Space Technologies Forum

Space Technologies Forum

August 29th, 2023 7:00am-10:00am EST   2941 Restaurant, 2941 Fairview Park Dr, Falls Church, VA 22042

As the newest and fastest growing warfighting domain, space is rising to the forefront of our nation’s priorities as we work to maintain technological superiority on the global stage. Among the most critical capabilities being targeted in this domain today is real-time, continuous connectivity, especially as adversarial activity and threats increase. This timely event focuses on the cutting-edge technologies behind rapid progress in space, the race to build the internet for space and the innovation in store for the future. 

Join the ExecutiveBiz Space Technologies Forum to hear insights from thought leaders, industry experts and government officials across the space domain as they discuss what lies ahead for space technology.

  • Stephen Bennett
    Stephen Bennett -
    President, US, Kepler Communications

    Steve Bennett is the President of Kepler Communications’ US business, leading the company to establish an Internet-in-space infrastructure for US Civil and DoD markets. He motivates the Kepler US teams to transform vision into reality with over 30 years of executive leadership experience in aerospace engineering. Formerly the SVP of the New Shepard program at Blue Origin, Steve addressed the challenges that held the space vehicle back from human space flight certification and led the mission to a successful first launch. He is a published technology expert with multiple patents and has delivered successes at Honeywell, Raytheon, BAE Systems, and L3. Holding a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Arizona, Steve remains an engineer at heart and enjoys solving problems of the highest complexity.

  • Robert Conrad
    Robert Conrad -
    Vice President of Business Development, Kepler Communications

    Robert J. Conrad is the Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for Kepler Communications and is focused on building a high performance team to expand Kepler’s satellite relay network within the US and global markets. Robert is a strategic leader and team builder who has been responsible for more than $1 billion in sales supporting ground and space systems for the U.S. Government and commercial space industry. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated commitment to responsible leadership, governance, and strategy, and the ability to engage a broad range of stakeholders and drive strategic initiatives. Previously, Mr. Conrad was Vice President of Business Development at SpaceLink, an innovative company that opened the market for commercial space data relay networks. There he leveraged his US Government and broad professional network to position SpaceLink as a finalist for the NASA CSP Project; a commercial replacement program for the NASA Tracking Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) and secured SpaceLink's first US Government contract with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Before SpaceLink, he led as Chief Executive Officer at LJT & Associates, a small business aerospace government contractor that provided a range of services including system engineering, satellite and ground station operations, technology development, space launch operations, logistics, and general engineering support. Mr. Conrad began as Vice President of Business Development and General Manager and went on to become Chief Operating Officer and finally President and Chief Executive Officer. He drove strategy and managed P&L and business development. Under his leadership, the company grew to over $70M in annual revenue. In recent years, he led a high-performance engineering team that developed a high data rate Ku-Band and Ka-Band satellite transceiver (LCT2) to relay launch telemetry to the ground through the geosynchronous NASA TDRSS satellite system. Earlier in his career, Mr. Conrad worked at Allied Signal Technical Services where he served as Deputy Director of Space Services. He provided management and technical oversight on space services contracts which included the Consolidated Space Operations Contract at NASA Johnson Space Center, JPL Deep Space Network Contract, and the Commercial DataLynx Space Ground Station Network. Mr. Conrad earned his Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in RF & Satellite Communications, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Capitol College. He holds a U.S. Patent on a wide band continuously tunable satellite QPSK transceiver.

  • Linda Thomas
    Dr. Linda Thomas -
    Chief Engineer, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

    Dr. Linda M. Thomas is the Chief Engineer for multi-domain free space optical communications systems from the surface to space at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC. Dr. Thomas leads advanced development and prototyping efforts to promote interoperability and access to diverse spectrum in next-generation command, control and communications architectures. She advises Navy and Marine Corps on adoption and transition of new wireless communication and position, navigation, and timing technologies. Dr. Thomas has 18 years of service with US Naval Research Laboratory. Upon joining NRL in 2004, Dr. Thomas led research projects in laser propagation through the maritime atmosphere, satellite laser ranging, and avalanche photodetectors. Beginning in 2007, Dr. Thomas facilitated a partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and US Space Force (formerly US Air Force Space Systems Center), leading to the hosting of NRL-designed, built and tested Laser Retroreflector Arrays on Global Positioning System (GPS) IIIF satellites. Prior to joining the US Naval Research Laboratory, Dr. Thomas earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in the topic of laser propagation through the turbulent atmosphere. She received a B.S.E. from Duke University, also in Electrical Engineering. Dr. Thomas the recipient of the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2022, and the 2017 Department of the Navy Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Engineer Individual Award for her achievements in developing military relevant free space optical communications technology. Additionally, Dr. Thomas is recipient of the 2018 Arthur E. Bisson award for Naval Technology Achievement, the 2014 Department of the Navy Information Excellence Team Award for Free Space Optical communications, and a 2014 Institute of Navigation special recognition for the GPS III Implementation Team for development of the hosted GPS III Laser Retroreflector Array. Dr. Thomas currently serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Optical Engineering, and is a member of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Science & Technology Roundtable. She also serves on the Program Committee for multiple technical conferences in free space optical communication. She is a member of the International Society for Optical Engineering, and has authored or co authored over 40 published manuscripts.

  • Frank Turner
    Dr. Frank Turner -
    Technical Director, Space Development Agency (SDA)

    Dr. Frank Turner is the Technical Director for the Space Development Agency. He has extensive public and private sector experience in the management and direction of advanced technology research, development, test and evaluation of current and emerging military systems. Dr. Turner began his career as an officer in the United States Air Force, served as a Government Program Manager and certified acquisition professional, a senior leader in industry for both large and small companies, and as a senior analyst for both the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. His expertise spans space systems, directed energy, nuclear weapons effects, systems engineering, architectures, and operational evaluation and employment. Has successfully led some of the nation’s most difficult and challenging RDT&E programs, creating technical advantage for America's warfighters. Dr. Turner has academic degrees in physics, biology, business and engineering and has completed military education with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

  • Badri Younes
    Badri Younes -
    Senior Advisor to the Associate Administrator for Space Operations Mission Directorate Human, National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)

    Prior to his current role as Senior Advisor on Communications and Navigation, Badri served as Deputy Associate Administrator and Program Manager for Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) for 16 years, where he was responsible for NASA’s space communications and navigation infrastructure and services, as well as data standards and spectrum. Younes managed the SCaN Program Office at NASA Headquarters and oversaw all NASA communications and navigation projects and networks, including NASA’s Near Space Network and Deep Space Network. He was also responsible for the development of enabling technologies critical to meeting the agency’s vision for an integrated SCaN architecture aligned with NASA’s future space exploration needs.  Prior to returning to NASA in 2007, Younes was the Department of Defense (DoD) Director for Spectrum Management, with responsibility for spectrum policy and strategic planning and implementation. Under his leadership, the Department successfully negotiated major win-win agreements with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the U.S. private sector. Younes successfully led the DoD spectrum management organization to become more proactive in addressing radio frequency and spectrum issues. He was instrumental in transforming the management and use of the electromagnetic spectrum within and outside the Department.  Younes’ experience spans more than thirty-nine years of leadership in microwave and radiowave frequency systems engineering and technology. His interpersonal skills and rich linguistic ability have been instrumental in furthering U.S. objectives. Younes has more than twenty years of involvement in various forums of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and has provided direct support to U.S. ambassadors at a number of World Radiocommunication Conferences.  In addition to his many professional individual and team awards, Younes is also a recipient of the 2005 Meritorious Presidential Rank Award. He is a member of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Catholic University of America. Younes has completed all PhD requirements except for his dissertation.

  • Robert Zitz
    Robert Zitz -
    President, RZ&A

    Robert Zitz is President of Robert Zitz & Associates, LLC. He advises companies and U.S. Government agencies involved in defense, intelligence and homeland security missions and has a record of business growth and mission success. With over 40 years experience in government and industry, Zitz is widely regarded as a visionary with the technical and political acumen to turn concepts into reality. He is an expert in the fields of GEOINT, intelligence satellites, Multi-Int and open source analytics. Before joining industry he was an Intelligence Community veteran who rose from the rank of entry-level intelligence analyst to SES-6 and Deputy Under Secretary. Zitz' s executive experience spans Army Intelligence, CIA, NGA, DHS, Secret Service and NRO. From 2011-2019, Zitz held Senior Vice President positions leading strategy and business development, marketing and communications and government relations at the large defense and aerospace firms SAIC, Leidos and Maxar Technologies. From 2009-2011, Zitz served as Deputy Director of the Mission Support Directorate for the NRO where he led several hundred technical personnel deployed worldwide. He oversaw a very large technology program designed to rapidly deliver technology solutions to users. From 2007 - 2009, Zitz served as Deputy Associate Director of the United States Secret Service. In this role, he guided transformation efforts needed to modernize the elite law enforcement agency. He established and led agency-wide investment governance processes and defined and successfully delivered technical proposals which led to a several hundred million dollar budget increase for the agency. From 2006 – 2007, Zitz was Deputy Under Secretary of Preparedness at DHS. He managed 1,800 employees and oversaw $3-billion in programs. He guided the department’s preparedness work including Infrastructure Protection, National Communications, Cyber Security, State and Local Grants, Exercises and Assessments, Fire Administration, Ready.Gov, and the Chief Medical Officer. Zitz served concurrent roles as Deputy Under Secretary, Principal Deputy Manager of the National Communications System (NCS), and Director of the National Cyber Security Division during his tenure at DHS. He was also the driving force in DHS behind the establishment of a Secret Service-led, National Computer Forensics Institute in Hoover, Ala., which is a showcase for collaborative training of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. Zitz co-chaired the DHS Geospatial, Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee (GPEC) and established the foundation for geospatial- intelligence capabilities across the department. Zitz was one of only a few career nonpolitical appointee members of Secretary Chertoff’s senior leadership team, and he was the first person appointed as a deputy under secretary at DHS. From 2001 - 2005, Zitz led Research and Development (R&D) at NGA and was a member of the agency’s Executive Committee. He guided all the agency’s transformation activities. He was the Intelligence Community’s leading architect of a Multi-Int fusion approach to tasking, collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence. His work on Multi-int was ground breaking, and the results continue to reverberate throughout the community today. Prior to 2001, Mr. Zitz served in a variety of analytical, policy, budget, and technology roles, including counterterrorism support to the Army’s Delta Force.

  • 7:00am - 8:00am EST


  • 8:00am - 8:05am EST

    Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • 8:05am - 8:45am EST

    Keynote Address: Dr. Frank Turner

  • 8:45am - 9:45am EST

    Panel: The Need for Speed: High-Throughput, Real-Time Connectivity for the Future Space Economy

  • 9:45am - 10:00am EST

    Closing Comments

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