U.S. Industry at Forefront of Space Innovation


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A distinguished panel of executives from Boeing, Jacobs, Lockheed Martin, and StarLab Oasis charted the future of breakthroughs in space technology during the second installment of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s business roundtable series at the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. This discussion coincided with Expo’s “Space Week” and comes ahead of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which will take place in Dubai next week. A video recording of the panel can be found here, and by clicking the button below. 

Kuljit Ghata-Aura, the new President for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa at Boeing, shared details about Boeing’s advances in space exploration. Kuljit called space the “superb vantage point,” and discussed Boeing’s development of powerful satellites that address pertinent public sector needs such as disaster response and monitoring climate change. 

Dawne Hickton, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Critical Mission Solutions at Jacobs, described the vital role Jacobs is playing in supporting NASA and enabling space exploration through the Artemis program. She also spoke about future efforts to inhabit the moon. She remarked on the applicability of technologies developed for space in solving problems on earth. Moreover, she emphasized “no one country has a lock on the best ideas,” saying, “If we want the next generation of students who will save the globe, and not just one country, we’ve got to collaborate and take the ideas from wherever we find them.” She sees recent developments in the space sector as “energizing” youth around the future of space innovation.

Bob Harward, Chief Executive for the Middle East at Lockheed Martin, underscored the importance of bringing more “partners and capacity into the game,” emphasizing that countries and governments have much to gain by working with the private sector on pursuing advances in space. Bob commented, “It is striking to me that science fiction in space is no longer fiction,” and he made forward-leaning observations on the future of space travel and how Lockheed fits into these exciting new endeavors.

Allen Herbert, General Manager at StarLab Oasis, discussed the criticality of food to space exploration and elaborated on StarLab Oasis’s collaborations with Abu Dhabi to use spaceag technology to address food security and climate change at home on earth in the MESA region. He also shared insights on space tourism – noting that “the future is here now in terms of space tourism” and remarking on the similarities he sees between the genesis of commercial space travel and that of commercial aviation. Emphasizing that “space is for everybody,” he said, “Now is the perfect time for everyone to get involved,” and commented about the potential for partnerships with the “emerging space nations of the Middle East” and the “space entrepreneurs” in these countries. 

The Business Council’s next Expo business roundtable discussion will occur at the U.S. Pavilion on Monday, November 1st when it will host a conversation on smart cities coinciding with Expo’s Urban and Rural Development theme week. Panelists from AECOM, the Dubai Future Foundation, NYU Abu Dhabi, Parsons, and Uber will discuss the latest innovations in this critical sector and the ways in which pioneering U.S. companies are improving urban life. To register your interest in attending this event, please contact Mary Zuccarello at mzuccarello@usuaebusiness.org

Today’s discussion about the U.S.’s leadership and innovation in space compliments several discussions the Council has recently hosted about the U.A.E.’s space achievements and ambitions with H.E. Sarah Al Amiri, leadership from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center, and the State of Colorado. For more information about the U.S.- U.A.E. Business Council’s programming in this area, please contact Mary Zuccarello at mzuccarello@usuaebusiness.org.