Humphrey Price, Mars Program chief engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shares a potential time frame for the Moon to Mars program at the first meeting of the SCV chapter of the Aerospace & Defense Forum on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. Tammy Murga/ The Signal

SCV Aerospace & Defence Form hosts first meetup

Local leaders in aerospace and defense met Thursday for a roundtable discussion on the Moon to Mars program for their inaugural meeting of the Aerospace and Defense Forum’s Santa Clarita Valley chapter. 

The Aerospace and Defense Forum, with seven other chapters located across Southern California, Arizona and Texas, is a leadership community that “provides opportunities for sharing of information, current events and analysis, mutual support and encouragement, partnering, innovation and performance breakthroughs,” according to its website. 

Thursday’s discussion welcomed to the table speaker Humphrey Price, chief engineer of NASA’s robotic Mars Exploration Program, for a presentation titled, “Human Exploration: From the Moon to Mars.”

He was heard by an estimated 30 people from businesses local to the SCV, such as Aptek Laboratories Inc., TA Aerospace, Crean & Associates, ITT Inc., Acqubit and California Manufacturing Technology Consulting. 

“I had no idea there was this much aerospace here (in the SCV),” Price said to attendees. 

His presentation started a dialogue among multiple agencies in attendance about how there’s “a lot of disruption that’s in our technology roadmap but this gives us a really nice leading indicator of where we need to position ourselves collectively,” said Robert Gleason, an executive director at ITT Inc. 

Price shared a potential time frame for implementing the Moon to Mars program, which is a plan to land U.S. astronauts on the moon by 2024 and to Mars by 2033, and where the aerospace industry falls within the challenge. 

NASA’s procurement strategy for future human space flight developments has been to encourage commercial innovation and involvement through broad agency announcements (BAAs), and the pace of selections for vehicle development has picked up to meet the faster timeline of the 2024 mandate, according to a breakdown of the presentation.  

The timeline depicted short-stay Mars landing and follow-on stay landings, which would require several Mars missions, each with multiple Space Launch System launches from 2021 through 2044. The estimated cost for continual visits to Mars is up to $4 billion annually, said Price.

Attendees highlighted that the presentation helps with organizations’ technology roadmap and what potential issues can be made known ahead of time and help steer in the right direction. 

The chapter’s next meeting is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 17, on “The Pulse of the Industry,” with Paul Weisbrich, managing director of D.A. Davidson and Co. To learn more about the presentation, visit aerospacedefenseforum.org. 

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