Public lectures

Watch the lectures online (youtube)

Download the poster (high-res)

Monday March 27 Space Mission Formulation and System Engineering
9am - 10am (Pacific Time) Steve Matousek, NASA JPL
Where do space missions come from? What level of maturity does a space mission concept have? These questions are covered as well as what makes a sound concept. Roles and how the team works together are as important as the technical and business model for the concept. The best practices for systems engineering and ensuring the concept covers all important aspects are vital. Finally, figures of merit and how a concept is judged is covered. This short lecture will give a taste of what it is like to work on early advanced concepts and expose what it takes for a concept to be carried forward to the next step.
Steve Matousek Steve Matousek is currently the JPL Advanced Concept Methods manager (A-Team). His most recent assignments include Mission Systems and Operations assistant division manager for formulation, SPHEREx Small Explorer capture lead, kick starting the JPL Innovation Foundry’s early concept development A-Team and Team Xcubesat, and leading formulation training. He was the proposal manager and mission operations system manager for the Juno mission arriving at Jupiter in July 2016. He’s led over 15 major mission proposals for Discovery, New Frontiers, and Explorer. Previous assignments include section manager of the JPL Mission and System Architecture section, Mars Scout Program manager, and Deputy Manager of Planetary Advanced Studies. He started his JPL career on the Voyager navigation team as a trajectory engineer for the Uranus and Neptune encounters. Outside JPL he teaches space systems for remote sensing at USC, is an avid mountain cyclist, and likes to create glass sculptures.
Monday March 27 Orbital Mechanics: Designing a Mission to a Lunarport
10am - 11am (Pacific Time) Damon Landau, NASA JPL
When designing a mission to a Lunarport there are many options up for consideration: inject onto a fast, high-energy trajectory or enjoy a more “lethargic” route, choice of propulsion technologies and deceleration systems, where to stage and store resources, and the inclusion and timing of critical events. Often the choice of mission design isn't driven by engineering, but by programmatic concerns: mission timeline and timeframe, development schedule, budgets, operational complexity, and compatibility with existing and encouraged technologies. The talk will touch upon these bases and details on trajectory options around the Moon. The talk will also provide a few suggestions for the (hoped to be) more promising mission architectures around the Moon.
Damon Landau Damon Landau is a systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where his primary interests are mission formulation and trajectory optimization. During his 10 years at JPL, Damon has designed missions to send humans to Mars, Cubesats to asteroids, asteroids to translunar space, and spacecraft to many far-out destinations. He is the mission design lead for JPL’s Architecture Team where he develops techniques for real-time mission formulation in concurrent engineering environments. He received his B.S., M.S., and PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University.
Monday March 27 Blue Origin: Vehicles and Technologies to Lower the Cost and Increase the Safety of Human Spaceflight
1pm - 2pm (Pacific Time) A.C. Charania, Blue Origin
Founded by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, Blue Origin is focused on developing vehicles and technologies to lower the cost and increase the safety of human spaceflight. Driven by our company motto, Gradatim Ferociter or “step by step, ferociously,” our incremental development process builds upon each success as we develop ground-breaking spaceflight systems. Blue Origin is developing the New Shepard suborbital system to take astronauts into space for space tourism and science purposes, demonstrating a reusable, vertical landing rocket. Our New Glenn family of orbital launch vehicles will carry astronauts and payloads to low-Earth orbit destinations and beyond. Similar to our suborbital vehicle, the first stage booster will separate and land back on Earth. Expendable second and third stages will propel the capsule into orbit, toward scientific research and exploration. At Blue Origin, we envision a future with millions of people living and working in space.
A.C. Charania A.C. Charania works on the Business Development and Strategy team for Blue Origin, LLC. He is Manager of Advanced Programs. A.C. was formerly the Senior Director of Strategy and Business Operations at Virgin Galactic. For over four years, he was involved in developing the LauncherOne business plan, maturing Virgin Galactic’s roadmap, company financial modeling, and interfacing with the global space launch insurance community. He helped to negotiate OneWeb’s launch contract with Virgin Galactic. He was a visionary/founder/early employee of three aerospace start-ups (SpaceWorks Enterprises, Generation Orbit and Terminal Velocity Aerospace) and also provided consulting support to Planetary Resources. He was a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) fellow for work related to telecommunication networks on Mars using meteor trails and planetary defense against asteroids using robotic swarms. He is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Entrepreneurship and Investment Committee. He earned an M.S. and B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a specialization in systems design and optimization. He also earned a B.A. in Economics/Mathematics from Emory University.
Tuesday March 28 Lunar Prospecting and Mining
11am - 12pm (Pacific Time) Kris Zacny, Honeybee Robotics
This presentation will detail two projects currently under development at Honeybee Robotics for near term lunar ISRU-focused missions. The first project involves development of a sampling drill for volatile-rich lunar regolith as part of NASA's Lunar Resource Prospector. The talk will describe the technology development required to reach TRL 6, as well as the range of tests the system was subjected to. These tests include drilling in volatile-rich lunar analog soil and sample delivery inside a lunar chamber. The second project involves volatile extraction technology for large-scale mining operations. In a more conventional approach, feedstock is mined and transported to a processing plant. Here, an alternative design will be presented that combines the mining and extraction steps into one and eliminates the transport step. I will present several approaches, vacuum chamber test data, and lessons learned.
Kris Zacny Kris Zacny is the Vice President and Director of the Exploration Technology Group at Honeybee Robotics. His expertise includes terrestrial and extraterrestrial robotic drilling, excavation, sample handling and processing, geotechnical systems, and sensors. In his previous capacity as an engineer in the South African mining industry, Dr. Zacny managed numerous mining projects and production divisions. Dr. Zacny received his PhD (UC Berkeley, 2005) in Geotechnical Engineering with an emphasis on Mars drilling, ME (UC Berkeley, 2001) in Petroleum Engineering with an emphasis on Drilling and Materials Science, and BSc cum laude (U. Cape Town, 1997) in Mechanical Engineering. He has participated in several Arctic, Antarctic, Atacama, and Greenland expeditions. Dr. Zacny has over 150 publications related to extreme drilling and excavation, over 40 NASA New Technology Records, and four NASA Group Achievement Awards.
Tuesday March 28 Robotic Refueling and Cryogen Replenishment for Future Space Applications
1pm - 2pm (Pacific Time)
no live streaming
Brian Roberts, NASA Goddard
This talk will highlight the work of NASA’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division in Robotic Refueling and Cryogen Replenishment on the ISS as a precursor for technology demonstration missions. This presentation will focus on the challenges associated with robotics, cryogen transfer in space and the planning needed for future exploration missions.
Brian Roberts Brian Roberts is the Robotic Technologist in the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His team is maturing the robotic technology needed to perform satellite servicing in space as well as developing the capability to simulate the dynamics of a robotic system interacting with space objects and using industrial robotic platforms to simulate motion of space objects. Before coming to Goddard, Brian spent 6 years as a research engineer at the University of Maryland. There he worked on teams that developed and tested various robotic systems ranging from those designed to service satellites and fly on the shuttle, to those that can put themselves together and take themselves apart in space, to those that assist physical therapists working with shoulder rehabilitation patients, to those that autonomously find and sample life at the bottom of the ocean. Most of his time was spent coordinating the design, assembly, testing, and operation of the systems and conducting much of the testing underwater in the lab's Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility.
Brian earned a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and completed a Master of Science in the same field at the University of Maryland where he also completed coursework in Fire Protection Engineering.
Thursday March 30 Operational Issues in Lunar Polar Resource Exploration
9am - 10am (Pacific Time) Jay Trimble, NASA Ames
NASA’s Resource Prospector (RP), planned for a 2022 launch, will explore a polar region of the Moon in search of volatiles. To locate, characterize and analyze volatiles, the mission includes a rover for mobility, prospecting instruments to locate and characterize volatiles, a drill to collect regolith samples, and an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) payload for analysis. The lunar polar regions are a unique operational environment. Temperatures are among the coldest in the Solar System. The likely volatile rich areas are in permanently shadowed regions (PSR). The regolith characteristics of PSR’s are not well understood, posing issues for rover design and driving. Any extended operations in a PSR requires a non-solar power system, and/or power storage. The proximity of the Earth to the Moon allows for moving computational power to the ground for some operations, though communications systems may impose data rate limits.
Jay Trimble Jay Trimble is a member of the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center. He is the mission operations and ground data system manager for the Resource Prospector Lunar Rover Mission. Prior to this Jay founded and led the User Centered Technology Group, bringing design thinking to space operations software, including open source mission control technologies, the MER Board Touchscreen for Mars Rover Operations, and Planetary Data System user technologies.
At UC Berkeley, Jay was the integration and test manager for the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager. At JPL, he was lead operations director for Space Radar Lab, which flew two successful missions on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. He was a member of the science operations support team for the Voyager Spacecraft encounter with Neptune. At Johnson Space Center, Jay was a space shuttle mission controller in the Payloads discipline. Jay has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from U.C. Berkeley, and a Masters degree in Computer Science from USC.
Thursday March 30 Pegasus!
1pm - 2pm (Pacific Time) Antonio Elias, Orbital ATK
Pegasus was conceived on April 8, 1987 as the smallest economically practicable space launch vehicle that could be developed within the budget and capabilities of a small start-up with no government or large financial backing. Air-dropping the rocket rather than lifting off vertically from pad both reduced the size of the rocket and eliminated the need to develop multiple launch sites for different orbits. Pegasus was developed by a small (40 person) fully-dedicated team in three days short of three years, and is still in use today, having successfully placed in orbit 80 satellites in 40 launches in the past 26 years. The speaker was personally involved in the development and early flights of Pegasus, and will share his recollections, lessons learned, successes and disappointments.
Antonio Elias Antonio Elias is the Chief Technical Officer of Orbital ATK, a position he held at Orbital Sciences Corp. before the 2015 merger between Orbital and ATK. Previously, he was General Manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group, which he led since its inception in 1997. Earlier, he served as Orbital's Chief Technical Officer and Corporate Senior Vice President (1992 to 1996) and Orbital's first Vice President for Engineering (1989). In 1987 he conceived and lead the design of Pegasus, the world’s first privately-funded space launcher and the first dropped from an airplane, flying as Launch Panel Operator in the B-52 mothership in its maiden launch on April 5, 1990. Antonio came to Orbital from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was an Assistant Professor and he earned his B.S., M.S., E.A.A. and Ph.D. degrees. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, International Astronautical Federation and American Astronautical Society, and co-recipient of the 1990 National Medal of Technology. He holds ATP and MEII airman certificates from the FAA.
Friday March 31 Caltech Space Challenge Final Presentations
2pm - 4pm (Pacific Time) Team Explorer
Final presentation team Explorer
Team Voyager
Final presentation team Voyager
Airbus logo Microsoft logo Keck logo Orbital ATK logo
Northrop Grumman logo Moore-Hufstedler logo Blue Origin logo Boeing logo
Lockheed Martin logo Schlumberger logo Honeybee logo
Galcit logo JPL logo Caltech logo