Over the weekend, I have participated in the Humans in Space conference at the Regional Science-Technology Centre Podzamczein in Kielce in the south of Poland. It has been very interesting.
The conference was a part of the Rover Challenge, an annual student competition organised by the Mars Society and the three-day conference “Humans in Space” focused on the importance of the human element in planned space missions.
Primary topics of discussion were technology, education, medicine, and innovation. The audience came from the international space industry, medicine and science experts, as well as Polish and international entrepreneurs and students.
Speakers at the conference included Prof. G. Scott Hubbard, who has been involved in science, technology research, executive and program management for more than 40 years – including 20 years with NASA, and Robert Zubrin, an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of manned exploration of Mars and development of a number of concepts for space propulsion and exploration.
I was invited to speak about People, Earth and Space, and the innovations we make to go there. I spoke after lunch on the first day, and I focused my talk on how we used to have a dream of space, also in early civilisations, where I mentioned the Vucedol civilisation in todays Croatia as an example.
In recent time, the space race between United States and Soviet Union brought the bold and well funded space program of the 1960s and 1970s, where creative ideas, fundamental discoveries, and novel inventions by NASA and its sub-contractors achieved innovations that are everyday products now. We have written about the innovations in the space race previously on this blog. Such innovations brought increased productivity and tangible values, including job creation, higher pay, better educated workers, a rising standard of living and sustainable development.
However in the current decade we live in a new era of economic reality. The willingness to take risks and a longer-term view has disappeared from most Western institutions. Large corporations, driven by quarterly earnings, have almost completely shuttered their basic, longer-term research programs.
Meanwhile, with internet and increased individual mobility and travel, the world is getting smaller and we now live in a “global village”. Our society is changing with globalisation and we have a high demand for innovation to survive and a renewed era of space exploration could renew the dream of going beyond frontiers.
I made the point that if we utilise the new development of innovation environments and high technology clusters in a renewed development of space technology, like the European Union has successfully done with supporting SMEs who develop applications for the Galileo satellites, then we may regain the momentum in making space exiting and beneficial for both our search for meaning and for development of new technologies. Below is a copy of the presentation I showed with my speech.
I found Professor G. Scott Hubbard´s speech about Exploring Mars to be fascinating, as as i filmed it, I include a link below for your enjoyment. If you are even remotely interested in space exploration, then this is a gem to watch.