December 17, 2020

To the Moon in 2024: An Inside Peek at NASA’s Artemis Mission

Invite Only

Young Leaders Cafe

The French-American Foundation hosted its fourth Young Leaders Café on Thursday, December 17 at 1pm ET. The event was led by Newton Campbell, Computer Scientist for Science Applications International Corporation, and moderated by Maura Sullivan, Managing Director for Applied AI at Applied Materials. Newton and Maura are 2020 Young Leaders.

Newton and his colleagues, Justin Smith, Dr. Alexa Halford, and Dr. Kelsey Young, discussed their work on Artemis & NASA’s plan to land the first woman and next man on the moon and to use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.

Newton opened the discussion by identifying two chief goals of the Artemis mission: to further establish a long-term human presence on the moon and prepare for ever-more complex human missions to Mars. Dr. Alexa Halford, space physics researcher for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, underlined the importance of understanding weather in space and how the science behind it will inform new potential applied space weather tools for human-lunar exploration. Justin Smith, Project Manager at NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Facility, explored the technical side of the Artemis Mission, explaining how he works to prepare and integrate aerospace engineering hardware and software for surface exploration. Geologist Kelsey Young described her experiences training astronauts to understand field geology and preparing flight control teams for space exploration. She shared insight into how studying Earth’s landforms can reveal unknowns of other planets’ geological features. The conversation closed on a fascinating note in which participants and speakers alike acknowledged that, through exploring space and other planetary environments, we are destined to learn more about ourselves and the rest of humankind on earth.

Dr. Newton Campbell is a Computer Scientist specializing in artificial intelligence. Through SAIC, he currently serves as an Artificial Intelligence subject matter expert on the NASA Langley Research Center OCIO Data Science Team. There, he leads the development of several programs in urban air mobility, geomagnetism, virtual reality, and high-performance computing for Earth Sciences. Prior to NASA, Dr. Campbell spent 10 years doing research and development in support of the US Department of Defense and Intelligence Communities. In that capacity, he served as the Principal Investigator and technical lead of multiple cybersecurity and artificial intelligence projects, with specific focus on Internet Privacy and Cyber-Physical Systems. Read his full bio here.

Maura Sullivan is currently Managing Director for Applied AI at Applied Materials, a global leader for materials engineering solutions. Maura was the co-founder and COO of Fathom5, developing secure analytics for industrial applications. Prior to that, she was the Chief of Strategy and Innovation at the US Department of the Navy. She was responsible for defining the future of the Navy enterprise and developing the innovation, workforce, and information strategy to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies, including AI, additive manufacturing, and augmented reality. Read her full bio here.

The Young Leaders Café is a new series exclusive to the Foundation’s Young Leaders and alumni featuring a different topic of interest each month. Designed to be small and informal, the café series invites Young Leaders from all class years to see each other on screen, share their thoughts, and learn something new in a private setting. To learn more, please contact Val Demuynck at