SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Dozens of self-proclaimed “space geeks” have gathered in San Jose this week to exchange ideas talk about the future of private space exploration.

The annual New Space Conference has become a center of gravity for the dozens of companies, inventors and enthusiasts who see profits in outer space.

Old Space would be NASA, whereas new space describes San Jose inventor Peter Humphries of San Jose, who is hoping to license his patent for an orbiting space factory.

“The further you go away from Earth, the more trouble you’re going to have fixing stuff,” Humphries said. So long-term space missions will need to be able to manufacture tiles and other replacement parts.

The most well known space company is Space X, which has successfully sent cargo ships to the International Space Station.

Now even a lobbying group has taken up the cause of the growing space industry. The Tea Party In Space sees privatizing what lies beyond the atmosphere as a necessary element of fiscal responsibility.

“There’s a place for NASA, but the more that the commercial sector can get involved and start doing stuff, the sooner we’re going to be able to open up the infinite economy,” said lobbyist Andrew Gosser.

Just ten of the 30 exhibitors come from Silicon Valley, but New Space organizers say California technology companies are already playing a big role in developing new technology.

The conference sponsored by the Space Frontier Foundation at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose runs through Sunday.

“It’s really neat that we have it over in the Silicon Valley Area because it’s basically an incubator all of these companies,” said conference co-chair Sara Meshberger. “I think everyone here is really interested in being able to see it become a viable industry.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)