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3/19/2021

To Our AAS Members,

2020 is a year that will be remembered for so many things that were not on our agendas a year ago. A focus on our health and the health of our family and friends has loomed at the forefront of all of our minds as we moved forward in our work and play activities in significantly different ways. In March, when we canceled the Goddard Symposium, we took stock of where we were and projected several different outcomes for the year. With the support of our members, sponsors, and the hard work of all our volunteers and our staff, we have been able to call 2020 a success for the Society. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone in your organizations that supported AAS, and especially the AAS staff, who all, in spite of everything else they were all dealing with, stepped up and created this success. I believe this is truly indicative of the passion and affinity our members – both corporate and individual – feel for AAS.

Just to reflect a moment, after my four-year term as President, I am most grateful to have played a part in this tremendous organization that brings together so many elements of the aerospace community. With the exception of 2020, we have spent several years building robustness into our financial stability, expanded our conferences, and received excellent feedback on our content and formats. One outcome of having to cancel in-person events is that we have added some new virtual tools to our capabilities which we will continue to utilize as we go forward.

I would like to highlight our significant accomplishments in 2020.

First, let me provide an update on our staff. Jim Way, our Executive Director, has completed his third full year in the role and is entering his fourth. His efforts have helped AAS to continue to grow and build an even more solid foundation for a strong future. Patrick Rouin, our Events Manager, did an excellent job stepping up his focus on events planning and logistics. And, Sarah Robertson, our Communications Coordinator, has now been with us for a full year providing AAS with a stronger and more public voice. It has been greatly beneficial this past year being fully staffed.

AAS has continued to host our Future in Space Hangouts online discussions throughout the year with a moderator and a group of experts discussing space-related topics. These virtual sessions feature the latest in space exploration, technology, innovations, policy, ethics, and more. They are a great way to bring people into the world of space science and technology, allowing them to engage in conversation with some of the industry leaders, and introduce many to AAS. Some of the Hangout topics included “Lunar Surface Innovation: Technology for Sustainable Moon Operations”, “Human Landing System: Putting Boots Back on the Moon”, and “Protecting National Security Assets and Critical Functions for the Space Enterprise Space Systems”. Our HLS Hangout was a huge hit with over 14,000 views! All these Hangouts are available to view for free online on our website.

The 30th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, was held from January 6-10, 2020 in Orlando, Fla. There were 118 papers presented in 25 sessions. The technical coverage of this event is unmatched and offers a tremendous opportunity to discuss new and innovative advances in space flight.

The 43rd annual AAS Guidance and Control Conference was held January 30-February 5 in Breckenridge, Colo. This was another great success with high attendance and an amazing variety of technical topics presented. The GNC conference featured a classified section to discuss advances and developments, as well as substantial student engagement through STEMscape, an outreach to over 100 local high school students and educators. We truly appreciate the efforts of the Rocky Mountain section that put this conference together!

In March, we would have held the 58th Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium. We had an amazing lineup of speakers and panelists, but a week before the conference we decided to postpone for the health and safety of the presenters, attendees, workers, and staff. Due to the timing and significant impact of the coronavirus, the Goddard Symposium was canceled for 2020. We will be hosting the 58th Goddard Symposium from May 4-6, 2021, online. Please join us!

The annual CanSat competition looked a little different this year as it was held virtually. We still saw over 100 teams enter and 40 were invited to the final stage. The 2020 mission was to build CanSat container to protect a payload during a high-g launch, and then deploy a delta wing glider that would glide in a circular pattern once released. Due to the coronavirus, we were not able to host a launch weekend, and scoring was based off CDR and PDR scores. First place went to the University of Hawaii Maui College, with Indonesia in second, the UK in third, Turkey in fourth, and Mexico in fifth. A virtual award ceremony was held online announcing the top five teams with guest speaker Charlie Bolden. The 2021 competition will also be held online in June of this year.

In July, AAS held the second annual John Glenn Memorial Symposium from July 14-16 as our very first fully online event. With over 280 attendees, we were quite pleased with the attendance. The theme of the symposium was Powering Innovation from the Sky to the Stars and included speakers such as Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator; Marla Perez-Davis, Glenn Center Director; Lisa Callahan from Lockheed Martin Space; Kathryn Lueders from NASA; and many more. This conference was AAS’s inaugural virtual conference and proved to be a terrific model for our other virtual conferences. The Third Annual Glenn Symposium will take place July 13-15, 2021, again, online.

Over 800 people attended the International Space Station Research & Development Conference which took place online over three days of plenary sessions. AAS and CASIS have collaborated for several years on this event that brings together technical, commercial, research, policy, and other space industry segments. The conference featured talks by astronauts, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, and other industry leaders. A key component of the event was once again the technical sessions that allowed deep-dive discussions and presentations on a variety of topics including Earth science, human factors, technology innovation, and others. AAS hosted three days of virtual technical sessions with great international participation. There were 32 poster presentations, 85 technical presentations across 16 sessions, and 428 technical session attendees. The 2021 ISS Conference will take place online in August.

The AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialists Conference was held virtually, August 9-13. There were 437 attendees – a new attendance record – and included a very large number of students. There were 302 technical papers presented. This event is a key component of AAS as a technical society and we look forward to continuing to build on this year’s success.

The 13th annual AAS Wernher von Braun Symposium took place online October 26-28. We had a remarkably successful online event with over 400 attendees! Featured speakers included Jim Bridenstine, Carissa Christensen, Mary Lynne Dittmar, Wayne Monteith, Scott Pace, and many others. The 2021 von Braun Symposium will hopefully be back in Huntsville, Ala., in mid-October.

Space Times has had its first full year as an e-publication, publishing 22 articles from 12 authors. Volunteer writers from all areas of the space industry posted engaging articles that helped inform and educate on a variety of space-related subjects. Article topics included AAS news, industry news, interviews with young professionals, and event recaps. Please check it out on our website and let us know what you think.

And last but certainly not least, our peer-reviewed technical publication, The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, published continuously since 1954, is thriving and subscriptions remain a key member benefit. In 2020 alone we published 73 articles in four issues. We have a full editorial staff with a new editor-in-chief and more efficient review procedures in place. Please be sure you take advantage of this incredible resource.

I think we should all be proud of the accomplishments during 2020. We all learned some new capabilities in doing virtual events and were able to be flexible in implementing AAS’s events and activities. 2020 looked as if it was going to be an exciting year, but the COVID-19 outbreak led to many challenges making it a difficult not only for AAS, but for the rest of the industry, government, and the overall space community. As we welcome our new AAS President, Alan DeLuna, our new Officers and several new Board members, we move forward optimistically in 2021 and continue to seek out opportunities to adapt and thrive in a new and different post-pandemic environment.

AAS is fortunate to have the strong support of many in the space industry. With your continued participation, we will work to establish and nurture valuable connections, provide timely insight into critical issues and developments, and bring you the credibility and leadership you seek from our Society. We sincerely appreciate and thank you for being a part of AAS.

Sincerely,

Carol S. Lane
President