Welcome. Thank you for coming.

It's an exciting time for CU-Boulder and for the Colorado community as we prepare to launch the next Mars explorer, MAVEN. I'm glad you are here to share it with us.

With us tonight is our Colorado Congressional delegation

  • Rep. Jared Polis
  • Rep. Ed Perlmutter

We're very pleased NASA administrator Charlie Bolden is with us.

We're looking forward to hearing from all of them shortly.

I would also like to welcome our partners from NASA and the Goddard Space Flight Center, and all of our CU-Boulder alumni who are here tonight.

MAVEN—the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission—is perhaps the most ambitious space venture in CU history. It represents the biggest research contract in our history at $671 million. It is notable that the MAVEN contract has added more than $300 million to the Colorado economy.

In a few days we are about to witness the culmination of a project that has been in the works for more than 10 years. The concept began in 2003, the proposal was submitted in 2006, and NASA selected us for development for flight in 2008.

The fact that we were awarded this contract is due in part to our credibility and our long experience and history in space exploration.  Nineteen of 20 CU-affiliated astronauts have flown in space. Our scientists have placed dozens of payloads on NASA's 135 shuttle missions.

Today we are on the cusp of one of the most momentous space missions in CU's history. And yet, in many ways the launch of MAVEN is not the culmination, but only the beginning. The data MAVEN will gather will revolutionize our knowledge of Mars.

 MAVEN has been a great example of CU-Boulder's productive partnerships with industry and government, as we have worked hand-in-glove with NASA, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, United Launch Alliance, and Exelis Incorporated. It shows what can be accomplished when a premier research university, industry and government work together.

You will hear about the exciting science and the technical aspects of the mission tonight but I would like to take a moment to focus on the students participating in this project and the unique educational aspects.

Dozens of students—graduate students and undergraduates—are involved in all phases of the mission—the science, the engineering and the operations. By the mission's completion, more than 100 students will have taken part.

 MAVEN's instruments will be controlled by students, with faculty oversight, from the operation center of our Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics on the Boulder campus.

This experiential learning prepares our students to become the next generation's scientists, engineers, teachers and industry leaders.

Our operations and engineering graduates are keenly sought by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as well as space industry leaders because of their hands-on experience.  Approximately one-third of the engineering staff at Lockheed Martin earned one of their degrees from CU.

As an example, Guy Beutelschies was an undergraduate at CU working in LASP—our Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics—in the early 1980s as a student controller of the Solar Mesosphere Explorer Satellite. This was one of the very first spacecraft for which students played a role in operations.

Today, some 30 years later, he is the program manager at Lockheed Martin overseeing the development of the MAVEN spacecraft. (And doing a great job at it, too!) He's responsible for providing us with the wonderful spacecraft that you are about to see. Guy is in Florida now preparing for the launch. It's alumni like Guy, who help CU continue its legacy in space exploration—a legacy in which we are very proud.

Thank you for coming. It's a pleasure to have you here.