Professor and Chair of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department
University of Colorado Boulder

Penina Axelrad

Penina (Penny) Axelrad is Professor and Chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences (AES) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU). She received her S.B. in 1985 and her S.M. in 1986 in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from M.I.T. In 1991, Penny earned her Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. From 1991-1992 she was on the technical staff at Stanford Telecommunications in Santa Clara, CA. In 1992, Dr. Axelrad joined the faculty of the CU Aerospace Engineering Sciences department and has been active in research on GPS technology and applications for aircraft, spacecraft, and remote sensing, publishing over 40 technical papers and 90 conference papers. She has served as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on 50 research grants and contracts totaling over $6M. Dr. Axelrad is a Fellow of the Institute of Navigation (ION) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Chief Executive Officer
Braxton Technologies

Frank Backes

As CEO, Mr. Backes has been instrumental in delivering more than 100 percent revenue growth in two years while maintaining profitability percentages. During this time of extreme growth, Braxton has expanded its workforce by 400 percent. In addition to general CEO duties, Frank is responsible for sales, marketing, and business infrastructure. Prior to joining Braxton Technologies, Frank was the President and CTO of a software development and products company specializing in knowledge management and collaborative business products. He has over 24 years of project management, operations management, systems development, and deployment experience. As the CFO for a publically traded company, Frank has had extensive experience with mergers, acquisitions, and SEC compliance and has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 Award for the Services category in the Rocky Mountain Region. Frank holds a Bachelors degree in Semiconductor Physics with minors in Computer Hardware Engineering, and Communications/Marketing from the University of California at San Diego.

Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

Daniel N. Baker

Dr. Daniel Baker is Director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences and Professor of Physics there. His primary research interest is the study of plasma physical and energetic particle phenomena in planetary magnetospheres and in the Earth's vicinity. Following postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology with Edward C. Stone, he joined the physics research staff at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and became Leader of the Space Plasma Physics Group at LANL in 1981. From 1987 to 1994, he was the Chief of the Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. From 1994 to present he has been at the University of Colorado. Dr. Baker obtained his Ph.D. degree with James A. Van Allen at the University of Iowa and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Professor and Head of Department
Department of Astronautics
U.S. Air Force Academy

Martin E.B. France

Martin France is Permanent Professor and Head of the Department of Astronautics, United States Air Force Academy. He also manages a dynamic $6.0M+ research program funded by Air Force Space Command, AFRL, and other DoD organizations.

Colonel France earned his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1981, graduating with majors in Engineering Mechanics and Engineering Sciences. Dr. France’s professional experience includes research and development assignments with the Air Force Research Lab working on high-energy laser systems, as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and as the Chief Scientist of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) during a recent sabbatical assignment. Dr. France also served as a staff officer at Air Force Space Command, the Air Staff, and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, writing long-range mission area plans for space forces, in a variety of requirements positions for space support, force enhancement, space superiority, intelligence, and special access programs, and in key support roles within the Pentagon during Operations NOBLE EAGLE and ENDURING FREEDOM. He has published technical, policy, and strategy papers in several journals, is a fully qualified USAF Foreign Area Officer (fluent in French), a Joint Specialty Officer, and is a Level III Certified Acquisition Professional.

Dr. France also earned his Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.

Vice President and General Manager
Civil and Operational Space
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

Cary W. Ludtke

Cary Ludtke is the Vice President and General Manager of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp’s Civil and Operational Space strategic business unit. In this role, Cary is responsible for the acquisition and execution of space programs for civil and commercial customers. Cary brings proven experience in spacecraft and space instrument management, systems and design engineering to the position. During his 25-year career, Cary has demonstrated the ability to execute and manage fixed-price and cost-plus contracts. Cary has held numerous positions of leadership at Ball Aerospace. He has previously served as Vice President and General Manager of the Operational Space and Commercial Space Operations business units. He also served as Vice President of Engineering and Technology Products. Cary attended the AeA/Stanford for Executive Institute for High Technology Companies and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University.

R.C. "Merc" Mercure

After graduating from the University of Colorado with a Ph.D. in physics in 1957, Merc helped start the Ball Brothers Research Corporation, which later became Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation. He also was one of the founders of Colorado Venture Management, Inc., in 1980. In 1988, he returned to the University of Colorado to serve in a number of high-level positions, including: Director, Master of Engineering in Engineering Management Program; Managing Director, Optoelectronic Computing Systems Center; and Professor Adjunct, Engineering Management. Merc currently sits on the Board of Directors of several private companies, is the president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Foundation, and is a director of the Boulder Innovation Center. His list of civic activities includes a former stint as a Boulder City Councilman, a member of the Boulder City Planning Board, and as co-chairman of the Boulder Housing Authority.

Sierra Nevada Space Systems

Mark N. Sirangelo

Mr. Sirangelo leads Sierra Nevada Space Systems, a producer of satellites, space transportation vehicles, propulsion systems and space sub-systems. He also is the Chairman of the SNC Space Systems Board. He was formerly the Chairman & CEO of SpaceDev, Inc., prior to its merging with SNC.

Mr. Sirangelo’s industry board memberships include being Chairman Emeritus of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the founding Chairman of eSpace, The Center for Space Entrepreneurship. His charity boards include being a board member of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and a founding board member and current Treasurer of the International Centre for Children.

Corporate and personal awards include the NASA/Space Foundation’s Technology Hall of Fame, Defense Industry’s Fast Track 50, Deloitte’s Fast Track 500, Ernst &Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and Inc. Magazine’s top 200 companies. Mr. Sirangelo holds Doctorate, MBA and Bachelor of Science degrees, has been scientifically published, has served as an officer in the US Military and is a licensed pilot.

Vice President of Business Development

George Sowers

Dr. George F. Sowers is vice president of Business Development for United Launch Alliance (ULA) headquartered in Denver, Colorado. He is responsible for strategic planning, advanced technology development, advanced concept development and new business acquisition efforts.

Before joining ULA, Dr. Sowers was director of Business Development & Advanced Programs for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Space Transportation line of business located in Denver, Colorado.

Dr. Sowers previously served as director of Mission Integration for the Atlas launch vehicle program. In this role, he was responsible for all activities to integrate and fly satellites on Atlas launch vehicles. This included interface requirements development, mission design, dynamics and systems analysis and flight software development.

Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors
eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship

Scott Tibbitts

Mr. Tibbitts is the Vice Chairman of the eSpace Board of Directors. In 1987, Mr. Tibbitts founded Starsys Research Corporation to bring a promising thermal actuator technology to the spacecraft industry. With Tibbitts as CEO, Starsys developed as a world-class supplier of mechanical systems and actuators for spacecraft, with 150 employees and $18M in revenues. In 2006, Starsys Research was acquired by SpaceDev Inc, with Mr. Tibbitts assuming the role of Managing Director from the time of the merger until January, 2009. SpaceDev was acquired by Sierra Nevada Corporation in December of 2008. Tibbitts received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1980. Mr. Tibbitts worked with Rockwell International at the Rocky Flats Plant, Golden, Colorado from 1981 until 1986 as a Research Engineer developing pyrochemical processes for the purification of plutonium. Mr. Tibbitts was the recipient of the “Esprit Entrepreneur of Distinction” award in 1998, and is the holder of three patents for spacecraft products.