The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Beanie Illustration

New Perspectives on
Invention and Innovation

Moving Beyond Earth:
Innovations in Space

November 18-19, 2011
at the National Air and Space Museum


Third Stage: Our Human Future in Space
Saturday, November 19, 2011 What are the prospects for our human future in space? This panel examined the question from a variety of perspectives including technology, economics, public policy, and foreign relations. Speakers discussed the evolving role of government and the emerging commercial space industry; operations in low earth orbit vs. deep-space exploration; the colonization of the moon, Mars and beyond; and the merits of human vs. robotic missions.

  • George Nield, Federal Aviation Administration
  • Tom Jones, planetary scientist, former astronaut, and author
  • Haym Beneroya, Rutgers University
  • Moderator: Eric S. Hintz, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History

George Nield, FAAGeorge Nield, Federal Aviation Administration

If you want to go to space, you need to get your license first! George Nield talked about the FAA's system of issuing launch and re-entry licenses to commercial space flight developers and the increasing role of partnerships between the federal government and private corporations as the model for space travel in the future. He also noted the incentives to development that space prizes present and predeicted a big market for space tourists.

George Nield is the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Watch the video of Nield's complete talk »

Tom Jones, former astronautTom Jones, planetary scientist, former astronaut, and author

"The human curiosity and drive to get into space, to explore strange new worlds, is undying," regardless of economic downturns, says former astronaut Tom Jones. As he recounted his career on and off the planet, Jones emphasized research in physics, biomedical discoveries, and botany advances that have been conducted in space. He also spoke about why humans still need to go into space. Their skills in problem-solving and communciation, their adapability and flexibility, cannot be matched by robots. "Pioneering space is a choice," he concluded. "Will we be content with just looking back on earth from a couple of hundred miles up? Or will our imaginations and our desire to be a competitive power in the 21st century create a new generation of Lewis and Clarks?"

Tom Jones is a planetary scientist, former astronaut and author.

Watch the video of Jones's complete talk »

Haym BenaroyaHaym Benaroya, Rutgers University

Looking for a new neighborhood? How about the moon? Benaroya describes the range of habitat styles proposed for the moon--tubes, cylinders, inflatables, and more--all of which will need to protect lunar dwellers from radiation, micrometeroids, temperature swings of 250ºC, abrasive lunar dust, and moonquakes lasting up to 10 minutes. Not sure you want to move to the moon? Try a vacation first. A number of hotel chains are planning to build resorts for space tourists. How will you travel to your ultimate getaway? On a space elevator, of course.

Haym Beneroya is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers University and an expert in space systems engineering.

Watch the video of Benaroya's complete talk »

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