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NASA’s Ion Innovation District and Johnson Space Center are building a pipeline for Houston-area entrepreneurs to share ideas and intellectual property with the space agency.

Ion and NASA are collaborating with Rice University on the new project, which aims to create events, programs and initiatives to promote the aerospace sector and the use of NASA technologies in the wider economy. .

Vanessa Wyche, director of the Johnson Space Center, said in a press release that the alliance “will help NASA solve challenges, develop spin-off technologies, develop minority entrepreneurs, and accelerate innovative, cutting-edge solutions. in Houston”.

The innovations developed under the new project will propel the commercialization of space, Wyche said.

The new alliance will largely focus on minority-owned businesses, as well as aerospace and technology entrepreneurs. Ion’s Aerospace Innovation Accelerator for Minority Businesses will play a role in this strategy.

Under the new collaboration, NASA and Ion will open an application process for interested startups and entrepreneurs in fall 2022. Selected applicants will participate in programming through mid-2023.

“NASA’s Johnson Space Center has led the United States and the world on an ongoing journey of human exploration, and the Ion is here to accelerate tomorrow’s space efforts. … Together, we will preserve Houston’s title in as a ‘Space City’ and will advance the global space industry for future missions,” said Jan Odegard, Ion’s Executive Director.

Houston is poised to grab a big chunk of the ever-growing space economy.

A Space Foundation report shows the value of the global space economy grew to $447 billion in 2020, up 4.4% from $428 billion in 2019. Morgan Stanley estimates the economy Global space could generate revenues of $1 trillion or more by 2040, with satellite broadband accounting for almost 40% of the sector.

Meanwhile, a report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says the U.S. space economy accounted for $125.9 billion in price-adjusted GDP in 2019.

In Texas, the annual GDP of the space economy is estimated at $11.7 billion. The Perryman Group, a Waco-based economic analyst firm, predicts that figure could grow to more than $27.3 billion in 2030 and nearly $57.6 billion in 2040.

The Perryman Group says the Texas space economy is expected to grow about 120% faster than the U.S. space economy, with the state’s share of that economy potentially approaching 15% by 2040.

“Texas already plays a significant role in space exploration and related industries,” the company said in a report. “With a major public sector presence, large and growing private sector initiatives, and aggressive development efforts, the state is likely to significantly increase its share of the [space economy].”