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ASCENDxTexas to Focus on Breaking Barriers and Accelerating the Space Ecosystem


March 9, 2023 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced the program for its collaborative event focused on pathways for our success – ASCENDxTexas – 29–30 March, South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center, Houston, Texas. With the space ecosystem and activities increasing exponentially, this event brings together key global stakeholders in Texas who will share how they’re accelerating our progress toward a sustainable off-world future.

Registration for ASCENDxTexas is open. Journalists who wish to cover this event can request a Press Pass here.

Vanessa Wyche, Director, NASA Johnson Space Center, and member of the ASCEND Guiding Coalition, will deliver opening remarks. The event will feature a keynote address, “Sustaining the Momentum,” by Kathryn Lueders, Associate Administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA. Lueders will focus on defining the next steps to remove barriers and expand on the approaches for success. As innovation and markets evolve continuously, she will discuss how we can keep the momentum going and ensure progress for the whole space ecosystem.

The event also will feature a keynote address entitled, “Charge to Move Forward,” by Michael Gazarik, Vice President, Engineering, Ball Aerospace, and member of the ASCEND Guiding Coalition. He will discuss how we take lessons learned to move toward the future, without inhibiting our potential, and how we let go of the past that’s holding us back.

The ASCENDxTexas program features a diverse group of visionaries and leaders. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.

  • Stephen Altemus, President and CEO, Intuitive Machines
  • Ian Christensen, Director, Private Sector Programs, Secure World Foundation
  • Steve Cook, President, Dynetics
  • Erin Defossé, COO, Slingshot Aerospace
  • Dan Dumbacher, Executive Director, AIAA
  • Angela Hart, Manager, Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program, NASA
  • Andy Hines, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Foresight, University of Houston
  • Jason Kalirai, Mission Area Executive for Civil Space, Space Exploration Sector, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Catherine Koerner, Deputy Associate Administrator, Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Kathy Laurini, Human Space Exploration Strategy, Dynetics
  • Christian Maender, Executive Vice President, In-Space Solutions, Axiom
  • Todd May, Senior Vice President, Science and Space, KBR
  • Nujoud Merancy, Strategy and Architecture Lead, NASA
  • Carie Mullins, Director, Analytics, BryceTech
  • Kirk Shireman, Vice President, Lunar Exploration Campaign, Lockheed Martin
  • Charles Stegemoeller, Director, NASA Business Development and Capture Management, Leidos
  • Dan Tani, Director, Business Development Operations, Human Exploration and Operations, Northrop Grumman
  • Julie Van Kleeck, Space Domain Lead and ASCEND Executive Producer, AIAA

“We are excited to return to Space City with ASCENDxTexas for a second year,” said AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher. “This unique event gives the ASCEND community another opportunity to come together to gain insights on the latest strategies and opportunities for success in both the current global market and our future in space. We look forward to welcoming space industry leaders to learn about new players and partners, identify solutions to barriers, and see how commercialization supports future space capabilities.”

Media Contact: Rebecca B. Gray,, 804-397-5270 cell

Powered by AIAA, ASCEND, which stands for Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery, is the world’s premier collaborative, outcomes-driven, interdisciplinary community designed to accelerate the building of our off-world future. For more information, visit, or follow ASCEND on LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.

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