More than 2,500 leading space propulsion engineers, scientists and administrators will converge in Huntsville, Ala., next week to share ideas and discuss the role of aerospace research and technology in enabling global commerce and scientific discovery in years to come.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, in conjunction with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, will hold the 39th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville July 20-23. The event is organized by AIAA, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the American Society of Engineering Education.

“With the Marshall Center’s rich history of propulsion research and flight vehicle development in Huntsville, our involvement in the conference is a natural fit,” said Robert Sackheim, assistant center director and chief engineer for space propulsion. Sackheim, the technical co-chair for the propulsion conference, added: “The opportunity to gather and share ideas with other researchers from around the world will provide us insight into the next step of space travel.”

Some of the propulsion technologies to be discussed during the conference’s technical workshops and discussions may hold the key to long-term space exploration in the near future. Panel sessions include a ‘town hall’ meeting on propulsion; a session on fostering international cooperation in space travel; and a discussion on the use of nuclear and electric propulsion for long-term space travel. 

“I am pleased that the Joint Propulsion Conference will be held in Huntsville this year,” said Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer. “Propulsion is of special significance to our city because of the leading role played by the Marshall Center in the advancement of propulsion technology and its role in future space transportation. I look forward to being a part of this important conference.”

The three-day event kicks off Sunday, July 20, at 6:30 p.m. with a reception in the lobby of the South Hall of the Von Braun Center. On Monday, July 21, at 8 a.m., a joint keynote address will be delivered by former Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson; Maj. Gen. Larry Dodgen, Commander, U.S. Army; Lt. Gen. Joseph Cosumano, Commander, U.S. Army; and Col. David Eichhorn, Commander, U.S. Air Force. The event’s annual AIAA Awards Luncheon will be Tuesday, July 22, at noon.

An exhibit area will be open to attendees and visiting media each day.

For a complete conference agenda or for additional information, visit:

NASA’s Marshall Center is a key leader in the Agency’s space propulsion research and development activities — from Space Shuttle propulsion elements and conventional rockets, to innovative kerosene and liquid oxygen engines intended to launch next-generation spacecraft to orbit, to alternative propulsion technologies meant to carry them deep into the Solar System and beyond.

For more information about NASA space transportation and propulsion initiatives, visit: