Gary Payton, the former astronaut who now heads NASA's aeronautics and space transportation technology organization, will be the keynote speaker for the Ninth Annual Advanced Propulsion Research Workshop and Conference being held Mar. 11-13 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA.

Experts from around the world will meet at the conference to discuss leading technologies related to space flight propulsion systems of the next century. The event is organized by JPL's Advanced Propulsion Technology Group for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL.

Payton, a former astronaut who flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985, heads up NASA's advanced propulsion concepts and reusable launch vehicle program. JPL Director Dr. Edward C. Stone will open the conference.

Newly added to the conference itinerary is an optional tour of Mt. Wilson Observatory on the afternoon of Thursday, Mar. 12. The conference banquet at the California Institute of Technology's Athenaeum on the evening of Wednesday, Mar. 11, features a talk by optics innovator Edward Danielson of JPL's observational systems division. His presentation, "New Views of the Surface of Mars," will include the most recent images from the high-powered camera on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet.

Session topics to be discussed include new studies analyzing the feasibility of a precursor to an interstellar mission, which JPL began conducting this summer on behalf of NASA. Other subjects are propulsion for the human exploration and development of space, advanced micropropulsion, advanced chemical and fusion/fission propulsion systems, solar sails, tethers, and advanced materials for propulsion.

The conference will take place at JPL's von Karman Auditorium, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, California, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The registration fee is $80, including the banquet, with a $40 rate for students. For further information, call (818) 354- 3637, or e-mail:

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

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