ASCEND, the interdisciplinary community focused on building humanity’s off-world future faster, today unveiled its six-day agenda packed with hundreds of visionary sessions and inspiring speakers. Powered by AIAA, ASCEND was launched in 2020 to Accelerate Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery.


Scheduled for 8-10 and 15-17 November, the 2021 ASCEND centerpiece event will showcase a hybrid blend of live in-person programming in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., and online programming on all six days. Details are available at 


Attendees have multiple options for live, virtual, and on-demand attendance; space is limited. Early-bird registration rates are available through midnight, Thursday, 30 September. Journalists around the world are invited to cover 2021 ASCEND; press passes are available for credentialed media by request.


2021 ASCEND Features

  • Kari Byron is returning as emcee! The Mythbusters and Crash Test World host will join us in person in Las Vegas, 15-17 November.

Just back from her suborbital space mission, Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs for Virgin Galactic, will join us in person in Las Vegas to share her first-hand account of experiencing space travel as a citizen astronaut aboard her company’s first fully crewed spaceflight #Unity22 this summer.

  • For a day, ASCEND goes to Washington, D.C. The East Coast Satellite Event on 15 November will feature an in-person panel of national policymakers discussing policy for growing commercial space opportunities, as well as a live feed from the ASCEND Las Vegas stage. Speakers include: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), U.S. House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee; Mike Gold, Redwire Space; Tom Hammond, U.S. House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee; Ezinne Uzo-Okoro, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Tim Dominick, Chair, AIAA Public Policy Committee.
  • The 24th AIAA International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference will be held 15-17 November (in person) in Las Vegas as part of the 2021 ASCEND experience.
  • Caesars Forum in Las Vegas is the center of the 2021 ASCEND universe for in-person sessions, 15-17 November.
  • All ASCEND content will be streamed during 8-10 and 15-17 November, and available on demand online during and after the event for attendees.


Visionary Agenda and Inspiring Speakers

Hundreds of sessions will be presented on today’s hot topic areas – ranging from space traffic management and space debris – to construction, infrastructure, and in-space manufacturing – to international cooperation and national security – to developing the space workforce of tomorrow.


Nearly < /span>400 session technical papers will be presented online by the international grassroots community of authors representing 27 countries. Adjacent industries will be represented with speakers from Facebook, AWS, Amazon Alexa, and General Motors Defense, to name a few.


Select 2021 ASCEND session highlights include:

  • Building Worlds That Do Not Yet Exist
  • Public-Private Partnerships: When One Shoe Doesn’t Fit All
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Roundtable
  • The Emerging 5G Non-Terrestrial Connectivity Ecosystem 
  • Arrival: Persevering into the Future
  • Proliferated LEO: Managing Multiple Mega-Constellations
  • Investing in the Space Economy
  • Space Traffic Management, Including the 2021 Diverse Dozen
  • Leveraging Our Allies in National Security Space
  • Space as a Critical Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Agriculture from Space


2021 ASCEND attendees will experience the energy of presentations by our planet’s off-world pioneers, including Fortune 500 executives, established space agency leaders, government and military officials, professional and citizen astronauts, ‘new space’ companies, international organizations, university professors and students, and start-up CEOs. Confirmed speakers and presenters include:

  • Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, Director of Staff, Headquarters, U.S. Space Force
  • MiMi Aung, former Project Manager, Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, NASA
  • Tory Bruno, CEO, United Launch Alliance
  • Brian Barritt, Organization Leader, Connectivity, Facebook
  • William Callaway, Senior Technical Product Manager, Amazon Alexa
  • Maj. Gen. Susan Coyle, CSC, DSM, Head of Information Warfare, Australian Defence Force
  • Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Clint Crosier, Director of Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, AWS
  • Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Vice President, Axiom Space 
  • Wesley Eddy, Ecosystem Manager, Facebook
  • Samer Halawi, Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Intelsat
  • Henry Hertzfeld, Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University 
  • Doug Hollett, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy 
  • Robyn Gatens, Director, International Space Station, NASA Headquarters 
  • Dave Goldstein, Principal Guidance, Navigation and Control Engineer, SpaceX
  • John Grunsfeld, Astronaut, NASA (retired)
  • Phil Ingle, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
  • Moriba Jah, Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, University of Texas at Austin 
  • Nobu Okada, Founder & CEO, Astroscale Holdings Inc. 
  • Sandra Magnus, Principal, AstroPlanetview, and Astronaut, NASA (retired)
  • Leland Melvin, Astronaut, NASA (retired)
  • John Mulholland, Vice President and Program Manager, International Space Station, The Boeing Company
  • Mark Mulholland, Chief Engineer, Space Traffic Management & Space Situational Awareness, Office of Space Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Lt. Gen. William Liquori Jr., Deputy Chief of Space Operations, Strategy, Plans, Programs, Requirements, and Analysis, U.S. Space Force
  • Bhavya Lal, Senior Advisor to the NASA Administrator for Budget and Finance, NASA
  • Kathy Lueders, Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations, NASA
  • Joseph Parrish, Program Manager, DARPA 
  • Walter Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Maxar 
  • Kay Sears, Vice President and General Manager, Military Space, Lockheed Martin
  • Lt. Gen. John Shaw, Deputy Commander, U.S. Space Command, U.S. Space Force 
  • AVM Harv Smyth, Director, Space, UK Ministry of Defence
  • Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science and Research, Smithsonian Institution
  • Erika Wagner, Payload Sales Manager, Blue Origin
  • David M. Van Wie, Head, Air and Missile Defense, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory


Community Spirit

ASCEND has become known as the community that welcomes everyone who loves space. Attendees can choose how they attend this year’s event (live or online), based on what works best for their mind, spirit, and budget. Whether attending live or online, attendees will have unique opportunities to connect with each other and with industry partners supporting this year’s event. Attendees also will hear the voices of the up-and-coming generations who will lead the community toward the future. Those who attend in Las Vegas can enjoy the official 2021 ASCEND beer from Nevada Brew Works, who crowdsourced the recipe from the ASCEND community.


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Media Contact: Rebecca B. Gray,, 804-397-5270 cell



Powered by AIAA, ASCEND promotes the collaborative, interdisciplinary, outcomes-driven community of professionals, students, and enthusiasts around the world who are accelerating humanity’s progress toward our off-world future! For more information, visit, or follow ASCEND on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.


About AIAA

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.