May 24th, 2016 

6:30 PM - 9:00 PM



85 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103



6:30-7:00 Check-in / Networking

7:00-8:00 Future of Space Panel

8:00-9:00 Networking


Amir Blachman - Aerospace investor


Amir Blachman has an 18 years track record of success in operations management, project management, investor relations, and corporate governance. He has served as an Air Force instructor, acquisition analyst for a $70 million real estate development fund, and as the Managing Director of Space Angels Network, an early stage aerospace investment company. 


Amir's operations experience includes developing corporate strategy, fundraising, managing all facets of startup growth, cultivating relationships with customers, investors, industry and media. He has extensive experience developing workflows, managing technical system implementation, and new product development. He is a prolific speaker in the aerospace and investment industries, at events ranging from TED to Space Symposium, to the International Space Station R&D Conference. He has been featured in the Venture Capital Journal, International Business Times and SpaceNews. 


Amir lives in Los Angeles and serves as the Executive Vice President of Phase Four, an early stage company that produces plasma thrusters for the cubesat and smallsat market. He is responsible for the company's financial strategy, and the development of spaceflight partnerships.


Will Pomerantz - VP for Special Projects, Virgin Galactic


Will Pomerantz is the Vice President for Special Projects at Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. In that role, Will helps extend Virgin Galactic’s business beyond suborbital space tourism, developing efforts such as the LauncherOne orbital launch vehicle for small satellites as well as suborbital research campaigns on board SpaceShipTwo. Will also serves as a Trustee and the Chair of the Board of Advisers for the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), the world's largest student space organization; as an advisor to WayPaver Labs, a nonprofit dedicated to pushing the boundaries of human exploration; and as a member of the Professional Development Committee of Women in Aerospace.


Will is a graduate of Harvard University, the NASA Academy, and the International Space University. Prior to joining Virgin Galactic, he worked at the non-profit XPRIZE Foundation, where he served as the primary author and manager of the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE. Will has also worked at Brown University, the Futron Corporation, and the United Nations, and was the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of SpaceAlumni.com, an early social network for space professionals. He previously served on the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee and on a National Academies committee studying issues impacting the national aerospace workforce.


Ellen Chang - Partner, LightSpeed Innovations


Ellen brings over 25 years of experience in strategy, business and product development in the technology and aerospace industries.  Her career spans from the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer to JP Morgan where she focused on exploring and facilitating investing in start-ups.  She later founded her own start-up in the aviation industry where the team focused on building a B2B aviation part sourcing and brokerage focused on business jets.  During her 12 years at Northrop Grumman, she held positions as a systems engineer and program manager, working in design and development of autonomous systems ranging from the Global Hawk to the Unmanned Carrier based unmanned aerial system. In her last position with Northrop Grumman, as a director of the Advanced Mission Systems Division she was responsible for anticipating mission requirements and developing products that would be relevant 5-10 years out.  As a co-president of the Wharton Aerospace Community and chair of the Wharton Angel Network SoCal Steering Committee, Ellen frequently engages with investors, universities and industry on innovation strategy and market dynamics.

Ellen holds a bachelors degree in history (historiography) from the University of Pennsylvania, a MS in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and an MBA from The Wharton School.

When Ellen is not busy mentoring and advising start-ups, she is probably running up and down the hills of Poway, CA training for another half-marathon.


Jeff Matthews - Director of Venture Strategy & Research, Space Frontier Foundation


Jeff Matthews is a management consultant with 15 years of experience in finance, information technology, corporate strategy, business development, and venture capital in sectors such as energy, aerospace, defense, cybersecurity, and mobile applications. Jeff has provided leadership and analysis for programs valued over $100 million for clients including Fortune 500 members, the State or Oregon, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy. 


Jeff is currently providing venture capital strategy, business development, and market analysis advising to a series of early stage and growth stage companies that are developing technologies and products around themes such as financial technology, retail banking, data analytics, secure mobile messaging, information security, social media, digital health/EMR, enterprise solutions, next-generation solar cells, cloud SaaS offerings, and aerospace. He also serves as the Director of Venture Strategy and Research for the Space Frontier Foundation and leads their NewSpace Venture Labs, a virtual accelerator that seeks to empower innovation within the new space sector. 


Jeff has recently provided subject matter expertise on venture capital, aerospace and industrial market economics, and startup development to entrepreneurs, academic institutions, and media outlets such as Reuters, Forbes, The Wharton School, The Open Group, Discovery News, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 

In 2016, his coauthored paper, Advancing Socially Disruptive Aerospace Technologies through Venture Capital Investment, was presented at the AIAA SciTech 2016 conference and he gave the keynote speech, “The Journey to Mars is Powered by Data: Enabling a Boundaryless Information Flow at NASA”, at the Open Group San Francisco conference. Forthcoming publications include Investment Banking as an Emerging Beneficiary of Commercial Space Applications and Incentivizing the Creation of Aerospace Economic Development Clusters in the United States. Previous studies include Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance(ISR) Data Collection in Support of the National Security Mission: A Market Analysis and Technical Feasibility Study of the Integration of Commercial Space And Ground and A Feasibility Study for a Return-to-Flight Program for the Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbird.

Jeff currently holds a Bachelor’s in Finance from the University of Arizona, an MBA from the University of Oregon, and a Master’s in Computer Information Systems from Boston University.


What SPACEPORT LA  Is All About



Where Great Minds Reunite

Lectures. Networking. Workshops. Parties!

SPACEPORT LA is the home base for space enthusiasts, learners and professionals living in Los Angeles, California. Our goal is to advance space exploration by increasing public awareness and stimulating innovators to create new space startups in the Los Angeles area. Our members gather regularly to celebrate our passion in space, brainstorm, educate eachother and expand our networks. We also invite guest speakers to keep our knowledge up to date, communicate new breakthroughs and spur new ideas. 




Monica is a managing partner at LightSpeed Innvations, an aerospace accelerator. Monica has over 22 years of experience in the technology and aerospace industries; with expertise in technology R&D, product development, strategic partnerships, and innovation strategy.  She frequently advises high-tech start-ups and corporations on their business and technology strategies.   As part of the steering committee for the Wharton Angel Network and Wharton Aerospace Ventures, Monica works actively with investors and entrepreneurs.  Monica holds both BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Southern California, a Systems Engineering certificate from the California Institute of Technology, and an MBA from The Wharton School. She currently holds a faculty position at The Wharton School.



Vera is the CEO and Founder of MARS CITY DESIGN.

Vera comes from multidisciplinary background in master planning in various fields of art; architecture, urban design, filmmaking and storytelling, has made her specialized in conceptual strategy in technology, innovation and business development. Vera contributes her expertise in combining these fields, creating a collaborative competition platform for designing cities for Mars, our next step to settle the Red Planet. Vera is the Master Architect and planner of Mars City Design.



Curtis is an Aerospace Systems Engineer with a passion for space. He has more than 10 years experiences in designing, managing, and executing engineering projects and have both technical and management experiences. Curtis earned his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, and he is ready to making ideas, people, hardware into space.
Curtis specialities: Systems Engineering, Analysis, Design, SysML, Problem Solving, Space Industry, Coding, MatLab, Python, JMP, Communicating in Japanese



Norris Tie currently works at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems as an air-breathing propulsion engineer. He graduated from UCLA Class of June 2014 in aerospace engineering. He is passionate about both aerospace and entrepreneurship. He served as President of UCLA's Technical Entrepreneurial Community (TEC) and founded UCLA's Entrepreneurship Council, which now has around 20 organizations, ranging from the Law School, Anderson School of Business, Startup UCLA, and student groups like TEC. He also participated in UCLA's Rocket Project as safety officer and the UCLA ELFIN cubesat project. In his spare time, he is learning to build rockets. He is interested in anything that moves humans faster around the world and/or through space, namely rockets and high speed propulsion engines. 



Technical Director for Google Lunar XPRIZE


Andrew is the Director for Technical Operations at the XPRIZE Foundation where he supports the operation of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Coming from a background in the aerospace and mechanical engineering fields, Andrew previously worked in the private space industry in Europe as a technology developer, project manager and entrepreneur. Among other roles, he worked for 4 years as a specialist at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands where he supported the development of space missions, including significant contributions to future lunar and Mars landers as well as the VEGA launch vehicle. As Director of Technical Operations for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, he is responsible for selecting and managing the panel of independent judges, communicating technical aspects of the prize to the space industry and the general public, and he also led the implementation of the Milestone Prizes program held in 2014. Andrew holds a Ph.D and bachelors degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Sydney and a Masters degree in Space Studies from the International Space University.