Don Jewell reports from 32nd annual Space Symposium

April 11, 2016  - By

Opening Day, April 11

It never fails. Invite 11,000-plus of your closest acquaintances for a week in the Rocky Mountains in April, and you have one — make that several — weather related events.

I have attended 30 of the 32 Space Symposiums and it always rains buckets, snows a blizzard, hails in biblical amounts or is a combination of all three interspersed with incredible mountain vistas and bright sunshine.

To those of us who live here it is part of the charm of the Rocky Mountains, but to visitors… fortunately it seems not to matter at all, as 11,000 or more people show every year. And thank goodness they do, as this is indeed the premier space event of the year, every year, bar none.

This year the Space Foundations’ 32nd Space Symposium kicks off on Monday, April 11, and runs through Thursday evening at the Lockheed Martin Exhibition Center at the Five Star Broadmoor Resort. There are several post-symposium-events scheduled for Friday and through the weekend as well, not to mention all the ski trips starting on Friday in Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone (which has night skiing) and Aspen. The party and business ventures continue on the slopes.

Space Symposium and Cyber 1.6

Commander AFSPC – Gen. John Hyten (Courtesy of the USAF)

Commander AFSPC – Gen. John Hyten (Courtesy of the USAF)

In conjunction with the Space Symposium is Cyber 1.6, or the 7th annual Cyber symposium, which is happening today at a highly classified level. This super-secret meeting brings together the “who’s who” of the cyber world. Due to classification levels, that’s about all I can say about that.

I have attended five of the seven cyber symposiums, and I can tell you it is a tremendously productive meeting that just gets better and — more importantly — more relevant every year. If cyber is your thing, and of course it affects us all, make plans now (if you have a SECRET clearance that is) to attend Cyber 1.7 next year.

International Event

The Space Symposium is truly an international event, featuring ambassadors, governors, congressmen, generals, agency directors (including the NASA administrator) and many more —too many to name, of course — from around the world.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, will be a keynote speaker, as will Gen. John Hyten, who will speak at both the Cyber and Space Events as the commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon and Blue Origin.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon and Blue Origin.

Back to Jeff Bezos for a moment. In addition to being Amazon’s Founder and CEO, Jeff has a real interest in space. He is also the founder of aerospace company Blue Origin, which is working to lower the cost and increase the safety of spaceflight so that humans can better continue exploring the solar system.

Jeff says his interest in space began long before he graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University in 1986, and was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 1999. I can’t wait to hear what plans Jeff has for Blue Origin and space in general. Amazon already ships to m0re than 190 countries. Can space be far behind?

The Blue Origin logo.

The Blue Origin logo.

Trivia Alert: I wonder if any astronauts have ever ordered from Amazon while on orbit on the International Space Station; they do have Internet, after all. Why not? Maybe we will find out. And yes, I realize it is one thing to order from Amazon while on the International Space Station and quite another for Amazon to deliver there, but from what I hear, Jeff is working on that problem as well. Will that make the Space Symposium an Intergalactic event?


This year there are more than 160 exhibitors in the Lockheed Martin Exhibit Center and the Exhibit Center Pavilion. It’s more than you can visit in just four days, but I try every year to at least spend a minute or two at every exhibit. If you do nothing else but visit the exhibits, it is an experience.


Tonight, the 32nd Space Symposium kicks off with a welcome address from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, several key industry awards and the opening of the exhibit hall with food and drink. About five hours later, the evening’s festivities end with a huge fireworks display over the lake of the Broadmoor. The symposium offers something for everyone, and we will keep you up to speed right here on

Note: Trimble kindly sent me its latest GPS/PNT-enabled 10.1-inch Windows 10 based rugged tablet named the Kenai to help commemorate the event. I will be utilizing this incredible tool all during the Space Symposium to take pictures, record events, type my short articles and transmit them all on the fly to GPS World. I’ll let you know how it fares. Hint: Thank goodness it is a rugged tablet — someone has already knocked it out of my hands and onto a hard floor, with no ill effects.

Stay tuned. We are expecting significant announcements concerning OCX, GPS III, GPS Next, MGUE and all sorts of international input from GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou and QZSS, just to name a few.

Until next time, happy navigating.

This is posted in Defense, Latest News, Opinions

About the Author: Don Jewell

Don Jewell served 30 years in the United States Air Force, as an aviator and a space subject-matter expert. Don’s involvement with GPS and other critical space systems began with their inception, either as a test system evaluator or user. He served two command assignments at Schriever AFB, the home of GPS, and retired as Deputy Chief Scientist for Air Force Space Command. Don also served as a Politico Military Affairs Officer during the Reagan administration, working with 32 foreign embassies and serving as a Foreign Disclosure Officer making critical export control decisions concerning sophisticated military hardware and software. After retiring from the USAF, Don served seven years as the senior space marketer and subject-matter expert for two of the largest government contractors dealing in space software and hardware. Don currently serves on two independent GPS review teams he helped found, and on three independent assessment teams at the Institute for Defense Analyses, dealing with critical issues for the U.S. government. Don has served on numerous Air Force and Defense Scientific Advisory Boards. He writes and speaks extensively on technical issues concerning the U.S. government. Don earned his Bachelor’s degree and MBA; the Ph.D. is in progress.

1 Comment on "Don Jewell reports from 32nd annual Space Symposium"

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  1. Jorge Rivas says:

    It sounds a very good and atractive International event. I shall be pending of any news from you. Thanks and regards.