Satellites draw crowd to USU

By Ann Herron
The Herald Journal
August 14, 2001

Small satellites are bringing big money to Cache Valley.

More than 450 scientists, students and industry leaders are attending the 15th annual Small Satellite conference at Utah State University this week. And valley leaders are glad to see them come.

"I know this conference fills rooms from here to Ogden," said Cache Chamber of Commerce tourist director Maridene Hancock. "We love these conference guests. They are high-quality visitors that are good for our community."

The money generated from the conference flows all over the valley, according to organizers.

Exhibitors say they do more business at this conference than at any other one they attend. Students at the conference compete for more than $18,000 in scholarship money.

"We could have had more people here this year, but there just wasn't enough space. We couldn't fit them in here," said conference chairman Frank Redd.

Hosted by USU's Space Dynamics Lab, this conference is the only one focusing on small satellites in the world - another reason why representatives of more than a dozen countries come.

"A few years back we suggested that we rotate holding the meeting different places," said Redd. "But attendees voted overwhelmingly to return to Logan. They just love it here, the get-away atmosphere, the beauty of the valley."

Small satellites are a growing field, said keynote speaker Lon Rains, editor of Space News.

"Space is the battlefield of the future. The military is thinking about it (small satellites) now," he said. "Ten years ago, small satellite people were the backwater of the science world. Now they are right in the thick of things."

The theory is to build satellites, "better, faster, cheaper," Rains said. Cell phones and wireless computers can be run using small satellites. The satellites can also be used to collect a wide variety of scientific information about space. Since they are small, these satellites can be build and launched for a lower cost, Rains said.

Small satellites are not reusable.

However, Utah is in the running for a chance to built a vertical launch site and a 3.5 mile landing strip for reusable space planes. The proposed site for Utah's spaceport is near Beaver, Utah in the Wah Wah Valley.