SPACE EXPLORATION FRIDAY – All About Our Special Guest Panelists

ALL DAY FRIDAY we’ll be featuring great guest speakers sharing their expertise from NASA and private space companies. These knowledgeable and entertaining speakers make up a mini-con inside our convention and are a highly-anticipated part of our show. And don’t miss Panel #5, it may be the most musical science panel ever!


PANEL #1: Space Exploration Expert Dr. Jason Cassibry

Dr. Jason Cassibry, Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dr. Cassibry is an expert on history of fusion propulsion. He is involved with the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s research on fusion propulsion.

DON’T MISS his panel: The UAH/NASA team is developing the Charger 1 facility for research into pulsed fusion propulsion concepts. Dr. Cassibry will discuss the latest status of these efforts and the next steps forward into the future of space propulsion and exploration.

PANEL #2: Space Exploration Expert and Science Fiction Author Les Johnson

Les Johnson is a husband, father, physicist, manager, and author of science fiction / science fact.  In his “day job” he serves as the Senior Technical Assistant for the Advanced Concepts Office at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

DON’T MISS his panel: NASA Advanced Concepts expert and science fiction author Les Johnson will go over several key space exploration concepts. He will discuss what it really takes to make it into interstellar space.

PANEL #3: Project Manager Niki Werkheiser

Niki Werkheiser is the In-space Manufacturing (ISM) Project Manager at NASA. Niki Werkheiser is the NASA In-space Manufacturing (ISM) Project Manger. Ms. Werkheiser is responsible for developing the on-demand manufacturing technologies required for sustainable, long-duration space missions to destinations such as Mars. The ISM portfolio includes the 3D Printing Technology Demonstration payload on the International Space Station, which made history by being the first 3D Printer to manufacture parts in space, as well as in-space recycling, bioprinting, printable electronics, and
more. The project heavily leverages these rapidly-evolving commercial technologies here on earth for adaptation to the space environment.

Previous to this role, Ms. Werkheiser served as the Project Manager for NASA’s Ares Crew Safety and Reliability Office. She spent the majority of her career in NASA’s Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs Payload Offices where she designed, developed, integrated, and operated multiple NASA payloads.She works for Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA and is stationed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.

Ms. Werkheiser’s academic background includes a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with an emphasis in Gravitational and Space Biology, as well as a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Russian Studies.

DON’T MISS her panel: Ms. Werkheiser will discuss the latest cutting-edge advanced manufacturing efforts in space. Her talk will reveal how 3D printing and other techniques will revolutionize space construction, and supply management.

PANEL #4: Advanced Propulsion Technologist Rob Adams, Ph. D.

NASA’s Rob Adams, an Advanced Propulsion Technologist, is just the man to discuss the details involved in truly going to the stars! Read all about his work on NASA’s website.“”

DON’T MISS his panel: Rob will discuss the PuFF Propulsion Concept. PuFF is short for “Pulsed Fission-Fusion” – a propulsion system that triggers miniature fission explosions to boost a fusion reaction. He will discuss how it can revolutionize travel within the solar system.


PANEL #5: Foot Pound Force, “Rock and Roll Rocket Scientists” Concert and Talk

Scientists by day and Musicians by night, the nerd rock band Foot Pound Force hosts the “Rock and Roll Rocket Scientists” CONCERT and Talk Panel. In what may be the smartest, oddest con panel ever, scientist musicians will sing and tell stories about the intersection of science and music. Enjoy this musical celebration ending our Space Exploration Friday track with some filking! Come find out what it’s all about.

DON’T MISS this panel: The members of Foot Pound Force are joined by fellow scientist/musicians: 59 Minutes Band, Dr. Melody Ng, and Robert Bijvoet. Find out all about this “Rock ‘n’ Roll Rocket Scientists” panel at the special EVENT PAGE for the show!

All these amazing speakers will be scheduled for one hour panel talks throughout the day on Friday the 10th. Where else can you hear all these experts speak in a single day? Join us!