Meridian Launches Space Cooperation into Orbit at 2024 Diplomacy Forum

Watch the 2024 Space Diplomacy Forum

SUMMARY

On April 30, the Meridian Space Diplomacy Forum assembled a cross-section of current and rising space leaders to discuss avenues to advance international partnerships, create a responsible global regulatory framework, and maximize the benefits of the growing space economy. Over 200 attendees convened at Meridian House for the program, with another 900 joining online. Meridian brought together over 30 distinguished speakers from 10 nations, including governmental institutions, private companies, foreign embassies, and non-profits—for a day filled with dynamic discussions. This lineup was headlined by Ambassador Richard Verma (Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, U.S. Department of State), Colonel Pam Melroy (Deputy Administrator, NASA), Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana (Ambassador, Embassy of Rwanda), Dr. John Plumb (Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, U.S. Department of Defense), Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr. (Director-General, Philippine Space Agency), and Matt Ondler (President, Axiom Space). They addressed a range of timely issues, including 21st Century space governance, the rise of emerging spacefaring nations, public-private partnerships, and the nexus of space and defense. The event was made possible through the generous support of C5 Capital, Axiom Space, and Akram and Lourdes Elias. National Security News was the Forum’s official media partner.

On the evening of April 29, Meridian and the Embassy of Canada co-hosted an intimate dinner to kick off the Space Diplomacy Forum. The salon-style dinner focused on the Artemis Accords, a series of non-binding norms reaffirming nations’ commitment to responsible and collaborative conduct in space. The dinner convened representatives from Artemis Accords signatory nations, including the ambassadors of Luxembourg, Uruguay, Rwanda, and Bulgaria. American space leadership was also well-represented, with officials from the Departments of State, Transportation, and Commerce in attendance. The dinner also served as an opportunity to honor Michael Suffredini (Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Axiom Space) and Major General Charles Bolden (USMC-Ret.) (12th NASA Administrator, 2009 – 2017) with the Meridian Global Leadership Award for Space Diplomacy for their demonstrated ability to strengthen ties between nations on Earth by forging camaraderie and advancing progress on a range of celestial issues.  His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba (Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S. and Minister of State) and the UAE were also honored with the award during the main forum for the nation’s growing contributions to space diplomacy.

The Diplomacy Forum also advanced Meridian’s DiplomacyRISE initiative, which aims to strengthen America’s international relations talent ecosystem by investing in the next generation of global affairs practitioners. This included a Space Diplomacy 101 “Lunch and Learn” session on the sidelines of the event. Dr. Ezinne Uzo-Okuro (Senior Fellow, Harvard University and Former Assistant Director for Space Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) provided insight to high school and college students on some of the main tenets of space diplomacy and major issues in international space affairs. Following the conclusion of the main forum, Meridian hosted its annual “Careers in International Affairs” Networking Reception for young professionals. This year’s reception focused on opportunities at the intersection of STEM and international affairs, allowing attendees to engage with practitioners representing interdisciplinary fields across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Representatives from NASA and the Department of State delivered remarks, providing valuable career insights to the audience.

The Space Diplomacy Forum also served to launch Meridian’s larger space diplomacy endeavors. In the coming months and years, Meridian will advance international norms for government and industry, democratize space for pre-emerging and emerging space faring nations and accelerate the global space economy. We look forward to working with both U.S and international governments, both established space industry and startups, as well as academic institutions, NGOs and philanthropic entities to attain enduring impact in this emerging diplomatic frontier.

Forum Sessions

RESPONSIBLE EXPLORATION
watch

Global space activities are rapidly accelerating, catapulted by NASA’s Artemis program, where NASA and a growing number of international and commercial partners will conduct a campaign of many firsts, including landing the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the Moon and enabling the first long-term human presence at another celestial body. This excitement has spawned a golden era for space, opening doors to a multitude of new opportunities in various sectors of society, as well as new challenges for international diplomacy, space governance, the sustainability of the space environment, and safe space operations. This session discussed the various factors shaping responsible exploration in the modern space age and their implications for U.S. foreign policy.

Colonel Pam Melroy (USAF-Ret.), Deputy Administrator, NASA

Ambassador Rich Verma, Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, U.S. Department of State

Moderator: Kristin Fisher, Space and Defense Correspondent, CNN

SECURING SPACE AT THE NEXUS OF DIPLOMACY AND DEFENSE
watch

The global space economy is growing—including in the national security sector. Intelligence gathering and military communications rely on satellites, making emerging technologies in space of particular interest to defense agencies. At the same time, strained communications with actors like China and Russia heighten concerns about their respective military aspirations in space. This session addressed U.S. efforts to advance commercial innovation, space engagement, and national security while simultaneously prioritizing safety and stability of the domain.

Dr. John Plumb, Assistant Secretary for Space Policy, U.S. Department of Defense

Moderator: Kurt Scherer, Managing Partner, C5 Capital

MOONSHOTS: THE NEW SPACE ECONOMY FOR EMERGING SPACEFARING NATIONS

watch

Over the past decade, 25 countries have established their own national space agency. Even more are launching their own satellite into lower earth orbit, often in collaboration with their private sector. Countries and subregional blocs are entering the global space arena to advance a diverse set of policy and economic goals, such as to bolster their capacities in telecommunications, environmental monitoring, and threat prevention. However, space economies do not follow a “one-size-fits-all” strategy. Financial constraints, geography, natural resources, private-sector capacity, and human capital must inform how nations approach space. This session discussed factors for emergent spacefaring ecosystems to consider when developing a customized roadmap for their own space economy. It also underscored the value of leveraging partnerships to achieve their space ambitions.

Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador, Embassy of Republic of Rwanda

Kelli Kedis Ogborn, Vice President, Space Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Space Foundation

Temidayo Oniosun, Managing Director, Space in Africa

Moderator: Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr. (USMC-Ret.), Administrator, NASA (2009-2017)

MODERN SPACE GOVERNANCE AND THE ARTEMIS ACCORDS

watch

From the free and peaceful use of space to the universe not being subject to national annexation, the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty has defined international space conduct since its signing in 1967. However, this once stable foundation is starting to crack under the pressure of a new space age. The emergence of novel technologies, actors, and coalitions in space has engendered the need for a new set of norms and regulations. This session highlighted the framework for modernizing space governance through the Artemis Accords, signed by 39 countries to date. It also explored partner countries, such as Canada’s approach to space regulations, and rival approaches to space cooperation, such as those guiding China’s International Lunar Research Station project.

Karen Feldstein, Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations, NASA

Dr. Jenni Gibbons, Astronaut, Canadian Space Agency

Valda Vikmanis-Keller, Director of the Office of Space Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Moderator: Jacqueline Feldscher, Managing Editor, Payload

AARTI HOLLA-MAINI ON THE UNITED NATIONS' CHANGING PLACE IN SPACE
watch

Aarti Holla-Maini, Director, Office for Outer Space Affairs, United Nations

EXPANDING NASA'S SPACE STATION ALLIANCE
watch

NASA’s alliance around the International Space Station has been primarily focused on US, Russia, Canada, Japan and the EU countries. Axiom Space, in partnership with NASA, have been extending this limited alliance of 31 countries around the International Space Station (ISS) by giving emerging space-faring nations access to the ISS through human space flight including Turkiye, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among others. The new Axiom station, the first module of which will launch in 2026, will be accessible as a private sector initiative in partnership with NASA. This conversation explored how, alongside the Artemis Accords, this new access to low-Earth orbit is one of the most strategic developments in space diplomacy.

Matt Ondler, President, Axiom Space

Moderator: Christina Ruffini, Foreign Affairs Journalist

ORBITING ORDER: HOW DEVELOPING NORMS CAN ACCELERATE SPACE COMMERCIALIZATION
watch

Last year, the commercial sector was responsible for 90% of all payload deployments. This achievement marks a new era in space exploration—one in which governments embrace the private sector’s ability to innovate and execute missions at lower cost. However, existing space governance frameworks predate commercial actors and emerging space activities, leaving an exploding sector to operate in a regulatory vacuum. This session emphasized how space commercialization can benefit from an international set of transparent, uniform norms. The session also examined how frameworks like the Washington Compact and the White House’s Novel Space Activities Authorization and Supervision Framework are bridging this gap, along with how policymakers can create beneficial regulatory measures without hindering productivity.

Kenneth Hodgkins, Chair, Off-World Approach, The Hague Institute for Global Justice

Dr. Diane Howard, Director of Commercial Space Policy, National Space Council

Jared Stout, Vice President, Government and External Relations, Axiom Space

Moderator: Dr. Jeff Foust, Senior Staff Writer, Space News

THE PHILIPPINES' EMERGING ROLE IN SPACE

watch

Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr., Director-General, Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA)

Moderator: Dr. Giovanni Zanalda, Co-Founder, Space Diplomacy Lab, Duke University

TEODORO VALENTE SHARES ITALY'S OUTLOOK ON SPACE-BASED COOPERATION
watch

Professor Teodoro Valente, President, Italian Space Agency (ASI)

COSMIC COOPERATION: SPACE EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PARTERSHIPS

watch

The global space economy is racing towards a trillion-dollar valuation by 2040. Reaching these horizons is dependent upon the sector’s ability to train and retain a robust workforce. This includes not only scientists and engineers, but also tradespersons and technical workers. The White House has prepared a roadmap to “inspire, prepare, and employ” a competitive space labor market, while coalitions of private sector companies have also committed to increase the space industry’s capacity. This session made the case for the United States leading the development of this global skilled workforce. It will underscore opportunities for the U.S. to work with nations to strengthen their STEM and vocational education, while showcasing cross-border partnerships and investments that are incentivizing space start-ups in communities around the world.

Krunal Joshi, Space Counsellor, Embassy of India/Indian Space Research Organization

Dr. Sian Proctor, U.S. Science Envoy; Geoscience Professor, Maricopa Community Colleges; Inspiration4 Mission Pilot, SpaceX

David Thomas, Executive Director, MILO Space Sciences Institute, Arizona State University Enterprise Partners

Moderator: Ché Bolden, CEO, The Charles F. Bolden Group

UKRAINE'S PURSUIT OF SPACE AMIDST ADVERSITY
watch

Volodymyr Usov, CEO of Kurs Orbital and Former Chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine

MERIDIAN'S GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AWARD PRESENTATION: HIS EXCELLENCY YOUSEF AL OTAIBA AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

watch

Alia Al Suwaidi, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

RESOURCING, OPERATING, AND DEFENDING THE SPACE DOMAIN

watch

This discussion addressed the challenges of space as a new domain, emphasizing the need for robust operational frameworks akin to other domains, the importance of defending against cyber threats, and the significant energy demands in the space industry. It highlighted the integration of nuclear power technology by organizations like X-energy to enhance spacecraft propulsion and provide sustainable lunar power sources, while also touching on recent geopolitical concerns regarding the veto of a U.N. resolution prohibiting nuclear weapons in space, underscoring the ongoing dialogue on space governance.

Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt (USN-Ret.), Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, IP3

Moderator: André Pienaar, Founder and CEO, C5 Capital

The Space Diplomacy Forum was held in partnership with

 

 

 

AKRAM AND LOURDES ELIAS

 

Project summary

Meridian Launches Space Cooperation into Orbit at 2024 Diplomacy Forum | April 2024
Number of Attendees: 1100
Regions: Africa, Western Hemisphere, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Near East and North Africa, South and Central Asia
Impact Areas: Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Business and Trade
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Individuals/Donors, NGOs, Private Sector, Public Sector
Space_DiplomacyForum_Meridian_Oskardap-58