Academics Building

Fourth Annual Space Education and Strategic Applications Conference to Take Place on September 21-22

Keynote Speakers for Free Virtual Event Include Representatives from NASA, Aerospace Medical Association, and Mars Society

Charles Town, WV— September 18, 2023  American Public University System (APUS) and the Policy Studies Organization (PSO) today announced that the fourth annual Space Education and Strategic Applications Conference (SESA) will be held virtually on September 21-22. The conference – free and open to the public – brings together global thought leaders, innovators, and practitioners to share the latest trends and advancements in space education.

Visit here to register and see more information.

This year’s conference will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first space station, Skylab. As humans prepare to return to the Moon this decade, NASA and its international partners are developing the Gateway lunar space station to serve as a bridge between Earth and the Moon. The conference will focus on these “islands in space,” including plans for building orbital settlements and bases on the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere in the solar system.

“Amid the ongoing expansion of the space industry, APUS takes immense pride in spearheading this event to unite the most brilliant minds from industry, government, military, and academia to foster essential dialogue,” said Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, Provost of APUS. “Our University maintains an unwavering dedication to scholarly pursuits in Space Studies through our program curriculum and the bi-annual Space Education and Strategic Applications Journal, which is produced in collaboration with the Policy Studies Organization.”

The event features four keynote speakers who have made invaluable contributions to space:

  • Dr. Robert Zubrin, PhD – President, Mars Society

Dr. Zubrin is President of the Mars Society and former president of Pioneer Astronautics, an aerospace R&D company he founded in 1996 and led for 27 years. He is the author of 20 patents and over 200 published technical and non-technical papers in the field of space exploration and technology. While at Pioneer Astronautics, Dr. Zubrin served as the principal investigator of over 50 research and development projects. As leader of the Mars Society, he led the construction of two Mars analog research stations and has overseen a program involving over 200 simulated Mars exploration missions at those stations.

  • Dr. J.D. Polk – Chief Health & Medical Officer, NASA

Dr. Polk is the NASA’s Chief Health and Medical Officer and has served in this position since 2016. He has published research in the fields of emergency medicine, disaster medicine, space medicine, and medical management and serves as a Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has received numerous awards and commendations, including citations from the FBI, White House Medical Unit, Association of Air Medical Services, U.S. Air Force, and has also received multiple awards from NASA, including the National Security and International Affairs Medal, the Exceptional Achievement Medal, and the Outstanding Leadership Medal.

  • Sean Fuller – International Partner Manager, NASA Gateway Program

Mr. Fuller is the International Partner Manager for NASA’s Gateway Program. Fuller has over 22 years of experience working on and leading human space flight teams within NASA and multilateral NASA/international partner teams. He began his NASA career in the Mission Operations Directorate as an operations planner and helped establish the ISS Houston Support Group in MCC-Moscow as well as interfaces with the European Space Agency and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency flight control teams for ISS. Fuller progressed to the ISS Program Office before serving as Director of Human Space Flight Program for Russia.

  • Dr. Arnauld Nicogossian – Former NASA Associate Administrator for Life and Microgravity Sciences

Dr. Nicogossian formerly served as NASA’s associate administrator for life and microgravity sciences, designate agency health and safety official, chief medical officer, and senior advisor for health affairs. He managed and funded an extensive portfolio of research and development in space biology, medicine, physics, and chemistry. Dr. Nicogossian was also responsible for the oversight of NASA’s workforce occupational and astronaut’s health programs. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, American College of Preventive Medicine, Aerospace Medical Association, the American Astronautical Society, and a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

APUS, through its schools – American Military University and American Public University – offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Space Studies that are designed to offer knowledge and skills often required of space professionals in military, public, and private sectors. The APUS Center for Space Studies’ (CSS) mission is to foster collaboration in creating educational opportunities that help support the development of a workforce for the sector’s needs.

About American Public University System

American Public University System (APUS) delivers affordable, high-quality, workforce-relevant higher education. With a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive, 31-year history and over 135,000 alumni from more than 100 countries, APUS is recognized for its innovative approach to online learning. APUS is in the top 11% for students’ return on educational investment, compared to 4,500 colleges and universities nationwide, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (2022)1.

APUS, which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. APUS is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Public Education, Inc. (Nasdaq: APEI). For more information, visit

1Ranking based on 20-year net present value (NPV)

Press Releases

Media Coverage

Contact Info

Frank Tutalo Headshot

Frank Tutalo
Associate Vice President, Public Relations

[email protected]