June 11, 2009  archive video from MIT World

Keynote speaker Maria Zuber advocates a “bold, diverse agenda” that includes extended use of the International Space Station for conducting science on human physiology and behavior; exploring the impact of the sun on Earth climate and space weather; gathering data on the constitution of the universe; detailed characterization of terrestrial planets; a renewed commitment to Earth observation (we have better data on Mars’ ice caps than on our own planet); and seeking extra-terrestrial life.

Edward Crawley ’76, SM ’78, ScD ’81 Ford Professor of Engineering, Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, and Engineering Systems, MIT
Maria T. Zuber E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics
Head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
James Garvin Geoscientist/Topographic Remote Sensing specialist and Project Scientist, Earth System Science Pathfinder Project at NASA’s GSFC, Geodynamics Branch, Lab for Terrestrial Physics
Richard Garriott Computer Game Developer, Entrepreneur
Erika Wagner SM ’02, PhD ’07 Lecturer, Dept of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Executive Director, Mars Gravity Biosatellite and X PRIZE Lab @ MIT
David Thompson Chairman and CEO, Orbital Sciences Corporation
James Crocker Vice President and General Manager, Sensing & Exploration Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company

MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics


Obama announced this past week that the US will be withdrawing “most U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010″.  His aim is to return roughly 100,000 men and women from the armed forces to US soil.  As one who has questioned the logic of this past war since its inception, I am happy to for those soldiers and their families.  However, I wonder if they are prepared for the shock of unemployment awaiting them.

Let’s face it, whether or not this current economic crisis is reality or perception, if our confidence drops, unemployment will rise.  What then to do with these 100,000 or so civilians, many of whom do not have any marketable skills?

Well, I cannot speak for all these soldiers but one thing is for certain, the men and women coming from the air force should have a place in NewSpace.    This is an incredible opportunity for small NewSpace start-ups to hire highly trained pilots, courageous pilots, pilots who understand how to keep it cool under pressure and are willing to risk life and limb using new, hardly proven (or unproven!) aeronautical technologies.

If the NewSpace industry is to take off, it will need pilots.  And many of them.  Men and women willing to take risks — because they are adrenaline junkies or for other reasons, does it really matter?

In sum, if you are running a NewSpace company or in the process of starting one up, start thinking about your pilots…they might be coming in droves.


Rob Coppinger of Hyperbola has the latest on the SUSTAIN project.  Coppingers tells us the DOD has posted the following wanted AD:

“Can individual vehicle capabilities be man-rated to enable the insertion of a squad-sized,combat-equipped team into any global contingency? If so, describe a notional spiralevolution to the future capability?

“Hurgh!?”  You are probably saying.  Translation: Can you get me from San Francisco to Hong Kong in an hour?  If so, please forward all your ideas to me.

This reminds me of a fun fact: Did you know the Wright Brothers, staunch pacifists, invented the airplane because they believed it would make war obsolete?  As incredible as that sounds, they believed that if both sides could run reconnaissance with planes and know exactly where there opponent was positioned, there would be no point to fighting.