Space Enabled welcomes Kevin O'Connell, Founder and CEO of Space Rising LLC, as an Affiliated Researcher. Mr. O'Connell will collaborate with members of Team Space Enabled to pursue opportunities for teaching, public communications and research on topics related to space governance, the long term sustainability of the space environment and future economic activities in space.
Kevin O’Connell is a recognized expert on space commerce, the global space economy, international intelligence and U.S. national security matters. For almost four decades, he has focused on space commercialization and technological competitiveness and how to advance them in global markets. He has also focused on how these innovations impact U.S. and allied national security.
His U.S. government assignments include the Department of Commerce (SES), The Department of Defense, The Department of State, The National Security Council, The Office of the Vice President, and The Office of the Director of Central Intelligence. Within the private sector, Mr. O’Connell was a senior research analyst at RAND and was the first Director of RAND’s Intelligence Policy Center. In 2007, he founded Innovative Analytics and Training, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in assessing high-tech market areas including geospatial markets, cloud computing, and cyber analytics.
Mr. O’Connell’s most recent role was Director of the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. He was the principal architect of outreach to U.S. private space companies to facilitate innovation and encourage increased market growth and viability. He focused on the growing role of the private sector in space, encouraged new space partnerships, worked to ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. commercial space industry, and advanced American leadership in space safety and sustainability. Mr. O’Connell testified before Congress on space policy and regulatory issues, American space competitiveness, and the growth of space commerce. He was awarded the Vice President’s Dedicated Service Award for his support to the National Space Council.
Mr. O’Connell also expanded international outreach on space commerce issues with a wide range of U.S. allies and partners, especially to compare notes on regulation, encourage new partnerships and advance space safety and sustainability. His overseas space engagements included participation in the U.S.-Japan Comprehensive Space Dialogue, as part of a Space Delegation to Luxembourg, and including high-level discussions with the EU, India, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Commonwealth partners.
Mr. O’Connell is a recognized expert on the policy, security, and commercial aspects of satellite remote sensing technologies and markets. He served as the Executive Secretary of the Independent Commission on the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) in 2000 and later as an advisor to the Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He was a long-standing member of NOAA’s federal advisory committee, ACCRES, including as Chair between 2012 and 2016.
Mr. O’Connell has been a regular author on space commerce issues. He contributed the foreword to "Space Policies for the New Space Age: Competing on the Final Economic Frontier,” by Bruce Cahan and Mir Sadat (NewSpace New Mexico, December 2020). He co-authored Commercial Observation Satellites: at the Leading Edge of Global Transparency (ASPRS/RAND, 2000). He taught graduate courses in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the RAND Graduate School for many years and has lectured at academic and research organizations around the world.
The Affiliated Researcher position is a voluntary affiliation with the MIT Media Lab that allows external collaborators to exchange via academic activities.