Lecture illuminates ‘new space’ - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Lecture illuminates ‘new space’

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 9:00 pm

There was old space, where NASA, a public agency, was in charge of building rockets, deploying satellites, moon landings and the like, and now there’s new space, with private companies at the bleeding edge of space innovation.

Brownsville’s leaders believe the city has a golden opportunity in the latter category, what with SpaceX developing its Boca Chica launch site and making preparations to hover a Starship prototype on site, possibly this month.

The idea is that as activity at Boca Chica picks up, SpaceX will need a local cluster of space-related companies to support it. Growing a space cluster in Brownsville would be very good for the economy, which is why the city is very keen on making it happen.

One small step toward that is “NewSpace Brownsville,” a free public lecture scheduled for Thursday at the SET-B Lecture Hall on the Texas Southmost College campus. The two-hour event starts at 6 p.m. and will feature a panel lineup of experts in new-space commercialization and related opportunities.

The panelists are Sean Casey, founder and director of the Silicon Valley Space Center; David Cheuvront, retired NASA engineer and founder of Space Settlement Entrepreneur; Anita Gale, retired Boeing engineer and founder of the Space Settlement Design Competition; Montgomery Goforth, Strategic Pursuits and Partnerships, NASA Johnson Space Center; Steven Gonzalez, NASA Johnson Space Center Office of Technology Transfer; Fredrick Jenet, founder of Expanding Frontiers; and Sidney Nakahodo, cofounder and CEO of New York Space Alliance.

Helen Ramirez, Brownsville deputy city manager, said the event is open to everyone, students and teachers, parents, community leaders, entrepreneurs and anyone else interested in new space and the ramifications for Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley.

“That’s the first message we want to get out,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what age group. Kids, high school students, university students, professionals — anybody who’s interested in new space or commercial space and what it is and what it can do for Brownsville.”

The discussion will also highlight local collaborations designed to create the right “ecosystem” for cultivating new-space-related economic development and the jobs and opportunities that come with it, Ramirez said.

“The caliber of the people speaking is really incredible and really speaks to this collaborative network we’re trying to do, to get the city of Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas noticed as part of that ecosystem,” she said.

Ramirez said the panel discussion should be of interest from a general information standpoint as well from a technical perspective for those interested in exploring commercial ventures or partnerships related to new space.

The panel will be moderated by Tim Taliaferro, chief innovation officer for Texas Monthly, which staged a sold-out Texas Monthly LIVE performance at TSC on July 9.

Taliaferro was so intrigued by “NewSpace Brownsville” event he decided to stay in town to moderate the panel, Ramirez said. The event is part of the city’s “Summer of Space” activities in July, which include a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Thursday for Expanding Frontiers at the 1931 Pan American Airways building at the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, and a space-themed Lunada Artisan Market from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 20 at Linear Park.

“We can learn from other cities and what they’re doing,” Ramirez said. “We’re not waiting for someone else to do it.”

lmartinez@brownsvilleherald.com

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