(April Greer/For The Washington Post)

Julie Van Kleeck spoke at The Post’s 2016 Transformers live journalism event May 18 in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.

“Everything we throw off the planet now has to go on a rocket that costs quite a bit of money. The smaller you make it, the cheaper it gets. We have solar electric propulsion that we’ll be putting on these next missions. . . . We’re 3-D printing whole rockets.

“It’s a transformative time. We’re building off the things that we put in place the last few decades. But now we can actually take them that next step.

“We’re on the way to Mars now. . . . The country’s putting in place all that infrastructure right now and it’s a lot closer than you think. We will launch in a couple of years.

“The plan will be: Go put stuff around it and go control from circling Mars first, before you go down. It’s really within our reach. It’s not that far away.”

Julie Van Kleeck
Vice president of advanced space and launch business unit
Aerojet Rocketdyne

The way we live is dramatically changing. On May 18, Virgin Galactic's George Whitesides, Aerojet Rocketdyne's Julie Van Kleeck and author of "The Martian" Andy Weir joined NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to discuss how recent milestones in commercial space travel are opening up new frontiers for business and exploration. (Washington Post Live)

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