And... lift-off! After gathering 90+ registrants, 6 guest speakers, and 4 student projects, Space Summit DC's inaugural event occurred on September 23rd, 2023 at UMD College Park. On an especially stormy Saturday, it was a place of refuge for all of the attendees. We had a wonderful time learning about space with each other. Here are some of the highlights:


The event kicked off with an introduction and icebreaker with Founder Ronit Kapur. Attendees answered polling questions ranging from what their high schools are to how optimistic they are about space exploration.

Diverse Interests

Check out some of what inspired people to attend the conference!


The first talk was a Keynote by Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi (Dr. O) from George Mason University. Dr. O recounted his inspiring story detailing his journey to where he is today, starting from humble beginnings in rural Mississippi.

The Cutting-Edge of Astrophysics

The next talk, by the Space Telescope Science Institute's Dr. Rachel Osten, was an excellent primer on the latest advances in astrophysics brought by cutting-edge space telescopes, including the recently-launched James Webb Space Telescope and the upcoming Roman Space Telescope.

Student Projects

In addition to the talks by local experts across all aspects of space, Space Summit DC featured projects by some of the DC Metro area's young scientists and engineers. We got to learn of an improved way to characterize exoplanet atmospheres, a CubeSat project applying small satellites to large-scale NASA missions, a high school team taking a liquid-fuel rocket to space, and the engineering design of space debris-cleaning technology!

Ronit Kapur

"Gravity-Darkened Atmospheric Models of Exoplanets: Insights from KELT-9b"

Akesh Mallia

"SPEIDSat: Applying CubeSats to Larger NASA Missions"

Caelus Rocketry

"Designing, building, testing, and launching the first high schooler-built bipropellant liquid-fueled rocket to the Kármán Line"

Keira Overmann & Isaiah Green

"The Innovation and Animation of Orbital Debris Clearing Technology"

Electronically-Assisted Astronomy

Love stargazing? Paul Derby of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club took to the stage at Space Summit DC to discuss how to beat the light pollution here in the DC area with electronically-assisted astronomy. It was magical to see how electronic techniques filter out light pollution to give rise to amazing raw astronomical images.

Panel: What Does the Future Hold for Space?

The event concluded with a captivating panel on what the future holds for space -- especially in the domains of national security, space policy, and astrophysics. Space Summit DC's respective panelists in those domains were the U.S. Space Force's Lt. Col. Erin G. Salinas, George Washington University's Dr. Scott Pace, and UMD's Dr. Tad Komacek. Moderated by Ronit Kapur, the panel discussed -- among other topics -- the importance of national leadership in space, ways to harbor diversity in space activities, and crucial advice for young people as they consider possible careers in space. A great way to close out the event!


A picture tells a thousand words: Space Summit DC 2023 summarized in photos!