Story by Amy Gillentine Sweet, photos by Amber Baillie

Thousands of people filled The Broadmoor hotel this week for the 32nd annual Space Symposium — an educational and networking event for aerospace professionals around the world. More than 50 nations sent representatives to Colorado Springs this week and there were presenters from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, as well as from international aerospace companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. The opening ceremonies kicked off the event on Monday, with remarks from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Local companies like Braxton Technologies had a strong presence, as did GalaxyFest, Denver’s United Launch Alliance, the Colorado Space Coalition, the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and Aleut Technologies.

This year, the symposium opened on a high note as SpaceX successfully launched a rocket and had it land — upright — on a barge, a first for the aerospace industry. Rep. James Bridenstine, R-Okla., used the Symposium as a launch pad for the American Space Renaissance Act, which includes separate sections covering military, civil and commercial policy topics, from changes to responsibilities for space situational awareness to giving the NASA administrator a fixed five-year term.

The National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration also announced that it would start a pilot program for commercial weather forecasting, designed to see if the organization can successfully incorporate commercial data into its weather forecasts.

And Raytheon announced that it passed the first tests in developing the initial capabilities for the ground control system, the next generation of Global Positioning System satellites.

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The satellites are used for navigation and military purposes, but also have a wide range of civilian and business uses. Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base is responsible for maintenance and oversight of  the GPS satellite system.