Keystone Space Collaborative Announces Space and Defense Innovation District to Boost Tri-State Region’s Economic Development

Jun 20, 2023

Keystone Space Collaborative Announces Space and Defense Innovation District to Boost Tri-State Region’s Economic Development
Master vision planning process unveiled along with Keystone Space’s key partners.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (June 1, 2023) – Space technology and innovation experts from across the Tri-State Region (OH, PA and WV) and country gathered today to learn about the master vision planning process for the establishment of a Space and Defense Innovation District in Pittsburgh’s North Side during a noon panel at the Keystone Space Collaborative’s (Keystone Space) second annual space conference. The Keystone Space and Defense Innovation District (the “District”), anchored by Astrobotic, Keystone Space, and the AFWERX/SpaceWERX Pittsburgh Innovation Hub, will be a space and defense innovation industry cluster that will serve as a regional economic development enabler connecting North Side educational, entertainment and retail assets with the broader Manchester and Chateau communities.

Some of the key contributing partners involved with the development of the Keystone Space and Defense Innovation District spoke about their vision and goals for the project. What was discussed included: 

  • Carnegie Science Center Director, Jason Brown, helped cast the vision for the future of the 8-acre property spanning from Carnegie Science Center, through Allegheny Avenue and into Western Avenue. The organization is collaborating with COSM, Astrobotic, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Keystone Space and other community stakeholders to bring its vision to reality.
  • COSM, Chairman of the Board and Mirasol Capital CEO, Steve Winn, reflected on the opportunity that this project represents to turn prime, underutilized real-estate into a first-of-its-kind District that will become a national attraction that benefits the community as a sports/entertainment venue and educational platform that serves not only as an anchor tourism attraction, but also enables STEAM opportunities for the broader Pittsburgh region.
  • Astrobotic CEO, John Thornton, recognized the company’s role as a magnet for in and out-of-region industry participants to relocate within the District to advance a broader industry narrative and drive both public and private financing, while making good on its “Making space accessible to the world” motto through its founding role in the Moonshot Museum and partnership with the Manchester community.
  • Keystone Space, Chairman of the Board Justine Kasznica, commended the role of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the DCED on their expansion of the Keystone Innovation Zone to include the District and discussed the vital role that Keystone Space would play in identifying and bringing a pipeline of partners, members, and industry stakeholders from across the Tri-State Region (OH, PA and WV) and beyond to the District, as well as running strategic programming with the goal of creating a sustainable space and defense innovation industry cluster on the North Side.
  • Mayor Ed Gainey, on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh, lent his support for the connection of the space and defense industry-centered approach to broader economic development opportunities for the City of Pittsburgh as well as opportunities for accessible residential developments and inclusive workforce development, including K-12+ talent pipelines from within the underserved Pittsburgh and surrounding communities to support the region’s space and defense innovation industry growth for years to come.
  • Congresswoman Summer Lee, offered her support for the new District and expressed her belief that this opportunity will be beneficial for her constituents as an economic and workforce development activator. Lee will serve as a critical liaison between the industry cluster, local community, and Washington D.C., given her role on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

“Establishing support from these partners across the spectrum of industry, government, investment firms and more has been critical in bringing this unique idea to life,” said Justine Kasznica, Keystone Space Collaborative Board Chair. “The commitment from political officials, local and regional investors and our city’s leaders is proof to us that there is real value behind what the Keystone Space Collaborative is doing. By connecting all facets of space, innovation, academia, the economy, our workforce and the general public, we’re positioning this region to be a leader in the global space ecosystem.”

The master visioning process will be funded with support from the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Mirasol Capital, with strategic support and contributions from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, Manchester Citizen Corporation, the Pittsburgh Technology Council, and other community stakeholders.

Economic Opportunities for Our Region
The economic development opportunities that the space and defense innovation industry represent are plentiful for the Keystone region – especially for Pittsburgh in particular. This industry cluster is a tangible manifestation of Pittsburgh’s leadership and unwavering commitment to participate in what is projected to be a $1 trillion industry by 2030.

“The potential impact of this District is really exciting,” said Kasznica. “By combining entertainment/retail and space/science innovation in one location and designing it with the goal of connecting and activating disconnected communities, the District will create unprecedented opportunities for workforce and economic development in the Manchester and Chateau neighborhoods, Pittsburgh, and the broader Tri-State Region.”

To stay up-to-date with the latest updates about the Space and Defense Innovation District and the region’s current space news, visit


ABOUT THE KEYSTONE SPACE COLLABORATIVE: Founded in 2021, the Keystone Space Collaborative is the tri-state’s premier space organization committed to attracting, growing and amplifying the next generation of space industry businesses and talent in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. By convening people passionate about space, the Keystone Space Collaborative aims to attract more opportunities for job creation, inclusive prosperity and growth in this fast-growing sector. To learn more, visit