Advancing Space: From LEO to Lunar and Beyond

The 2023 AAS von Braun Space Exploration Symposium

October 25-27, 2023
The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama

Save the date for Advancing Space: From LEO to Lunar and Beyond, the 16th annual von Braun Space Exploration Symposium. At this year’s event, you can convene, connect, and collaborate with space industry leaders and colleagues. We will have a timely and relevant agenda that will inform and educate on the very latest developments and future opportunities and challenges in space science and exploration.

In conjunction with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the University of Alabama in Huntsville

Event News

  • The Program for the event is now available here.
  • The Call for Abstracts for the Student Poster Contest is now live! Read this document to learn more about the contest and how to submit. Abstracts are due by 9/22 by 11:59pm EST.
Event Program

Day 1: Wednesday | Oct. 25

Welcoming remarks to kick off the von Braun Space Exploration Symposium.

  • Ron Birk, President, American Astronautical Society
  • Charles Karr, President, University of Alabama Huntsville
  • Joseph Pelfrey, Acting Director, NASA MSFC


  • Lakeisha Hawkins, Deputy Manager, Moon to Mars Program, NASA (Introduction)
  • Joseph Pelfrey, Acting Director, NASA MSFC (Moderator)
  • John Honeycutt, Manager, Space Launch Systems Program, NASA
  • Howard Hu, Orion Program Manager, NASA Johnson
  • Shawn Quinn, Program Manager, Exploration Ground Systems, NASA
  • Jon Olansen, Gateway Program Manager, NASA
  • Lisa Watson-Morgan, Human Landing System Program Manager, NASA


  • Kurt Vogel, Director of Space Architectures, NASA (Moderator)
  • Ken Bowersox, Associate Administrator for Space Operations, NASA
  • Prasun Desai, Associate Administrator for Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Nicola Fox, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Jim Free, Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development, NASA

Use this time to network with your colleagues!


  • Jim Myers, Senior Vice President, Aerospace Corporation (Moderator)
  • Seamus Tuohy, Senior Director of Business Development, Robotics & Space Operations, MDA
  • Shane Canerday, Aerospace Engineer, NASA MSFC
  • Justin Cyrus, Chief Executive Officer, Lunar Outpost
  • Jaime Stearns, Space Vehicles Directorate Space Control Mission Lead, AFRL
  • Niki Werkheiser, Director of Technology Maturation, NASA

Keynote Speaker:

  • Bill Nelson, Administrator, NASA

Day 2: Thursday | Oct. 26


  • Mary Beth Koelbl, Director, Engineering Directorate, NASA MSFC (Moderator)
  • Doug Bradley, Program Manager, SLS RS-25, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Tabitha Dodson, Program Manager, DARPA DRACO Program Manager
  • Mark Fisher, Senior Director for Engines, Propulsion and Fluid Systems, Blue Origin
  • Eric Paulson, Senior Aerospace Engineer, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Jason Turpin, Senior Technical Leader of Propulsion, NASA MSFC


  • Ed McLarney, Lead for Transformation Integration and AIML, Transformation and Data Division, NASA CIO (Moderator)
  • Virgil Hutchinson, Senior Director, Sector Chief Engineering, Northrop Grumman
  • Ron Kessing, Senior Vice President for Technology Integration, Leidos
  • Lee Wilbur, Managing Director, Deloitte
  • Ana Wooley, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama Huntsville

Use this time to network with your colleagues!


  • Kristina Hendrix, Vice President for Strategic Communications, University of Alabama Huntsville (Moderator)
  • Lee Roop, Reporter,


  • Mallory James, Aerospace Engineer, NASA MSFC (Moderator)
  • Alex Bernhardt, Thermal Fluids Analyst, Sierra Lobo Inc.
  • Brandon Burroughs, Business Development Lead, Boeing
  • Ashley Kowalski, Project Leader, International Partnerships, Aerospace Corporation

Keynote Speaker

  • Destin Sandlin, Former NASA Astronaut, Host, Smarter Every Day

Enjoy a networking event while discussing the research done by graduate and undergraduate students.

Day 3: Friday | Oct. 27


  • Dayna Ise, Deputy Manager, Science and Technology Office, NASA (Moderator)
  • Brett Denevi, Planetary Scientist, Johns Hopkins University APL
  • Renee Weber, Chief Scientist, NASA MSFC


  • Wayne Hale, Director of Human Spaceflight/Director of Energy Services, Special Aerospace Services LLC (Moderator)
  • Trent Martin, Vice President of Lunar Access, Intuitive Machines
  • Nathan O’Konek, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Redwire Space
  • Kelly Page, President, Barrios Technology
  • Kirk Shireman, Vice President, Lunar Exploration Campaign, Lockheed Martin
  • Karla Smith Jackson, Assistant Administrator for Procurement / Senior Procurement Executive, NASA

Use this time to network with your colleagues!


  • Hank Alewine, Associate Professor of Accounting, University of Alabama Huntsville (Moderator)
  • Bretton Alexander, Chief Revenue Officer, Firefly Aerospace
  • Dan Hendrickson, Vice President of Business Development, Astrobotic
  • Andrei Mitran, Director Strategy and Business Development, Northrop Grumman
  • Ken Shields, Senior Director Business Development of In-Space R&D, Manufacturing, Emerging Markets, Sierra Space


  • AAS Members – $750
  • Non-Members – $875
  • Government, Academia – $750
  • Students (with valid ID) – $125

Select this option if you are planning to attend in-person in Huntsville.


STUDENTS: The first 20 students qualify for free registration to this event. To get the code for FREE registration, email or click here.


  • AAS Members – $150
  • Non-Members – $200
  • Government, Academia – $150
  • Students (with valid ID) – $20

Select this option if you will join the event online only.


Members of the media that meet AAS Media Guidelines should contact AAS to register. Click to email or call 703.866.0020.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Sponsorships are available. Please send us an email or call +1 703.866.0020 for information.

Media Sponsor

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Past Symposia