Keystone Space Collaborative to Announce Creation of Space and Defense Innovation District at Annual Conference

May 23, 2023

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (May 23, 2023) – The Keystone Space Collaborative (Keystone Space) today announced it will unveil a master planning process for the creation of a Space and Defense Innovation District in Pittsburgh at its second annual Space Conference, happening on June 1-2, 2023. The announcement, which will be made along with Keystone Space’s key partners and stakeholders, will take place during a noon panel on June 1.

The registration-only conference will provide curated connection opportunities for hundreds of space professionals, and it boasts an agenda full of renowned keynote speakers representing:

  • NASA
  • DOD
  • United States Congress
  • Elected and appointed officials from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia
  • Industry leaders from Astrobotic, Blue Origin and many others.

Since its founding, Keystone Space has joined forces with government and private groups to advocate and attract funding for the space and defense innovation industry across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. An illustration of this is its recent partnership with the U.S. Air Force to create the Keystone Space Innovation Center and AFWERX Pittsburgh, which will be co-located with Astrobotic and anchor the development of the Space and Defense Innovation District on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

“We are at a pivotal moment in the tri-state’s space journey. Attracting support from NASA and the national defense community shows that we are being looked at as a serious player in fueling the country’s space missions and priorities,” said Justine Kasznica, Keystone Space Board Chair. “Pittsburgh and the surrounding region are now being included in the national conversation about space – something we’ve been working hard to achieve.”

New Tri-State Space Ecosystem Report

Also at the conference, Keystone Space will release an updated Space Ecosystem Industry Report, providing evidence-based updates on the growth of the tri-state area’s space ecosystem since the commissioning of the first Ecosystem Industry Report in 2021, funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation and prepared by Bryce Tech, which compiled space industry data from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and highlighted opportunities for the tri-state region to contribute to the space economy on a national level. The new report will focus on growth from 2021 to 2023 and include: 

  • Additions to the tri-state region space ecosystem, including space-relevant businesses, academic partnerships and institutes, and projects
  • Updates on investment in the region, including jobs that have been provided by NASA in the tri-state area
  • The region’s contribution to economic activity through space-related work

“This report provides tangible evidence that the tri-state region is drawing major investment from NASA, DOD and others to help drive the country’s space innovation,” said Zoe Karabinus, Keystone Space Program Director. “The Keystone Space Collaborative is helping the tri-state area rise to the ranks of major space economic drivers such as California, Texas, Virginia and Florida.”

Sub-Orbit to Lunar and Beyond

This year’s second annual conference will also examine the theme of elevating our region’s stature as the payload delivery mechanism for sub-orbital through lunar and beyond, a key differentiator of the tri-state area.

“Our region is uniquely positioned to industrialize space as a new frontier for economic development,” said Kasznica. “The tri-state area has tremendous cross-sector strengths in robotics and advanced manufacturing, supply chain support, life sciences and agriculture, space infrastructure (computing, power and communication), mission assurance and other disciplines critical to industrialization of a Suborbital/Low Earth Orbit/CIS-Lunar/Lunar economy. Our conference is a place where we can explore this narrative and facilitate connections to make it even stronger.”

At the conference, industry leaders will be presenting the story of the industrialization of space through the tri-state region and will be identifying pathways to maximize the impact of regional investments in space and space-adjacent industries.

While space is filling fast, registration is still open for the conference, which will be held at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square, June 1-2, 2023. Click here for full agenda and speaker list. To register for the conference, 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