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NASA administrator kicks off 2023 McBrayer Lecture Series

news-portrait-340x425-bill-nelson.webpNASA Administrator Bill Nelson will kick off Morehead State’s McBrayer Presidential Lecture Series this year with his keynote address at the inaugural Appalachian Space Technology and Research Advancements Conference (ASTRA-CON) on Friday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. in the Adron Doran University Center (ADUC) ballroom.

Nelson was named the 14th NASA administrator on May 3, 2021. Before becoming administrator, he represented the state of Florida for 18 years in the U.S. Senate and 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1986, he trained and flew with the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia. They orbited Earth 98 times over six days, and Nelson conducted 12 medical experiments, including the first American stress test in space on a treadmill and cancer research.

ASTRA-CON will be held Sept. 14-16 at Morehead State. The conference aims to create a space for collaboration between aerospace companies, space research institutions, and students. The event will feature speakers, student presentations, discussion groups, workshops, exhibitor booths, and more.

Space Science Center Executive Director, Dr. Ben Malphrus, said students have played a key role in creating the conference.

“ASTRA-Con is student-led and student-invented. Everyone from students to Space Science Center staff to university officials here at Morehead State University has had some role in planning, organizing, and hosting ASTRA-Con,“ Malphrus said. “We couldn’t be more excited to give our students this networking experience and a chance to listen to professionals in the field and hope to foster a future of success through this conference. Anyone interested in space, the aerospace industry, or high-tech economic development in the region has a reason to attend.”

The McBrayer lecture series is named in honor of MSU alumnus W. Terry McBrayer (Class of 59), who gave the University a generous gift supporting the lecture series and student scholarships. McBrayer was a lobbyist, attorney, and former politician in Lexington. He was a senior partner and lead lobbyist for the McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie, and Kirkland law firm. McBrayer was a native of Greenup County, and in addition to graduating from MSU, he also attended the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. He was elected to the MSU Alumni Hall of Fame in 1966 and was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in 1975.

Learn more about ASTRA-CON by emailing Mission Operations Engineer and Spacecraft Operator Emily Ballantyne at

For more information about Morehead State’s Department of Physics, Earth Science, and Space Systems Engineering programs, email or call 606-783-2381.

View the ASTRA-CON Schedule

Photo credit: NASA

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