Igniting the Future –
NASA Marshall Center, UAH to host annual space propulsion conclave April 3-5

Hundreds of leading space propulsion researchers will gather in
Huntsville, Ala., next week to discuss possible methods of sending automated
and crewed spacecraft into the solar system and beyond in years to come.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the University of Alabama in
Huntsville will hold the 12th annual Advanced Space Propulsion Workshop on
the UAH campus April 3-5. The event is co-hosted by the Marshall Center and
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Some of the propulsion theories researchers will pose at the
assembly already are in early stages of development by NASA and its research
partners; others may seem as far-flung to civilians as the latest Hollywood
science-fiction blockbuster. But one thing’s for sure: The world’s space
industry takes keen notice each year of this meeting of its brightest minds
— any one of whom might hold an unexpected key to the long-term exploration
of space.

“Our objective is to look at propulsion systems that will enable new
space missions that can’t be achieved with today’s technologies —
transportation anywhere in our solar system, any time you want to go, and
with a reasonable trip time,” says John Cole, manager of space
transportation research at the Marshall Center.

“The most exciting aspect of this gathering is getting so many new
concepts and ideas exposed to the research community,” says workshop
technical chair Dr. Robert Frisbee, senior technical staffer in the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory’s Advanced Propulsion Technology Group. “The workshop
brings leading-edge researchers together with NASA project managers looking
for innovative, cost-effective technology and mission solutions.”

The three-day workshop opens Tuesday, April 3, at 8 a.m. in the
University Center auditorium on the UAH campus, with introductory remarks by
Dr. Clark Hawk, director of the University’s Propulsion Research Center, and
Steve Cook, deputy manager of the Advanced Space Transportation Program at
the Marshall Center.

The opening session’s featured speaker will be Dr. Steve Rodgers,
manager of NASA’s Propulsion Research Center at Marshall. Rodgers leads the
Center’s study of advanced propulsion technologies, supporting development
of the next-generation transportation systems and spacecraft needed to
achieve NASA’s goals for exploration and commercial development of space.

Dr. Harley Thronson, acting technology director in NASA’s Office of
Space Science, will deliver the keynote address Wednesday, April 4, at an
evening reception at the Redstone Arsenal Officers’ and Civilians’ Club.
Thronson is responsible for selection and development of advanced
technologies and identification and evaluation of long-term NASA mission

Conference sessions are devoted to a number of key research areas
encompassing a broad range of advanced propulsion technologies, from
electric, solar and laser propulsion concepts to propellant-free space
tethers and super-powerful antimatter propulsion drives.