Colorado aerospace industry leaders and CU-Boulder to host program on Mars exploration

Published: Aug. 28, 2014

The importance of Mars exploration and how the aerospace industry partners with university researchers to advance one of Colorado’s leading economic sectors will be featured at a free program Monday, Sept. 8, in south Denver.

Aerospace leaders will discuss the importance of Mars exploration and the role of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN mission, the involvement of Colorado companies in space exploration and the value of public/private partnerships involving university-based research. Speakers will include Jim Green, director of NASA planetary science; Nick Schneider, MAVEN co-investigator and professor at CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP); Guy Beutelschies, space exploration systems director, Lockheed Martin; Jim Sponnick, vice president of Atlas and Delta programs, United Launch Alliance; and Patrick Carr, vice president and general manager of command, control and communications systems, Exelis.

The event and reception will be held at The Wildlife Experience, also home of the new CU South Denver, 10035 S. Peoria St. in 
Parker. Registration begins at 4 p.m. The program is at 4:30 p.m., followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. The program is free, but registration is required. Register by Sept. 3 at and scroll down to the calendar listing under “Events.”

MAVEN is a $671 million NASA mission and is expected to enter Mars orbit Sept. 21 following a 10-month journey from Earth. The mission will target the role that the loss of atmospheric gases played in changing the climate there over the eons. The mission should help scientists determine why Mars went from a warm, wet and possibly habitable planet several billion years ago to the cold, dry and inhospitable planet it appears to be today.

MAVEN is an exemplary federally funded university research project that has led to several key Colorado aerospace businesses playing critical roles in the design, development, launch and subsequent data collection of the high-profile mission. CU-Boulder led science operations and provided two of the science instruments, while Lockheed Martin of Littleton built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. United Launch Alliance of Centennial successfully launched MAVEN aboard an Atlas V rocket, and Exelis, with operations in Colorado Springs, manages the deep space network used to communicate with MAVEN.

The event is hosted by NASA, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance, Exelis and CU-Boulder’s LASP.

For more information about MAVEN visit and


For media inquiries, contact Malinda Miller-Huey, CU-Boulder director of media relations, 303-492-3115,

For event information, contact Kim Calomino, CU-Boulder Office of Government and Industry Relations, 303-492-2626,