Alabama’s “Rocket City” at this week’s International Astronautical Congress (IAC), a major conference focusing on space.

Huntsville is the only community to participate among 170-plus corporate, state and national exhibitors at the 70th annual IAC in Washington, D.C., which has attracted agency heads and senior executives of the world’s space agencies.

“It makes sense that we’re the only community exhibiting at IAC because we have so much to offer across the civil, commercial and defense space industries,” said Lucia Cape, senior vice president of economic development for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.

“With Marshall Space Flight Center, the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and 400 aerospace and defense companies in the Huntsville metro, we are connected to nearly every U.S. space initiative in some way.”

Read a story about why Huntsville should be selected as HQ for U.S. Command.

Seamus Tuohy and Pete Paceley of Draper at The Rocket City booth at the International Astronautical Conference in Washington, D.C. Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced Oct. 22 that Draper, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman will join Blue Origin’s bid to build a crewed lunar lander for Artemis, NASA’s project to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. (Lucia Cape)

Aerospace advantages

At the IAC, the Chamber is coordinating the Rocket City’s presence, which consists of Draper, RadioBro, RUAG Space USA, the North Alabama International Trade Association (NAITA), the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Huntsville’s booth is strategically placed across from NASA and adjacent to Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Dynetics and ULA, all prominent commercial players in our country’s aerospace ecosystem, and all with a presence in Huntsville.

Marcia Lindstrom and Deborah Barnhart at the Huntsville booth at IAC 2019. Lindstrom is Strategic Communications Officer for NASA’s Space Launch System at Marshall Space Flight Center, and Barnhart is the CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Both are in Huntsville. (contributed)

This week, visitors to the Huntsville booth have included:

  • Jody Singer, Paul McConnaughey and Bobby Watkins, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
  • Tory Bruno, United Launch Alliance
  • Deborah Barnhart, U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Steve Cook and Kim Doering, Dynetics
  • Randy Lycans, Jacobs Space Exploration Group
  • John Schumacher, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Neeraj Gupta, Sierra Nevada Corp.
  • Sam Gunderson and Jacki Cortese, Blue Origin

The City of Huntsville also has a presence at IAC to share the advantages the city offers to companies interested in locating here.

“Space is one of the main drivers of our economy. We’ve proven ourselves as a community time and time again, whether it’s developing the rocket that put humans on the moon 50 years ago to the development of the rocket that will take us back and eventually to Mars,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said.  “We’ve also carved out an important leadership role in space for national security with the Army Space and Missile Defense Command headquarters here as well as the bulk of the Missile Defense Agency.

“Huntsville attending the IAC is a great place for us to continue building on our community’s expertise and recruiting more jobs and workers.”

This year, the IAC celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, and the Chamber’s booth highlights the Apollo milestone, a fitting tribute to the Huntsville-based rocket programs that put man on the Moon and will return American astronauts there in 2024.

Last year’s IAC in Bremen, Germany, saw a record 6,500 participants from 83 countries convene to collaborate on space research, development and utilization.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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