September 2020

AIAA Program ASCENDxSeries

The world is changing and so is ASCEND. AIAA’s new space event was originally imagined as an in-person experience for reshaping the conversation around the space ecosystem and driving the space economy forward. This year’s ASCEND (ascend.events) has transformed into a fully online event 16-18 November, and we have introduced new opportunities to shake up the conversation.

The ASCENDxSeries (ascend.events/experience/events) is a collection of online events happening now through November, which will feature curated webinars, collaborative workshops, and comprehensive summits for space experts, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts. These three types of events each has a distinct purpose and format that allows for different types of engagement.

ASCENDxWebinars explore specific topics like diversity and inclusion in the aerospace workforce or the technologies, design, and ethics of building off-world civilizations. Most importantly, attendees get a chance to ask subject-matter experts the tough or top-of-mind questions in real time.

ASCENDxCo-Labs allow participants to connect and collaborate directly with each other through facilitated conversations that enable knowledge capture and result in tangible outcomes for the community.

ASCENDxSummits are multitrack, interdisciplinary events, each centered around a broad theme. Each summit, held monthly through November, features compelling keynote presentations, high-level panels, and in-depth workshops that provide inspiration and information.

The ASCENDxSeries events don’t stop when the online meeting ends – each recording is available to watch on demand and many will lead to actionable outcomes. The ASCENDxCo-Lab on 29 July is leading to a collaborative report in response to NASA’s “Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development.” The ASCENDxWebinars on 17 and 21 July, which focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, have already generated new partnerships across the aerospace community. The ASCENDxSummit in August connected aerospace professionals to the broader community of industries and individuals beginning to invest in space.

Each ASCENDxSeries event adds to the conversations we will be having in November at ASCEND that will shape the future for all who look to the stars and see the worlds of possibility. Join us!

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Award Announcements San Martin Wins Brill Lectureship in Aerospace Engineering

A man with glasses and short white hair, wearing a white shirt and brown blazer, smiling at the camera against a brown backdrop.
Alejandro Miguel San Martin Credit: San Martin

AIAA and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) have selected Dr. Alejandro Miguel San Martin, Guidance & Control Section Chief Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as the recipient of the fourth Yvonne C. Brill Lectureship in Aerospace Engineering. San Martin will present his lecture, “From Airbags to Wheels: The Evolution of GN&C for Entry, Descent, and Landing” on 7 October, 1100–1200 hrs ET, in conjunction with the virtual NAE Annual Meeting.

Early in his career at JPL, San Martin participated in the Magellan mission to Venus and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He was later named Chief Engineer for the Guidance, Navigation, and Control system for the Pathfinder mission. He assumed the same role for the mission that landed the robotic vehicles Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in 2004. Most recently, he was the Chief Engineer for Guidance, Navigation, and Control for the Mars Science Laboratory, which landed Curiosity on the surface of Mars in 2012. He was a co-architect of Curiosity’s innovative SkyCrane landing architecture and also served as its Deputy Chief for Entry, Descent, and Landing. Throughout his career, San Martin has served as a panel consultant for various missions including Topex, Mars Polar Lander, Deep Impact, and Phoenix. San Martin has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University and an M.S. from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering with a specialization in Guidance, Navigation, and Control for interplanetary space exploration.

AIAA, with the participation and support of NAE, created the Yvonne C. Brill Lectureship in Aerospace Engineering to honor the memory of the late, pioneering rocket scientist, AIAA Honorary Fellow and NAE Member, Yvonne C. Brill. The lecture emphasizes research or engineering issues for space travel and exploration, aerospace education of students and the public, and other aerospace issues such as ensuring a diverse and robust engineering community.

FREE LECTURE: Register at: www.nae.edu/238584/2020-Yvonne-C-Brill-Lectureship-in-Aerospace-Engineering.

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AIAA Announcements Call for Papers for the 31st AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting

The 31st AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting will be held 31 January–4 February 2021 at the Sheraton Charlotte in Charlotte, NC. Manuscripts are solicited on topics related to space-flight mechanics and astrodynamics, including but not limited to:

• Space robotics and autonomous space operations
• Earth orbital and planetary mission studies
• Asteroid and non-Earth orbiting missions
• Trajectory / mission / maneuver design and optimization
• Orbital dynamics, perturbations, and stability
• Rendezvous, relative motion, proximity missions, and formation flying
• Satellite constellations
• Dynamical systems theory applied to space flight problems
• Reusable launch vehicle design, dynamics, guidance, and control
• Machine learning, artificial intelligence, applied math applied to space flight problems
• Orbital debris and space environment
• Space Situational Awareness (SSA), Conjunction Analysis (CA), and collision avoidance
• Orbit determination and space-surveillance tracking
• Spacecraft guidance, navigation and control (GNC)
• Attitude dynamics, determination and control
• Ground-based sensors for space applications and payload-sensors
• Atmospheric re-entry guidance and control
• Dynamics and control of large space structures and tethers

The abstract deadline is 5 October 2020. More information can be found at http://space-flight.org/docs/2021_winter/2021_winter.html.

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Section News SAT OC — A New Beginning

Three people wearing medals stand in front of a space-themed artwork labeled
Sierra Nevada owners, Fatih Ozmen and Eren Ozmen, on either side of Michelle Rouch with “Chasing Our Dreams.” Credit: Kiddie Hawk Air Academy

By Amir S. Gohardani, SAT OC Chair

In these unique times, many changes have taken place, including to the name of our committee, which is now officially known as the Society and Aerospace Technology Outreach Committee (SAT OC) per the Integration and Outreach division for 2020-2021. Our committed members lead many of the committee’s originally planned activities with diligence and in recognition of these tireless efforts, SAT OC’s most recent activities are categorized into three separate sections: art activities, ongoing initiatives, and planned collaborations.

Art Activities

SAT OC prides itself on its involvement with the arts, and Michelle Rouch spearheads many such efforts. On 16 January, she attended an event to raise funds to inspire kids in aviation: the Living Legends of Aviation in Beverly Hills, CA. A piece of her artwork titled “Chasing Our Dreams,” depicting Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser approaching the International Space Station, was showcased. The artwork had been commissioned by nonprofit Kiddie Hawk Air Academy.

Ongoing Initiatives

As in previous years, SAT OC will host its Society and Aerospace Technology track at the 2021 AIAA SciTech Forum. Primarily led by Matthew Kuester, this track typically examines the societal benefits of aerospace technologies/products, as well as the relationship between aerospace and society, culture, and art.

Planned Collaborations

In recent meetings with Kevin Burns (History Committee), Alex Straub (Women of Aeronautics and Astronautics), and I, we discussed potential venues for collaboration among the committees. SAT OC welcomes such efforts and is currently exploring potential opportunities to collaborate with the AIAA Cybersecurity Working Group, led by Sam Adhikari.

Finally, SAT OC would not have accomplished so many of its goals without its valued members. In anticipation of a brighter future, I am delighted to work with such a talented pool of individuals from different backgrounds and collectively explore new chapters in SAT OC’s future.

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AIAA Foundation Making an Impact: Scholarship and Graduate Award Winners

Each year, AIAA distributes over $70,000 in scholarships and graduate awards to undergraduate and graduate students studying aerospace engineering at accredited colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 2020, AIAA scholarship and graduate award winners came from all corners of the aerospace industry and are studying a variety of topics from digital avionics to hypersonics. Below, we profile this year’s 22 scholarship and graduate award winners who are shaping the future of aerospace.

AIAA Graduate Award Winners

Neil Armstrong Graduate Award

Kathrine Bretl
University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO)
Amount of Award: $5,000

Kathrine is in her final year of her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado Boulder, studying Aerospace Engineering with a focus in Bioastronautics. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics with a minor in Political Science at MIT, then a dual-Masters in Aerospace Engineering Sciences and Engineering Management at CU. She has previously worked at SpaceX, several NASA centers across the country, and most recently, is collaborating with ESA/DLR. With a passion for both human spaceflight and space policy, she hopes to become an integral part of program management and policy development to continue to advance human space exploration.

“Human spaceflight is inherently challenging, and that challenge is what drew me to the field — using a multi-disciplinary approach to solve problems that promote and ensure safe and productive crewed flight. I look forward to opportunities for continued contributions to the field of Bioastronautics, and I am honored to be supported in these endeavors by AIAA through the Neil Armstrong Graduate Award.”

Orville & Wilbur Wright Graduate Awards

Elizabeth Benitez
Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Amount of Award: $5,000

Elizabeth is a Ph.D. candidate at Purdue University studying travelling instabilities in Mach 6 flow with an axisymmetric separation bubble. Previously, she was a research engineer with Georgia Tech Research Institute for nearly five years, working with the Air Force in Dayton, OH. Elizabeth received a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2015, and a Bachelors in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology from MIT in 2013. 

“I am honored to have been selected to receive the Orville and Wilbur Wright Graduate Award from AIAA. Since I started my PhD, I have enjoyed participating in AIAA conferences and events. I am happy to be recognized by such a central organization to my field, and to be chosen from among students across the world. Having AIAA as a partner to fund my research is a great privilege, and this award is truly appreciated.”

Julia Mihalyov
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
Amount of Award: $5,000

Julia is a first-generation Bulgarian-American as well as the first of her family to attend college in the United States. Julia graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering with a focus in Astronautics. As an undergraduate student, Julia worked on a research and coding project in association with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she aided in developing an ephemeris reader in the Julia Language as an additional tool for use in trajectory design, interplanetary travel, and other astrodynamics implementations. In 2018, Julia worked at The Aerospace Corporation in the Modeling and Simulation Department as a Brooke Owens Fellow. Following graduation, Julia worked as an intern at JPL supporting Psyche, a mission to analyze a metal asteroid appearing to exist as a core of a planet. Following her internship, Julia began her M.S. studies at Johns Hopkins University for Space Systems Engineering and is now working as a Systems Engineer at JPL supporting Europa Clipper, a mission dedicated to search for the habitability of life on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

“This graduate scholarship award from AIAA will greatly support me in completing my higher education and obtaining my M.S. from Johns Hopkins, advancing towards my ultimate life goal to lead prominent space missions to success.”

Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Graduate Awards in Aerospace Engineering 

Andrew Navratil
North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
Amount of Award: $5,000

Andrew is a graduate student at North Carolina State University pursuing a Ph.D. in CFD looking at turbulent combustion in high speed flows. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a second B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from NC State University in spring 2020, and got his first B.S. from the University of New Hampshire in Mathematics with Computer Science. Andrew is originally from Albany, NY, is the oldest of seven, and an avid mountain biker.

“Dr. Hassan A. Hassan was a mainstay in the NCSU aero program from the early 1960s until his untimely death in 2019. I am honored to continue my education and contribute to research in aerospace engineering at NCSU under Dr. Jack Edwards, who worked closely with Dr. Hassan. I will strive to uphold the values this award signified and I am grateful for the financial support it provides as I continue to work hard at making a contribution with my research in CFD.”

Elizabeth Blenk
North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
Amount of Award: $5,000

Elizabeth completed her undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering from NC State University and will enter the Aerospace Engineering Graduate Program at NC State University in fall 2020. After completing her graduate degree, she hopes to secure a position in a company that allows her to continue challenging herself and expanding her education.

“This award will allow me to focus my efforts on my academics and on my involvement in AIAA. It is my hope to help those who are still trying to figure out what they want to achieve with their education. I have had the opportunity to explore various career paths and now that I’ve chosen my path, this scholarship will allow me to help others explore.”

Luis de Florez Graduate Award

Julie Duetsch-Patel
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA)
Amount of Award: $3,500

Julie is a second-year Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech, concentrating in Aero/Hydrodynamics. Her research focuses on the turbulent separated flow over a bump model, collecting and analyzing detailed experimental data to be used for CF validation studies. Julie graduated with her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2019 as the departmentally-recognized outstanding senior. During her undergraduate studies, she was president of the AIAA Virginia Tech Student Branch for two years and served on the executive board of the Virginia Tech Society of Women Engineers student chapter. 

“I am so grateful and honored to receive this award. This award will give me greater freedom to focus on my classes, my research, and my development as a graduate student by reducing financial concerns and strains that would otherwise distract. From the essential work I must do to develop myself. As an engineer. I am very fortunate to have found a field that challenges me and helps me to grow every day, and I am thankful to everyone who has helped support me as I pursue my passion.”

Guidance, Navigation, and Control Graduate Award

Maria Del Mar Cols-Margenet
University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO)
Amount of Award: $2,500

Originally from Spain, Maria moved to the United States in 2015 to pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. During these years, she has researched end-to-end flight software development strategies while collaborating on an interplanetary spacecraft mission with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). 

“Receiving the AIAA GN&C graduate award, almost at the end of my PhD degree, is a magnificent way of closing up a very stimulating stage of my life. I am certain that, now and in the future, this recognition will help me on the quest for jobs as an aerospace flight software engineer”

John Leland Atwood Graduate Award

Alejandro Trujillo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
Amount of Award: $1,250

Alejandro was born and raised in Miami, FL, to parents who immigrated to the United States from Cuba. He attended Georgia Tech from 2012 to 2016 and graduated with highest honors with a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. He then chose to attend MIT to pursue a Masters and Ph.D. in Space Systems Engineering; he received his Masters in 2018 and hopes to complete his Ph.D. by 2021. Throughout his academic career, he has also explored the space industry with internships in a variety of places, including Draper, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, SpaceX, and most recently, The Aerospace Corporation. His career goals are to play a part in the return of human spaceflight to the moon and to Mars and beyond.

“Receiving the John Leland Atwood Graduate Award from AIAA will allow me to cover travel costs and other expenses for the academic and industry conferences in which I have papers being presented. These conferences are crucial to advancing my professional development and, as such, this award contributes directly to my growth as an engineer and industry member.”

Martin Summerfield Propellants and Combustion Graduate Award

Umesh Unnikrishnan
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
Amount of Award: $1,250

Umesh is a graduate student working toward his doctoral degree in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech. His research interests are centered around computational modeling and simulation of turbulent combustion. His doctoral thesis focuses on understanding turbulence and combustion processes at supercritical conditions and developing advanced subrigid scale modeling approaches to enable high-fidelity large eddy simulation of supercritical combustion in liquid rocket and other high pressure combustion devices.

“I consider being presented the AIAA Foundation Summerfield Graduate Award as a prestigious recognition of my academic diligence and research contributions to the field of aerospace propulsion and combustion. The award provides an inspiration and morale boost to continue to strive towards academic excellence in this field. It also serves as an endorsement of the significance and rigor of my research endeavor, and provides the impetus and support to advance my research work.”

Gordon C. Oates Air Breathing Propulsion Graduate Award

Andres Adam
University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
Amount of Award: $1,000

Andres was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and  grew up in Barcelona, Spain. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Technologies at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) in 2015. In 2016, he was awarded the Balsells fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). In 2018, he completed a program for double Master’s degrees in aerospace engineering at UPC and UCI. Andres is currently a Ph.D. candidate at UCI whose research focuses on the noise modeling of turbulent jets.

“We live in times of change and uncertainty. We, as individuals, need to ask ourselves how our work is helping the world change for the better. This award will help me in my research towards reducing noise pollution from turbine engines, thus bringing air travel closer to the community It also serves as motivation for my future work and professional career.”

William T. Piper Sr. General Aviation Systems Graduate Award

Mayank Bendarkar
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
Amount of Award: $1,000

Mayank is a Ph.D. candidate in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab at Georgia Tech. His Ph.D. research focuses on incorporating certification, system reliability, and safety considerations in the preliminary design stage for novel aircraft configurations and technologies. He completed his undergraduate education at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. In his free time, he likes to go on hikes, play board games, or play table (Indian drums).

“AIAA has played an enriching role in my student and professional life and I am grateful to be award the William T. Piper Sr. General Aviation Systems Graduate Award. I intend to use it to attend future AIAA conference and events and stay-up-to-date with the state of the art in aerospace engineering.”

AIAA Undergraduate Scholarship Winners

Daedalus 88 Scholarship

Niloy Gupta
University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD)
Amount of Scholarship: $10,000

Niloy is a senior double majoring in aerospace engineering and mathematics at the University of Maryland. He was on the ex-ABC research project, where he developed the flight systems for a novel, fixed-pitched, electric, coaxial helicopter. He currently conducts research on active flow control devices in addition to being heavily involved in the college’s Design/Build/Fly team and the Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Gamma Tau engineering honor societies. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in hypersonic aerodynamics before working in industry.

“This scholarship will allow me to spend more time on my schoolwork, research, and professional societies as I will not have to work part time to cover some of my expenses.”

David and Catherine Thompson Space Technology Undergraduate Scholarship

Linyi Hou
University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (Champaign, IL)
Amount of Scholarship: $10,000

Linyi is a senior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer engineering. Currently, his research focuses on velocity-based orbit determination and Neptune aerocapture. He wishes to pursue a career in space mission design and optimization to the outer planets and asteroids. In his spare time, Linyi is heavily involved in a student organization called the Illinois Space Society, and he also enjoys soccer, cooking, and playing the guitar.

“This scholarship helps me complete my undergraduate education at the University of Illinois, and brings me closer to my goal of earning a doctoral degree in aerospace. Knowing that my efforts have been recognized by the scholarship committee is a strong motivator for me to work more diligently in the years to come.”

Vicki and George Muellner Scholarship for Aerospace Engineering

Matthew Mullin
Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, NY)
Amount of Scholarship: $5,000

Matthew Mullin is a rising senior mechanical engineering major at Stony Brook University and an active member of the AIAA Student Branch at Stony Brook University, serving as Vice-President and Design/Build/Fly propulsion lead. Matthew’s interests lie in propulsion, sustainability, renewable energy, and their intersection. He is currently working on a high-altitude balloon startup, and was fortunate enough to win 1st place in the 2020 SBDC Stony Brook Entrepreneur’s Challenge and 3rd in the NYBPC Business Competition in the energy/environment category.

“I am incredibly grateful to receive the Vicki and George Muellner Scholarship. I’ll be able to take extra classes during the winter, which will better prepare me for my graduate studies where I intend to pursue alternative propulsion and applications of renewable energies.”

Wernher von Braun Undergraduate Scholarship

Rachel Cueva
University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD)
Amount of Scholarship: $5,000

Rachel is a rising senior in the University of Maryland’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. She is a part of the Gemstone Honors College and Aerospace Engineering Honors Program, as well as a Pathways Engineering Student Trainee at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center contributing to the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Her ultimate goal is to become a NASA astronaut and contribute to future missions to the moon and Mars.

“This scholarship will help me to achieve my educational goals by reducing student debt for continued education, and will enable me to pursue my dream of becoming a NASA Astronaut.”

Liquid Propulsion Scholarship

Kiseuk Ahn
Bellevue College (Bellevue, WA)
Amount of Scholarship: $2,000

Kiseuk is a sophomore at Bellevue College studying Mechanical Engineering with a passion for research and development in the aerospace industry. Kiseuk hopes to continue gaining scientific knowledge and skills through classes, extracurriculars, internships, and jobs to obtain an advanced degree with the goal to become a research scientist working for a sustainable future.

“The AIAA Liquid Propulsion Scholarship has encouraged me to keep pursuing challenging endeavors to achieve my goals of helping the world to become a better place.”

Cary Spitzer Digital Avionics Scholarship

Isaiah Fleischer
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
Amount of Scholarship: $2,000

Isaiah is a rising senior pursuing a BSE in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. He is on the Social Committee of Michigan’s AIAA Student Branch and plays an active role in Michigan’s WOAA chapter. Additionally, he serves as the Internal Operations Director of M-Fly, Michigan’s SAE Aero Design Team. Isaiah plans to pursue a career in Systems Engineering, with a focus in Operations Analysis. Outside of aerospace, he has a passion for skiing, rock climbing, and photography.

“This scholarship will help me finish my undergraduate degree so I can continue on to a Master’s in Space Engineering at Michigan. The combination of my BSE and M.Eng will prepare me to tackle challenges in my career and hit the ground running as a Systems Engineer.”

Dr. Amy R. Prichett Digital Avionics Scholarship

Laura Morejon-Ramirez
University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Amount of Scholarship: $2,000

Laura is a Senior at the University of California, San Diego and has served as the chairperson of her school’s AIAA student branch for a year, and has been involved with the organization during her whole college career. She is very grateful for the opportunities AIAA has provided her, from professional connections, to technical skills, to lifelong friendships.

“Thanks to the Dr. Amy R. Prichett Digital Avionics Scholarship, I will be able to pursue my dream of becoming a successful Aerospace Engineer. I am thankful for having been chosen for this award and can’t wait to keep gaining technical and soft skills in aerospace.”

Dr. James Rankin Digital Avionics Scholarship

Carson Schubert
University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
Amount of Scholarship: $2,000

Carson’s academic focus is wireless communications, and he has called Texas “home” for his entire life. From an early age, Carson was hooked on anything space related, and knew that he wanted to devote his life to enabling the next generation of exploration and discovery. This dream has taken him to NASA Glenn Research Center, where he worked on cognitive communications; NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he worked on the Europa Clipper mission planning team; and most recently Blue Origin and New Glenn Communications, where Carson worked on avionics research and communications respectively. Back at university, Carson does research with the Texas Spacecraft Lab. Whenever geography allows, you can find Carson hiking and backpacking in the mountains.

“I hope to inspire all humanity by engaging the nation, and the world in the incredible journey that is space exploration. To do that I must obtain an education that takes me to the forefront of space technology and scientific discovery. This scholarship from AIAA is invaluable in the pursuit of this future, and will allow me to focus on my studies rather than my finances.”

Ellis F. Hitt Digital Avionics Scholarship

Sean Dungan
Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, FL)
Amount of Scholarship: $2,000

Hailing from Middletown, Rhode Island, Sean Dungan is a hungry Aerospace Engineer in the making. Sean hopes to contribute greatly to the field of aerospace and set his sights on CFD and modeling techniques. When he is not at his desk, one can find Sean in the ocean or at the golf course. 

“This very generous scholarship will help me finish paying for my undergraduate studies and help me apply to graduate school. It will also help shift the deciding factor from economic to academic reasons when choosing the best graduate program for me.”

Space Transportation Scholarship

Mark Magnante
University of Missouri (Columbia, MO)
Amount of Scholarship: $1,500

Mark is a senior at the University of Missouri – Columbia, majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics. Mark has served as Vice Chair of Mizzou’s AIAA Student Branch in the 2019-2020 academic year and is the propulsion lead for rocket projects in the coming fall semester. Mark is originally from Newbury Park, CA.

“This AIAA scholarship is going to help me graduate from Mizzou debt-free while reducing the financial burden placed on my family as a whole. While my brother is a rising sophomore at Mizzou and with my parents having to deal with COVID in the classroom as high school teachers, this really means a lot.”

Leatrice Gregory Pendray Scholarship

Kyra Warren
Trine University (Angola, IN)
Amount of Scholarship: $1,250

Kyra is in her third year at Trine University and is pursuing her studies in Aerospace Engineering. At Trine, Kyra serves as secretary of the AIAA Student Branch and ASME Chapter and competes on the women’s triathlon team. The AIAA Student Branch and ASME Chapter Trine is growing each year and continuing to create more activities to involve the student body and expose elementary students to engineering. Kyra has interned at L3Harris Technologies for the past two summers and gained experience in making satellites and learning the structural analysis side of mechanical engineering. Outside of school, Kyra is an avid cello player and enjoys disc golf.

“This scholarship will help me continue to pursue my dream in becoming a successful mechanical engineer in the aerospace field.”

Applications for the 2021 scholarships are being accepted from 1 October to 31 January (aiaa.org/home/get-involved/students-educators/scholarships-graduate-awards). For information about how to get involved with AIAA and make an impact on the next generation of aerospace engineers, please visit aiaa.org/get-involved or contact Merrie Scott, merries@aiaa.org or contact Michael Lagana at scholarships@aiaa.org.

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Section News Wichita AIAA/SETP/SFTE Distinguished Lecture 

A person holds a helmet on a video call in the top image. The bottom image shows two aircraft in flight, with the same video call in the corner.
James “JB” Brown discusses “Flying the Lockheed Stealth Fighters.” Credit: AIAA Wichita Section

On 25 June, the AIAA Wichita Section teamed up with the local and regional sections of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) and the Society of Flight Test Engineers (SFTE) to host a very fascinating and entertaining Zoom presentation by AIAA Distinguished Lecturer, SETP Fellow, and test pilot James “JB” Brown, who spoke on “Flying the Lockheed Stealth Fighters.” Approximately 75 professionals participated live and learned of the design history and of flight testing the F-117A and F-22 stealth fighters. Zoom worked particularly well, with JB able to demonstrate concepts as if in person (see photo) and show and describe slides and videos with high clarity. The presentation was followed by a question/answer period and then an informal, online social among the meeting participants.

As a bonus, participants at home were able to invite their family members, particularly their children, to follow along with the presentation. This was a great way to promote STEM careers and spark children’s interest as they heard from a test pilot on the cutting edge of the aerospace profession.

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Award Announcements Waligora Honored with Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award

An older man stands indoors holding a certificate and wearing a medal around his neck. He is dressed casually in a red shirt and jeans, surrounded by bookshelves and framed photos.
James M. Waligora, NASA Johnson Space Center (retired). Credit: Waligora

Although the 50th International Conference on Environmental Sciences (ICES) was cancelled in July, James M. Waligora, NASA Johnson Space Center (retired), was able to be recognized with the 2020 AIAA Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award in a special awards ceremony at his home with his family. Mr. Waligora received the award “for pioneering human performance studies and engineered countermeasures critical for safe and productive extravehicular activity on programs spanning Apollo to the International Space Station.”

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AIAA Committees How Far Do You See In 50 Years? SSTC 2020 Middle School Essay Contest

Left: Young girl stands in front of a rocket monument on a sunny day. Right: Young boy holds a certificate of achievement while smiling.
Chrislaina Anderson (7th grade) and Lucas Anderson (8th grade). Credit: Familiess of C. Anderson and L. Anderson

The AIAA Space Systems Technical Committee’s (SSTC) Annual Middle School Essay Contest continues to improve its commitment to directly inspire students and local sections. Each year, additional sections start parallel contests to feed into selection of national winners awarded by the SSTC.

The 2020 essay topic was “How advanced can you envision space technology and exploration through the next 50 years? What do we need to do NOW to achieve that?” Seventh and eighth grade students were asked to participate. This year, 15 sections submitted official entries to the contest, including Antelope Valley, Cape Canaveral, Connecticut, Greater Huntsville, Hampton Roads, Houston, Long Island, Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Mid-Atlantic, Palm Beach, Rocky Mountain, San Francisco, Southwest Texas, St Louis, and Vandenberg. For each grade, there were first-, second-, and third-place winners, which included $125, $75, and $50 awards for the students, respectively. The six students also received a one-year student membership with AIAA.

The first-place winner for 8th grade is Lucas Anderson from Colorado Spring, CO (Rocky Mountain Section). The second-place winner for 8th grade is Alexander Goetz from Fenton, MO (St. Louis Section). The third-place winner for 8th grade is William Mayville Jr. from Palm Beach Gardens, FL (Palm Beach Section). Emily Huynh from the San Francisco Section received an Honorable Mention for her essay.

The first-place winner for 7th grade is Chrislaina Anderson from Santa Maria, CA (Vandenberg Section). The second-place winner for 7th grade is Noah Stoumbaugh from Yorktown, VA (Hampton Roads Section). The third-place winner for 7th grade is Ksenia Apalkova from San Jose, CA (San Francisco Section). Ashley Wilson from the Long Island Section received an Honorable Mention for her essay.

All 2020 winning essays can be found below. The topic for 2021 is “Describe science experiments you can conduct on the lunar surface that is unique to our moon.” If you, your school, or section are interested in participating in the 2021 contest, please contact Anthony Shao (ant.shao@gmail.com), Erica Rodgers (erica.rodgers@nasa.gov), or your local section for more details.

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Obituary AIAA Senior Member Fickeisen Died in March

Frank C. Fickeisen passed away on 22 March.

In 1944, Fickeisen briefly attended classes at the University of Washington before enlisting in the U.S. Navy where he trained in radar. When he returned to Seattle he finished his B.S. and Masters in electrical engineering. He went to work for Boeing, and had a long and varied career working first with the BOMARC, a defense missile center, and then moving on to their commercial division, where he worked on the 707, 747, and 767. He worked to certify twin engine jets to fly longer worldwide routes as part of the ETOPS program and travelled the world helping airlines and governments adopt safety measures needed to safely operate these routes. Fickeisen was among the first group of Technical Fellows named by Boeing in 1989 . He retired in 1993, but continued to consult with numerous air safety agencies throughout the world for several more years. 

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Obituary AIAA Associate Fellow Rusak Died in May

Zvi Rusak, professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, died on 29 May. He was 61.

Dr. Rusak served as a member of the Rensselaer faculty since 1991. He received three degrees from the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology: a bachelor’s degree (1980) and a master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering (1982), and a doctorate in Aerospace Engineering (1989). He worked as an aeronautical engineer at the Israeli Air Force (1982–1988), where he headed the Aeroelasticity group (1987–1988). He spent 1989–1991 as a postdoctorate associate in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Rensselaer, working with Professor Julian Cole, before joining the Rensselaer faculty.

Dr. Rusak was a stalwart in the field of theoretical and computational aerodynamics and fluid mechanics. His research has helped illuminate the vortex breakdown phenomenon, which occurs in vortex flows above airplanes and in swirling flows in pipes and nozzles of engines. In addition, his studies in transonic aerodynamics aimed to design aircraft wings to minimize their drag due to the appearance of shock waves. Other studies sought to improve the maximum lift of wings by modifying their shape to delay flow separation and stall.

Dr. Rusak published more than 250 papers and made significant contributions to the understanding of fluid flows, the science of liquids, and gases in motion. His research applies to both aeronautical and mechanical engineering systems, including the design of aircraft wings, helicopter blades, wind and hydroelectric turbines, and combustors. His publications include more than 80 archival journal papers, including the ASME Journal of Fluids EngineeringJournal of Fluid Mechanics, Physics of Fluids, and the AIAA Journal

Dr. Rusak was not only a respected researcher, he was also a passionate teacher. His love for teaching was reflected in many positive comments from his students. He formerly served on the editorial board of the ASME Journal of Fluids Engineering and the AIAA Journal. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and an Associate Fellow of AIAA. He received multiple honors and recognitions.

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Obituary AIAA Senior Member McVeigh Died in June

Michael Anthony “Tony” McVeigh, age 82, award-winning helicopter engineer, died on 28 June.

His childhood fascination with aircraft became a lifelong passion and marked a highly distinguished professional career. McVeigh graduated with honors from Queen’s University Belfast, and then earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, England. Prior to his recruitment by Boeing, McVeigh worked designing missiles at Short Brothers and Harland, Ltd. in Belfast. He immigrated to the United States in 1966 to begin his 46-year career with The Boeing Company, retiring at 78 in 2015, as a Senior Technical Fellow.

As part of the Boeing Vertol Aerodynamics Organization, McVeigh pursued the validation of advanced helicopter concepts. His knowledge and intuition went beyond helicopters, focusing on complex issues involved with the combination of fixed wing concepts with novel rotor and propeller configurations, such as tiltrotor and tiltwing aircraft.

His focus on the development, wind tunnel testing, and optimization of tiltrotor and tiltwing designs continued throughout his career. He was a major contributor to the first Boeing real-time piloted simulation math model for the Boeing M222 tiltrotor, and subsequently the XV-15 tiltrotor aircraft with hingeless rotors. He was also responsible for the aerodynamic design of the Boeing advanced composite replacement rotor blades for the Army-Bell XV-15 tiltrotor aircraft and contributed to the Model 360 helicopter technology demonstrator.

McVeigh’s contributions for the JVX/V-22 went from nose to tail. He helped shape the nose of the aircraft with particular focus on the slope of the windshield, and placement of the air data system. He recognized the importance of the mid-wing area, and after much work, developed the mid-wing fairing that provided good aerodynamic flow around the wing stow mechanism. He augmented that area with some special vortex generators to help keep the flow attached through the flight envelope. In addition, McVeigh developed a spanwise set of vortex generators to help keep the flow attached across the wing and was instrumental in developing the flaps and flap schedule to help reduce download in hover. He engineered the wing/nacelle fairing to control flow through the transition from hover to airplane mode and researched the use of tip sails on the nacelles to help increase lift. McVeigh led the development and placement of the fuselage strakes to control flow and improved stability. A truly major achievement was his development and implementation of a forebody strake to solve a high angle-of-attack, high-speed tail buffet problem on the V-22.

In 2001, McVeigh received the American Helicopter Society’s Paul E. Haueter Award for his outstanding technical contributions to the development of tiltwing and tiltrotor aircrafts. McVeigh was named a Senior Technical Fellow by The Boeing Company in 2003. In 2004, McVeigh was recognized as a Fellow by the Royal Aeronautical Society.

He authored/co-authored 25 published technical papers and held four patents. Under a NASA/industry program, McVeigh led the development of the patented “Butterfly” tilt-rotor download reduction device. McVeigh had leadership roles in many programs that included the DARPA/Boeing/Virginia Tech DiscRotor study with its rapidly evolving configurations, and in the application of active flow control devices that concluded with a flight test demonstration of the technology.

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Obituary AIAA Senior Member Rae Died in July

A black and white sketch of a man wearing a suit and tie, looking slightly to the left with a neutral expression.
William J. Rae. Credit:

William J. Rae, University of Buffalo, Distinguished Teaching Professor, passed away at the age of 90 on 15 July.

Accomplished in the fields of aerospace, flight dynamics, and fluid mechanics, Rae started his career at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory as a mathematician in the Aerodynamics Department, but attended night school to get a second degree in engineering. He earned his Master’s and Doctorate in Aerodynamics through a fellowship to Cornell and studied the effects of boundary layers on electron density distributions during reentry for the Apollo communications blackout problem. After 30 years of engineering, he went on to become a beloved professor in the SUNY-Buffalo Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Rae received the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system. His engineering research contributed to everything from NASA’s space exploration missions to road vehicle dynamics and efficiency, helical particle separation, and understanding the transonic flow through axial compressor blades.

In addition to inspiring generations of students, he made aerospace engineering courses exciting and fun. Rae received numerous awards during his long career at the University of Buffalo, among them the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1993, the Most Helpful Teacher Award from the UB AIAA Student Branch and the Carl Naish Award from the Millard Fillmore College Student Association.

While teaching the fundamental properties of aerodynamic flight to students in his flight dynamics class in 1995, Rae began developing a theory that explains why a football doesn’t fly like a missile or a bullet. His theory demonstrated that “the flight of a football is almost as complicated as the flight of an airplane.”

Rae noted that while serious aerodynamic studies had been conducted on the flight of baseballs, soccer balls, golf balls and tennis balls, there had never been, to his knowledge, similar studies of footballs. Thus, for one course at UB, he taught the fundamental properties of aerodynamic flight by having his students “fly” a football using simulation software. He then validated the software simulation with wind tunnel studies using a highly instrumented football. This may have been the least of his aerospace research projects, but probably became the most enduring as news articles about his football studies were published in newspapers and sports magazines across the United States.

He was active in the AIAA Niagara Frontier Section for more than 40 years, including serving as chair, and over the course of his career Rae published in excess of 20 technical papers for AIAA journals and proceedings. In 2002 he retired from teaching and in 2016 he was inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation and Space Hall of Fame.

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Obituary AIAA Associate Fellow Gionfriddo Died in July

Maurice P. Gionfriddo, 89, passed away on 18 July.

Gionfriddo had both a Bachelors and a Master’s Degree from MIT. He served as a first lieutenant for the U.S. Air Force during the Korean Conflict.

Prior to retirement, Gionfriddo was employed as an aeronautical engineer at the U.S. Army Natick Laboratories. After retirement he started consulting and his current endeavor was founding the aeronautics company Logistic Gliders, Inc. Throughout his career he developed innovative products for the aerospace industry. He was also an active member of the Parachute Industry Association.

He was recognized with the Theodor W. Knacke Aeredynamic Decelerator Systems Award in 1990 and the AIAA Sustained Service Award in 2007. Gionfriddo also had a passion for creating and flying model airplanes.

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AIAA Committees How Far Do You See In 50 Years? (1st Place, 8th Grade)

Lucas Anderson, Eagleview Middle School

It is no secret that our species has always been keen to explore anything undiscovered, and what we thought impossible one decade was the basis for our dreams in the next. And at this point, what grounds do we have to expect that to change? Since the earliest rockets were created, people imagined using them to travel to the moon, and when our species accomplished that, people imagined going to the stars. The more important question is not about if we will ever visit other planets, exoplanets, or even further destinations, but about how we will overcome the necessary difficulties and how difficult will they be to overcome. There are already plans in place by many of the major space organizations, and NASA is no exception. According to one article, “Unlike the way the space program started, NASA will not be racing a competitor. Rather, we will build upon the community of industrial, international, and academic partnerships forged for the space station” (“60 Years”). So it seems that we are going to have a far more cooperative future than our past, which will surely lead to more accomplishments. According to the article, “It’s Official. Humans Are Going to Mars. NASA Has Unveiled Their Mission,” NASA already has a plan to get humans to Mars in the next couple of decades, but they aren’t the only ones with that goal (Lant). SpaceX, for example, has been making strides toward Mars and, as stated above, will likely work with NASA and other companies to make sure they succeed. For example, the article, “NASA Teams with SpaceX, Blue Origin and More to Boost Moon Exploration Tech” discusses the organizations working on the steps leading up to this goal. The author states, “SpaceX will also work with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on how best to land Starship on the moon” (Wall). So human exploration seems to have a bright future, mostly focused on getting to Mars.

But what about exploration in the absence of humans? We’ve already sent probes out to the distant solar system and beyond, so what’s next? In the very near future, our focus seems to be going inward rather than outward; we’ve launched the Parker Solar Probe, which will, as the name suggests, be sent toward the sun. However, we do still have longer-term goals, such as the Europa Clipper, which will allow us to gather information on Jupiter’s icy moon of the same name. But this project, unlike the solar probe, is still in its early stages (“Europa Clipper”). However, it will likely be a major focus for the next few decades. Another piece of technology that will impact our understanding of space is the James Webb Space Telescope (which will hopefully launch sometime within the next 50 years). This long-anticipated satellite will be an improved alternative to the Hubble telescope. It should allow us to get better images, and therefore understanding, of the universe in which we live. This will likely consume much of NASA’s attention with all of the useful information it can give us. According to a NASA article, “Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mystifying structures and origins of our universe” (“60 Years”). So in short, the future of both manned and unmanned space travel seems relatively diverse and full of possibility.

Space could also be used to improve the lives of humans on Earth; many problems such as shortages of resources could be solved by traveling to other celestial bodies. Mining asteroids and other objects has been proposed before, but is this plausible, and is there anything valuable to be found? According to one article, “Though most [asteroids] are hunks of rock or ice, some are replete with iron, platinum, gold, and other precious minerals” (Perry). While most likely not unattainable, the prospect of extracting resources from outer space does bring in some new challenges. We would need to improve our propulsion capabilities and develop excavation equipment that functions properly in the harsh environment of space. Technologies such as ionic thrusters, which exist but are still not practical, mainly due to their small size and thrust. These would need to be improved upon and scaled up to be fit for a mineral-harvesting craft. Other propulsion methods and energy sources may prove to be promising contributors to this goal. This equipment would have to handle extreme temperatures and temperature fluctuations and be able to work in a vacuum. This equipment would have to be designed for use in microgravity, and be unaffected by the heightened radiation levels present in that environment. We will need to make transporting large amounts of material more efficient, as many candidates for mining are all the way in the asteroid belt, or farther. Transportation may benefit from reducing the amount of unwanted material being transported; minerals are generally not found in a pure state, so technology should be developed that will allow ore to be refined on the asteroid or planet, if possible. Asteroid mining could prove to be very profitable, making it a great motivation to explore further.

Another point to consider is non-material resources; there’s quite a bit more than rock, metal, ice, and gas in our solar system. Energy is just as valuable as any of those, and it may be easier to acquire. For example, a solar panel orbiting the sun could be more efficient due to the lack of an atmosphere and the clouds that come with it. Transportation will likely not be a great issue; electricity can be transferred with the use of electromagnetic waves (Kingatua). Capitalism will most likely be one of the strongest driving forces behind progress in space. 

Works Cited
“60 Years & Counting – The Future.” NASA, NASA, www.nasa.gov/specials/60counting/future.html.
“Europa Clipper.” NASA, NASA, www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/europa-clipper/.
Kingatua, Amos. “Wireless Power Transmission of Solar Energy from Space – News.” All About Circuits, 6 Oct. 2016, www.allaboutcircuits.com/news/wireless-power-transmission-of-solar-energy-from-space/.
Lant, Karla. “It’s Official. Humans Are Going to Mars. NASA Has Unveiled Their Mission.” Futurism, Futurism, 28 Apr. 2017, futurism.com/its-official-humans-are-going-to-mars-nasa-has-unveiled-their-mission.
Perry, Philip. “NASA to Explore an Asteroid Containing Enough Mineral Wealth to Collapse the World Economy.” Big Think, Big Think, 5 Oct. 2018, bigthink.com/philip-perry/nasas-asteroid-mission-likely-to-uncover-mysteries-surrounding-the-origins-of-our-solar-system.
Wall, Mike. “NASA Teams with SpaceX, Blue Origin and More to Boost Moon Exploration Tech.” Space.com, Space, 31 July 2019, www.space.com/nasa-moon-mars-technology-commercial-partnerships.html.

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AIAA Committees How Far Do You See In 50 Years? (2nd Place, 8th Grade)

Alexander Goetz, Homeschooled

I believe that in 50 years we will have human missions to other moons and planets in our solar system. We need to find a food source for people to eat aboard the transport vehicle, and develop a vehicle that will protect people from the harsh environment in space. I will focus on our food supply, and how we can grow plants in space. I will also discuss the transport vehicle.

To travel to other celestial bodies in our solar system, we will need to create a transport vehicle that aides in brisk movement. Speed is critical, because a longer trip increases the risk of danger. A long range space vehicle would need to have: a) a propulsion engine that can travel to distant places quickly and efficiently, b) an energy source that is both clean and efficient, c) space for people, plants, and cargo, d) a mapping system that will automatically steer the space vehicle toward the destination, and finally, e) protection and defence from the harsh elements of space.

The engine will need to propel us great distances with great speed, so we need to develop an engine that stays clean and works all the way there, or is at least easy to repair. The engine will need to be fuel efficient at propelling us into space because of the load on the ship, including oxygen and water.

We may already have an energy source that we can use. In addition to being efficient and renewable, it also has to be clean to prevent the plants, as well as the people, on the ship from getting sick. We may have to discover this energy source, or we may have to modify an existing fuel source to fit this criteria. We also need to create a highly sophisticated space telescope, coupled with computer modeling software, to create a “Google map” of the solar system.

To provide oxygen on the ship, we need to use plants. Plants create oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. We can create oxygen and keep plants growing and humans alive aboard the spaceship. Plants will also create food and seeds to grow more plants. Water will need to be condensed and purified for use in farming and drinking.

Having animals, such as chickens aboard the space vehicle, would be useful for food and fertilizer. The manure could be used as fertilizer and we could use eggs and chickens to provide a versatile diet for humans. Chickens are smelly and messy and we will need to develop a self cleaning cage.

To choose plants that would be needed aboard the space vehicle, we will need to test and perfect growing these plants in space in a zero gravity environment. We will need to design a pot or bag to hold the soil and water, and a soil that stays saturated. The plant needs to be able to withstand light directly on its roots. Or, something different, like a pot with a hole in the top and the soil compacted in the bottom so the roots are protected from the sunlight, whether that light be artificial or real. Choosing a plant will need to be a choice that meets criteria for nutrition, reproduction, and needs of the plant.

Nutrition is one of the most important factors that we need to consider when choosing the plants that we take into space. Nutrition means both the nutrition needed to feed the plants and the amount of nutrition in the fruit that the plant produces. Tomatoes, on one hand, contain lots of vitamins such as Vitamin C. They also contain a lot of water. Also, a certain type of tomato, indeterminate, will keep producing until frost kills it. Some tomatoes will produce fruit daily. Cherry and beefsteak tomatoes are both indeterminate, and are both varying sizes and tastes. Trying to grow tomatoes in space would be a good idea, to meet the nutrition requirements.

Reproduction is another important factor that we need to consider when choosing the plants that we take into space. Reproduction is the need for pollination and the creation of seeds in a fruit or vegetable. For example, peppers, such as sweet peppers, produce a lot of seeds on the inside. It is easy to grow a pepper from a seed and some plants will produce through the cold months. Pepper plants are self-pollinating, so there is no need for a pollinator. Choosing peppers is a good idea, with respect to reproduction.

The needs of the plant is the most important factor we need to consider when choosing plants to go into space. The needs of the plant include, but are not limited to, water, light, and food. Plant food means that different nutrients are required in the soil to feed the plant. Some plants require more or less light. We will need to develop an “artificial sun” aboard the space vehicle. Plants with smaller space needs are preferred, given space constraints. A plant that is not especially needy is the potato plant, which will grow well under an artificial light in a basement, as I have observed.. The plant did not need a lot of water, and it often grew more than any of the other plants that were kept in the basement. It died later because of mildew in that pot, because that pot did not have any holes in it. Proper drainage will be important to cultivate plants in space. Potato plants would be a good choice for a space plant and this, and other plants, should be explored.

In conclusion, a space vehicle will need to be developed over the next 50 years to explore our solar system. It will need to meet many criteria to transport and sustain humans, and possibly animals, in space. We will also need to develop the technology to produce food while travelling in space using ideal plants suitable for the unique growing environment.

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AIAA Committees How Far Do You See In 50 Years? (3rd Place, 8th Grade)

William E. Mayville Jr., The Weiss School

Humans have always tried to predict and understand the cosmos. That began with equations to calculate the positions of stars. However, now we utilize massive behemoths to carry humans and supplies to space. In the 80s, humans believed that flying cars are other such technologies would be in full-scale production by now. Likewise, we likely make assumptions about the future that may not come true. However, we can take many educated guesses as to what the future of space exploration will look like. We can generally predict the evolution of rocketry and scientific tools. With tools such as the SLS, we are already casting that future.

One can build as many telescopes, spacesuits, and rovers as they want. However, rockets must be used to carry those tools to their destinations. The SLS and the Orion capsule appear to be very advanced equipment. However, if one simply takes one look at Elon Musk’s BFR (Big Falcon Rocket), they will see the next generation of space travel. SpaceX reported that the BFR can carry 100 people and has a substantial cargo capacity. Despite the fact that the Space Shuttle program was cancelled, that presented NASA as well as the private sector with a unique opportunity. That opportunity was to be able to shape America’s new rockets and rocketry programs. This means that America has wiped the slate clean and can start anew, while still be able to rely on old technologies that have worked in the past and can build off those technologies. America can direct it’s rocketry in any way it wants and therefore, can remold the program. When one brings the private sector into the picture, that also allows for massive growth in the field of rocketry. With companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX, one has another space race. However, it is driven by profit, customers, and advancements. In that race, America wins every time. When we are making plans to go to Mars by 2030s (NASA), then one can only imagine the interplanetary transport systems that will be thriving in 2070. While one cannot over exaggerate, one can say that those rockets will be incredibly advanced and much more capable in comparison to the launch vehicles of today. They will likely be able to carry hundreds of people distances that are simply inconceivable for human missions using the technology of 2020. The rocketry of 2070, will likely expand not only American space dominance, American scientific knowledge, etc. but will help to enlighten the world with the elusive answers to the many mysteries that the cosmos holds.

The second field that will likely experience massive technological growth in the span of 50 years is scientific equipment. This is the case with both tools in the laboratory and field tools such as high-powered telescopes and rovers. We already see advancements with projects such as that of the James Webb space telescope. In addition, drones and other such devices could be used for scientific purposes on the surface of the Moon and Mars. One such example is the Dragonfly rotorcraft. It is scheduled to launch in 2026 and arrive on Saturn’s moon, Titan. The Space Newsletter reported the Dragonfly has a price tag of about 1 billion and has a wide array of scientific tools. These tools and the Dragonfly is just a preview of rotorcraft in space. With the direction this field is headed in, it is realistic to foresee vehicles that can be remotely controlled by an astronaut on the ground or in a nearby vehicle. This would prove to be a revolutionary technology in exploration of planets and scientific discoveries. This would allow astronauts to cover large distances, scan areas, perform experiments, and gather large amounts of data in a relatively short period of time. This would allow for massive breakthrough in possibly find microorganisms, new materials, etc. that can be very beneficial to life on Earth.

Yes, NASA, ESA, SpaceX, and all of the other space agencies and companies throughout the world are building revolutionary technology. However, that is in 2020, in order to make the predictions above come true in 2070, a number of variables have to line up. Those variables are not random and can be controlled. One key example is the STEM Pipeline. It is vital that to continue technological and scientific growth, youth, regardless of whether they go into a STEM field, must receive STEM education. As society turned from multi-volume encyclopedias and small, canvas biplanes to the internet and massive launch vehicles, many had to be educated in STEM, and fluent in mathematics and computer languages. As we go from the SLS to the BFR and so on, there will likely be a major change in how STEM involves the average person. Even more so, engineers, scientists, and many other such professionals will have to have advanced education in their respective fields. The children of today will be the engineers and astrophysicists making the advancements detailed in the previous paragraphs possible. This is why a STEM pipeline is vital. Another key component is public-private partnerships. These partnerships combine the resources of the government with the can-do mindset and the ingenuity of the private sector. NASA already uses contractors to fly satellites and to build large rockets such as the SLS. Public-private partnerships must continue in order for major advancements to occur. However, those partnerships cannot simply be contracting, they must be partnerships where engineers and scientists from both government and industry create and implement solutions to problems in addition to furthering technology. Without true partnerships as well as STEM education, it will likely be very difficult for significant advancements to happen between now and 2020.

There will be many significant technological and scientific advances over the next 50 years. These advancements will significantly benefit the Earth and all those who live on it. However, measures must be taken to ensure that those advancements occur and are beneficial. 2020 is helping to lay down the foundation for the future of space.

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AIAA Committees How Far Do You See In 50 Years? (1st Place, 7th Grade)

Chrislaina Anderson, Orcutt Junior High School

Universe Here we Come!

For centuries humans have always had a curiosity for space as it is just part of our human nature. On July 20, 1969, America reached the moon. Not only did we make it to the moon, but we also opened pathways for the future. This showed America and other countries that if we can make it to the moon, we can make it to other places. Fifty years later we are trying to make it to Mars. In those fifty years we have advanced in so many areas of technology. We have advanced in phones, cars, architectural knowledge, computers, and so much more. If we were able to improve so much technology in fifty years, imagine what we can do with our modern technology in the next fifty years. Since, Hans Lippershey invented the telescope in the early 1600s, we have been able to discover different planets and moons, which led us to today. In the next 50 years Americans will be exploring and terraforming other planets and moons, to do that we need to advance our spacecraft and our terraforming technology.

To begin with, we want to create an artificial magnetosphere to protect Mars from solarwinds. Marc Kaufman shares how we can give Mars a magnetosphere in the article, “ How to Give Mars an Atmosphere, Maybe.” Kaufman explains, “… if Mars had a functioning magnetosphere to protect it from those solar winds, could it once again develop a thicker atmosphere, warmer climate and liquid surface water?… Martian magnetic fields might be reconstituted and then how the climate on Mars could then become more friendly for human exploration and perhaps communities.” This explains how if we are able to create an artificial magnetosphere that it could make it easier for us to explore Mars and possibly terraform it. All in all, if we can create an artificial magnetosphere for Mars we can make a smaller scaled one for a spacecraft, if we make one for a spacecraft we can protect astronauts from radiation.

Second, we need to find a way to refuel spacecraft in space. When spaceships launch, they must escape Earth’s gravitational pull by accelerating to escape velocity. Rockets use up a lot of fuel when exiting Earth’s gravitational pull. Scientists discovered ice on the poles of the moon. Frank Tavares shares how we have found ice on the moon in the article, “ Ice Confirmed at the Moon’s Poles.” Tavares quotes, “In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface… At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely… With enough ice sitting at the surface – within the top few millimeters – water would possibly be accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon…” This quote shows how ice was found at the poles of the moon. This gives us the potential of a refueling station, it doesn’t take as much fuel to escape the moon’s gravitational pull. Rocket fuel is liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. We can get both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen from the ice. We just need to seperate them. In conclusion, we can refuel spacecraft on the moon which will allow us to go further into space.

Last, we need to be able to go further into space. To do that we need to advance in our current propulsion systems eventually reaching light-speed to take us beyond our solar system which includes the Kuiper Belt. The first steps would be the development of plasma and ion engines. This would get us to planets and moons quicker than our current engines. We need to terraform other planets and moons. According to Jim Green, NASA’s lead scientist, when he spoke at Allan Hancock College on May 4, 2018, Earth is currently in the habitable zone. The habitable zone is slowly extending outward from our sun and the Earth will eventually be too warm to sustain life, but at that point Mars will be inside the habitable zone. Another reason it would be a good idea to terraform other worlds is for humans to be on more than one planet or moon in case of an extinction level event like a pandemic or an asteroid hitting Earth. This would ensure the survival of our species. As shown above, we need to have better propulsion systems for us to explore further into space and faster.

In conclusion, in the next 50 years Americans will be exploring and terraforming other planets and moons. To do that we need to advance our spacecraft and our terraforming technology. The topic of space exploration in the next 50 years is important along with thinking about what we have to do now to achieve it. I believe that we need to create artificial magnetospheres, create new refueling stations, develop terraforming technology, and advance in our current propulsion systems. In fifty years, we probably won’t be having fights with lightsabers, or flying in galactic starships. What I do know is that in fifty years we could be traveling at light speed, and have an artificial atmosphere around Mars, and we could have refueling stations for spacecraft to go further into space. To start this process we need to focus on what to do now.

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AIAA Committees How Far Do You See In 50 Years? (2nd Place, 7th Grade)

Noah Stoumbaugh

Within the next 50 years, I think space technology will be advanced enough to send humans to Mars. For this to happen we will need to improve spacesuits so they protect from radiation and make it easier to explore. We also need to provide easy to living conditions, send essentials of life Mars before astronauts get to Mars plus supply astronauts with food, water, and oxygen. Finally, we’ll need to find out how to get to and land on Mars.

For astronauts to survive they will need comfortable suits and vehicles that protect from radiation and make it easier to explore. Astronauts need to be protected from space radiation because it has harmful effects such as cancer, damage to the nervous system can lead to death, Radiation also affects a crew’s ability to perform different missions. The spacesuit also needs to keep warm because Mars is on average -80 degrees Fahrenheit which is 138.3 degrees less than the average temperature of the Earth. Another factor to consider while creating the spacesuit is comfort and weight. The spacesuit needs to be lightweight and comfortable so it doesn’t slow down missions or makes a task challenging. These changes will help astronauts while doing tasks such as exploring new terrain, gardening or finding sources of water.

Another problem that would effects missions are living conditions if astronauts don’t have comfortable living space their ability to complete a task or mission will decrease. There’ll need to be an effective use of space so astronauts can do their job but also feel cozy because the estimated time to get to and from mars is six months. Comfortable environments lead to positive atmospheres that helps produce quality work in a quicker amount of time. If you have an environment with more space it reduces distraction from work and boosts concentration levels. A comfortable environment has good lighting, is free of distractions and is relaxing. The room will also have to be set at a normal temperature so work can be done easily and efficiently. The aspects of these rooms will have to also apply to house units and laboratories on Mars.

Before we go to Mars it might be a good idea to send bacteria before astronauts get there. The bacteria species Shewanella oneidensis might be a good choice because it can turn the martian soil into magnetite. For this to work, we’ll have to send a rover, a bioreactor, a 3-D printer, and the bacteria. First, the rover will go around Mars collecting Martian soil and bring it back to the bioreactor that is prefilled with S. oneidiensis. Then, the bacteria will start breaking down the martian soil into magnetite. Once the dirt is broken down the magnetite will be extracted from the rest of the soil that can then be used to 3-D print any needed parts. If this is done 6 years before the Mars landing, we could have up to 1540 lbs of magnetite ready to be used.

Another distinct problem that must be solved before we go to Mars is how we’re going to supply oxygen, water, and food. To supply oxygen, we can split water into its two parts, oxygen and hydrogen. This will put breathable air into the atmosphere while some of the oxygen will be saved for emergencies. Water has been found in Martian soil to extract the water, a rover can be used to pick up soil and deposit it into life support units. Then the soil will be heated so the water can evaporate. The water vapor will then condensed and stored for use. Each astronaut will have up to 50 liters of water to use per day. To supply the food astronauts can plant plants in greenhouses under artificial lighting. It is also a possibility that astronauts will be eating insects and algae. We should also send food containers in case of emergencies on Mars.

Mars will be a challenging task but if we put our minds to it we can be there in less than 50 years. We will need to figure out many problems including the ones not listed. If all these challenges are complete then I think we can be on Mars in less than 30 years.


Dunbar, Brian. “Moon to Mars Overview.” NASA, NASA, 29 June 2018, www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars/overview.
Frassanito, John, and Nasa. “What We Would Need to Do to Send People to Mars.” ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 28 Sept. 2015, www.abc.net.au/news/science/2015-09-28/five-key-technologies-needed-to-get-people-to-mars/6802314.
Gohd, Chelsea. “Should We Send Bacteria to Mars Before Humans?” Space.com, Space, 26 Nov. 2019, www.space.com/bacteria-on-mars-before-humans.html.
Mars 2020 Rover.” NASA, NASA, mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/.
“NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.” NASA, NASA, 3 June 2014, mars.nasa.gov/#red_planet/2.
Whiting, Melanie. “5 Hazards of Human Spaceflight.” NASA, NASA, 5 Sept. 2018, www.nasa.gov/feature/5-hazards-of-human-spaceflight.
“Will the Astronauts Have Enough Water, Food, and Oxygen? – Health and Ethics.” Mars One, www.mars-one.com/faq/health-and-ethics/will-the-astronauts-have-enough-water-food-and-oxygen.

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September 2020 AIAA Bulletin