The National Space Symposium kicked off at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs on Monday.
The 29th Space Symposium brings together space leaders from around the world to discuss and dream about the future of space.
The Space Symposium's Lockheed Martin Exhibit Center features exhibitors covering a broad range of products in space innovation -- from nanotechnology to full-scale spacecraft.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 went behind-the-scenes of the Lockheed Martin Exhibit Center Monday, hours before the center opened to symposium visitors. Exhibitors came from as far away as Japan and Europe, but many were close to home.
"A lot of the companies that exhibit here all have operations here on the Front Range," said Janet Stevens, Vice President-Marketing and Communications for the Space Foundation. "We have Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The Colorado Space Coalition is here and they represent all of the space businesses."
Stevens said the symposium brings a lot of prestige to Colorado Springs.
Janet Fritz with the Colorado Space Coalition said Colorado is the best-kept secret in the national aerospace economy. The Colorado Space Coalition will be at the Lockheed Martin Exhibit Center all week to talk to businesses about the benefits of the space industry in Colorado.
"We like to say we're a mile closer to space due to our geographic location," Fritz joked. "But just the fact that we are so strong in many facets of aerospace [is a benefit.]"
Colorado has the nation's second-largest aerospace economy, Fritz said, with eight of the nation's top contractors having significant operations in the state. Colorado's location in the center of the country also provides one-bounce satellite communications to Europe and Asia in the same day.
Zurich-based Ruag Space factored location and proximity to clients when deciding to open an office in the United States. The company opened a Denver office in February.
"There's lots of great aerospace here in Colorado," said Patrick McKenzie with Ruag Space USA. "We wanted to be centrally located and also co-located to some of our most important customers."
The weeklong Space Symposium is expected to have a significant economic impact for Colorado. "We bring in about $25 million in money that people spend traveling, staying here, bringing their exhibits here, etc.," said Stevens.
The 29th National Space Symposium runs April 8-11. To learn more, click here.