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ACES Worldwide - Board of Directors

Vidvus Beldavs

Board Member

He is a board member of the Alliance for Cooperation in the Exploration of Space (ACES Worldwide), Chairman of the Board of Riga Photonics Centre that advances light sciences and technologies for Latvia, and a writer and futurist. Vid Beldavs has served as a convenor of a number of sessions for the United Nations General Assembly Science Summits in recent years.

He is an advisor to the African Network for Solar Energy (ANSOLE) and a Co-Founder of the International Lunar Decade Working Group; He has been nominated by the Latvian government to serve as expert on space issues to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. He served as Chair of the International Conference on Cooperation in Space Technologies 2014 (ICCST) that promoted cooperation in space between the Baltic Sea Region and Africa. He was the initiator and then also served as consultant to the International Baltic Economic Commission (IBEC) organized by Hudson Institute for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to develop an action plan to transition to market economies in 1990-1992.

His prior service has included serving as a business trends advisor and futurist for Cummins, a global manufacturer of power systems. He has served as Vice President – Intelligent Resources International and Executive Director of the Technology Transfer Society. Other roles for Vid Beldavs have included publishing and the founding of several not-for-profit organizations. These have included the US-Africa Literary Foundation to promote African writers, New Leaf-New Life (criminal justice reform Bloomington, Indiana), and Futuristics Study Group (community futures forum in Columbus, Indiana). He is an American citizen semi-retired in Latvia.

Jim Crisafulli


Jim Crisafulli and Joseph Pelton have collaborated for many years in the areas of space systems and communications. When working together on a project to aid aerospace industries in Hawaii, they decided to launch a new organization related to space policy, education, and safety. The result was the launching of the Alliance and to recruit other people to join this venture. Jim pursued joint undergraduate studies in Physics and Zoology at Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College in Claremont, California. Following a two-year assignment in the Peacecorps teaching in Fiji, he obtained a Master’s Degree in International Studies from Claremont Graduate School, and then participated as an international research fellow with the East-West Center in Honolulu. He served as founder and Director of the State of Hawaii’s Office of Aerospace Development – during which he established the Japan-U.S. Science, Technology & Space Applications Program (JUSTSAP). He next played a key role in the formation of the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), and other Hawaii State programs to help advance robotic and human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. In recognition for this work on behalf of the State of Hawaii he received the Governor’s Award for Distinguished State Service as State Employee of the Year. Jim currently serves as President of ACES Worldwide.

As President of ACES Worldwide, Jim continues to work with municipal, state, and federal agencies, private corporations, and international organizations to promote public-private partnerships and multinational alliances to help reduce the costs, enhance the benefits, and accelerate timetables for future space missions

Kim E. Degnan, M.S.

Partner at AdvancedTechnologies.Space, Founder and Executive Board Member of ACES Worldwide

Kim Degnan works in the space industry, currently as the Senior Partner for Space Strategy at AdvancedTechnologies.Space.  Previously, she held executive management positions at Intelsat, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Raytheon-Advanced Technologies, Pacific Satellite Inc., International Satellite Inc, and NTIA in the USG. She is well-known for her successful global business campaigns leading to measurable revenue growth. She often serves as a SME on advanced technology proposals for private space companies and the USG.

Kim is also an experienced orbit-spectrum engineer, well-versed in international satellite spectrum engineering and regulatory policy processes. She has worked on behalf of emerging nations at World Radio Conferences and has participated in the bilateral coordination of hundreds of ITU filings to secure national rights to orbit spectrum. She has published over 30 articles, many concerning the need for equitable allocation and global management of orbit spectrum.

She has Master’s Degrees in Public Policy and Electrical/Telecom Engineering, and is certified in Program Management (PMP), Proposal Strategy (APMP) and Competitive Assessment (SCIP). She is also an original Founder of Space & Satellite Professionals International.

She plays a key role in the development and growth of ACES Worldwide. As a Co-Chair of the Space Program Committee for the UN General Assembly’s annual Science Summit, she leads ACES Worldwide’s participation in high-profile panels of Space Experts about subjects like Planetary Defense, Satellites Achieving the SDGs, Safeguarding Space as a Global Commons, Mitigating Space Debris, and ACES Worldwide’s Space & Sustainability Compacts Initiatives. Many of the expert speakers participating in these discussions also sit on the ACES Worldwide Global Advisory Committee.

Dr. Joseph N. Pelton

Chairman of the Board

Dr. Joseph N. Pelton is Chairman of the Alliance for Collaboration in the Exploration of Space (ACES Worldwide He and Jim Crisafulli had the original idea to found ACES Worldwide in 2021 while working together  on issues related to Hawaiian aerospace development. Dr. Pelton is also services Director of Academics and Research for the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), chairman of IAASS Academic Committee, a member of its Executive Board and Senior Editor of the Journal of Space Safety Engineering. He is the Dean emeritus and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Space University with its main campus in Strasbourg, France. He is also the Director Emeritus of the Space and Advanced Communications Research Institute (SACRI) at George Washington University where he was also Director of the Accelerated M.S. Program in Computers and Telecommunications.  In earlier positions he was Director of Strategic Planning for Intelsat and held other management positions at Intelsat and Comsat. He also served as Professor and Director, Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder where he was also Director, Center for Advanced Research in Telecommunications  &Technology (CARTT). He is the award-winning author and editor of over 70 books and over 300 articles in the field of telecommunications and networking, space systems, future technologies, and urban planning. His book Global Talk won a Pulitzer Prize nomination and won the Eugene Emme Literature Award of the International Association of Astronautics. In July 2013 he received in the United Kingdom British Interplanetary Society International Award known as “The Arthur” in honor of Arthur C. Clarke. He also received the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement award in 2001 and the IAASS “da Vinci Award” for lifetime achievement. Most recently he won the Guardian Award of the Lifeboat Foundation which was previously won by Bill Gates, El

Upasana Dasgupta

Board Member

Dr. Upasana Dasgupta is a Board member of ACES Worldwide and is heading the “Compact Agreements” for Space and Sustainability for the South Asian region. Process. Dr Dasgupta is currently researching with the Canada Research Chair in International Political Economy, Université Laval on understanding the divergence between priorities of different States with respect to their space activities and policies as FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow.

She holds a Doctorate in Civil Law as well as an LLM from the McGill University Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) as well as a B.A.,LLB (Hons) from Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (RMLNLU) in India. In her studies there she won the Gold Medal for the highest cumulative grade index among a class of 155 students. She is a member of the Bar Council of West Bengal. She served as an arbitrator for the Bucharest Ilfov Arbitration Court for a three-year term. She is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Technical Committee on Space Traffic Management, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) committee on Space Debris and a member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL).

While at McGill University she contributed as a researcher and editor to many published text and articles. These publications included: Global Space Governance: An International Space Study, The Space Security Index, the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space, and many other publications. She also played a key role in the development of Air Line Emergency Restrictions Tracker (ALERT). This was an Internet web portal that tracked the multiple government responses to international air travel and airline travel restrictions in wake of COVID19 pandemic. This ALERT database provided an unique global map that allowed users to access the most recently-available information on policies in around 150 countries and also includes links to key local regulations wherever feasible. She has served as an advisor and carried out research for the Indian Delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

As an Associate for the law firm, Argus Partners, she undertook a legal compliance audit on a leading pharmaceutical company in India and prepared report on the same. She also worked as an Associate for the law firm, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, in the capital markets team where she prepared the offer documents for many Initial Public Offerings (IPO). Her doctoral thesis is titled “Preventing Collisions in Outer Space – Clarifying the law of state responsibility for better enforcement.” She has coauthored “Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interests of all Countries” working together with Professor Ram Jakhu and Ujwala Iyengar.Her publications also include “Back to the Future: Space Law in a Networked World” which she co-authored with Professor Ram Jakhu and Professor Steven Freeland.

Juliana Herbert MSc, PhD

Board Member

Juliana Herbert holds a Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate in Computer

Science from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). She is a

professor and researcher at the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto

Alegre (UFCSPA), where she works in the Graduate Program in Information

Technologies and Health Management and the undergraduate course in

Biomedical Informatics. She is the Director of the Space and Extreme

Environments Research Center and of the Digital Health and Sustainability

Center, at UFCSPA. Juliana is an associate researcher in the area of Informatics

at the Programa de Desarrollo de las Ciencias Básicas (PEDEClBA-Informática)

at the Universidad de la República in Montevideo, Uruguay. She is a member of

the InnovaSpace Science and Technology Hub and the UNOOSA (United

Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs) Space for Women network. She is a

founding member of the Working Group “Digital Health for Space & Extreme

Environments” of the International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth. Her

research interests are in space science, digital health, software engineering,

digital inclusion, and sustainability.

Prof Thais Russomano, MD, MSc, PhD

Board Member

Prof. Thais Russomano graduated in medicine from the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil (1985) and worked in internal and emergency medicine until 2005. She has an MSc in Aerospace Medicine - Wright State University, USA (1991), and PhD in Space Physiology - King's College London (1998). She worked for 3 years as a Space Scientist at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Cologne, Germany, before founding the Microgravity Centre, PUCRS, Brazil, which she coordinated for 18 years. Thais has been linked to King's College London in different academic positions since her PhD in 1994, having acted at CHAPS, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, as the Deputy Course Director/ Senior Lecturer of the Space Physiology & Health MSc degree course (2009-2020). In addition, she is a visiting professor at Aalto University, Finland, in Space & Design; Deggendorf Institute of Technology, European Campus, Germany, at the MSc in Medical Informatics; UFCSPA in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in Human Physiology in Extreme Environments & Digital Health; Carol Davila University of Medicine & Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania, in Space Medicine; and Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon in Space Physiology & Aviation Medicine (CEMA).

She is Co-founder and CEO of InnovaSpace Ltd, UK. Thais has more than 30 years of experience teaching and researching in the fields of Aerospace Medicine, Space Physiology, Aerospace Biomedicine, Aerospace Biomedical Engineering and TeleHealth & Digital Health, including participation in 200+ scientific events with 300+ scientific papers presented. She has authored books, book chapters and numerous papers in her areas of expertise. Thais is an Elected Academician of the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine (IAASM), and the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), for which she serves on the Board of Trustees (2019-2023) and IAA Committees (2012-2023).

She is also a member of international associations and societies in space, aviation and telehealth (ISfTeH), a Board Member of companies, reviewer for journals, a Review Editor at Frontiers in Space Technologies, and further holds patents related to Space Life Sciences and Aerospace Biomedical Engineering. Thais acted as a voluntary Mentor for Space4Women, an initiative of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA, 2020-2021). She has participated in two parabolic flight campaigns of ESA (2000 & 2006), is a member of ESA Topical Teams and participates in NASA funded projects. In 2021, through her company InnovaSpace, in partnership with a pharmaceutical company, she participated in a research project at the ISS.

Mahdu Thangavelu

Board Member

Madhu Thangavelu is a member of the ACES Worldwide Board and also serves on it's Global Advisory Committee. He conducts the graduate Space Exploration Architectures Concept Synthesis Studio in the Department of Astronautical Engineering within the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. He also teaches the Extreme Environment Habitation Design Seminar in the School of Architecture, where he is a graduate thesis adviser. Mr. Thangavelu’s educational background is in both Architecture and Engineering. This includes a Masters in Building Science, USC School of Architecture (1989) and a Bachelors in Science and Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Calicut, India (1980). He is also a graduate of the inaugural summer session of the International Space University held at MIT in 1988. Versions of Madhu's Masters Thesis entitled "MALEO: Modular Assembly in Low Earth Orbit. An Alternate Strategy for Lunar Base Establishment" were published in several journals worldwide. He is a co-author of the book "The Moon: Resources, Future Development and Colonization", John Wiley &Sons 1999, and the second Springer/Praxis edition was published in 2007, and the third edition is in preparation. He is a former Vice Chairman for Education, Los Angeles Section of the American Institute Of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

He has directed Space Exploration Projects at the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture. Mr. Thangavelu is also the invited author of the chapter “Living On the Moon” in the Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering, a major reference work published by John Wiley and Sons in October 2010, and updated in 2012.

He was on the team that won the coveted NASA NIAC Phase 1 and 2 awards consecutively for developing robotic building technologies on the Moon and Mars with Principal Investigator Prof.Behrokh Khoshnevis. Mr. Thangavelu’s concept creation work was greatly appreciated for proposing ideas that pointed to the “leading-edge sensor concept” for return to flight of the space shuttle fleet. Mr.Thangavelu is also on the faculty of the International Space University.He is the North American coordinator for the International Moon Village Association and is a Director of the National Space Society (NSS) and also the NSS Vice President and Liaison for NSS India.

Sibsankar Palit

Founder of Life-To & Beyond

Sibsankar Palit is the Founder and also currently serves as the Team Executive Officer of Life-To

& Beyond. The “Life-To & Beyond initiative is a newly organized dynamic, diverse, and inclusive Space-related non-profit organization. It is based out of West Bengal, India with a global community of young enthusiasts and professionals working on Astrobiology, Space Studies, and Applications.

Sibsankar Palit also plays the role of Coordinator of the SpaceCrew Working Group for Innova Space, based in the UK. Innova Space, is an alliance member of ACES Worldwide. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, based in the United States. In this role he is currently working on a project related to the Life Detection Knowledge Base an initiative of the NfoLD Research Coordination Network, NASA. Besides entrepreneurship, Palit has started learning about and undertaken research and activities related to active space science communication, event management, and outreach activities.

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