The event defining the future of space
ASCEND is a new event designed to drive the space economy forward. It’s the center of gravity for the space community—bringing technical and business leaders together to solve problems that affect our entire planet and beyond. It’s not just an engineering forum. It’s not just a business conference.
ASCEND is a platform for you to connect, debate, and shape the future.
What you can expect
At ASCEND, you’ll experience 3 days of immersive learning and networking alongside people who understand the challenges you face.
Do you have a technical or business challenge? Bring your burning questions and engage the space community to uncover answers. The ASCEND curriculum is built to provide you three levels of value:
- Large-scale discussions of the trends, economic forces, and challenges facing every member of the space ecosystem.
- Focused conversations to apply these big ideas to different sectors, projects, and use cases.
- Technical content to go deep on specific advancements and discoveries.
Join world class thought leaders to share your research, solve problems, and set a vision for the future of the space community.
Get funding, make an investment, find a new job, or sign a contract. Good business happens in the company of experts.
Who you'll meet
If you’re passionate about the future of space technology and exploration, ASCEND is built for you. Specifically, you’ll be part of a diverse, global community representing:
Plan your trip
ASCEND is launching 16-18 November 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the brand new CAESARS FORUM.
World Travel Awards named Las Vegas the World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination 2018. As the best city in the United States for live events, Las Vegas boasts one of the most affordable and accessible airports, hotel options for every budget, and a regional reputation for aerospace innovation.
Why you can’t miss this event
Learning can happen anywhere, but true progress only happens in person.
ASCEND is built on the belief that every member of the space community has something in common: a commitment to human exploration, interest in the effective utilization of space resources, and a focus on the long-term sustainability of the space enterprise. The best way to make it happen is to work across disciplines.
Together, we will plot the course of the space economy’s future.
The Guiding Coalition
The ASCEND experience is crafted with the support of world-renowned leaders in the space industry. AIAA and ASCEND’s Guiding Coalition have spent the past year investing time and resources into crafting the most multidisciplinary curriculum the space community has ever seen.
Rob oversaw the steady growth of Blue Origin from 2003 to 2018, building the company from its founding into a more than 1500-person organization. Under Rob’s leadership, Blue Origin developed the New Shepard system for suborbital human and research flights, the BE-3 LOX/LH2 rocket engine, the BE-4 LOX/LNG rocket engine, the New Glenn launch vehicle and its vision for humanity in space; including the Blue Moon lunar lander, human spacecraft, habitats and in-space tugs. During this time, Rob oversaw Blue’s growth in staff (10 to 1500+), budget ($10M to $1B) and facilities (1 site to 6, 50K to 1M+ sq ft).
Prior to joining Blue, Rob was a Senior Program Manager at Kistler Aerospace. Rob began his career as an aerodynamicist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC).
Rob earned a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Houston. He is an AIAA Fellow, a Trustee of the Museum of Flight in Seattle and a member of the University of Michigan College of Engineering Leadership Advisory Board. Rob was awarded the Space Flight Award by the American Astronautical Society in 2017 for his accomplishments at Blue Origin.
Stofan comes to the position with more than 25 years’ experience in space-related organizations and a deep research background in planetary geology. She was chief scientist at NASA (2013–2016), serving as the principal advisor to former Administrator Charles Bolden on NASA’s strategic planning and programs. She helped guide the development of a long-range plan to get humans to Mars, and worked on strategies for NASA to support commercial activity in low Earth orbit as it transitions from the International Space Station (ISS) to sending humans to the Moon and Mars in the mid-2020s. She supported NASA’s overall science programs in heliophysics, Earth science, planetary science, and astrophysics. While at NASA, she worked with President Barack Obama’s science advisor and the National Science and Technology Council on science policy.
An accomplished public speaker, Stofan has addressed the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Space Technologies at Davos and served as co-chair of the council. She has spoken at the World Science Festival, SciFest Africa, and numerous universities and schools around the world.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in geology at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and her master’s and doctoral degrees at Brown University, both in geological sciences. While finishing her doctoral degree, Stofan joined the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) as a post-doctoral fellow and became the deputy project scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus.
In 1994, Stofan became JPL’s chief scientist for the New Millennium Program where she managed a team of about 100 scientists working on new technologies. The following year, Stofan moved to London while continuing to work at JPL and was, and continues to be, an Honorary Professor at University College London.
For 13 years (2000–2013), Stofan was vice president and senior scientist at Proxemy Research, a consulting firm in the Washington area specializing in planetary research.
She was on the board of the College of William & Mary Foundation for 10 years, serving as board chair and co-chair of the development committee as it planned a $1 billion fundraising campaign.
Stofan’s research focuses on the geology of Venus, Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, and Earth. Her favorite mission was Cassini, primarily because of her interest in Titan.
She has published extensively and received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and was named one of “CNN’s Extraordinary People of 2014.” She is co-author of the books Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the Solar System and Next Earth: What Our World Can Teach Us About Other Planets, both published by National Geographic.
From 2017 until he became the SDA Director, Dr. Kennedy was the Director of the Tactical Technology Office (TTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Prior to joining DARPA, he served as the senior policy advisor for national security space and aviation in the National Security and International Affairs Division of of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In this role, Dr. Kennedy advised the President of the United States on matters related to space and aviation policy.
Dr. Kennedy served 23 years in the United States Air Force, where he retired as a colonel. During his tenure, he served as a Senior Materiel Leader in both the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s Remote Sensing Directorate and the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center’s Battle Management Directorate. Prior to that, he was the lead for Space Requirements with the Joint Staff/J-8 in the Capabilities and Acquisition Division at the Pentagon and a chief for Spacecraft Payload Development and Test and Satellite Systems and Acquisition at the National Reconnaissance Office. From 2005 to 2008, while still in the Air Force, Dr. Kennedy served as a program manager at DARPA, where he created and managed efforts around spacecraft and satellite servicing, advanced space power and propulsion systems, and innovative space technologies.
Dr. Kennedy holds a Ph.D. in electronics and physical sciences from the University of Surrey; a Master of Arts in organizational management from George Washington University; a Master of Arts in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College; and a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science, both in aeronautics and astronautics, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Braun presently serves as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He previously served as a faculty member of the Georgia Institute of Technology and a member of the technical staff of the NASA Langley Research Center.
In 2010-2011, Dr. Braun served as the first NASA Chief Technologist in more than a decade. In this capacity, he was responsible for development of the Agency’s technology and innovation policy and programs. He created and led the initial implementation of a spectrum of NASA technology programs designed to build the capabilities required for our nation’s future space missions. This activity spanned all ten NASA Centers, industry and academia, and fostered partnerships between NASA and other government agencies.
Dr. Braun is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the AIAA and AAS, and the author or co-author of over 300 technical publications.
Prior to Virgin Galactic, George served as Chief of Staff for NASA. Upon departure from the American space agency, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers.
He previously served as chair of the Reusable Launch Vehicle Working Group for the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University and the board of Virgin Unite USA.
George has testified on American space policy before the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.
Previously, Kay was the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development where she was responsible for growing the Space business with a comprehensive strategy to develop new markets and expand core mission areas. She also led strategic planning, advanced technology concepts and new business acquisition efforts for each of the Space lines of business. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Kay served as president of Intelsat General. In this role, Kay was responsible for implementing the company’s strategic and operational plans and for the overall mission of providing a range of sustainable, cost-effective and secure communication solutions to government and commercial customers. Before joining Intelsat, Kay helped launch government services business units at both G2 Satellite Solutions and Verestar. With nearly three decades of experience, Kay is a respected leader in the space and satellite communications industry and has extensive experience in rapid-response solutions for both military and civil agencies of the U.S. government. In 2009, Kay was appointed to the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee to provide information, technical expertise, advice and guidance regarding issues that may affect national security telecommunications capabilities.
Kay has a B.S. in marketing and economics from the University of Richmond and an MBA in Information Systems from George Washington University.
Earlier in her career Dr. Dittmar managed the mission operations group for The Boeing Company on the International Space Station Program. Later, she acted as a special advisor to the NASA Astronaut Office before her appointment as Boeing Chief Scientist for Commercial Utilization of the ISS. More recently she was Senior Policy Advisor to International Space Station National Laboratory. She has also served as a senior advisor to NASA, the DoD, and the FAA.
Mary Lynne is a Fellow of the National Research Society and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute for Astronautics and Aeronautics. From 2012-2014 she served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on Human Spaceflight, and is beginning her third term as a member of the Executive Committee of the Space Studies Board of the National Academies. She is also a member of the Users’ Advisory Group of the National Space Council and of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee for the FAA. Dr. Dittmar resides in Washington, D.C.