Seattle is new hub for space exploration

by: Alison Grande Updated:

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SEATTLE - Seattle is becoming the new hub for space innovation. On Tuesday, the NewSpace 2016 Conference started in Seattle. The conference is usually held in Silicon Valley but moved to Seattle this year to mark the area's growth as an aerospace and technology hub.

Five leaders in the space industry shared the stage, including Chuck Beames, CEO of Vulcan Aerospace, and Rob Meyerson, of Blue Origin.

Young billionaires Paul Allen and Jeff Bezos are leading the way and creating a space "ecosystem" in which many companies can thrive.

"Seattle is a pioneering town. It's always been on the forefront of technology and it should be on the forefront of space technology, "said Jason Andrews, of Spaceflight Industries. "I believe due to the capital, the people, the resources, the attitude, Seattle is going to be on the map for a long time."

“It is competitive but it’s also very collaborative,” explained Chris Lewicki, of Planetary Resources.

The conference is sponsored by the Space Frontier Foundation. Jeff Matthews is in charge of venture strategy and research for the foundation. He explained why space industries do well in Seattle. "You have the right workforce. They're young, they're agile, they're passionate and they want to solve big problems," said Matthews.

They also talked about the strong science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, programs in the Seattle area, in high schools and universities, preparing employees to work at space technology companies.

Boeing was also credited with starting the aerospace industry in Washington. Many engineers left Boeing to start their own space companies and to work for other space partners.

Chuck Beames expects startup space companies to create the bulk of new jobs.

"From a Vulcan perspective, in terms of jobs, the biggest growth is actually going to be all of the startup companies, all of these new space startups that are highly innovative that are going to survive," said Beames.

The conference continues through Thursday in Seattle. The Space Frontier Foundation plans to alternate the conference between Seattle and Silicon Valley in future years.