Owls in Space Symposium to focus on 'Advancing Human Spaceflight'

Rice chapter of student club SEDS to host Mark S. Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Owls in Space Symposium

On his tenth birthday, Ryan Udell was so dedicated to space exploration he camped out beneath a Saturn 5 rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

“It was a dream come true. I already knew I wanted to be an astronaut. I think that’s unlikely but I wouldn’t hesitate to seize the opportunity and go to the Moon or Mars,” said Udell, a junior in mechanical engineering (MECH) and president of the Rice University chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).

SEDS will host its second annual Owls in Space Symposium from 1 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 22 in McMurty Auditorium, Duncan Hall.

“SEDS’ purpose is to empower undergraduates and graduate students to explore the space disciplines at Rice and elsewhere. The symposium gives Rice students a chance to speak with space professionals and learn about the possible careers,” Udell said.

The symposium will focus on the upcoming Artemis missions and “Advancing Human Spaceflight.” The Artemis program, launched in 2017, is a joint venture of NASA, U.S. commercial spaceflight companies and such international partners as the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The goal is landing “the first woman and the next man” on the Moon by 2024.

The keynote speaker will be Mark S. Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center since 2018. A special guest will be Melanie Saunders, NASA deputy associate administrator.

Participants in the Human Exploration panel will include: Franklin Chang Diaz, CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Co. and former NASA astronaut; David Alexander, Rice professor of physics and astronomy, and director of the Rice Space Institute; Laurence Price, Orion deputy program manager at Lockheed Martin; Mark Craig, retired NASA executive.

Moon to Mars Panel: Tony Castilleja, Boeing Business Development for Space Exploration, Rice B.S. ’09, M.S. ’11; Chris Culbert, NASA commercial lunar payloads services manager; Meagan Crawford, SpaceFund managing partner, Rice M.B.A. ’09; Amiee Quon, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory mechanical integration engineer, Rice B.S. in MECH ’05.

Representatives from the following companies will be present for the SEDS career fair: NanoRacks, Cemvita Factory, AEXA Aerospace, Ad Astra Rocket Co., Leidos, Space Center Houston, Lunar and Planetary Institute, SpaceFund, Tietronix, Axiom Space, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Spaceport Houston and AGI.