SATELLITE 2023 Preview: A Year of Satellite & Cellular Integration, Software-Driven Space, and Sustainability in Orbit
A preview of the 2023 SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition.
February 22, 2023
While preparing for each annual SATELLITE conference and exhibition, we get a unique view into the growth trajectories for both the commercial satellite and space industries. The size of the market and the diverse range of customers utilizing space technologies are reflected in our attendee statistics and our conference call for proposals process for speakers.
Excluding the years impacted by pandemic travel restrictions, we have never seen a year in which the industry appeared to be physically contracting. Recessions are typically offset by a growth in government investment. Transitionary periods between technological leaps in innovation are usually accompanied by an influx of startups and new entrants.
Most importantly, satellites are no longer relegated to the margins of the connectivity ecosystem. They are impacting millions of lives and global businesses, and driving government action. It is encouraging to be able to say that the SATELLITE 2023 conference, taking place Monday, March 13 through Thursday, March 16, will once again be the largest and most comprehensive program we’ve put together in the show’s 41-year history.
SATELLITE 2022’s bounce-back in attendance following the COVID-19 shutdown exceeded everyone’s expectations, as well as the fact that this bounce-back sustained itself for all of the space industry events that happened last year. This year, customers are driving a bulk of the growth expected for SATELLITE 2023 and this Via Satellite magazine event preview will outline what returning attendees should expect in this new, exciting, and dynamic environment.
Themes, Topics, and Technologies
The SATELLITE 2023 conference program consists of four tracks, or forums. The Tech Forum is designed to provide in-depth insight into satellite technology for tech-savvy attendees. The LEO & Smallsat Forum unveils new products, services, and applications for small satellites and constellation systems, and covers space access issues specific to small satellites. The Government & Military Forum is produced for our government and military attendees, providing focused sessions covering technology, policy, and security solutions to support critical missions. And finally, our Executive Forum, open to all-access passholders, covers top-of-mind issues, challenges, and opportunities for today’s space business C-suite.
One of the most dominant themes of SATELLITE 2023’s conference program becomes clear when looking at the Executive Forum program. A majority of the sessions have a strong focus on telecoms and mobile wireless services, and the merging of terrestrial cellular and satellite network infrastructures to finally reach the billions of unconnected people around the world. We knew that panels featuring telco-centric discussion would be a top feature for 2023 after the success of our one-day SATELLITE program at Mobile World Congress in Las Vegas this past September. We also noticed that telcos and cellular wireless industry professionals represented one of the largest new attendee groups at SATELLITE 2022 earlier that year.
The terrestrial wireless community is coming to a realization that it cannot expand on its long-term business plans in the 5G era without the help of satellite services. That said, they are motivated to engage with our community, which is fantastic news for our exhibitors and satellite operators looking for new business.
Another key focus for the program is broad, industry-wide sustainability. Not just in addressing orbital debris, but also in business practices, reusability, workforce development, efficiency in production, and minimizing impact on the environment. Historically one of the most expensive tech industries on the planet in regards to R&D and resources required to run a business, the satellite industry is working to get quicker, leaner, and faster – to efficiently fulfill promises to commercial and government end users.
The topics in our Tech Forum hint at these solutions. There is a very clear focus on software-driven technologies and computing power in space. Software and computing now dominate both the space and ground segments of the satellite technology industry, driven by enhanced optimization and “…as-a-service” offerings. Another large portion of the Tech Forum deals with data security, with discussions covering cyber defenses, optical and inter-satellite connectivity, and interference prevention. The year’s Tech Forum also marks the return of our CTO Forum, during which a panel of diverse space tech leaders will address: how their companies have evolved performance, analysis, verification, and validation processes; their strategies to reduce the cost of complex solutions; and how they are developing a pipeline of engineering talent in a competitive job market.
In the broader security discussion, this year’s Government & Military Forum focuses heavily on national and global security-driven space policy and technologies. The Forum, which is produced in partnership with the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) and Defense Daily, explores the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a case-study for satellite imagery data intelligence and the value of satellite broadband in a combat zone.
Our LEO & Smallsat Forum addresses the increased flexibility of small satellites, as they begin to populate multiple orbits and inter-connect with their larger siblings in GEO. Constellations remain in the starring role, with latency and performance, costs, and competition top-of-mind in the track’s featured sessions. The track also explores the evolution of the smallsat supply chain, as well as appropriate regulatory policy and standards.
Keynotes & General Sessions
On Monday, Charles Beames, co-founder and chairman of the SmallSat Alliance, will open the program with a keynote on Zero-Trust Architectures for network security in space. Later that day, former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, author of the recently published book, “Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA,” will join Bessemer Venture Partners’ Tess Hatch for an interview focusing on the future of space exploration, critical investments in commercial space technologies, recruiting and retaining talent, and how to tackle the issues and challenges addressed in her book.
Our Tuesday opening general session begins with a keynote from Amazon’s Senior Vice President of Devices & Services David Limp. In a fireside chat interview, Limp will share important new details about Project Kuiper, Amazon’s Low-Earth Orbit satellite network, designed to provide broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world. Be among the first to learn about Amazon’s next steps toward providing global connectivity from space.
The Tuesday opening general session panel, led by Via Satellite magazine Editor-in-Chief Mark Holmes, is SATELLITE's marquee general session featuring a panel of the top industry leaders in a discussion that has historically set the tone and established talking points for the year. This year's session includes the CEOs of Eutelsat, Globalstar, Intelsat, Relativity Space, and Viasat. The panel will address significant and dynamic shifts that are on the horizon for the commercial satellite and space industries. This includes: the combination of large companies creating multi-orbit systems; collaboration and business between satellite and terrestrial wireless companies in providing global connectivity; investments in a greater space economy; workforce recruitment and retention; and the adoption of sustainable technologies and business practices to ensure longevity in space.
Wednesday’s conference program begins with a keynote from SES CEO Steve Collar, whose company just launched its first new O3b mPOWER satellites and is looking to cement its position as a top global service provider. The keynote is followed by the second general session: Building a Secure and Dynamic Future Space Economy – with executive leaders from Rocket Lab, Orbit Fab, Redwire, Lockheed Martin, SpiderOak, and Northrop Grumman discussing the massive economic opportunity for space services beyond connectivity.
The Wednesday Awards Luncheon, which presents the winners of the Startup Space entrepreneur pitch contest, as well as Via Satellite’s Executive of the Year and Technology of the Year, also features a keynote Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, detailing new plans and ambitions from the commercial space industry’s largest customer – the U.S. government.
Startup Space and a New, Expanded SGx Program
Produced in partnership with the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and Future Space Leaders Foundation and modeled on the “TEDx” style of informative lighting talks, SGx creates an environment where young professionals, industry experts, and government leaders can gather to share their insights and experiences with each other. SGx at SATELLITE 2023 will be the 8th year of this partnership, and will be the first year of its expansion into a two-day event.
The event will feature an exciting line-up of programming and events to deliver a meaningful experience to attendees, including multiple sessions broken into unique themes and followed by moderated Q&A. SGx will also have its own evening reception to follow the SATELLITE 2023 Welcome Reception on Monday, March 13. On Tuesday the 14, SGx will be hosting an exhibit hall job fair, co-partnered with Via Satellite. Past job fair participants include Lockheed Martin Corp., Redwire, Airbus, and Astroscale, among others.
Also, on Tuesday, SATELLITE 2023 will be hosting its 7th annual Startup Space entrepreneur pitch contest starting at 11 a.m. in the Exhibit Hall Theater. One of SATELLITE’s most popular events, Startup Space pits 10 entrepreneurs in a pitch competition for a grand prize of up to 10 private meetings with the industry’s top investment firms.
Contestants are placed into two groups and are each given five minutes to pitch their company or product in front of a panel of judges. Following each pitch, a panel of five Startup Space judges ask questions or make comments to the contestants. The judges then score the presentations based on a standardized set of various categories. Past Startup Space winners and participants include the CEOs and founders of LeoLabs, Orbit Fab, Astroscale, Vyoma, Ursa, and more than 80 space startups since we established the competition in 2016.
Combined with nearly 60 breakout sessions and tech demonstrations spread out over a very busy week in downtown Washington, D.C., SATELLITE 2023 presents more than 13,000 global attendees with an invaluable glimpse into the future of satellite technology and services and a chance to network within the community. Since 1981, the event has served as the central platform for the new ideas, new technologies, and new voices that will shape commercial space developments for the rest of the year. For more information about the SATELLITE 2023 conference, our 350+ exhibitors, as well as how you can attend and be a part of the conversation, visit www.satshow.com VS