HAMPTON, Va. – NASA is working on the building blocks to return humans to the Moon by 2020, then send them onto Mars.

It’s part of the national Vision for Space Exploration established five years ago. Just what is America’s plan and is it the right one? Four international experts will address those questions and others in a special Moon-Mars Forum, March 17, from 7-9 p.m. at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton.

The National Institute of Aerospace and NASA Langley Research Center’s Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate are hosting the panel discussion that will feature two leading authorities on lunar science, engineering and space policy and two experts on Mars science, engineering and policy.

Media who wish to set up an interview before the forum should contact Audrey Staples at 757-325-6981 or at Audrey.staples@NIAnet.org by 5 PM on March 16. Time for questions will also be allotted following the forum.

Speakers include Dr. Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute and a professor of the practice in International Affairs at George Washington’s University’s Elliott School of International Affairs; Dr. Paul D. Spudis, senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas; Dr. G. Scott Hubbard, professor at Stanford University and current Carl Sagan Chair at the SETI Institute; and Dr. Joel S. Levine, senior research scientist in the Science Directorate at NASA Langley. Dr. Douglas Stanley, visiting professor from Georgia Tech at NIA, will moderate the forum.

The Moon-Mars Forum is the latest offering in a Distinguished Lecture Series started in 2006. It is supported by NASA Langley’s Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate (SACD) and features presentations by experts from academia, industry, and government on the conception, design, engineering, analysis, and operation of vehicles and systems to continue mankind’s exploration of the solar system.

NIA is a non-profit research and education institute headquartered in Hampton, Va. It was formed in 2002 by a consortium of research universities to ensure a national capability to support NASA’s mission by expanding collaboration with academia and leveraging expertise inside and outside NASA. NIA performs research in a broad range of disciplines including space exploration, systems engineering, nanoscale materials science, flight systems, aerodynamics, air traffic management, aviation safety, planetary and space science, and global climate change. The Institute’s graduate program offers master’s and doctoral degrees in the fields of engineering and science through its university partners: Georgia Tech, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, and the College of William & Mary.

For more information on the NIA/SACD Distinguished Lecture Series, visit:

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