ASU NewSpace exposition looks to the future of Arizona's space industry

AZLabs and ASU NewSpace Initiative’s defense and space technology exposition, Infinite Movement, featured several presentations from ASU faculty and researchers, as well as a speech from Sen. Mark Kelly.

Infinite Movement, organized by AZLabs and ASU NewSpace in collaboration with ASURE, the Arizona Commerce Authority and the city of Mesa, brought together on Friday, May 7, the best and brightest of Arizona industry to present on their contributions to defense and space technology.

The event was held in person at AZLabs with a virtual Zoom option for those who opted to attend online.

Kelly, the keynote speaker, expressed his excitement at the innovations in space and space technology coming out of Arizona.

The senator reminded the audience of Arizona’s rich history within the space industry, with all 24 Apollo astronauts training in Arizona before walking on or orbiting the moon. Kelly expressed his desire to keep Arizona at the forefront of the emerging commercial space industry. 

“I look forward to being your partner as we continue to grow Arizona’s role in national defense and in space technology,” Kelly said.

Kelly celebrated ASU’s win with the Mastcam-Z team, telling the audience, “Those cameras that are on Perseverance were designed at ASU.”

After Kelly spoke, NewSpace Associate Director of Research and Science Jim Rice gave a presentation on the role of the NewSpace Initiative in Arizona’s emerging space technology industry.

“One of our main jobs is to connect (ASU) professors with the commercial space industry,” Rice said. “We’re bringing our strengths in engineering, science and education forward.”

Esko Mikkola and Rafi Islam, CEOs of local Arizona businesses Alphacore and Cactus Materials, respectively, showcased the benefits of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer program. Their presentation highlighted the wins Arizona-based companies are receiving in the SBIR/STTR program and how these wins are being achieved by ASU students and faculty.

Other presentations featured guests like Cyndi Coon, CEO of Laboratory 5, ASU Professor Teresa Wu and community-college-professor-turned-civilian-astronaut Sian Proctor and covered such topics as threatcasting, medical care for astronauts and civilian spaceflight. 

Proctor was selected for SpaceX’s first private flight, the Inspiration4 mission. She spoke on getting more civilians into space in the future.

“How do we open it up so when we say ‘space is for everyone,’ it truly is for everyone?” Proctor asked.

Additionally, several booths were set up showcasing the technological advancements being made at ASU and Arizona businesses.

Sean Bryan, an associate research scientist at ASU, showcased his CubeSounder project, which will allow scientists to gather more weather data from smaller satellites. 

Sheri Klug Boonstra, an associate research professional at ASU, brought student work from the SpaceWorks Project, an initiative at ASU that offers real-world experience to students looking to work in the space industry. 

Flash presentations were given by several Arizona businesses including R2 Advanced Technologies, Qwaltec, KinetX, MJS Designs, Baltu Technologies and Crow Industries, showcasing their contributions to defense and space technology.

“America is now leading, again, a new age of space exploration and development, thanks to Arizonan ingenuity,” Kelly said.

Written by Reagan Priest for ASU NewSpace