The Space Symposium will be a hybrid in-person and online event in August to comply with state COVID-19 pandemic restrictions limiting attendance to nearly 6,000, the Space Foundation announced Wednesday.
The Colorado Springs-based foundation opened registration Friday for in-person attendance at the event, scheduled for Aug. 23-26 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. It will also offer the entire program virtually through its Symposium 365 digital platform, with registration for that option beginning next month. The in-person event will include more than 200 exhibits in the new Bartolin Hall exhibition center completed last year.
Last year, the symposium was postponed to Oct. 31 two weeks before it was set to begin on March 30. Then it had to be postponed again as COVID case numbers spiked across El Paso County and the state during the fall. The annual convention typically attracts more than 14,000 participants from around the world, making it the city's largest convention and a major driver for the local economy.
Those who had already registered for last year's event were allowed to use their registration for this year's. Those unable to attend this year due to travel restrictions can use their registration for next year's symposium, scheduled for April 4-7.
"The capabilities are now in place for us to safely gather again in person, while expanding our reach to host attendees from around the world virtually and make them part of the Space Symposium experience," Space Foundation CEO Tom Zelibor said Wednesday in a news release. "The past year has challenged us all, but the space community has demonstrated its perseverance and inspiration in countless ways."
The agenda and speakers for the symposium haven't yet been set, but will be updated on the symposium's website at www.spacesymposium.org/agenda/. However, U.S. Space Command leader Gen. James Dickinson, Space Force boss Gen. John "Jay" Raymond and Viasat Chairman and founder Mark Dankberg are listed among the speakers, who in the past have included Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
The foundation said it will comply with all public health and safety protocols from both the state and the federal Centers for Disease Control. It encourages but won't require participants to get COVID-19 vaccinations and wants participants to follow COVID mitigation practices. The nonprofit also plans limited health screenings of participants and will impose capacity limits based on the size of the room to ensure social distancing.
"We can't wait to welcome back the Space Symposium as a hybrid event," Doug Price, CEO of Visit Colorado Springs, said Wednesday. "Having both an in-person and virtual option for events of such large scale is a necessary step toward recovery in this region. The in-person portion will bring a boost to the (local) economy while ensuring safety guidelines continue to be followed."
The symposium's in-person attendance will also be limited by capacity at the Broadmoor, which has other events in town during the rare August gathering of space experts. The Symposium usually is held in April and is normally the sole event occupying the massive resort complex during its run.
The symposium, the world's largest space show, typically features dozens of speeches, panel discussions, luncheons and banquets, hundreds of exhibits and many parties and networking gatherings that produce deals between space businesses and government agencies. The convention and exhibits provides the aerospace industry with a forum for networking, deal making and a high-profile platform to promote new products.
The event has grown so much in recent years that The Broadmoor built the nearly 171,000-square-foot Bartolin Hall to accommodate it after using temporary facilities for several years. The symposium is the Space Foundation's most important source of revenue, generating nearly 57% of its $16.8 million in revenue in 2019. To replace the symposium after it was postponed in October, the foundation launched Space Symposium 365 as a year-round series of online events for industry players.