Traveling to Mars and beyond will be one of the top subjects that are discussed at a five-day international space development conference held in Toronto this week.

The annual conference of the National Space Society brings together engineers, scientists, educators and business representatives from civilian, military, commercial and other space sectors around the world. 

Organizer Marc Boucher says the conference will hear from experts who will discuss different types of propulsion that could be used for future travel to the Red Planet.

In one of the latest proposals, researchers are showcasing a new plasma rocket system, that could cut travel time to the Red Planet down from nine months to just two months.

Boucher says he also expects Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, one of the first humans on the moon, to shed light on any future manned trips to Mars when the former U.S. astronaut addresses the confab on Friday.

"He'll be talking about the feasibility of a Mars mission, he'll look at the costs and a realistic timetable," Boucher said in a recent interview

Boucher also said that the group will also learn about the latest advances in rocket launch systems currently being developed by NASA and commercial companies such as SpaceX, which is already currently flying supply missions to astronauts stationed on the International Space Station.

"This conference is unlike any other space conference that's out there," Boucher said. "It runs the full gamut from pure business to a whole section on education, to policy and to enthusiasts who are interested in space settlement, whether it be on Mars or elsewhere."

Space based solar power, the process of collecting energy from sunlight on a satellite and then beaming that energy back to Earth, will also be discussed during the conference.

Boucher, the executive director of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, said the Toronto conference will also showcase new Canadian space companies like Canadensys Aerospace and UrtheCast Corp. to the rest of the world.

"I see a lot of Canadian companies innovating in technology and Earth observation," he said. "There's a lot of growth potential in those areas and with the right support I think they can be leaders on the global scale."

Boucher also noted that the small satellite market has grown tremendously over the last two years and is an area that Canada has some expertise.

According to Boucher, more than 1,700 delegates from around the world have signed up and plan to attend the conference, which runs from May 20 through 24.