Skip Menu
Email Us!

NASA administrator Bill Nelson speaks at MSU

Bill NelsonNASA Administrator Bill Nelson was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Appalachian Space Technology and Research Advancements Conference (ASTRA-CON) on Friday, Sept. 15.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced Nelson and announced that he requested nearly $10 million in funding for MSU satellite tracking operations in the next federal budget. Rogers said it’s important to support the potential of students.

“As I look around this campus, I wonder if I’m looking at the next Sally Ride, or Neil Armstrong, or the other heroes of NASA’s space exploration programs,” he said.

Nelson was named the 14th NASA administrator in 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. His lecture kicked off the 2023-24 McBrayer Presidential Lecture Series at MSU.

In addressing the students at the event, Nelson discussed MSU’s involvement in NASA’s Deep Space Network and its satellite tracking operations, saying students here are at the forefront of the next phase of space exploration.

“You are the Artemis generation,” Nelson said, referencing NASA’s Artemis moon missions. “These are some of the exciting things that are happening right here at Morehead State, and you’re a part of that.”

Nelson also answered questions from students in the audience about his experiences and the future of space exploration.

The conference aimed to create a space for collaboration between aerospace companies, space research institutions, and students. It featured speakers, student presentations, discussion groups, workshops, exhibitor booths, and more.

The McBrayer lecture series is named in honor of MSU alumnus W. Terry McBrayer (Class of 1959), 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 Photo Gallery

Contact Us