IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme

Helping launch the careers of aerospace professionals around the world through one-to one mentorship to achieve their career and professional development goals

Mentee Applications will close on 15 April 2024!

Apply here


The IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme is focused on professional mentorship and career development of early- to mid-career professionals and recent graduates entering the space industry. In this programme, you will be paired with experience, senior professionals in the space industry. The IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme aims to facilitate career development and leadership capabilities of the Mentee and provide a platform for enhanced communication between the generations represented within the IAF.

The Mentees selected for the IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme will have access to some of the most notable leaders within the industry, gaining key insights and advice to help their careers move forward. They will also have the ability to take part in professional development designed specifically for this programme.

How Will Mentoring Benefit Me?

  • Provides a ‘personalised’ opportunity to address your individual professional development goals
  • Provides an opportunity to develop new skills and expertise
  • Provides access to independent and objective perspectives
  • Enhances networking opportunities
  • Drives you to set goals and to strive towards them
  • Helps to clarify and enhance your future direction in the space sector
  • Can provide you with support during times of change and transition

2024 Mentors


Director, Slovak Space Office - Industry Branch



Chair, IAF Earth Observations Committee

United States


President, President of Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)



Senior Vice President, Space Foundation

United States

Geraldine NAJA

Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Competitiveness, European Space Agency (ESA)


Alfonso PAGANI

Professor of spacecraft structures at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino


Victoria SAMSON

Chief Director, Space Security and Stability, Secure World Foundation

United States

Maria Gabriella SARAH

Strategy and Foresight Department, European Space Agency (ESA)


Past Launchpad Mentorship Programme Winners

2023 2022 2021

Application Process for Mentees

Successfully selected Mentees will be paired for one-on-one mentorship based on multiple factors within the application process.

The Selection Committee will be reviewing your:

  • Career goals;
  • Reasons for wanting to be part of this programme;
  • Goals you hope to achieve in this programme;
  • Educational and career background;
  • Expectations from your Mentor.

Engagement with Mentors

The 2024 IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme will run for a period of approximately 5 months. The programme will begin in May 2024 and end in October 2024 at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2024). A minimum commitment of 6 hours of contact with your mentor during this programme is encouraged. These can be at a time and duration that suits both parties.

Most communication and participation in this programme will be virtual, using web-based conferencing platforms. If permitted, we will have in-person meetings, workshops, panels, etc. set-up during the IAF’s various yearly conferences, including the IAC.

The IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme intends to meet the Diversity and Inclusion policies of the IAF.

Key Dates

  • Mentee Applications Open: 25 March 2024
  • Mentee Applications Close: 15 April 2024
  • Mentee Selections Announced: early May 2024
  • 2024 Programme Period: mid May – October 2024

What should I expect if I am selected as a Mentee?

If you are selected as a Mentee, you will be matched with a mentor and notified of your match by email. We consider the Mentee to be the “driver” of the relationship. Therefore, you are required to make initial contact with your Mentor. An introductory meeting will be held to allow all new Mentees and Mentors to meet virtually. Mentees and Mentors will continue to manage their relationships for the reminder of the mentorship period. Throughout the programme, we will organise professional development seminars. We expect you to do your best to attend these as it will enhance your experience in the programme. After this programme ends, the Mentee and Mentor may elect to finalise their mentoring relationship or extend it beyond this formal period. Once the programme has finished, Mentees and Mentors will be asked to provide feedback on the programme by completing an evaluation form.

Programme Coordinators

Elizabeth BARRIOS

Structural Materials Engineer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

United States

Alessandra VERNILE

IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme Co-Chair

Programme Advisor


Research Engineer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

United States


Managing Director of Nanoracks Europe, Nanoracks


Contact Us

For any further information or questions, please email launchpad@iafastro.org