Keynote Speakers for the 2019 SPACE Conference

Wednesday, July 24 Keynote General Session

Al Worden, NASA Apollo Astronaut, Apollo 15.  Al Worden was command module pilot for Apollo 15 and a nine-year NASA veteran. Apollo 15 was the fourth manned lunar-landing mission and the first to use a lunar roving vehicle. During the flight lasting from July 26 until August 7, 1971, Al Worden logged a 38-minute spacewalk outside the Endeavour command model to retrieve film from panoramic and mapping cameras.  A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Worden was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force beginning his career as a pilot. Upon selection by NASA in April 1966, he served as a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9 and backup command module pilot for Apollo 12. Worden is a member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.  Al Worden is the author of three books, “Hello Earth! Greetings from Endeavour,” a book of poetry inspired from his flight; “I Want to Know about a Flight to the Moon,” a children’s book; and his autobiography, “Falling to Earth.” Worden also filmed a special with Fred Rogers in 1971 for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, answering children’s questions about going to space. For Al, it is important to inspire youth to grow up with a passion for space.

Wednesday, July 24 Lunch Keynote

Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Launch Director, NASA Exploration Ground Systems Program.  Charlie Blackwell-Thompson serves as launch director for NASA's Exploration Ground Systems Program, based at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She will oversee the countdown and liftoff of NASA's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft during its first flight test, called Exploration Mission-1. Named to the position in January 2016, Blackwell-Thompson is NASA's first female launch director. Her role includes leading and managing the launch operations planning and execution for the Exploration Ground Systems program and Exploration Systems Development Division, or ESD. She also serves as the cross-program lead to the Launch Integration team responsible for integration and coordination of launch operations across the three programs: SLS, Orion and EGS. In her role as launch director, she manages the development of all launch countdown plans, philosophy, and launch and scrub turnaround procedures and schedules, as well as training approaches.

Thursday, July 25, Lunch Keynote

This talk is sponsored by the NASA Nebraska Space Grant. 

Sam Durrance, Veteran Shuttle Astronaut of STS-35 Columbia and STS-67 Endeavour.  Sam Durrance was not a NASA trained astronaut, but rather a payload specialist contracted by a company to join other astronauts in space. For two flights and 615 hours in space, he assisted crews with operating sophisticated scientific equipment aimed at understanding our universe.  He received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in physics from California State University. He then attended the University of Colorado, completing a Ph.D. in astrogeophysics. He worked at Johns Hopkins University as the principal research scientist in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. While at Johns Hopkins, he began his work as co-investigator for the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope. When it came time to deploy the telescope, NASA selected Dr. Durrance as a payload specialist on space shuttle mission STS-35/Astro 1. Both that mission and STS-67/Astro 2, which Durrance flew on, were dedicated missions to astronomy.

Friday, July 25, Lunch Keynote

Charlie Camarda, Veteran Shuttle Astronaut of STS-114 Discovery, the Return to Flight Mission.  Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Dr. Camarda reported to the NASA Johnson Space Center in August 1996.  He completed two years of training and evaluation that qualified him for flight assignment as a mission specialist.  Dr. Camarda was been assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Spacecraft Systems/Operations Branch, was on the Expedition-8 back-up crew, served as Director, Engineering, Johnson Space Center, and was assigned to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC).  Through the NESC, Dr. Camarda used his technical expertise to evaluate problems and supplement safety and engineering activities for Agency programs.  Dr. Camarda flew as MS-5 on the Return to Flight mission STS-114 Discovery (July 26-August 9, 2005), and has logged over 333 hours in space. 

2018 Keynote Speakers Press Release  (May 2018)