Small Businesses Shine At SMD Conference

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - This week, Huntsville is once again the epicenter of space and missile defense for the United States. The annual Space & Missile Defense Conference is underway at the Von Braun Center.

The one thing you quickly learn at the conference is that there are all kinds of ways to help defend America and its war fighters.

Hundreds of exhibitors show their latest innovations to a couple of thousand interested attendees.

"Our theme this year is capabilities for a global threat," said Robert Dowling, SMD Conference Industry Chair.  "You know, we have war fighters out there facing a lot of threats from a lot of different areas, and fundamentally we're here to discuss capabilities that can help save those war fighters' lives."

All the big defense contractors are part of that effort.  But this is one event where being small is okay, too.
Paul Gierow of Huntsville's GATR Technologies describes his latest high-tech gear to attendees.  It's a portable, inflatable satellite tracking system for low earth orbit satellites.

A couple of the small "nano satellites" are hanging from the VBC Arena roof.  They're used for communication and observation.

When these things are eventually deployed in numbers, GATR wants to be part of the system.

"Our product is so unique, when people look at it, we typically don't have to recruit them," said Gierow. "They say 'What in the world is that?'  So then we can say 'This is an antenna that tracks satellites and create interest that way."
GATR is obviously a player, and this conference gives them a chance to remain so.
"I think this helps the community say there's the technologies coming out of Huntsville, and here's what's cool coming in the next couple of years," said Gierow.

The SMD Conference at the Von Braun Center runs through Thursday and is open to the public.

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