For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Michael Buckley

(240) 228-7536

International Conference to Focus on Status, Future of Low-Cost Planetary Missions

How do you explore the solar system for less money – and what can we learn from this next generation of space missions? More than 300 experts from around the world will address these and related topics during the fourth International Conference on Low-Cost Planetary Missions, May 2-5, 2000, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, USA.

Sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), the conference provides an opportunity for the world’s planetary community to exchange ideas and experiences on scientifically effective and affordable space exploration. The sessions hold extra significance this year as the “Faster, Better, Cheaper” mission concept has drawn unprecedented attention from space scientists, engineers, administrators, lawmakers, media, and the public.

“This conference is particularly timely in light of the current debate of the Faster, Better, Cheaper paradigm for program management,” says Dr. Stamatios M. Krimigis, conference co-chairman and head of the Applied Physics Laboratory’s Space Department. “One could claim that the first such conference held at the Applied Physics Lab in 1994 kicked off the debate, and now it is time for us to draw some appropriate conclusions.”

The conference opens with a keynote address from Dr. Edward J. Weiler, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Science, followed by presentations on NASA’s Discovery Program of low-cost missions. Highlighted missions include the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR), Stardust, Genesis, Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR), Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER), and Deep Impact. Other technical sessions focus on the lessons and future of Mars missions; missions to small bodies; lunar and inner planet missions; outer planet missions; delivery systems; mission operations; mission management and costs; sensors and instrumentation; and space technology.

“Low-cost planetary missions are key to visiting often and exploring up-close the many diverse sites in the solar system,” says Dr. Edward C. Stone, conference co-chairman and the director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

On May 3, Tony Spear, NASA’s Faster, Better, Cheaper task manager and former Mars Pathfinder mission manager, will lead a panel discussion on “Faster, Better, Cheaper: Is it Working?” A panel discussion on May 4, headed by Leonard David of, will examine media and public perception of low-cost missions.

Conference organizers have received more than 120 presentations, technical papers and posters. For the latest information on session topics, schedules, registration, hotels and media arrangements, visit the official conference Web site at

Conference sessions will be held in the Applied Physics Laboratory’s Kossiakoff Center, located on Johns Hopkins Road, 1/2 mile west of U.S. Route 29 in Laurel, Maryland. Directions are available in the Press Room of the conference Web site and in the Public Affairs Visitor Guide on the APL Web site (

MEDIA ADVISORY: Conference registration is free to bona fide members of the working press, but registration is requested. Call (240) 228-7536 or register online at


Conference cosponsors include:

Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)

American Astronautical Society (AAS)

Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES)

European Space Agency (ESA)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Space & Astronautical Sciences (ISAS)

National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA)

Space Research Institute (IKI)

Universities Space Research Association (USRA)

The Planetary Society

Aerospatiale Matra

The Boeing Company

Lockheed Martin

Matra Marconi Space