Space Industry, Education & Workforce Partners Gather for Washington State Space Summit with Sen. Cantwell and NASA Administrator

Sen. Cantwell: “The facts are clear, our space cluster is growing fast”

KENT, WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) brought NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, regional aerospace industry leaders, STEM education leaders, and students together for a Washington State Space Summit, held at Blue Origin HQ in Kent, Wash.

The summit included a trade show with 20 space companies, industry groups, and educators from across the State of Washington followed by a panel discussion. A full list of all trade show participants is available HERE.

“We can see here today that many companies in the State of Washington are providing growth and opportunity for space jobs. [Washington’s space industry] is providing a booming economy, and it has helped maintain America's position of leadership in space exploration,” said Sen. Cantwell. “The facts are clear, our space cluster is growing fast. And in 2022 the Puget Sound Regional Council released a report that showed the Washington space industry had more than doubled in four years to $4.6 billion and had 13,000 jobs.”

“These workers are going to help NASA's Artemis mission deliver and we're going to send the first woman to the moon, and then we're going to get to Mars,” Sen. Cantwell continued, adding that she looked forward to talking with attendees “about the workforce of tomorrow -- and how we can help the supply chain by not only just building for aerospace, but building for space, too.”   

The Senator noted that she has urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to place a new Manufacturing Institute here in the Pacific Northwest focused on advanced aerospace materials manufacturing and workforce training and education, a recommendation supported by the NASA Administrator.

Discussion Panel participants included:

  1. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell 
  2. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
  3. Robert Smith, Blue Origin, CEO
  4. Dr. Andy Lapsa, Stoke Space, CEO
  5. Austin Link, Starfish Space, Co-founder
  6. Nikki Malcolm, Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, CEO and Executive Director
  7. Dean Jihui Yang, University of Washington
  8. Dean Mary Rezac, Washington State University
  9. Colin Doughan, Gravitics, CEO
  10. Kareen Morales Vincent, Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center, Program Instructor for Aerospace Manufacturing & Maintenance Technology

During the trade show, Sen. Cantwell and Administrator Nelson spoke with a number of industry, workforce, and partnering institutions, including students from Central Washington University (CWU), Northwest Indian College (NWIC), and the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI). JCATI connects university students with industry partners in 15 counties across the state, including Yakima, Klickitat, Benton, Grant, Franklin, and Spokane.

Sen. Cantwell has been a champion for Washington state’s space industry. As chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. Cantwell oversees NASA and the space industry. In 2021, Sen. Cantwell spearheaded passage of the CHIPS & Science Act, one of the largest five-year federal research and development investments in U.S. history. The CHIPS & Science Act also included the first new NASA Authorization since 2017, enshrining the NASA Artemis missions to the Moon and eventually Mars in U.S. law. The Artemis program has 42 suppliers in Washington state. 

A one-page background information document including stats on Washington state’s space economy and Sen. Cantwell’s actions is available HERE.

A recording of the discussion panel is available HERE.

Photos from the trade show are available HERE.

A transcript of Sen. Cantwell’s remarks are available HERE.