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Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Distinguished Lecture

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November 15, 2019 | 10:00 am

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The Commercial U.S. Space Industry – Boom or Bust?

Lecture by Dr. R. John Olds, P.E., CEO of  SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc.

Friday, November 15, 2019
Lecture: 10 – 11 a.m.
Q&A: 11 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Hunt Auditorium, James B. Hunt Jr. Library, NC State Centennial Campus

The 2019 Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Distinguished Lecture will be presented on Friday, November 15, 2019, at 10 a.m. in Duke Energy Hall at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus.  Dr. R. John Olds, CEO of SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc., will present the lecture entitled “The Commercial U.S. Space Industry – Boom or Bust?”

The event is hosted by the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.


At the dawn of the space age, enterprising American businesses dreamed of ways to use outer space as a means to make a profit. Pioneering investments in the early 1960’s by AT&T eventually lead to a thriving telecommunications industry in geostationary orbit. However, faced with increased pressure from terrestrial data networks and undersea cables, the GEOcomm industry is currently declining. The much-ballyhooed suborbital space tourism market has failed to materialize, now marking 15 years since a Paul Allen-backed team won the Ansari X-Prize. NASA is actively encouraging the U.S. industry to create sustainable business models on the International Space Station and future LEO orbital platforms. Crew and cargo delivery systems to the ISS are heavily subsidized by US taxpayers. Are there really growth business models in LEO? Are deep space asteroids really the gold mines of the solar system? Or is all this just wishful thinking from the pro-space entrepreneurial crowd? Dr. John Olds will explore the case for the commercial space industry and provide evidence for both sides of the debate. Is the commercial space industry in the U.S. a boom or a bust? Do the ego-driven investments of a few U.S. billionaires really amount to proof of a sustainable commercial market in space? Or are NASA and the DoD still providing the only markets worth addressing for truly profit-minded organizations? Has the investment community grown weary of the hype and claims of riches from space? Or are we at the dawn of a new golden space age for commercial companies?


Dr. John OldsDr. John R. Olds is the founder of SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) and serves as the corporation’s chairman and chief executive officer. As CEO, Olds is responsible for the strategic growth and overall management of the company as well as establishing an integrating vision for the company’s various operating divisions and technical activities. He also has ongoing technical roles within the company and holds a joint title as one of the firm’s Principal Engineers. Olds has over 30 years of experience in the aerospace sector, including positions in private consulting, large aerospace industry, academia, and small business. He has been active in the field of advanced space transportation systems analysis and design with particular emphasis on the integration of automated software analyses using multidisciplinary analysis techniques. Since 1986, he has authored or co-authored of over 100 technical papers related to conceptual design of advanced space systems. He has led or participated in a wide range of aerospace concept design studies related to advanced launch systems, human exploration missions, LEO-based satellite constellations, lunar resource missions, space solar power satellites, hypersonic flight, and reusable spaceplane concepts

He holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from NC State University, an M.S. in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University, and a B.S. in aerospace engineering from NC State University. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Georgia and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In 2018, he was inducted into the NC State Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Hall of Fame. He is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina and currently resides in Dunwoody, GA. Dr. Olds and his wife Melinda have one son, Davis.

About the Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Distinguished Lecture
The Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Distinguished Lecture was established in 2015 through the generosity of his former students, fellow faculty members and other alumni at NC State University as a recognition of his dedication to the field of aerospace engineering.



November 15, 2019

10:00 am
Event Category:
James B. Hunt Jr. Library
1070 Partners Way
Raleigh, NC 27606 United States

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