Engineering's Bilén to co-chair conference on space tethers

May 20, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sven Bilén, head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs at Penn State and professor of engineering design, electrical engineering and aerospace engineering, is serving as co-chair of the fifth International Conference on Tethers in Space. The conference will be held May 24-26 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Major sponsors include Penn State, the University of Michigan, NASA and Millennium Space Systems.

The conference will bring together experts in space tethers, an evolving and enabling space technology with multiple applications in near-Earth orbit, in interplanetary space and around other planets. Members of the aerospace community will participate in technical sessions that focus on these long space cables, which are used for propulsion, momentum exchange, stabilization and attitude control as well as maintaining the relative positions of the components of a dispersed satellite or spacecraft system.

Incoming dean of the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, Professor Alec Gallimore, will open the three-day conference. Gallimore is known for his research in space electric propulsion.

Three keynote speakers will present to conference attendees. On May 24, Nobie Stone, senior engineering specialist at NeXolve Inc., will discuss “Unique Results and Lessons Learned from the TSS Missions.” Also on May 24, Les Johnson, deputy manager, Advanced Concepts Office at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, will present “The Long Slog toward Technology Flight Demonstration — One PI’s Journey and Lessons Learned.” Finally, Thomas H. Zurbuchen, professor of space science and aerospace engineering and senior counselor of entrepreneurship education in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan, will discuss “Achieving Science in CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box,” on May 25.

“I am proud to be part of re-establishing this important international conference on space tethers,” said Bilén. “I have been part of the space tethers community my entire professional career, starting as a graduate student as part of the first Tethered Satellite System mission, which flew on space shuttle Atlantis in 1992. Much has happened in the field since our last gathering as a community and it’s important that we get together to share what we’ve learned and to propose new tether missions and applications.”

For more information about the fifth International Conference on Tethers in Space, visit

  • Tether satellite in space

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 20, 2016