by Luisa Low*
In this week’s Space Café, SpaceWatch.Global publisher, Torsten Kriening caught up with Space Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer, Shelli Brunswick to discuss her “deep vision” of the global space industry and her organisation’s efforts to uplift the world through space education and collaborations.
A brilliant career
Shelli Brunswick had a non-traditional industry career trajectory. Having begun her career in the US Air Force, she worked and advised for the US Airforce Acquisition team, then went on to work with Women in Aerospace, WomenTech, New York University, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, and Manufacturer’s Edge.
Since 2015, Shelli has been the Chief Operating Officer for the Space Foundation, an aerospace not-for-profit in Colorado Springs, Colorado that was founded with the aim of facilitating collaboration in space exploration through education and information. Space Foundation is working as a key facilitator to connect governments, commercial enterprises, and the education sector worldwide.
“We want to help all citizens on planet earth to find their way into this space ecosystem.”
Creating a multiskilled, global space ecosystem
Space Foundation provides an industrial roadmap to assist people from all walks of life to find their way into the space ecosystem – a $424 billion global industry which is expected to soar to $3 trillion by 2040.
To do this, the Space Foundation team run global initiatives such as the Space Symposium 365 and the Centre for Education and Innovation, which drive workforce development and economic opportunity through networking and educational curricula. Their educational programs are regionally adaptive and range from school-based teaching to scholarships that support emerging businesses and space entrepreneurs.
Space Foundation is focused on attracting underrepresented groups to the space industry – which Shelli points out is more than just missions to “Moon or Mars”, but represents and requires diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and interests.
“Let’s find your path and we can create an opportunity for you.”
The changing role of government and industry in space
When Ms Brunswick began working in the aerospace sector, the US government was the key driver of innovation. To work in the sector, most would-be space players worked their way up through the military or a government organisation.
That has now changed, she says, with “multiple different players” expanding the opportunity for entry. However, she believes the government still plays an important role in establishing good policies and supporting emerging technologies when there isn’t yet enough proof of concept to raise private capital.
“It’s important for governments to provide leadership and fill the gap when private markets cannot”, she said.
Those who do should also teach
And her advice for those wanting to enter the space industry or propel their career?
“You should be a mentor, and you should always find a mentor, no matter where you are. It’s important to find those role models – a mentor, a champion, a coach – someone who can help you find your path,” she said.
“And don’t be afraid to try new opportunities… get comfortable being outside your comfort zone.”
To listen to Shelli Brunswick’s insights into the space industry, you can watch the full programme here:
Space Cafe is broadcast live each Tuesday at 4 pm CET. To subscribe and get the latest on the space industry from world-leading experts visit – click here.
*Luisa Low is a freelance journalist and media adviser from Sydney, Australia. She currently manages Media and Public Relations for the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering.