Surviving and Thriving in the Next 50 Years of Space Exploration: Leading scholars gather on 50th anniversary of Sputnik 1


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Space visionaries craft vision for the longer-term future of space exploration at Boston University Conference

(Boston) - Leading space scientists, visionaries, and entrepreneurs from around the world met at Boston University last week to discuss the future of space exploration. Gathered on the 50th anniversary of the space age, following the launch of Sputnik in 1957, and the 40th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, participants of The Future of Space Exploration: Solutions to Earthly Problems? recommended visions for the next 50 years of space activities.

Hosted by the Boston University Center for Space Physics, the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future and the Secure World Foundation, with support from General Dynamics and Hamilton Sundstrand, the three-day conference featured discussions led by noted researchers, including Dr. John C. Mather, 2006 Nobel Prize Winner in physics, and a keynote address by Lord Rees of Ludlow, president of the Royal Society.

Opening remarks were made by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam of India who stated that, "the best thing space can do is enhance the quality of life of those on Earth," and that in the long-term, humanity has to "build the way for an alternative habitat in our galaxy."

With this in mind, conference participants worked together to imagine the next half-century of space exploration and identified five key areas that require attention if humans are to thrive in space over the next 50 years:

  1. Space Governance. In anticipation of emerging space activities, a system of laws, regulations and agreements are needed in space. Particular areas that need addressing include: (1) prohibiting space weapons; (2) managing traffic of space vehicles to avoid collisions and ensure uninterrupted satellite services; (3) managing the global environment and security; and (4) enabling and encouraging private and national space utilization.
  2. Public participation. To ensure the long-term sustainability of human endeavors in space, the public can be, and should be, directly integrated with space missions. We would like more communication of the benefits of space exploration to society, emphasizing that survival is the foremost incentive both in terms of space providing knowledge of our environment and natural disasters, and through the potential of self-sustaining settlements off our home planet.
  3. Resources and Energy. Material resources, energy sources and other sources of economic value in space need to be developed. These assets have the potential to improve the quality of life on Earth, and will require the development of new space technologies and infrastructure.
  4. Biotechnology. The coming biotechnology revolution that will change the health and survival capabilities of the human race should be fully exploited. Developments in biotech may allow humans to live in space without harmful effects of space radiation or bone degradation. This will have profound effects on the limits of human experience and our presence in the solar system.
  5. Strategy. We believe that a 50-year global vision should be developed that can provide guidance for the future of human endeavors in space. Concurrently, a 10-year horizon rolling plan, considering the needs of all peoples, is necessary to ensure sustainable progress towards the longer-term goals. We urge development of suitable mechanisms for this that could involve the world's space agencies.

"Spectacular advances in astronomy, and solar and geophysics have been made due to the access to space," said Supriya Chakrabarti, conference chairman and director of the Boston University Center for Space Physics. "It is our hope that with these recommendations we can continue to build upon the achievements and discoveries already made in space."

"Since 1957, the world has witnessed many feats: the first artificial satellites, the first visits to space, footsteps on the Moon, a permanent International Space Station, and now the emergence of the private space industry. Spectacular advances in astronomy, and solar and geophysics have been made due to the access to space," said Chris Boshuizen, executive director of the Space Generation Advisory Council. "With this heritage, which was based upon a robust body of research, humankind can look to the future with confidence."

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school's research and teaching mission.

Contributors and signatories to this declaration:

  • Gen. James A. Abrahamson, former director, US Strategic Defense Initiative Organization
  • Prof. Thomas Bania, Professor of Astronomy, Boston University
  • Dr. Stas Barabash, Professor, Swedish Institute of Space Physics
  • Prof. Roger Bonnet, President of COSPAR (the Committee of Space Research) and former Director of Science, European Space Agency (ESA)
  • Dr. Chris Boshuizen, Executive Director, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)
  • Prof. Supriya Chakrabarti, Conference Chairman, Professor of Astronomy and Electrical and Computer Engineering, Director of the Center for Space Physics, Boston University
  • Dr. Frank Cheng, Director of the Plasma and Space Science Center, National Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan
  • Prof. John Clarke, Professor of Astronomy, Boston University
  • Dr. Steven Dick, NASA Historian, NASA
  • Prof. Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton University
  • Prof. Farouk El-Baz, Director of the Center for Remote Sensing, Boston University
  • Dr. Jean-Jaques Favier, Director of Strategy, Centre National pour l'Etude Spatial (CNES), former shuttle Astronaut
  • Dr. David Fromkin, Director, Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future; Professor of International Relations, History, and Law, Boston University
  • Ambassador Thomas Graham, Chairman of Cypress Fund for Peace and Security & former Arms Control Ambassador for the United States
  • Prof. Jeffrey Hoffman, Center for Space Studies, MIT; former NASA astronaut
  • Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, Senior Fellow, Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, Brown University; Son of former Chairman of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev
  • Mr. Eric Knight, Chief Executive Officer, Up Aerospace, Inc.
  • Dr. Matthew Koss, Department of Physics, Holy Cross College
  • Dr. Mark Lupisella, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center and The Secure World Foundation
  • Dr. William Marshall, Chairman, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), NASA/Ames Research Center
  • Dr. Carlos Martinis, Research Associate, Department of Astronomy and Center for Space Physics, Boston University
  • Prof. Keith Mason, CEO, UK Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • Dr. John Mather, Chief Scientist, NASA Science Mission Directorate and 2006
  • Nobel Laureate in Physics
  • Ms. Majd Matta, Graduate Student, Boston University
  • Dr. D. Pallamraju, Research Associate, Department of Astronomy and Center for Space Physics, Boston University
  • Ms. Angela Peura, Graduate Student, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University
  • Dr. Shanti Rao, Engineer, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Prof. Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, President of the Royal Society and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University
  • Dr. Virendra Sarohia, Assistant to the Chief Technologist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Dr. Russell "Rusty" Schweickart, Apollo Astronaut & Chairman of the Association of Space Explorers
  • Mr. Shi Sheng, Undergraduate Student, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Mr. Valeriy Spitovsky, Boston Museum of Science
  • Dr. William Stoeger, Vatican Observatory
  • Dr. Ighor Uzhinsky, Senior Technical Project Manager, ATK Launch Systems, Science and Engineering Programs
  • Mr. Sesh Velamoor, Deputy Director of Programs at Foundation for the Future

Contributors to the symposium:

  • Ms. Julia Barsky, Program Coordinator, Center for Space Physics, Boston University
  • Ms. Erin Daly, Graduate Student, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of North Texas
  • Dr. Virender Kumar, Counsellor for space, Embassy of the Republic of India
  • Ms. Susan Eisenhower, President of the Eisenhower Institute, granddaughter of US President Eisenhower
  • Ms. Tiffany D. Frierson, Undergraduate Student, University of Memphis, Tennessee
  • Dr. David Fromkin, Director, Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future; Professor of International Relations, History, and Law, Boston University
  • Dr. Charles Harper, Sr., Templeton Foundation
  • His Excellency, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of India
  • Prof. John Logsdon, Director, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University and NASA Advisory Committee
  • Prof. Roald Sagdeev, Distinguished Professor of Physics, University of Maryland, former Director of the USSR Space Research Institute
  • Dr. Harrison Schmitt, NASA Astronaut (former)
  • Ms. Sonya Sherman, Assistant Director, Center for Space Physics, Boston University
  • Mr. Yevgeny Zvedre, Senior Counselor (Science and Technology), Embassy of the Russian Federation

Contact: Kira Edler, 617-358-1240, kedler@bu.edu

Will Marshall, 805-403-2096, william.s.marshall@nasa.gov

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