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NASA/NASM Conference: Societal Impact of Space Exploration Call for Papers

Status Report From: NASA History Division
Posted: Monday, July 18, 2005

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The NASA History Division and the Department of Space History at the National Air and Space Museum issue a call for papers at a conference on "Societal Impact of Space Exploration." The 2.5 day meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. in September, 2006.

The purpose of this conference is to undertake a broad overview of the societal impact of space exploration, especially as illuminated by historical research. The purpose is to examine with rigorous research what the impact has been, both nationally and internationally, of activities in space over the last 50 years. The conference will also address the impact of society on the space program.

Five sessions are currently planned:

Session I. Catalyzing Events

What was the national and international impact of the defining moments of the Space Age, e.g. Sputnik, Apollo 8 circumlunar mission, first lunar landing, Challenger and Columbia?

Session II. Commercial and Economic Impact

What has been the commercial and economic impact of space exploration? This ranges from specific studies of spinoffs like ICs and MEMs to broader impacts like the aerospace industry. What has been the effect on the management of large scale technological systems? How has NASA's impact differed from that of DoD space systems, and what has been the relative impact of other space programs?

Session III. Applications Satellites, the Environment and National Security

Where would we be without satellites for Earth resources, weather, navigation, communication and reconnaissance? What is their measurable impact over the last 50 years? What effect have they had on the environmental movement? What effect have they had on national security?

Session IV. Local Impacts: Educational, Social, Political, Economic

Has the spaceflight enterprise had a significant impact on education, in terms of specific programs, educational infrastructure, and as an inspiration to youth? What has been the impact of the space centers on social dynamics and politics?

Session V. Philosophical and Cultural Impact: Our Place in the Universe

What impact have human and robotic exploration had on our self-image? What is the impact of the visual imagery from the Space Age: Earthrise from the Moon, the Whole Earth, the Pale Blue Dot from Voyager, the Hubble Space Telescope images, and more generally the picture that space science has given us of our place in cosmic evolution? What has been its general impact on culture, including popular culture (science fiction literature and film), music, religion, etc.

Depending on proposals received, other sessions are possible. For example, a session might be devoted to the impact of society on the space program.

Please send all proposals, in the form of a 300 word abstract and a brief vita, to Dr. Steven J. Dick NASA Chief Historian, at steven.j.dick@nasa.gov. The deadline for submissions is October 28, 2005.

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