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NASA Tech Talks

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Category: Aerospace, Community & Engagement, Founders & Startups




August 24, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm CDT


4201 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002


We want HOU!

Join us to discover NASA’s toughest tech challenges–and apply your skills and expertise to solve them.

In these presentations, occurring on the fourth Thursday of the month, Mr. Montgomery Goforth and other aerospace subject matter experts will discuss the technology development challenges faced by NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the surrounding Aerospace community in our ongoing efforts as the hub of human spaceflight. Presentations will focus on the ways in which these challenges, and the associated opportunities, can be leveraged by Houston’s innovation community.

During the August 24th presentation, Mark C. Tolton “Chris”, Chief Executive Officer at Orbital Mining Corporation (OMC), and Ken Liang, Chief Technology Officer at OMC, will present. 

Join us after the talk for drinks and networking at Second Draught!

Past NASA Tech Talks have included: Montgomery B. Goforth discussing NASA Intellectual Property suitable for commercialization by small/start-up companies and Jared Daum discussing Orion’s parachutes and risk identification and mitigation that are showstoppers for the spaceflight parachute industry. Future NASA Tech Talks will include dual-use (space/terrestrial) technologies in the areas of:

  • Avionics / Communication / Sensors
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for ultra-long-lived wireless sensors
  • Power Storage and Distribution
  • Autonomous & Robotics Systems
  • Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) Systems
  • Virtual/Augmented Reality in Human Spaceflight Training & Execution
  • Human Health & Performance / Human Systems Research

About the Speakers

Mark C. Tolton “Chris” (CEO) and Ken Liang (CTO) will discuss their startup, Orbital Mining Corporation (OMC), its mission to mine the moon; participation in NASA’s Watts on the Moon Competition (WotM), and development of their prototype lunar transmission and storage system. Founded by Colorado School of Mines graduate students in 2022, OMC is currently a finalist in NASA’s WotM and providing a prototype for the competition in early 2024. OMC’s design approach leverages mostly COTS DC converters, cryogenic capable power cables, and off-the-shelf lithium-ion 18650 cells for energy storage and is being tested in a vacuum at the Mines Space Resources Lab. OMC considers its initial technical challenges to be: ensuring power conversion (e.g. DC converters) survives the lunar night and integrating multiple sources of power and energy storage into a future lunar DC microgrid. Chris and Ken will also provide feedback on their experience establishing a startup under a NASA Centennial Challenge. 

Chris Tolton is co-founder & CEO of Orbital Mining Corporation (OMC), where he is responsible for strategic vision, operations, personnel, & partnerships. He is a former Naval Intelligence Officer with a background in remote sensing.  Prior to his retirement, he was previously the US Naval Attaché to the United Arab Emirates and Director of the Fleet Imagery Support Team at the Office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland Maryland. He is currently a graduate student in Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines. He also holds an MBA from Oxford University and a BA in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill. 


Ken Liang is co-founder & CTO of OMC, where he is responsible for proposals, system architecture, assembly, & testing of the Watts on the Moon project & others. Ken holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering specializing in geotechnical & construction operations, with minors in economics & computer science from Georgia Tech. Prior to joining the space community, he was a software product manager in the construction & utilities industries, where he worked for five years.

Montgomery B. Goforth serves as the Assistant Director, Strategic Pursuits & Partnerships – Engineering Directorate, NASA JSC.

Mr. Goforth has more than 30 years of experience as both Engineer and Manager in a variety of highly technical space and defense-related efforts. He joined NASA in 1990 as part of the Mission Operations Directorate, working on planning systems and automated procedure execution tools for the International Space Station (ISS). He became Deputy Project Manager for the Portable Computer System, the laptop used for command and control of the ISS, in 1996, and ultimately became Chief of the Branch responsible for all laptops onboard the ISS and the Space Shuttle. In 2002 he moved to the ISS Avionics and Software Office as Manager of the Flight Software Development Office and later served as Chief Engineer. In 2005 he spent several months at NASA Headquarters working in the Robotics Lunar Exploration Program. In 2006 he joined the Constellation Program as Chief of Avionics and Software Test and Verification and became Chief of the Software and Avionics Integration Office in 2007. In this role, he was responsible for leading a large nationwide Systems Engineering & Integration (SE&I) organization which provided program-level coordination, oversight, integration, and management of the system-of-systems avionics and software, including the coordination of integrated modeling and simulation and test activities across the Constellation program and the technical integration of Constellation’s Command, Control, Communications, and Information (C3I) architecture. In 2011, he joined the Avionic Systems Division to support their Strategic Planning and Partnership efforts. In 2015, he moved on to Engineering Directorate Staff to support Strategic Pursuits and Partnerships. In this role, he put together a framework to better focus Engineering’s efforts toward Human Spaceflight technology and systems development consistent with JSC and Agency goals for exploration. This framework guides Engineering’s internal investments and external partnerships supporting Lunar and Mars Exploration. Mr. Goforth was born in East Texas, raised in Southern California and Arizona, and graduated from Rice University (BSME 1982, MSME 1987). Prior to coming to Johnson Space Center, he was employed by a small defense contractor specializing in anti-submarine warfare.


Ion District Parking Garage
Enter 4111 Fannin Street into your GPS for directions directly to this parking garage, located a block away from the Ion.

Red Parking Lot
Enter 4203 Fannin Street into your GPS for directions directly to the red parking lot, located across the street from the Ion. This lot is for overflow guest parking and tenant parking.