NASA's Herculean feats of engineering, science, and exploration have been celebrated for over half a century, but a paradigm shift is underway. Private corporations have ambitious agendas for orbital payload delivery and astronaut transport, space tourism, and even interplanetary travel. SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft has successfully docked with the International Space Station; Virgin Galactic is selling tickets for flights in SpaceShipTwo and has unveiled LauncherOne, its small satellite launch system; and the share of space technologies developed and built in the private sphere continues to increase as both old and new companies ramp up their space efforts. Space agencies around the world, including in the United States, are increasing their reliance on these services to reduce costs and avoid long development cycles. What is the impact on the space, planetary, and earth sciences? Will these developments affect our ability to implement a broad, coherent space program that successfully tackles a wide array of ambitious scientific goals? How does this new landscape change the dynamics of international collaboration, public-private partnerships, intellectual property, and how will we strike a balance between scientific inquiry and the bottom line?
Join us for a discussion of these issues with an internationally renowned panel of scientists, industry executives, and policy experts.
Caltech students led the conception, planning and execution of this event. This public panel is supported by the Keck Institute for Space Studies and the Caltech Y.
January 11, 2012 Pasadena Star-News: Private space exploration could make it easier to reach for the stars