Space Commerce: Barriers and Solutions

Space Commerce: Barriers and Solutions will examine several of the more frequently cited barriers to space commerce and will then present plausible solutions to each barrier. In addition, for each barrier presented, workshop participants will be asked for their solution to the problem. This format supports three primary course objectives:

  • To introduce critical thinking and discernment for realistic space commerce problem solving.
  • To understand the comprehensive nature of barriers encountered in commercial space development and to apply big picture, as well as specific solutions, to resolving the barriers.
  • To be able to determine the futuristic but plausible solution from that which is nonsense.

The focus will be on economics, physics, and engineering realities.

What You Will Learn: 

This short course will provide practical and feasible solutions to several of the major challenges facing the development and expansion of the commercial space industry.

Day 1 – Networking dinner with fellow students
Day 2 – Full day of instruction from 8:00am to 5:00pm
Day 3 – Half day instruction ending at 1:00pm

Specific barriers to be discussed include:

  • Human Factors. There are many human factors issues for long duration space flight and space settlement that prevent spaceflight beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO), including radiation exposure, microgravity, and psychological issues. Not only are these problems facing the inhabitants of the spacecraft, but they will also adversely impact establishing a lunar settlement, visits to a space hotel, and certainly all aspects of a trip to and from Mars. The course will examine the problems, the existing solution paths to these human factors issues, and plausible solutions to each of these for their respective space environment.
  • Public/Private Cooperation. DOD and other space players (i.e. civil space, public, and private space users/developers) can often experience conflicts, stress, and other issues. The course will look at these relationships from the commercial space perspective and identify the problems causing barriers. The course will then explore ways in which public and private cooperation can lead to a timelier and more productive commercial space industry.
  • Affordable space access. Space access can be a costly endeavor for a diverse commercial space industry to develop and for humans wanting to go to space. The course will examine why the high costs of space access do not appear to be a factor in the currently successful commercial telecommunications satellite sector and extrapolate from that how it can be applied to other commercial space areas. The course will look at existing government programs intending to mitigate some of the high costs, such as the NASA COTS program, and using SpaceX as a case study. Participants will then see how they can develop other plausible scenarios to reduce space access costs. Explore launch rates, developing a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), finding a killer application that lowers launch costs, and more. Examine this problem from both the cargo and the human spaceflight perspective.
  • Financing. In this section the course will discuss capital acquisition for space projects, risk evaluation, and what the space CEO must do and show to acquire capital. Also addressed will be the wide range of financing tools available including angel and venture capital financing, debt, equity, and funding from government. This section also includes an understanding of market needs and realistic market assessments by management.
  • ITAR (International Traffic In Arms Regulations). Export control issues for the commercial space industry comprise a serious barrier for U.S. companies, often causing a loss of business as a result of the inability to export or even collaborate on a product. The course will explore ways to reform ITAR for the commercial space industry and how to effectively relay that to people who can implement ITAR reform. This section will also address the compliance protocol and what is required of a company involved with ITAR controlled products or technology.
  • Participant Suggestions.  In this section, short course participants will discuss what they consider to be a primary barrier to commercial space development and what they see for a solution set to the problems caused by the barrier.
What you will gain:
  • Discover and use critical thinking skills to implement practical solutions to several of the major challenges facing the development and expansion of the commercial space industry.
  • Understand how the public and private sectors can work together to create a cohesive commercial space industry.
  • Learn about the financial tools and funding that are currently available to the commercial space industry.
  • Network with leading commercial space industry professionals and others with an interest in the field.
  • Experience an exciting and cutting-edge continuing education program that delivers a challenging environment and practical skills.
Who should attend:

This course is designed for anyone interested in commercial space development, civil space, military space, or the support industries, including but not limited to:

  • Academics
  • Accountants
  • Astronautical engineers
  • Commercial space industry professionals (engineers and scientists)
  • Consultants
  • Government contractors
  • Government space employees
  • Lawyers
  • Managerial personnel
  • Space tourism professionals
Instructor Bio

Dr. David M. Livingston is an adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota Graduate School of Space Studies, both on campus and in their distant learning program, specializing in space commerce, space economics, ethics, and management classes. He has also served as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Business at Golden Gate University teaching Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. Livingston has guest lectured at other university programs including Stanford University, Sonoma State University, and USC. He earned his BA from the University of Arizona, his MBA in International Business Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and his Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from Golden Gate University. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Outer Space Commerce: Its History and Prospects”.

Dr. David Livingston is the founder and host of The Space Show (, the only talk radio show focusing on increasing space commerce, developing space tourism, and facilitating our move to a space-faring economy and culture. The Space Show is broadcast multiple times per week on radio, the internet, and on satellite uplink feeds. Past show archives, listening information, and coming events can be found at the program website.

Continuing Education Units

CEUs: 1.2 (CEUs provided by request only)

USC Viterbi School of Engineering Certificate of Participation is awarded to all participants upon successful completion of course.

Why Consider a Custom Course for Your Organization?

Custom courses provide the opportunity to create an educational program that meets the specific needs of your organization. The following are a few reasons why our clients have chosen USC Viterbi School of Engineering as their program provider:

  • Interest in connecting with USC experts for real organizational issues
  • Engineering training and executive education opportunities in a condensed period of time
  • Educational opportunities at multiple company sites through on-site training and/or distance offerings to several sites simultaneously
  • Preference for providing Continuing Education Units (CEUs) rather than degree-oriented academic units
  • Overall flexibility in timing, delivery and pricing

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us by email or at 213-740-4488

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