SGC Speakers


In alphabetical order:

Charles Bolden

Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Bolden_picMr. Bolden is the 12th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., began his duties on July 17, 2009. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the agency's missions and goals. Prior to his nomination for the NASA administrator's job, he was employed as the chief executive officer of JACKandPANTHER LLC. His 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA's Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. Bolden's NASA astronaut career included technical assignments as lead astronaut for vehicle test and checkout at the Kennedy Space Center, and assistant deputy administrator at NASA Headquarters.



Berndt P. Feuerbacher

President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF)


feuerbacher_250Dr. Feuerbacher currently serves as the President of the International Astronautical Federation. He is also an Executive Committee Member of the European Physical Society (EPS) and a member of the IAF IPC Steering Group. As a scientist, he joined the ESLAB (European Space Laboratory, today Research and Science Support Department of ESA) in 1968 and has worked on projects such as the International Ultraviolet Explorer, the First Spacelab Payload as well as on experiments on lunar material returned by the Apollo missions. Starting in 1981, Dr. Feuerbacher was promoted to managerial positions including those of the director of the Institute of Space Simulation at DLR in Cologne and the Chair for Space Physics at the University of Bochum, Germany. He was also appointed vice chairman of the DARA Advisory Panel, Chairman of the ESA Microgravity Advisory Committee, the Space Station User Panel, and Committee Member and President of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). Elected full member of the International Academy of Astronautics in 1986, he also acted as Co-Chairman of the IAF International Program Committee (IPC) at the International Astronautical Congresses in Toulouse 2001, the World Space Congress 2002 in Houston, and the Bremen IAC in 2003. Prof. Feuerbacher has published scientific achievements in more than 180 contributions to international scientific journals. He is holder of 8 patents and has written 14 books.


William H. Gerstenmaier

NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations


William_H_GerstenmaierWilliam H. Gerstenmaier is the Associate Administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. In this position, Gerstenmaier directs NASA's human exploration of space. He also has programmatic oversight for the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, space communications and space launch vehicles. Mr. Gerstenmaier has worked for NASA since 1977 and has spent much of his career in managerial positions related to the Space Shuttle performance and operations. Mr. Gerstenmaier received a bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University, in 1977; and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toledo in 1981; and completed course work for a Ph.D. in dynamics and control with a minor in propulsion at Purdue University 1992 & 1993.





Kevin Govender

Director at OAD



Kevin began wort at the OAD on 1st March 2011 as its first Director. He has extensive experience using astronomy for development during his previous position as the Manager of the SALT Collateral Benefits Programme at the South African Astronomical Observatory. He also chaired the Developing Astronomy Globally Cornerstone Project of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) and was involved in the development of the IAU Strategic Plan.





Steve MacLean

President of the Canadian Space Agency

maclean_steve_webThe Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry, has announced the appointment of Dr. Steve MacLean as President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) effective September 1, 2008. Prior to his appointment as President, Dr. MacLean was Chief Astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency and coordinated the astronaut activities. He also championed studies, served on steering committees and was the Canadian voting member on the Multi-Crew Operational Panel for the International Space Station-an international panel responsible for the selection of crews and crew operations on the station. In addition, he actively promoted an alignment of university activities with CSA's space priorities. From October 22 to November 1, 1992, Dr. MacLean flew onboard Space Shuttle Columbia as a Payload Specialist for Mission STS-52. During this mission, he performed a set of seven experiments known as CANEX-2, which included an evaluation of the Space Vision System. Dr. MacLean went to space for the second time on Mission STS-115, and served as mission specialist on Space Shuttle Atlantis acting as flight engineer and robotics lead for the first assembly flight of ISS after the Columbia accident. He became the first Canadian to operate Canadarm2 in space when the crew installed trusses and deployed solar array panels on the International Space Station. On this mission, Dr. MacLean also became the second Canadian to walk in space.


Sandile Malinga

CEO of the South African National Space Agency

Sandile_Malinga_cropDr. Malinga has been appointed as CEO of the South African National Space Agency in early 2011. He did his first degree at the University of Swaziland and then enrolled for the two-year BSc Honours programme in Physics & Electronics at Rhodes in 1991. He went on to an MSc in 1995 and a PhD in 2001 focusing on meteor physics, with the distinction of being the first black South African to obtain a PhD in space science. In 2002, Dr Malinga joined the University of Natal and subsequently became the Dean’s Assistant at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), where he was responsible for the Science and Agriculture student academic support programmes. In 2007, he was appointed the Manager (later Managing Director) of the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO). He is a member of the South African Council for Space Affairs (SACSA), the national Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP).



Peter Martinez

Chairman of the South African Council for Space Affairs

Peter_MartinezDr Peter Martinez has made significant contributions to the development of South Africa’s national space policy and to space-related activities in South Africa in general. He has been a member of the South African delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) for a number of years and is currently the Chairman of the COPUOS Scientific and Technical Subcommittee’s Working Group on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities. Dr Martinez holds a Doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Cape Town. He is also an alumnus and occasional visiting faculty of the International Space University, Strasbourg. He is currently the Division Head for Space Science and Technology at the South African Astronomical Observatory, a facility of the National Research Foundation. He has authored, co-authored or edited over 190 publications and is an Associate Editor of the COSPAR journal Advances in Space Research.



Tanja Masson-Zwaan

President of the International Institute of Space Law, Women in Aerospace Europe's Director of Legal Affairs, & SGAC Advisory Board Member
Tanja_Masson_Zwaan_smallTanja has specialised in the field of air and space law since 25 years. She currently teaches air and space law in the advanced Masters programme in air and space law of Leiden University (The Netherlands), supervises research of LLM and PhD students and carries out research activities for various clients. She is the President of the International Institute of Space Law, to which position she was re-elected for a second term in October 2010, and has published on a variety of topics over the years. She lectures on space law all over the world, advises the Dutch government, the EU and other national and international bodies on matters relating to space law, and attends the sessions of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space as an observer. Before returning to Leiden where she obtained her LLM in public international law, Tanja set up and taught graduate courses in air and space law at the National University of Singapore, worked as a consultant in France and the Netherlands for industrial and institutional clients, and served many years as Executive Secretary of the IISL, organising numerous conferences, symposia, meetings and the Manfred Lachs space law moot court competition. Tanja is a recipient of several awards (IISL Distinguished Service Award, 2001 and IAA Social Science Award, 2008), and is a member of various professional organisations such as the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA, full member), the Académie de l’air et de l’espace (ANAE, France), the International Law Association (ILA, including its Space Law Committee), and the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL, former Board member). Tanja is a Board member of the Space Generation Advisory Council in Support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications (SGAC), Women in Aerospace-Europe (created in 2009), the Netherlands Space Society (NVR), and HE Space Operations.


Fritz Merkle

Member of the Executive Board of OHB System AG

Merkle_portrait_smallDr. rer. nat. Fritz Merkle was born 1950 in Heidelberg, Germany. He received his Diploma Degree and Doctorate in Applied Physics from the University of Heidelberg. In September 2000 he joined OHB-System AG. He is Member of the Executive Board and responsible for business development and advanced studies. From 1993 till 2000 he was Vice-President of Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, Zeiss Optronik GmbH, Oberkochen and Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH, Jena, Germany and member of the management team of the Carl Zeiss Group. He was heading the Space Technology and Astronomical Instruments Division with responsibility for major European space and reconnaissance projects. From 1985 toll 1992 he was as Project Manager with European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany with the responsibility for the complete optical system of the European Very Large Telescope (ESO-VLT) and in particular for active and adaptive optics and long base-line interferometry with the VLT. 1983 and 1984 he spend as Visiting Scientist at IBM Almaden Research, San Jose, CA, USA working in the field of algorithm development for digital image processing and novel optical inspection methods. From 1980 until 1985 he was Assistant Professor for Applied Physics at University of Heidelberg, Germany for various scientific research areas in the field of optics, optical and digital image processing and adaptive optics.
He is member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), AIAA, IAU, SPIE, German Physical Society and active in several other professional organizations and institution. He is member of the board of trustees of Max-Planck and Fraunhofer Institutes.



Seidu Onailo (S.O.) Mohammed

Director General of Nigeria's National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)

Dr_Mohammed_PassportBorn on the 17th of August, 1960 in the ancient town of Abejukolo in Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State, Seidu Onailo (S.O) Mohammed had his early education in Ankpa, Kogi State. He holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Soil Survey, Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems from the International Institute for Geo-information and Earth Observation (ITC), Twente University, the Netherlands. He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Environmental Remote Sensing from Bayero University, Kano. In addition, he is an alumnus of the University of Jos, Nigeria, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun, Uttah Pradesh Province, India, and Chicago University in the United States of America. Dr. Mohammed is currently the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Space Research and Development Agency. Dr. Mohammed has to his credit over 40 publications in local and international journals. In addition, he is a board member of the International Academy of Astronautics. Seidu Onailo Mohammed is happily married with children.



Vladimir A. Popovkin

Head of Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)

Popovkin200Dr. Vladimir A. Popovkin was born on September 25, 1957, in the city of Dushanbeh, Tadzhikskaya Republic of the Soviet Union. In 1979, he graduated from A.F.Mozhaisky Military Academy, Moscow. Since then he was served at Baikonur cosmodrome, occupying various positions from division’s engineer to the command chief of Launch Pad1 (Gagarin’s Launch Pad).
In 1986, Dr. Popovkin graduated from F.E.Dzerzhinsky Military Academy with excellent marks. Since 1986, he served at Directorate of Space Systems, Ministry of Defense. In 1991-2001 he was serving in the General Staff in Moscow as senior operating officer, chief of a group, deputy chief of division, chief of division. In 2011,Dr. Popovkin became the Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander of the Russian Space Forces. On March 10, 2004 he was appointed as Commander of the Space Forces. In 2008-2009 Dr. Popovkin served as the Armaments Chief, Ministry of Defense. On February 22, 2009 he was promoted to General of the Army, and a month later he had retired to become a Federal State Official.
Vladimir Popovkin left the position of the First Deputy Minister of Defense in April 2011. On April 29, 2011, he was appointed as the Head of Russian Federal Space Agency - Roscosmos. Dr. Popovkin is decorated with orders for Distinguished Service to the Homeland - 4th and 3d Class, Distinguished Military Service, Order for Distinguished Service to the Homeland 2nd Class, and with a number of other medals. He is a laureate of the Russian Government’s Science and Technology Award (2005). Dr. Vladimir Popovkin is an actual member of K. E. Tsiolkovsky Russian Space Academy, and a corresponding member of the Russian Artillery Missile Science Academy.

Dr. Popovkin has a PhD degree in technical sciences (system engineering).


Dumitru Prunariu

Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space(UN COPUOS), SGAC Advisory Board Member

sgc_Dumitru-Dorin-PRUNARIU_smallDr. Prunariu the current Chairman of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space for the period of June 2010-June 2012 and is an Associate Professor of Geopolitics at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania. He acted as a Diplomatic Engineer for industrial sector prior to enrolling in the Romanian Air Force Officers Training School in 1977. He was selected for spaceflight training in 1978 as a part of the Intercosmos Program. In May 1981, he completed an eight-day space mission on board Soyuz 40 and the Salyut 6 space laboratory, where he completed scientific experiments in the fields of astrophysics, space radiation, space technology, space medicine and biology. Since 1995, Dr. Prunariu has been the Vice-President of the International Institute for Risk, Security and Communication Management (EURISC) in Bucharest. He is the former President of the Romanian Space Agency and former Director of the Romanian Office for Science and Technology Union (ROST) in Brussels. He is also a corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics, a member of the Romanian National COSPAR Committee, and a member of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). He was elected in 2004 as the Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN COPUOS and has also served as a permanent representative of the Government of Romania and ASE to UN COPUOS. Dr. Prunariu obtained a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Politehnical University of Bucharest in 1976 and received a PhD from the Aviation Institute in Bucharest with research on flight dynamics.


William Watson

Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation (SSF)

William_watsonWilliam Watson is presently Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation. He endeavors to create new business relationships for the Foundation and to communicate its’ vision of space utilization and settlement. Before the Foundation, Will worked for The Tauri Group as an analyst on the Space Foundation’s The Space Report and on spaceport related business development. Mr. Watson’s professional involvement with the NewSpace industry started with his graduate placement at the Transformational Space Corporation, LLC (t/Space). Will received his Master’s in Space Management (MSM) from the International Space University (ISU) in Strasbourg, France. The MSM graduate program focuses on aerospace business, marketing and law. Prior to ISU, Mr. Watson received a BA in Russian Literature & History from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He has studied in Moscow at Lomonosov University and as part of the Institute for Biomedical Problems‘ Summer space program.



Ray Williamson

Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation (SWF)

sgc_RayDr. Ray Williamson is Executive Director of Secure World Foundation, a private operating foundation with headquarters in Superior, Colorado. He was formerly Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs in the Space Policy Institute, The George Washington University. At the institute, he had led several studies of security issues in space and on the socioeconomic benefits of Earth science and space weather research. Ray is also an external faculty member of the International Space University (ISU), Illkirch, France, teaching general space policy and remote sensing for the ISU Masters and Space Studies programs. He is editor of Imaging Notes and serves on the editorial board of the journal Space Policy. As a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, Dr. Williamson serves on Commission Five: Space Policies, Law & Economics. He is the author of more than 100 articles on space policy, remote sensing and space security and author or editor of nine books on outer space, the technologies of historic preservation, and American Indian astronomy, myth and ritual. From 1979 to 1995, he was a Senior Analyst and then Senior Associate in the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the U.S. Congress. While at OTA, Dr. Williamson led more than a dozen space policy studies requested by Congressional committees. Ray received his B.A. in physics from the Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Maryland. After two years on the astronomy faculty of the University of Hawaii, he taught philosophy, literature, mathematics, physics and astronomy at St. John's College, Annapolis. For the last five years he also served as Assistant Dean of the College.


Johann-Dietrich Wörner

Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Portrait_Prof_Woerner_380Johann-Dietrich Wörner was born in Kassel in 1954. He has been Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since 1 March 2007. He studied civil engineering at the Berlin Institute of Technology and Darmstadt Technological University, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1982, he left for a two-year study leave to Japan, investigating earthquake safety. Until 1990 Wörner worked at the engineering office of König und Heunisch. In 1990 he returned to Darmstadt Technological University, where he took over as Head of the Testing and Research Institute. Before being elected President of Darmstadt Technological University in 1995, he filled the position as Technical Director of the Institute for Glass Construction, and Dean of the Civil Engineering Faculty. Wörner was honoured with a series of prizes and awards such as the Prize of the Organisation of Friends of Darmstadt Technological University for 'outstanding scientific performance'. He was also appointed to the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and is a representative of the Technical Sciences Section of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Wörner has received honorary doctorates from the State University of New York (USA), the technological universities of Bucharest (Romania) and Mongolia, the Saint Petersburg University for Economics and Finance (Russia), and École Centrale Lyon (France). Wörner is also a member of various national and international supervisory bodies, advisory councils and committees. He is a member of the board of École Centrale Paris and École Centrale Lyon, the Convention for Technical Sciences (acatech) and the supervisory board of Röhm GmbH, to name just a few. Furthermore, he was appointed to the "Projektgruppe Energiepolitisches Programm" (PEPP) expert group of the German Government.


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A.N. Perminov was born on July 16 1945 in Kirov region.


He graduated from Military Engineering High-School in 1967 as a jet propulsion engineer and then served in Strategic Missile Forces


In 1976 he graduated from the Peter the Great Military Academy (faculty of commandment).

In 1991 after his graduation from The General Staff Military Academy of Russian Federation Armed Forces he was appointed head of the State Research and Testing Ground of the Russian Ministry of Defense (Plesetsk kosmodrome).


Under his direct command more than one hundred launches of spacecrafts and ballistic missiles were performed.


Since August 1993 he served as Director of Missile Armaments and Rocket Engineering Department in Strategic Missile Forces. Later Mr. Perminov served as a head of Strategic Missile Forces General Staff.


In March 2001 Mr. Perminov was appointed commander of Russian Space Forces. In March 2004 by the governmental decree Mr. Perminov was appointed head of the Federal Space Agency.


A.N. Perminov is a Doctor of Physics, professor of Moscow Aviation Institute.

Mr. .Perminov is the author of more than 70 works and articles published in Russia and abroad, laureate of a number of governmental awards.

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