Astronomy Lecture – Our Future in Space
Steward Observatory Public Evening Lecture Series
Dr. Chris Impey, Distinguished Professor, Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, University of Arizona
Join us as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first human in space and look to the future.
The early successes of the Space Age were driven by a fierce superpower rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States, which obscured the fact that exploration and risk-taking is built into human DNA. Nearly half a century after we last set foot on the moon, and a decade after the space shuttle program was retired, space activity is finally leaving the doldrums. A vibrant private sector led by SpaceX and Virgin Galactic plans to launch supplies cheaply into Earth orbit and give anyone a joy ride into space. New materials are being developed that could lead to space elevators and transform the economics of space travel. Fighting gravity will always be difficult, but engineers are rethinking rockets and developing new propulsion technologies. Permanent bases on the Moon and Mars are now within reach, and a new space race with China is brewing. Medical advances might even allow us to reach for the stars. The talk will review the history and landmarks of the international space program, give a snapshot of the current dynamic situation, and plot the probable trajectory of the future of space travel. The time has come to envision our future off-Earth.