Announcing space speakers and startups featured at Disrupt SF

At Disrupt SF (September 5-7), TechCrunch is running two big stages and doubling the amount of programming compared to past years. The goal is to cover more of the ever-expanding startup ecosystem, including those amazing founders aiming to get off planet earth and tap the vast domain of space (Yes, the final frontier!).

Space startups will also have a dedicated section of Startup Alley. (Founder tip: TechCrunch is offering five free exhibition spots in the space section of Startup Alley as part of our Top Picks program. Apply here — applications are open until June 29. Or lock in your spot in Startup Alley spot now.)

We have enlisted great speakers to talk space, and we’re especially excited to announce Alan Stern, co-author of the recently released “Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto,” and also an engineer and planetary scientist, who has held executive roles at NASA and now leads New Horizons, NASA’s mission to the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. He has served as a consultant to private space exploration projects, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and he is a co-founder of World View Enterprises, which has raised $42 million to provide an accessible, affordable way to access nearspace with high-altitude balloons.

In addition to a fireside chat onstage, Stern will participate in a separate Q&A session and sign copies of his new book.

We’re also very pleased to announce three speakers who are building the ecosystem of companies and technologies to reach and exploit the earth’s orbit and beyond, a play investors are betting will become big business in the years ahead.

Natalya Bailey, co-founder and CEO of Accion Systems, a startup spun out of MIT’s Space Propulsion Laboratory, has developed an ion propulsion system that is the size of a postage stamp and is designed to power small satellites. The company has raised a total of $12.5 million in 2016 in an A round led by Shasta Ventures. Bailey earned her PhD in AeroAstro at MIT.

Peter Beck is CEO and founder of Rocket Lab, which is a small launch provider offering access to low-Earth orbit for small satellites from a private orbital launch site based in New Zealand. Beck’s passion for rockets goes back to his youth, when he built a rocket to power his bicycle, a feat he somehow survived. In 2009, Beck lead the development and launch of Atea-1, the first rocket to reach space from the Southern Hemisphere. Rocket Lab has raised $148 million in rounds led by Khosla Ventures, DCVC (Data Collective) and Bessemer Venture Partners. The company placed customer payloads in orbit for the first time in January this year and plans to reach monthly launch cadence by the end of 2018. 

Will Marshall is co-founder and CEO of Planet, a company  that “builds small satellites and delivers information about the changing planet.” Marshall was a scientist at NASA/USRA where he was deputy systems engineer on lunar orbiter mission “LADEE,”  and received his PhD in Physics from the University of Oxford. Planet has raised more than $183 million in rounds led by DFJ, International Finance Corporation and Data Collective.

You’ll also be able to continue the conversation with these panelists as they will be taking attendee questions on our intimate Q&A Stage after their Main Stage panel discussion.

You don’t want to miss all this, as well as Disrupt SF’s many other features, including 14 tracks of content across four stages, ranging from AI to new retail to robots, CrunchMatch, Startup Battlefield and much more. Get your early-bird tickets today.