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AZTechCast: Arizona’s Strong Aerospace & Astronomy Sector

A space odyssey: The final frontier.

With preeminent observatories, leading aerospace companies and innovative technological advancements in space-science research, it’s easy to see why Arizona is an emerging leader in the world’s never-ending quest to discover the secrets of our solar system and universe.

Moderated by Phoenix Business Radio Owner & President Karen Nowicki, a group of experts from Lowell Observatory, World View Enterprises and the Arizona Spaceport Alliance discussed how Arizona’s ever-growing innovation in astronomy, planetary science, space research and aerospace technology is changing the world we live in and enabling scientists, physicists and astronomers to better understand the mysteries of our galaxy.

In the Arizona Technology Council’s September 2020 podcast, Dr. Jeffrey Hall, Dr. Matteo Genna and Benjamin Hernandez kicked off the conversation by sharing just how much Arizona’s aerospace industry contributes to the state’s economy, as well as shed light on why the state so ideal for this innovative industry.

“With Arizona’s clear skies and high elevation in Flagstaff, the state is perfect for ground-based observatories like Lowell Observatory,” stated Dr. Dr. Jeffrey Hall, Director of Lowell Observatory.

“Specific to the aerospace industry, Arizona also has the pleasant weather, tech talent and world-class universities that make the state very favorable to launch and operate in the sky,” added Dr. Matteo Genna, Chief Technology Officer at World View Enterprises.

“It’s worth noting that every prime contractor in the industry has established operations in the state, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Honeywell, BAE, Northrop Grumman,” said Steve Zylstra, President and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “As a consequence we have a significant workforce in this area.”

It’s clear that Arizona’s world-class programs at the university level also greatly contribute to accelerating its success in aerospace, defense and astronomy.

“Through real-world projects and applications at Arizona’s top universities and private industry, Arizona is making tremendous strides,” said Benjamin Hernandez, Co-founder of Arizona Spaceport Alliance and Co-lead of the Keyser Aerospace Practice Group. “Whether it’s the lens technology at the University of Arizona, the Mars missions at Arizona State University or Embry Riddle’s space degree and programs in space-flight operations, it’s hard to beat Arizona for the advancements of technologies that will be needed for the future.”

Hernandez added, “Arizona has a really nice pool of talent who are innovating space technologies.”

All three of the state universities, UArizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, have major programs in astronomy and planetary science,” Hall stated. “This brings the critical mass of intellectual horsepower in terms of world-class faculties in astronomy and all of the related disciplines of engineering and optics. That in turn attracts the very best and the brightest students to the state to study and live here.”

The group also shed light on the importance of protecting dark skies, the innovative space technologies we expect to see in the near future, where they see human space exploration in 50 years, as well as the eventual colonization of other planets.

“There have been some really broad trends that have been happening over the past 10 years,” Genna said. “Previously, only governments were involved in space exploration. Now we are seeing private industries and even students testing and launching into space. So that trend of broader participation will continue.”

“Everything that humans have invented and created on Earth, will have to be re-engineered for the rigors space,” Hernandez added. “So that in itself drives a whole different level of new technologies and materials that deal with the pressures, temperatures, radiology in space. Materials technology is very important right now.”

It’s no secret that Elon Musk has a quest to get humans to Mars. Despite all the skeptics, this group all agreed that one it will happen.

“It’s likely that humans will eventually establish facilities on the Moon as a base for getting to Mars,” Zylstra stated. “There are differences of opinions of when exactly, but it will eventually happen.”

“It feels like science fiction in some ways, but a lot of things are coming to fruition,” Genna said. “One thing that is certain is that space is not just the realm of governments anymore.”

“We’re reaching the levels of Star Trek,” Hernandez said. “It’s amazing what we can do when we really start putting our minds to accomplishing a mission to Mars.”

The group also discussed the human limitations regarding the advancement of space exploration and the possibility of living on other planets.

“The technology will eventually be developed to get there,” Hernandez concluded. “However, there are physical limitations and demands on the human body. More than just the technology, humans will need the mental willpower to do it.”


President and CEO
Sun Corridor, Inc.

Lowell Observatory

President and CEO
Arizona Technology Council


About AZTechCast
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.

About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.


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