MLTalks—To the Moon to Stay | From the Moon with Love

MLTalks—To the Moon to Stay | From the Moon with Love


Ariel Ekblaw: Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for coming to join us as
we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It’s been a really big week for the moon. Most of you know we just passed this incredible
milestone – yes, woo! – this last Saturday. I’m really honored to have a chance to introduce
a fantastic line-up, who’s going to tell you about moonshots, past and future. Ariel Ekblaw: I’m Ariel Ekblaw. I’m the Director of the MIT Media Labs Space
Exploration Initiative, and to kick us off today, we have Dr. Maria T. Zuber, the Vice
President of Research for MIT, and Joi Ito, Director of the Media Lab. Thank you so much. Dr Maria Zuber: Okay. Hello, everybody. Glad you’re all here. As Ariel noted, we had an incredible anniversary
this past week, of 50 years since human beings first walked on the moon. Now we’re talking about going back to the
moon. We’re teaming with Blue Origin, as part of
their Blue Moon Program, to take a payload to the moon. So watch for that opportunity. We hope that many of you will propose to be
a part of that, and to compete on it. Dr Maria Zuber: I want to turn the clock back
50 years to talk about John F. Kennedy’s speech, which I think you’re going to see in a few
minutes. John F. Kennedy gave that speech, and it’s
an incredibly famous speech, where he challenged Americans to land on the moon, and return
safely within a decade. At the time, we didn’t have the faintest idea
how to go to the moon, okay? If you were one of the first astronauts, you
had a 50% probability of living through your mission, because we had launched two Vanguards. Didn’t work the first couple of times. The next two worked. Put an astronaut in the third one, so the
probability was 50% at that point. Yet we went, okay? Dr Maria Zuber: While this speech is incredibly
famous, this was just the first of many speeches. Last month there was an event at the JFK Library,
commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. Throughout the day, we saw clips of many JFK
speeches, talking about the importance of going to the moon. What we had during that era was, first and
foremost, leadership, and second of all, we had the desire to learn. Both science and technology. Dr Maria Zuber: Interestingly, the JFK event
was all panel discussions except for one part, where there was a talk about climate change
being our next moonshot. Okay? There are so many people who think about climate
change that says, “It’s a global problem. It’s so difficult. How are we going to do it?” Well, the fact of the matter is, we didn’t
know how to go to the moon, either. And that didn’t hold us back. I see no reason why we should be held back
on the climate change issue. Dr Maria Zuber: As we think about the role
of space today, I want to raise the issue to you that space is going to be an important
aspect of us getting a grip on the climate problem. All of you, I ask you to think in the back
of your mind, about how you’re going to kind of contribute to this, because it’s going
to take all the smart people to go it. Let me tell you, I think we can get it done. I’ll turn it over now to Joi. Joi Ito: Yeah. I’m not the space expert, but I’ve been thinking
a lot about what it was like 50 years ago. So, 50 years ago, there were hundreds of police
and students on these streets protesting the Vietnam war. ’67 was the summer of over 500 race riots,
the Detroit riots. It was also the summer of love. It was a really interesting moment, where
you have JFK, and then after that, Lyndon Johnson, who brings both parties together
to attack both this moonshot, but also really going after all the problems that we had,
that are, in really weird ways, very similar to the divided nation, divided world, that
we have right now. The wars, and things like that. Joi Ito: There’s this really interesting historical
symmetry that we have, but our problems are different. Right? Our problems are now climate and the earth. And like Maria said, I was just at this conference
where people were just talking and talking and talking about climate. But it was clear that no one had the solution,
and, as Maria said, I mean, no one really knows how we’re going to figure this out. It was clear that something had to be a scientific
break through. I think that’s one essential piece. Joi Ito: I think the other thing, when I think
about … my first company I worked at, was called Energy Conversion Devices, where we
developed the first nickel-metal hybrid battery, the first Amorphous solar cell. The company is bankrupt, right? It’s gone. And most of the people who worked on energy,
50 years ago- so, we actually had a thing that our CEO drew in 1950, that showed the
hydrogen economy. Showed photons, batteries, hydrogen. And the problem is, I ended up getting what
I call “energy fatigue,” because I was on the board of this company until it was basically
wiped out in the nineties. Joi Ito: I think a lot of people who work
in energy, we were talking about this 50 years ago. It’s not a new problem. I think one of the things is, I don’t want
to be ageist, but the professors in this field, the people who have been fighting the energy
wars, they’re all kind of pooped out. I think one of the other important things
about celebrating the 50th anniversary, and then thinking forward, is we need a kick in
the pants. Right? I think that the people who used to care about
advance nuclear, about solar energy, it’s gotten kind of old. I think it needs a new generation to come
in. Joi Ito: I think part of the other thing about
thinking about the next moonshot, is, how do we bring a new generation of people into
this conversation? And then how do we reframe it? Because it was about putting a man on the
moon, and now I think we really need to think about this in a much more pluralistic way,
in thinking about all of the diversity, and thinking about earth. I do want to take this as an opportunity to
kind of reset our energy, restack our boosters, and take off for the next phase, because this
time, I think if we screw up, it’s not just half the astronauts that are going to die. It’s half of us are going to die too. Joi Ito: I don’t want to end on a non-cheery
note, but I think that all of our lives are at stake. Dr Maria Zuber: We can do this. Joi Ito: We can do this. Dr Maria Zuber: Okay. Joi Ito: Yes. Dr Maria Zuber: All right. Ariel Ekblaw: Thank you so much, Joi and Maria,
to have kicked off the day for us. Our next speaker is going to be Steven Rothstein. He’s the Executive Director of the JFK Presidential
Library, and has these troves of both historical and modern impact from the JFK legacy. Ariel Ekblaw: He is on his way here, and stuck
in traffic in the tunnel, so I’m going to talk to you for about two to three minutes,
and what I thought we would do is just maybe field some questions from the audience about
what is MIT up to, what is MIT Media Lab up to in the context of space, give you a quick
overview of the space exploration initiative here at the Media Lab. Ariel Ekblaw: We are trying, with the incredible
advisors like Dava Numan from MIT Aero/Astro. Cady Colman, from NASA, retired NASA astronaut
that you’ll meet later. Maria Zuber and Joi, to build the artifacts
of our sci-fi space future. If you think about the things that you see
in Star Trek or Star Wars, we have this incredible moment here at MIT, to begin building those
really rigorously, and flesh out what human life could look like in interplanetary civilization. Ariel Ekblaw: Some people would say this sounds
very far out. Why is this important when there are so many
other critical, more existential threats to humanity? And something that Joi told us last year really
has stuck with me. One of the reasons, among many, that we go
and explore space, is it helps expand our circles of awareness. Ariel Ekblaw: There’s a fantastic quote from
Bill Anders, from the Apollo 8 mission. When he was describing being on the way to
the moon, they were on a mission for the purpose of exploring that celestial body. He looked back, saw the earth, that classic
photo of the earth rise, when we see the earth from space, and said something along the lines
of, “We came all this way to discover the moon, and what we really discovered was the
earth.” There’s a certain impressive ability, and
a certain need, to be able to get that kind of perspective, when you’ve left the earth
and can look back, and see how beautiful and fragile it is, which I think some of our director’s
fellows spoke really beautifully to earlier in the day, as well. That need for perspective. Ariel Ekblaw: If you’re more on the practical
side, and you don’t want to hear about philosophy of why we care about expanding perspectives,
there’s a lot to be gained from the rigors of space, and how we then design for artifacts
that are useful for a much broader swath of the population here on earth. I assume many of you know about NASA spinoffs. Can anybody name one of the many, many NASA
spinoffs that came out of the space race, and came out of modern space work from NASA,
but is now really broadly used? Dava, I know you had a couple. Ariel Ekblaw: Sorry, Velcro. Yep, Velcro. Say it a little louder. Computers. So, MIT is very proud to have worked on the
Guidance Computer for Apollo 11. Not all of computing came out of the space
race, but yes, a really large chunk of rigorous prototyping for computing did. Memory foam, that’s another famous one, yep. LASIK, I recently learned, that some of the
precision docking movements, and damping of movements that are required for really strong
and precise docking in a space context, have been used for controlling the surgical movements
in laser eye surgery. In LASIK. Ariel Ekblaw: And now we’re thrilled, we have
Steven Rothstein, who’s absolutely a champ, walking in behind you as we speak. Give you a moment to catch your breath. Enjoy yourself as you take your way to the
podium. Any final thoughts or questions about some
of what I just shared? Any other NASA spinoffs that people can think
of? What do you say, [inaudible 00:12:03]? Say again? Speaker 4: Should be working. Speaker 5: As a kid, I know in school, a lot
of the kids talk about being astronauts, but they don’t know how to become an astronaut. So I’ve been thinking, how will we be able
to teach the Mars generation how to become astronauts? Ariel Ekblaw: I think that’s a fantastic question. You should be part of that answer. I think all of the creative people in the
room can have some contribution to what is it going to take for a different astronaut
experience on Mars, and that’s a great question for Cady Coleman, who’s going to be up here
later. And without further adieu, I’d like to welcome
the Executive Director of the JFK Presidential Library, Steven Rothstein, up to the stage. Steven Rothstei: Thank you so much. Thank you so much, and I’m sorry I was a few
minutes late. I was at another event, I truly apologize. But this is a very special day, it’s a very
special year, and there is, literally MIT is with us at the start, at the center of
it at the beginning, and it is today. It’s really a pleasure, and some of your speakers
that you’ll hear from in a few minutes, we are honored to have speak at the Kennedy Library
last month. Steven Rothstei: What I want to do, though,
is start with a very briefly, go back to President Kennedy. When he spoke at Rice University on September
12th, and so if we could cue the Rice speech, and we’ll listen to just a short segment of
that, for a minute. John F. Kennedy: But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest
mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? John F. Kennedy: We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade
and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because
that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because
that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone,
and one we intend to win, and the others, too. John F. Kennedy: we shall send to the moon,
240 000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet
tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not
yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have
ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch,
carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and
survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely
to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25 000 miles per hour, causing heat
about half that of the temperature of the sun, almost as hot as it is here today. And do all this, and do it right, and do it
first before this decade is out, then we must be bold. Steven Rothstei: It’s always a hard act to
follow President Kennedy’s remarks, but just to put it in context. There are 80% of the people alive today, including
most of you, who were born after the Kennedy administration. So when John Kennedy said that speech, the
word “computer software” had not been invented. There was no such thing as software. That no college, not a single college, had
Computer Science as a Major. Some of the alloys needed for that capsule
had not yet been invented. Steven Rothstei: There was no one in government,
or private sector, who, not just said, “We could get to the moon,” but showed President
Kennedy that there was a plan. In fact, the only capsule that had been up,
was Alan Shepard’s, which, the capsule actually, if you want to come to the library, you can
see it, it’s there, had been up for 15 minutes. He was talking about going a quarter of a
million miles away. It was the literal moonshot, when you think
about that. Steven Rothstei: Not just was it technologically
challenging, but financially. When NASA started in 1958, the first few years,
when John Kennedy was first inaugurated, it was a hundred million dollar agency. Small, by federal standards. The first 17 people that the administration
interviewed to run NASA, turned it down. It was a do-nothing agency. They didn’t know what the mission was. They weren’t sure where it was going. What about the moon? Would it be manned, or not manned? None of these had been resolved. Steven Rothstei: John Kennedy heard about
this. President Kennedy heard about it. He says, “I’m going to interview. Who’s the next person?” And it was this guy named Webb. So President Kennedy interviewed him, which
was actually very unique for a President to do, kind of a subcapital level at that point. Webb went to Washington, telling his wife,
he says, “I don’t really want to do this, but the President wants to meet, so I have
to go meet.” President Kennedy convinced him. And thank god he did, he did a great job in
terms of that. Steven Rothstei: President Kennedy worked
on the public awareness, in terms of … why do ticker tape parades? To kind of get peoples’ hearts and minds. Why give colleges Computer Science scholarships? Some of the first grants came from NASA, because
he needed computer science people, and let’s do it now, so in four, or six, or eight years,
they’ll be ready. Steven Rothstei: In terms of the money, we
went from a hundred million dollars a year, to billions of dollars a year, and over 400
000 people in NASA, public, private sector, working on this, including some of the folks
at MIT, and some of the folks at Draper, and others that did a great job. Steven Rothstei: So, John Kennedy had a vision,
but what his brilliance was in galvanizing people. Bi-partisan, business and universities. Why is NASA in Houston? Because A, it was a great place, but B, because
there was a right congress person, on the right committee that would have an influence
on dollars, and he wanted to get their support, too, as well as the Vice President. He understood all the tools to make it happen. Steven Rothstei: At the John F. Kennedy Library,
and if you haven’t been there, I encourage you to come, we’re trying to keep that spirit
alive. We had some of your amazing folks that are
here today, we were fortunate that they spoke a month ago, and it’s on our website. The Space Summit. So we’ve had this year, 10 different astronauts
in the course of the year, and highlighting work. Steven Rothstei: We’ve also done educational
work, and things like that, but I’m going to show you another brief video that gives
you one of the things that we’re doing. It’s an augmented reality version of Apollo
11 that I encourage you to join us with. For the other video, please. Speaker 8: Good morning, and welcome to the
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We’re here in Boston, Massachusetts today,
to celebrate a very special event. 50 years ago today, the Apollo 11 mission
was on the launchpad. The Saturn V rocket carrying the first humans
to touch the moon was ready to go. Speaker 9: And it really was about inspiration,
wasn’t it? Speaker 8: It was. Absolutely. Speaker 9: It was about one man’s vision for
what could happen, and then pulling it all together. Speaker 8: John F. Kennedy gave this speech,
and had this idea. It was sort of this thing, this seemingly
impossible task, that we were attempting to accomplish. They didn’t think this was going to work. They didn’t know that this was possible. Speaker 9: And maybe it made other people
think, “Well, if they can do that, what can I do?” Speaker 8: Absolutely. Speaker 9: Right? And maybe that’s what it’s all about. That’s what it was about 50 years ago, and
that’s what it’s about here today. It was a moonshot. Speaker 8: Absolutely. Speaker 9: And today we’re going to do it
again, except through augmented reality. We’ve actually got the full scale length of
the rocket in front of us, and you can play all kinds of different games. We also have a really special guest with us
today. Speaker 8: We’ve got Dr. [phoenetic Loop-oh
00:20:42]. Speaker 9: He is a big deal. Speaker 8: Kind of a big deal, honestly. Speaker 9: Yes. Speaker 8: Yeah. Speaker 9: You said you wanted to be an astronaut
when you were a kid. Speaker 10: My dream job. You know, we all have a, yeah. A lot of people want to be veterinarians,
and doctors, and stuff like that. I wanted to go to space. NASA. Speaker 8: I called you an astronaut. Speaker 10: Let’s do it. Speaker 8: Are you allowed that? Is that okay? Speaker 10: Call me. Speaker 11: It’s a once in a lifetime experience,
and to be able to recreate it? It’s pretty magical. Speaker 9: Let’s do this. Speaker 8: We’re gonna get the countdown. All the phones up in the air. There’s ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five,
four, three, two, one. There it goes. The Saturn V rocket. Speaker 9: [crosstalk 00:21:19]
Speaker 8: Straining against the bound of humanity. This is people coming together. What we can accomplish, whenever we work as
one. Speaker 11: This was amazing. This was beyond what I ever could have expected. To feel it, to see it. It’s just amazing to be here, at the JFK Library. It’s that much more special. Steven Rothstei: So you can download that,
it’s free. JFK Moonshot. But before I sit down, I want to ask all of
you to think about, what is your moonshot? What is your really big idea? We have a site on our website, at JFK Moonshot,
that we’re encouraging people to submit their big ideas. Because we think our country has to come together
again, to think of whatever the next big idea is. Again, thank you for all you’re doing. I look forward to listening from the back. Thank you so much. Ariel Ekblaw: All right. As we prepare to get the stage swapped out
for our panel, I’d like to introduce to you, Dava Newman. She’s the former Deputy Administrator of NASA,
and is the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics here at MIT. A fantastic mentor to the Space Exploration
Initiative, and also my PhD Committee member. One of my mentors. Thank you, Dava, and if you can introduce
the panel. Dava Newman: Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Great to be here, everybody. I’m so glad to be here. Well, it’s about my favorite thing in the
world to do. Talk about Apollo, talking about the moon,
and getting onto Mars, which you’re going to hear a lot from our great panelists. They’re going to come up here, but we have
a great, diverse crowd from you. Ariel Ekblaw: Yeah. Dava Newman: Guys, come up and join me. I’m lonely. I’m Dava Newman, the Apollo Program Professor. I’m from MIT. Alex MacDonald joins us, from NASA. He’s a Chief Advisor, an Economist. We’re going to ask him about what the plans
are, the very current plans, for moon and mars. Dr. Cady Coleman, has previously been introduced. MIT alum. Deployed Chandra x-ray telescope, and a great
friend, and thanks for joining us, Cady. I have lots of questions for her, as well. Dava Newman: And Jesse, I’m so glad to have
you join us. Career at NASA, and in the private sector,
and we’re going to ask her about policy, and anything you want to tell us about. But we’ll start off with Apollo. Can I have this Apollo in real-time? I have my rocket. I have Steven’s rocket in AR, here. I have too many gadgets. If you haven’t been, I think the nice folks
behind us are going to … oh, am I supposed to … [inaudible 00:24:01]. That’s Cady. Alex MacDonald: [inaudible 00:24:03]
Dava Newman: We actually- Jesse: We’ll talk about [inaudible 00:24:05]. Alex MacDonald: Who is now a stamp. Dava Newman: We are going to- she’s on a stamp. Cady Coleman: I am on a stamp. Dava Newman: Oh man, spoiler alert. Spoiler alert. That’s coming up next. So where were you Saturday, July 20th? Jesse: Oh, cool. Dava Newman: Yeah. This is awesome. This is actually 50 years ago to the second,
because this is day nine of Apollo 11. This is day nine. We’ve landed, the crew’s back safe. Going to get all of our moon rocks back. They’re just getting checked out. So all of the science photography, all of
the other photography, and all of the audio realms. Because as people have mentioned, we know
the three astronauts. But what about the 400 000 people that were
behind them, and propped us up? That’s how we do moonshots. Dava Newman: This is ApolloInRealTime.org. I just wanted to give a shout out to the NASA
folks who put this together. It’s all the science, it’s all the photography,
all in one, and in real-time. Which is pretty awesome. We’re going to jump right into our panel,
because I can’t wait to talk to these guys. We’ll have plenty of time for audience questions,
as well, so you guys get your questions ready for us, please. Okay. Jesse, can I start with you? Jesse: Sure. Dava Newman: What do you think is hard about
us getting to the moon next? What do we have to figure out? Jesse: Well, I think that we tend to talk
a lot about the engineering challenges, and of course they are great. But I also like to draw the analogy between
engineering challenges, and sociopolitical challenges. I think that we often don’t give ourselves
enough time to ask questions about how we might design collaborative frameworks to make
sure that we see peaceful uses of space. Persevere into the future, as we send humans
there, but also how we enable cooperative structures that will reflect back to the earth,
and support the climate change and science that we need to see happening here. Jesse: It’s not that the sociopolitical challenges
are more challenging than the engineering, it’s that they’re getting a lot less attention. I think we tend to assume that we can wait
until we’ve solved all the technical stuff, and then we’ll just put an LLC around it,
and call it a day. And I think there’s a lot more to it. Dava Newman: Do you think we have any good
examples? Jesse: Of? Dava Newman: Socio technical models, global
cooperation, that might serve us well? Jesse: Oh, well. Dava Newman: Small steps that we’ve taken,
maybe. Jesse: Yeah. I mean, I think the world is full of a lot
of diverse examples. I think the main thing for us, is looking
at each of the specific projects we undertake as not homogenous and uniform, but as needing
their own specific treatment. So when we look at, for example, early activity
on the moon, I think one of the questions is going to be to look at having a small group
of companies, or governments, who are going there, and what kinds of cooperative frameworks
make sense for small numbers. So, we’re not talking about the entire international
community of actors in that particular case. We might be looking at five or six companies,
and how they’re going to interact. Cady Coleman: It makes me think of lessons
that we learned with the [inaudible 00:27:32] rover, with having virtual reality, where
it used to take a bunch of scientists all over the world, most of their day to decide
what the rover was going to do the next day. Once they established a VR environment where
they were all literally looking at the same rock, instead of going, “Well, don’t you think
that’s going to be too steep?” And, “Oh, it’s so far.” Then everybody is looking at the same thing,
and meetings that took most of the day were 15 minutes every day, leaving those valuable
scientists to actually do science, and not deliberating. Dava Newman: That’s a great example. Cady Coleman: I think it’s interesting what
we can do to get ourselves on one page. Dava Newman: And bring everyone with us, I
think, for all of our missions, because we want to bring all of the public, all of you. We want to bring everyone. Okay, Cady, so I have to ask. Everyone wants to know. Cady Coleman: Uh-oh. Dava Newman: What’s it like up there? Cady Coleman: In [inaudible 00:28:23]? Dava Newman: What’s your favorite part? I know you want to go. What’s your favorite part? Cady Coleman: I mean, it’s been actually really
wonderful, hearing about the anniversary, and living through it. I think I spend most of my waking life trying
to help everybody understand that all of us can achieve the things that we want to do. I feel very lucky to have had this job. I loved it. It killed me to leave it, although I find
that I am busier in the mission of exploration now that I’ve left NASA. That’s not uncommon at NASA, but it’s actually
about the mission. It’s about what all of us are on a mission. Cady Coleman: I love that we’re reliving every
second of Apollo. Because it’s making people realize, “Oh. These were normal people, taking real steps.” Except up there, we do not take steps, and
that would be my favorite thing. Those of you that knew me, any time before
I was 18, know I was never the most coordinated in junior high gym class. And I am space gymnast, now. I won’t actually say I’m the best in the category,
but seriously, I loved living in a place where you fly from place to place. Life is different, and every idea that you
have about, “Well, what if we did it this way?” Is one you never would have had down here. Cady Coleman: I loved flying everywhere. If you look at, on the web, Splitting Hairs
in Gravity is a video that’s out there. It’s a little tiny video that Karen Nyberg
made, because she has really long, blonde hair. You can literally take one off your head,
pull it between your fingers, and use it to push off of something, and fly across the
whole space station. It’s magical, but it gives you ideas about
how life could be different. Dava Newman: And just having you up there,
so a follow up, since we already had the spoiler alert. Cady Coleman: Oh. Dava Newman: Tell us about your new stamp. Cady Coleman: So. Dava Newman: She’s recently come back from
Ireland. Cady Coleman: I tell you this, about the stamp,
and bring it. Maybe we can show it. Steve? Now I want my picture. This just came out last week. It’s a commemorative series of stamps in Ireland. They wanted to feature four people that were
of Irish-American descent. It’s Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins. Eileen Collins, who I flew with when we launched
the Chandra X-ray Observatory 20 years ago, about two days ago. We were up on a short mission, and actually
20 years ago, I was still in space on STS-93, having already launched the Chandra. Dava Newman: Two women. First woman Commander. Cady Coleman: That’s right, yep. First woman Commander. From whom I really learned a lot. But what’s significant to me, the reason I
show everybody this who will look, is that it’s not really about me. It’s about the way the planets aligned, that
the time they decided to do an Irish-American series was with the commemoration of the moon
landing. These stamps are just going to have more of
a life than if they were April Fool’s Day stamps, or whatever. They were really going to have a life. I think many of them are going to be stamped
on the moon landing day. There’s two women, and two men. And three people out of four that are alive. Cady Coleman: It’s not so often that you have
people on stamps that are still living, can speak, and can make you realize that this
could be you. Just the fact that those two faces, it’s not
about the fact that one of them is mine. That a bunch of girls are going to grow up
thinking that they could do anything. It takes art, it takes storytelling, it takes
imagination, and it takes bravery, like you were talking about. People have to treat every task that they
have with what more could they do? What more one step could they do? The people who were making these said, “Let’s
have women,” and, “Let’s have people who are still here, to tell the stories.” Dava Newman: Alex, we’re glad you’re here
too. We also invite men. My dear pleasure to turn it over, and ask
Alex MacDonald some questions. I had the great pleasure to work with him
at NASA Headquarters. Alex MacDonald: It’s true. Dava Newman: As Deputy. Good thing is, he’s there as a civil servant,
doing amazing work, and he’s really the best person we can hear from to talk about the
moon and Mars. The strategy going forward. Apollo 11 inspired us all. I was five years old, but now he has an amazing
job to really, let’s put that strategy in place. A real solid strategy about looking forward
that you’re all, the Mars generation, how you doing? My-
Cady Coleman: [crosstalk 00:32:57] anyone that every time I want to know anything about
this subject, I call Alex. Dava Newman: And is an Economist, I mentioned
before, because not everyone is an Aerospace Engineer, Scientist, or even Policy. So that’s a really important message for everyone,
that we need every single discipline. Alex MacDonald: Very true. Dava Newman: That’s how we get moonshots done. Cady Coleman: Even [crosstalk 00:33:14]. Alex MacDonald: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, that was very kind as an introduction. Thinking about the strategy for getting back
to the moon, and getting onto Mars, I actually can’t think of a better place to start that
conversation than with the anniversary of Apollo. This past week there was this absolutely incredible
event, which was a sound and light fantastic celebration on the Washington, DC mall, where
for the first time, an entire narrative was projected onto the Washington Monument. Half a million people came down, at night,
to DC, to sit on the lawn and watch the story. Not just of Apollo 11, but the story of how
our species emerged out of the caves, the Lascaux cave paintings is actually how they
start that narrative. Alex MacDonald: Then through the invention
of writing, through the discovery of electricity, to the point where we evolve a global technological
civilization, and a nation that can actually muster the efforts of its people to achieve
something that previously had just been myth and legend. Taking ourselves to the celestial object of
the moon. What was so amazing about that event, was
that people just basked in it, and felt so united on that mall. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever
had in Washington, DC. Which may tell you something else about DC,
but. It was just so freeing for everyone who was
there. Alex MacDonald: That was what was so special
about Apollo, and I think actually special about space exploration, in general. It speaks to this deep chord in all of us
to go and explore the unknown, right? And not for profit, right? Not for, necessarily, geopolitical competition,
although that maybe why the funds are provided for his activity by the nation. But that’s not why Cady went to space. Right? You didn’t go to space to compete with people,
you wanted to go and be part of the global civilization that is exploring the cosmos. Cady Coleman: And it never stops. Alex MacDonald: Right. And it never stops. Getting back to the moon is something that
we’re now focused on very seriously, at NASA. The goal is to get American astronauts to
the lunar surface by 2024. It’s been very clearly stated that one of
the core parts of that is going to be having the first woman on the surface of the moon. But we don’t stop at the moon. The goal is to go to the moon to learn what
we need to know about how to operate far from the earth for the periods of time that are
going to be relevant for getting onto Mars. Alex MacDonald: That’s going to mean living
on the moon for at least weeks and months. The kind of minimum amount of time, you can
imagine, living on Mars, and the kind of quickest Mars mission. The longest we were ever on the lunar surface
was about three days. Apollo 11 was less than a day. I think it was 21.5 hours, right? Learning to live for exploration relevant
durations on the moon is going to be hard. I think what’s really exciting is that now
we’re doing it with more international collaboration. We’re doing it with private sector collaboration. And we’re going to be putting all this together
over the course of the next five years to get to the moon, and then over the course
of hopefully not very long after that, putting it together, and getting to Mars. Alex MacDonald: That’s not the only moonshot
we can think of, but I think it is a relevant one. Right? The idea that, once again, we are going to
there to do something incredibly challenging, but that has a real significance. Going to Mars, searching for martian life,
and then returning people safely back to earth. My favorite quote, and I’ll just kind of end
my comment with this, is that Arthur C. Clarke said that, when people see humans standing
on the ridge of the Valles Marineris, a canyon system on Mars that extends the entire length
of the United States of America, then once again, humanity will be destroyed in happiness. I really like that idea. I’d say that’s a good enough reason to go
to Mars by itself. Dava Newman: That’s great. Thank you, all. We have some students, I see in the back,
and we have some people standing up. There’s some chairs right here, so I am going
to break in. I’ll be back. But if you’re standing up, or if you’re students,
I can see you. Feel free to come up in the front. Take a one minute break. Come on up and join us, folks. We have some seats up here. Want to make sure that we have a good, long
45 minutes to keep interacting. Jesse: And we’re going to take questions from
the front, so you might want to be in those seats. Dava Newman: There you go. Come on up here, students. Not quite ready for questions yet, but I’m
just trying to get people moving. There you go. You guys, come on up here. Come join us so we can be intimate. There’s a few chairs, if you’re quick, you
can grab one of the chairs, and then there’s a lot of floor space right up here for you
to come in. Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it. You guys come on, come forward. There’s a lot of carpet space up here. And then we can see you, and we’ll be able
to hear you when you ask questions. Come on, gentlemen. You come up here. Come on, come join me. Jesse: We’re really friendly. Dava Newman: Right in the front. There you go. Right here. Just hang out here. You’re not going to block anyone’s vision
if you just plop yourself down here. There’s chairs, but you can just sit on the
carpet. Yeah. Just sit on the carpet. Jesse: That’s pretty comfortable. Dava Newman: Awesome. Alrighty. Good. Come on in. If you guys want to come on in, come on in. This is your opportunity. Lots more questions. Jesse: It’s more fun this way. Dava Newman: Yeah. Exactly. Great to see you, thanks for joining us. We’re glad you’re here. Okay. Continue. So, all right. I have to ask you a little bit about the technology,
right? Alex MacDonald: Right. Dava Newman: This is MIT. Okay. What are a few of the showstoppers? What do we really need to focus on and invest. We’ve heard President Kennedy’s speech. We didn’t know how to do any of it, as Maria
said, we had to invent [inaudible 00:39:40] launch. We had to have the capsule. We had failure. A major failure. Apollo 1, we lost three crew. That was really tragic, but guess what? Out of failure, we become better. We become a lot better. So we had to get all this technology. Today, we don’t exactly have that capability. We’re working on our technology. So, why don’t you guys talk about your favorite
piece of technology that needs some work, to get us back to the moon and Mars? Alex MacDonald: Yeah, I mean, I think right
now, one of the key pieces is going to be a lunar lander. Right? One of the reasons we think we can get back
to the moon relatively quickly, is that a lot of the pieces are already in development. Right? We have the Orion Spacecraft, which is the
analog to the Apollo Spacecraft. Take the crew out to lunar orbit. We also have a heavy lift launch vehicle under
development. The space launch system. Alex MacDonald: We have the ground infrastructure
already established at Kennedy Space Center. When the [inaudible 00:40:36] program started,
none of that was there. Right? Kennedy Space Center, of course, wasn’t
the Kennedy Space Center yet. We have so much infrastructure to build on,
but we don’t have, until very recently, a lunar lander in development. The equivalent of the lunar excursion module,
the [inaudible 00:40:54]. We’ve now just come out with our very first
solicitations to start industry building these lunar landers. So, we’re really on the way already. Dava Newman: Great. Cady, do you have one? Cady Coleman: I think about the human systems
in terms of the bathroom. I mean, some of you laughed. People say, “Well, how come you haven’t gone
to Mars yet?” And I haven’t been in a space station for
a few years, but when I was there, the bathroom and the system that recycled the air, and
recycled the water, and Alex, you can tell me if they’re doing a lot better, but they
break more than once a month, one of them. That’s not ready for Mars. And it’s not because people didn’t design
them with enough heart or thought, it’s because it’s a really different environment in micro
gravity. We’re learning lessons, and we’re learning
how to do those things. Cady Coleman: What excites me about solving
those problems, is that if we have them solved to go and be living on the moon, and then
going onto Mars, it means that we have actually solved a number of really compelling and valuable
earth problems. Recycling air, recycling water, learning how
to grow food in places that it’s hard to do that, and enough fluid physics to have a bathroom
that really works? Those are paramount problems and challenges
down here on earth, so that’s exciting to me. Dava Newman: And Jesse, [inaudible 00:42:16]
to know. You have a bit of a background in Computer
Science, as well. How does that fit in all to this, to our future
plans? Jesse: Well, I mean, actually I was going
to riff off of what Cady was saying. Dava Newman: Sure, go ahead. Jesse: Because there’s a really kind of iconic
challenge that we haven’t even tried yet, which is mammalian reproduction in space. We don’t even know if humans can gestate another
human being in space. That hasn’t happened with rats, it hasn’t
happened, that I know of. Cady Coleman: And the radiation challenges. Dava Newman: Right. Cady Coleman: Right? Dava Newman: Radiation [crosstalk 00:42:50]
space [crosstalk 00:42:50] radiation. Potential [crosstalk 00:42:51] showstopper. Jesse: To talk about the core challenges that
we’re facing, I think that’s a really big one. And then of course the challenge of, what’s
called in the space world, ISRU. In situ resource utilization. So, how do we live off the land, when we go
to the moon and Mars? That’s something that we have a lot of ideas
about, but the science isn’t quite there for us to know exactly where to look, or exactly
how to build the mining equipment that we might need. So there’s a lot of details. There’s a lot of questions that we need to
answer, and that takes time and iteration. Cady Coleman: And I think that there’s things
that, in terms of 3D printing. We’re thinking about, what do we need to really
bring to the moon? And what could we build there? Jesse: Yeah. Cady Coleman: Given what we find there. I think somebody like me, that learned about
3D printing when they were 50, is able to have a certain number of ideas, but you, who
grow up thinking it’s normal to think, “I’d like to have this. I think I’ll make it.” That’s why the game, the sort of playing board,
is going to be very different, is that, I think Joi Ito and I had this discussion about
synthetic biology. We needed to teach kids about this, because
we have ingrained ideas, that first you have to do this, and probably this is hard, and
you don’t have those ideas. That’s actually how we’re going to get there. Dava Newman: We have a lot of basalt on the
moon and Mars, so you have to make your maker. This is literally the transformer. So the challenge to the students is, make
the maker bot for the moon, and for Mars. Right? Can’t bring it all with us. That’s a big ask, but I’m sure we have enough
smarts in this room to do that. Alex MacDonald: But it’s also important to
remember that, for the first missions, we may bring everything with us. Cady Coleman: We may what? Dava Newman: To the moon, especially. Alex MacDonald: Exactly. Dava Newman: When we get to Mars, you have
to be completely autonomous. Alex MacDonald: We may bring everything with
us. Right? We didn’t make things on the moon in Apollo. I think the first applications for things
like 3D printing is going to be in sparing for different pieces, for the deep space transport
that goes out to Mars. You can make a real mass difference, and limiting
your amount of mass going to Mars is vitally important to keeping the cost down, to keeping
that propellant down. But things are going to break, just like Cady
was saying. Alex MacDonald: That means you got to repair
them. That means you got to have spares, and if
you have to keep spares for two to three years of a mission, then that eats up a lot of mass. That’s where I think, actually we’re not that
far, in terms of current 3D printing capabilities, to think about that sparing philosophy. That’s a really challenging project in itself,
to do the statistical analysis to figure out when something is going to break. What can you afford to have less spares of? A lot of that analytical work is still yet
to be done. Dava Newman: It’s been happening. It’s been happening, and right now I can give
a shout out to March 2020. In one year, we’re launching the next big
rover, to Jesse’s point about ISRU, in situ resource utilization. We’re going to make oxygen on Mars. First planet we’re ever going to make oxygen
for the first time, and that’s the MIT MOXIE experiment that’s already all buttoned up,
delivered to JPL, and it goes next year, as a mission. It’ll arrive in 2021, because it takes us
eight months to get there. Dava Newman: I’m going to ask a few more questions. You guys getting your questions ready, but
I’m going to switch a little bit. I love the name of our panel: To The Moon
To Stay. Yes, we’re going to stay. We can talk about that. But most importantly, from the moon with love. With love, for humanity. I’m going to turn it back over to Jesse and
see, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the emotional, the personal
connection from all of exploration. We might also- and reflecting, the moonshot
reflecting back on the earth. Jesse: Interesting. Well, I think going off of your comment about
Mars, actually. I was just thinking we often hold the moon
and Mars as kind of either-or. In the space community, often there’s “the
moon people” and “the Mars people” and where do we go first, and who’s right? The same, I think, sort of dichotomy exists
between the earth and the moon, especially these days, as we become more aware of the
urgency of climate change, and of fixing the problems that we have here. They’re not just climate change problems,
they’re also political problems, there are problems of scale, and coordination on earth. Jesse: When I think about … it’s a little
bit of a riff on your question, but the kind of, the meaning of space, and it’s also, I
mean, you talked to this as well. I think this kind of playing them off of each
other, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s not an either-or choice. And somehow I think that space often gets
described as something that is an either-or choice, when we don’t talk about other forms
of advanced science, and intellectual exploration as an either-or. If I think about biology, or chemistry, it’s
not that we would choose to either solve or problems on earth or do material science. We would do both, and we would sort of naturally
say, “Well, of course the material science will probably inform solutions to our problems
on earth.” Jesse: But we often, somehow I think, maybe
because space is territorial? Space is a physical place, so it’s easy to
think about it as either going, or not going. I really, I’m interested in ways of thinking
about space that don’t make it an other. That don’t treat it as some other place, but
that relate it back to the earth as a more unified system. Dava Newman: Cady, what do you think, to the
human aspects and elements of it? Cady Coleman: I’ve been interested … say
that again? Dava Newman: The human, yeah. Talk about the human [inaudible 00:48:48]
President Kennedy’s speech, right? I don’t know, but I almost cry every time. I mean, to me-
Jesse: Such a great speech. Dava Newman: -that’s again, it brings out
the best in people. It’s incredibly emotional, you know? I don’t think we have to have hard skins,
and think about, this can really move us. Cady Coleman: There’s something, and I’m looking
at our friend from the JFK Library, in that speech, when he says, “We choose to do these
things not because they’re easy, because they’re hard. We’re going to accept these challenges, we’re
unwilling to fail,” and there’s a line after there, I can’t quite remember, but it’s basically,
“And hopefully these things will be the basis of collaboration between nations.” I see that as, that’s what we’re doing right
now. Cady Coleman: It’s interesting that you talked
about space in this physical way. I’ve been answering some questions lately
about, you know, everybody thinks about the next 50 years, and things like that. What will be humanity’s greatest achievement,
and those kinds of things. I realized that, to me, if my fist is the
earth, we thought that here is the earth, and then that’s space, and it’s a place that
other people go. But now we’ve figured out how to go there,
and as someone who’s been there, I realized that it’s a continuum. It’s always been part of who we are, and how
far out you go, whether it’s to the moon, or to Mars, or the edges of the universe,
or whether you’re a Chandra scientist, studying black holes very far away. It’s all our neighborhood. It’s all the place that we live. It’s the continuum. Cady Coleman: One of the ways, I think, to
share that, is modern communication, and better and better video, and storytelling, and ways
to share in your- where’s Ariel? Her last panel from the Media Lab, one of
our astronauts came, and we don’t get to hear each other talk very much. It was Tony Antonelli. He said something that very much surprised
me. He said, “We have done all of you a huge injustice,
and that is that, we talk about the view from what it’s like, but we have not communicated
what it feels like to have that view.” Here’s a pretty straight ahead, engineer kind
of guy. I really was impressed by that. I think we have to work at ways to do that,
and your VR way to experience Apollo, what you talked about on the mall, I’ve heard about
from others. Jesse: Right. Cady Coleman: I mean, we have the tools. We just have to point them in the right direction. Dava Newman: Motions, the love [crosstalk
00:51:12]- Cady Coleman: To get out there. Dava Newman: Exactly. I love Mike Massimino says this as well, and
it’s a true story. It’s in his book. He looked after Apollo, maybe it was in the
Hubble Space [inaudible 00:51:20]. He looked, and it was too beautiful, he turned
away with a tear in his eye. That’s how emotional, that’s how beautiful,
and he said, “Wait a minute, now wake up. I got to look.” But that’s how all encompassing it can be. We call that the overview effect. Alex MacDonald: Yeah. Dava Newman: [inaudible 00:51:36] chime in? Alex MacDonald: It makes me think of a couple
things. One is, in addition to the event on the mall,
there was an event at the Kennedy Center, that the National Symphony Orchestra put on. You want to talk about coming back from the
moon with love, the most amazing moment for that night for me, was a song sung by Neil
Armstrong’s son, and granddaughter. Dava Newman: Wow. Alex MacDonald: Called Flight of Fancy, that
they had written. It was not about their father and grandfather
going to the moon. It was about the love that they saw in his
heart when he flew gliders, of just being free, in an engineless plane, soaring, catching
thermals. It just filled the Kennedy Center with just,
one of the most wonderful feelings. It reminds me of Buzz Aldrin’s statement,
which was that, essentially once he got there, it was like, man, they should have sent a
poet. Right? Because he didn’t feel adequate to describing
the sense of emotion that just overwhelmed him. Of course he’s done actually an incredible
job, subsequently, to explain to humanity why it was so important. Alex MacDonald: Of course we think of another
astronaut, Alan Bean, who of course was so moved by this experience, he became a painter. Right? What I think is so amazing, is that something
inside us kind of gets transformed by these otherworldly experiences, and what’s exciting
about the future is, I think more people than ever are going to have that opportunity. I’m really excited to see what’s going to
happen to humanity, as more and more and more people start to have that personal transformation
through exploration and travel into the cosmos. Dava Newman: Transform, hopefully, our mind,
our hearts, and that hopefully goes a little bit full circle in this discussion. Maria and Joi were here, and again, back to
earth. For sure, a moonshot. Multiple. Getting out, but all of our exploration, I’d
say, always teaches us more about ourselves. Ourselves, on spaceship earth. We’re all astronauts. If you don’t know how to be an astronaut,
we’re all astronauts, I’m here to tell you, because we’re going pretty fast around our
sun right now. We’re all having this amazing journey, we’re
all astronauts, and then again, what’s your passion? What’s your big moonshot, was put out before? Mine’s getting people to Mars, and trying
to save the planet. That’s worthy of some time. Do you guys want to say yours, quick? A moonshot you want to throw out there, and
then I’m going to turn to the audience next. Jesse: I think mine goes back to the first
comment I made, about finding new ways to coordinate groups of people. Give them more of a voice in the systems that
they live in. Cady Coleman: I’m actually about the boring
next steps. I think that it kind of goes back to what
Jesse said, about each of us having something that we can do. I think that if you left with anything, and
other folks might have suggestions after we do moonshots, but, what is the thing that
you can do that can change the way other people think about their abilities? Their ability to contribute, or the solving
of a problem right then? Cady Coleman: For me, I mean, I happen to
have a high presence, just because of the job that I have. Doing a PBS thing, where they end up asking
me for a comment about all the different kinds of people who made Apollo happen, and I start
talking about Katherine Johnson, the mathematician, and Margaret Hamilton, the woman who coined
the word “software engineering” and on and on. They said, “Well, you know, we’ll be showing
Apollo footage in back of you.” I said, “Let’s show Margaret and Katherine.” And they’re like, “Well, we have to have-
do you have photos?” I go, “I have photos.” They go, “We could have this afternoon in
good resolution?” I go, “Absolutely.” It’s like this little next step where, instead
of having me on some show, why don’t you have me and five little girls that don’t look like
me? Cady Coleman: It’s having the bravery to ask
people to do hard things for a cause that’s bigger than all of you. I urge you to think about, what are the things
that you can sort of speak up about, and make happen? Because that is how the moonshots that we’re
talking about will be achieved, and to end, my moonshot usually has to do with, if we’ve
done all these amazing things in space, I’m really excited about what it means for people,
and their health, and their ability to be inclusive of one another down here on earth. If we don’t have inclusive teams, we’re not
going to do any of the things that Alex talked about. None of them. Alex MacDonald: Yeah, I mean, as a bureaucrat
in Washington, DC, I’m not sure I’m allowed to have dreams. Cady Coleman: Dream away. Jesse: You are not a bureaucrat. Alex MacDonald: In all seriousness, and one
of the reasons I work at NASA is that it is a dream to see NASA still fulfill the role
of inspiration, and discovery, and exploration, 50 and 100 years in the future, just like
it does today. If it can do that, if NASA can be an institute,
it’s only 60 years old. Right? 61 years old this year. What happens if NASA’s institution that is
350 years old? Right? What will that have meant for us, and how
will NASA’s existence as a symbol and institution continuing to progress at the frontiers of
science, technology, and exploration? That is a dream. We are not guaranteed that. That’s really important to remember. Alex MacDonald: We have NASA because the people
of this country pay their taxes, and they want some of those taxes to go to technological
investments in the nation. That was not a thing that existed, prior to
these kind of Kennedy like moments. Of course it emerges from the Eisenhower administration,
but it reaches the scale of social impact under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. It really is actually a dream to see NASA,
for all of us continue to be a global leading organization that stands for science and technology,
and international collaboration. Dava Newman: Excellent. What’s on your minds? We’re opening it up to you all. Please tell us who you are. Throw, we have this nice Media Lab square
microphone that we throw, and it- soft. Alex MacDonald: [inaudible 00:58:20]
Dava Newman: Go ahead. Julien: Hi, how does this work? Dava Newman: Just like that. Julien: Oh, okay. I see how it works. Dava Newman: Awesome. Julien: My name is Julien. I’m a rising sophomore here at MIT, and my
question kind of concerns private space companies. Like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin. It seems to me that a lot of these companies
are synonymous with billionaires that kind of are behind them, whether it’s like Elon
Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos. My question is, is there a fear that space
will similarly cater to the ultra rich? How do we address, how do we make sure now,
that space development doesn’t end up reinforcing the same inequalities that we see here on
earth? Dava Newman: Great question, Julien. Who wants to take it? Alex MacDonald: I mean, how long do we have
to talk about that? Dava Newman: Yeah. Alex MacDonald: That is one of the really
important questions that I think we have to think through as a society. I’ve spent a lot of my time researching the
economic history of space exploration. When you look, for example, at the large observatories,
for example, the Harvard College Observatory that actually had the largest telescope in
the world in the 19th century. Who funded it? Well, it was wealthy individuals, but they
funded it collectively, and the idea was that you could publicly use that telescope. That changes by the late 19th century, early
20th century, when it becomes kind of individual, what we would now call billionaires, funding
these telescopes. Alex MacDonald: NASA, of course, is not like
that. It is a public institution, right? As a result, it is … I often think about
who the stakeholders are of NASA. People will often try to use business logic
to think about how to manage NASA. Well, the reality is, the stakeholders are
all the representatives in congress. Right? Your representatives. That is a very unique function in the world. That is not how the Chinese space program
is organized. There is not that kind of democratic mechanism
for insuring that NASA funds programs, and runs them in manners that are commensurate
with society’s desires. Alex MacDonald: What I’ll say about the specific
billionaire element of the current programs is that, frankly, to achieve these goals,
we need whatever resources we can get. Dava Newman: It’s expensive. Alex MacDonald: We can either increase the
amount of money that we pay for space exploration through our taxes, if we want to achieve these
large goals, or we can partner with private entities. To this day still, though, SpaceX’s primary
source of funding is NASA. That’s the reality of where we are. At the same time, we want to see a flourishing
of private capabilities. As I’ve said before, this is the balancing
challenge. How do we ensure that our space exploration
programs both serve public ends, if public dollars are being used to support them, while
also allowing individuals to explore, and spend their funding in ways that are commensurate
with individual liberty? This balancing problem is not a new balancing
problem. It is the balancing problem of all of society
and social life. Yeah. Jesse: Just to play with that, a little bit. It is a balancing problem, but I think your
observation is also appropriate in the sense that, the balance of actors is certainly changing
pretty significantly today. Alex MacDonald: Yep.
Jesse: That has a lot of implications for who might be out there, taking various kinds
of first steps in the next decade or two. It’s not just that they’re not governments,
but there also might be a lot more of them. It might be that there are more and smaller
actors. It is also the case that the billionaires
can probably build infrastructure, or sort of set the stage in ways that small actors
can’t. Jesse: All of a sudden the systematic dynamics
are a lot more complex, so I think a lot of people are asking the question that you’re
asking, and I certainly don’t have the answer, but some thoughts and some kind of conversations
that I think are happening in the industry right now, are that, what we see are folks
referring back to something called the Outer Space Treaty, which is a very lovely treaty. It’s only about five pages. I highly recommend reading it. It is sort of the defining and singular framework
that we have in the international community for governing activities in space, and it’s
not very specific. Jesse: In terms of what we can do now, I think,
is looking at how we can flesh out the open questions that the Outer Space Treaty leaves
open, and ask how we can actually get to the specifics of regulating and governing ourselves
in space, when and if governments are not necessarily the only, or the dominant, actors
there. Cady Coleman: I was going to say that Alex
mentioned that we kind of need everything, and I’m a glass half full person. Some of these billionaires that fly on [inaudible
01:03:40] and come to the space station. In my experience, and there’s been about a
dozen, something in that number, in my experience, every single one of them comes back here,
and tries to see what they can do with that experience to spread it around. Then with these private companies, it’s really
pretty wonderful to have this kind of diversity. Cady Coleman: When I was in at NASA, I was
in charge of supply ships for the astronaut office. I would tell people, “You know, those SpaceX
folks, sometimes they make a decision, and they don’t even have a meeting.” I mean, we have a lot of meetings at NASA,
and it’s very inspirational to us, to be able to do things in a more direct way, to kind
of go, hmm, maybe we’ll try some of that. I think they learn some things from us, but
more importantly, they can take risks with hardware that we can’t take. Alex MacDonald: Absolutely. Cady Coleman: We have some big thing happen
on the pad, there’s going to be an investigation, things are going to stop, people are going
to question, “Oh, should we be taking those risks? What if we fail?” And all those things, right? They can take bigger risks, and when they
leap ahead, they bring us with them. In every person that I’ve encountered in this
business, even if they’re talking about, you know, there’s some profit to be had to acquire
funding, they really all seem to be about a common mission of humanity leaving the planet. Maybe from different points of view. Dava Newman: Great. Thanks. Jesse: Actually, can I- I thought of one other
thing to say. Dava Newman: Sure. Throw it in, and then just toss the ball around. Jesse: Great. Dava Newman: Back to the hand in the bag,
real quick. Jesse: Just a quick one, but I think it’s
a bit tautological perhaps, but I think sometimes what we see as a narrative that this future
will be for the billionaires, and therefore people decide not to engage in the topic of
what should the future look like. In a way, I think the answer is, by participating
in the conversation, we will see a much wider diversity of perspectives. Dava Newman: That’s right. Jesse: And those billionaires will build off
of that. Dava Newman: Yeah. So great perspectives on that. So the democratization of space is here. It’s real, and so depending what part of space
you look at, because we’ve been talking about human space, which is really expensive, and
hard, and getting heavy to lift. But guess what? All the communications on your phone that
you’re dealing with, and so democratization, every country is in space, back to the treaty. Dava Newman: Go to the UN if you’re not familiar
with the treaty, it’s the United Nations committee on the peaceful uses of outer space, and Daniel,
what is today? 85 countries? 100. 20. 92, we have 92 countries who are part of that. That’s 92 countries. It’s not that you have to be a space faring
nation. Not everyone. Today, you could build a CubeSat, you are
a space ready nation. This democratization is real, it’s happening. It’s fantastic, because it makes it very tangible
and puts it right in your hand. It’s great to see 92 nations saying, “We’re
in.” Dava Newman: I think the- somebody have the
beanie back there? Oh, great. Chloe: Hi. I’m Chloe, and I’m going to be a sophomore
in high school. In terms of space exploration, what do you
think has been our greatest failure, and what can we learn from it? Dava Newman: Okay, you guys can think. I’ll start. That’s a great question, Chloe, thanks. When I was at NASA, I gave an award for failure,
because people run away with this t-shirt that says “Failure’s Not An Option.” That was great for Apollo 13, it was really
important, but it’s become kind of risk adverse. I wanted to make sure and say, “No, no.” We do our best, actually, we fail, fail, fail,
and then we get it right. I know about lots of failure. Engineer, I fail all the time. But again, the failing, in order to learn
something. Dava Newman: I’ll just keep it- you guys have
your favorite failure? The most important one? They’re not my favorite at all, the shuttle
accidents. The Challenger accident, and the Colombia
accent were really, I guess, important. People sacrificed, astronauts sacrificed their
lives. The loss of life on those missions is almost
unthinkable, but they did it for us. I think the end result of those failures,
we can’t make a perfect aircraft. We can’t make a perfect space shuttle. So, we do our best, but when they sacrifice,
to me, that’s the ultimate sacrifice, when we have our astronauts that have lost their
lives. I wake up every day and say, “Guess what? I have to do better. I have a better engineering solution,” because
you’re trying to always do better. Those are failures that have been pretty critical
in NASA space program. Cady Coleman: Not going to the trouble to
tell all the stories. It takes so many creative ideas to solve the
challenges that we have today, and to look a little harder. I mean, take more pictures. Take pictures of each other as you’re in school,
and you’re solving problems, and always show the team, and value the people on the team. It wasn’t that, you know, I think about the
Hidden Figures movie. I say Katherine Johnson was a woman of color
in almost every scene in the movie wearing a dress of color. In a picture that shows her in a sea of white
guys wearing white shirts and black ties, there’s really nothing hidden about her. You can’t miss her. Right? But we did. Cady Coleman: I like to look forward from
that, and just say that, in every picture that you can take, whether it is Alex and
ten people that look like him, there’s somebody in that picture that feels … everyone in
that picture feels like there’s something about them that people don’t know. Something that they have to bring to the table,
it’s hard for them to bring to the table, or they don’t quite believe, or they don’t
know. It’s not just about color, or race, or gender. It’s about what’s inside you. I don’t think we’re very good at telling those
stories, and it takes going to the trouble to do so. Dava Newman: Do you guys want to comment? You don’t have to. Jesse: Yeah. Alex MacDonald: Please. Jesse: The thing that came to mind for me,
something around our failure. Actually, I’m going to step back, and say,
similarly, failure is hard, because I think there’s two ways of defining failure. There’s something that you don’t do correctly,
and then there’s something that you maybe failed to learn from. I think that’s a deeper kind of failure, or
maybe a more interesting one to inspect. I, as a post-Apollo generation person, I think
I feel a failure of humanity to build off of the Apollo program, and to keep some continuity
happening. Jesse: We almost don’t know how to go back
to the moon. We don’t have the same technology we had during
the Apollo program. We don’t have the same capability. Sorry, we have the same technology, but not
the same ability. I think that’s a huge loss. If we could have, even incrementally, kept
building off of what we did in the Apollo program, I think we’d be in a really different
place today. Alex MacDonald: I agree with all of this,
and I’ll just add one more, which is, I think there’s a kind of failure to be patient. Jesse: Oh. Alex MacDonald: Which is very common-
Jesse: It’s almost the opposite of what I was saying. Alex MacDonald: Well, right, but, you know,
in classic fashion, both can be true- Jesse: Yes. Alex MacDonald: -simultaneously. Jesse: Yep. Alex MacDonald: Right? Because I think there’s a lot of folks who
get very frustrated, that we don’t already have the moon base. Right? And yet, the reality of how we got to the
moon is a story that almost begins in the 1630’s, when the first stories about traveling
to the moon, and building machines that could do that, start. That process of getting to the moon, you could
either think of it starting with the Kennedy speech, which is one way to think about it. Or you can think about it as a story that
starts 300 years earlier, and people had to iterate on the idea, and wait for conceptual
knowledge to build, and wait for industrial capabilities to develop, until that dream
could finally be realized. Alex MacDonald: I think that’s true for all
of space exploration. The story of space exploration is not going
to be what happens the next 50 years, or 100 years. It is, in theory, a story that has no end. It is a story that extends out into eternity. If you think about those time scales, it’s
really very challenging to then get frustrated, and ask a change of direction of a 21 billion
dollar agency, because something didn’t happen within a particular timeframe. Yes. Jesse: Because actually-
Alex MacDonald: Encouraging patience. Jesse: -that first, what? 300 years or so, was also mostly through art. Alex MacDonald: Yes, absolutely. Jesse: I mean, it wasn’t the engineering. Alex MacDonald: Yeah. Jesse: It was the visioning, it was the ability
to construct these potentialities of the future. Alex MacDonald: Yep. Dava Newman: And see yourself there. We all have to see ourself there. Jesse: Yeah. And if they hadn’t done that, then the engineers
probably wouldn’t have actually gone and tried to solve the problem when they could. Cady Coleman: Actually, I brag about Dava
all the time, in that, I think the first thing you do when you have a new project, is you
hire a graphic designer. Jesse: Yes, you. Cady Coleman: Look at this amazing artwork
going on there, because that’s the stories, right? Dava Newman: Yay.
Jesse: Yes. Cady Coleman: We’re up here. Alex MacDonald: Absolutely. Dava Newman: Shout out to our graphic illustrator
artist, because those pictures are what will stay for the time. Alex MacDonald: It’s true. Cady Coleman: But if people don’t have a vision,
how do they know that they should be on that team? It’s not always visual, but there’s a spirit,
and that’s where we actually come back to From the Moon, With Love. I think there’s something that happens to
all of us when we gaze at the moon. As somebody who’s been separated from her
family quite a bit, something that comforts us, in a way, is that we all see the same
moon. Dava Newman: Same moon, exactly. From everywhere on earth, right? That’s beautiful. Next question. Joseph: Hi. Hello. Okay. My name is Joseph [phoenetic Jung 01:13:29],
and I run the program called Future Hack. We have 50 students from 14 countries here
today. Dava Newman: Wonderful. Cady Coleman: [inaudible 01:13:36]
Joseph: So, thank you very much. I’d like to ask, in this narrative, this politics
and narrative of more isolation instead of more openness, can you tell us about how space
exploration, and space tourism is going to open so much more opportunities for these
young people? Alex MacDonald: Yeah. Dava Newman: Sure. I can, I’ll start. But you know where I’m going to start? With the fun. I want to know what 14 countries we have here,
so we’re going to do a race of the countries. Okay, we have US, here. Yeah? Shout out? Your students, tell me where you’re from. Shout out your country. Speaker 22: Japan. Dava Newman: Japan. Jesse: Hong Kong, cool. Dava Newman: Hong Kong. You guys, if you hear them, shout them out. Speaker 23: China. Dava Newman: China. Jesse: China. Speaker 24: Nepal. Alex MacDonald: Nepal. Jesse: Nepal. Dava Newman: Nepal. Speaker 25: Germany. Jesse: Germany. Dava Newman: Germany. Speaker 26: Pakistan. Dava Newman: Do we have Pakistan? Speaker 26: Pakistan. Dava Newman: Pakistan. Speaker 27: Canada. Dava Newman: Canada. Speaker 28: Poland. Dava Newman: Poland. Speaker 29: Hungary. Dava Newman: Hungary. Speaker 30: Turkey. Dava Newman: Turkey. Speaker 31: South Africa. Dava Newman: South Africa. Jesse: Cool. Dava Newman: We’re close to 14, not quite
there. Speaker 32: India. Alex MacDonald: Oh, India? Dava Newman: Do we have Italy back there? Good. So, welcome, welcome to everyone. I love the question. We can talk about it, it really is for everyone. It’s global. I don’t think it’s a space race anymore, in
my opinion, because the world is too connected. Not too connected, but we’re very connected. We know what each other are doing. Dava Newman: In the spirit of love, and doing
things together, why don’t we try the model where we can all work together? You mentioned the rhetoric that’s going on. I say, that conversation is cheap, and easy. It’s easy to say what separates us, but you
know, we’re all humans. We all come from the same place, and if we’re
99.999% the same, then I’m very optimistic. I think we can get this done, and I think
we do it together. Cady Coleman: Or you work on the things that
you have in common, or that you can work on. Like with China, it’s a little bit restricted
in some areas that we can’t talk about, so I like to talk about the ones we can. But maybe Alex will have a more pessimistic
view of that. Alex MacDonald: No, I don’t even want to touch
that subject currently. The optimistic story, I think, is that CubeSat
technology has fundamentally transformed access to space around the world. Back in the day, in the sixties and seventies,
people would develop space capability. Every few years, a new nation would expend
a significant amount of effort, and have their first satellite. Nowadays, we’re literally seeing new countries
every single year, build their first CubeSat. Personally my favorite story that’s going
on right now, is the all girls team in Kyrgyzstan that is building their country’s first satellite. And that-
Dava Newman: And we had the elementary school build their own CubeSat, and send it up. Alex MacDonald: [inaudible 01:16:37]
Dava Newman: So it’s for everybody. Alex MacDonald: Right. Dava Newman: It’s for everybody in this audience,
for sure. Alex MacDonald: Right. And what’s so amazing about that satellite
project, and it’s, again, it’s to build a CubeSat. It’s about this big. It doesn’t do too much more than send a radio
transmission. But the girls who are building that satellite
in Kyrgyzstan, it is creating significant social change, because that is now a narrative
that that country is telling itself about how that country does technology and advancement. That’s just one story, there are dozens like
that. I think that anyone who’s from a country that
has never built their first CubeSat, and you have the ability to go back home? Start an effort to build a CubeSat there. It is one of the greatest ways to actually
democratize space access, because it’s not about just traveling into space. It’s about learning the technologies to actually
be able to take yourself, and your community, into space. Dava Newman: Next up is United Arab Emirates
to Mars. So, country that hasn’t been in space, but
it’s a concerted effort, with everyone working together. Hope is the name of the Mars satellite that
the UAE will launch on a Japanese launcher, and it’s going to succeed, so that’s just
another example. Everyone really is better when we all work
together, and we want to see everyone succeed, so all resources in. Jesse: I also think the commercial world is
kind of an interesting element of this, where this might be a positive introduction, or
contribution from the commercial space in the sense that you have, again, this actors
that can collaborate in ways that nation states often can’t. Whether they’re non-profits, for-profits,
and I think that also means that we’ll see more diversity. So, different kinds of interest, different
kinds of scientific interest. Different approaches to conducting science,
and engineering. It might be that there’s a positive contribution
from that aspect, as well. Dava Newman: Right behind you. Julie: Hi. I’m Julie. I’m a sophomore going into high school. My question is dealing with Mars. What’s your opinion on the habitats that are
going to be building? Because there’s multiple thing that are getting
researched, such as 3D printing habitats using concrete, which is actually called Marsha,
is the name of the project. Then also I know there’s another project that’s
being worked on using biological organisms, and making a biological organism inflatable
habitat thing. I was wondering what your guyses’ opinion
was on that. Alex MacDonald: Yeah. Great question. Dava, I mean, that’s your wheelhouse. Dava Newman: Okay, I can start. You guys help me out. So yes, we need habitats on Mars. It’s my opinion that we don’t take everything
with us, so literally learning how to make construction out of basalt, so it’s kind of
like concrete out of martian regolith. That’s martian dirt. Inflatables, I love inflatables. [inaudible 01:19:41] my partner invented a
lot of space inflatables for the moon, because you can pack them up. It’s origami. Right? We need habitats that are kind of like origami,
so shrink them all up, maybe we can take a little bit of mass with us, and then you get
a big huge area. Dava Newman: You mentioned the biology. Cady before mentioned synthetic biology. We’re going there to search for life. It’s not going to be our life. We’re going there to search for life, but
the people, and all of our rovers and machines, we need places, and actually isolated places,
to live, and keep studying the biology and thinking about that. How are we going to find life? How do we know we’ve found life, organics,
things like that, when we get there. Biology, and synthetic biology, is just a
big picture. That’s the technology going forward. Dava Newman: My favorite little story today
is actually one of my students is looking at borrowing nanotubes. Why? Because they might have radiation protection
for humans. It’s a different way to look at it, rather
than living underground in lava tubes to stay away from the radiation, maybe we can think
about these interesting solutions, habitats, in the suits, all of that kind of stuff that
help keep our astronauts and people alive. Great question. Do you want to work on it? Julie: Not specifically. I want to be an astrophysicist. Alex MacDonald: Nice. Julie: So, working with black holes. Dava Newman: Okay. Julie: Do you [inaudible 01:21:02]
Alex MacDonald: [inaudible 01:21:02] Dava Newman: Yep. Julie: [inaudible 01:21:16] covered, because
they found you could just [inaudible 01:21:16]. Dava Newman: Cool. So you have your own podcast, look at this. Alex MacDonald: It’s awesome. Dava Newman: Astrophysicist. She’s going to us with the Mars habitats. That’s awesome, Julie. Alex MacDonald: That’s great. Yeah, just one thought on that, as well. We don’t quite know exactly what habitats
are going to look like on Mars, how we’re going to build them, but one cool idea is
that, what if the habitat was actually a mobile habitat? So you could actually live in the vehicle
that you actually rove around on Mars. Dava Newman: Yeah. Alex MacDonald: And what would be more American
than having an RV on Mars that you can rove around in? Dava Newman: Or the moon. Alex MacDonald: Or the moon. Jesse: Circumnavigate. Dava Newman: We’re not going there to stand
around, we need to- Jesse: Look around. The panel that you were on last week I think,
with Fred [phoenetic Shar-min 01:21:52]. Alex MacDonald: I think so. Jesse: Fred made a really interesting comment
about the habitats that we saw drawn during the Apollo era, versus the habitats that we
see in renderings from architectural companies and competitions now. Pointed out that, in the past, they were these
giant sort of communal shared spaces, and now if you look at a lot of the renderings,
are these kind of individual pods, with streets in-between them. They’re very separated spaces, so I think
it’s an interesting question. How we design those habitats will have an
impact on the ways that we interact with each other, how easy it is to interact with each
other, to communicate, to make dinner together, to watch a movie together. I think it’s a good question. Dava Newman: We have time for one, two more
questions. Who has the- great. Queue back there. Speaker 20: Hi. I’m [phoenetic Chris-tal 01:22:48], I am from
Poland. I’m one of the guys from Future Hack Con. My question is, do you think that the space
exploration should be more in the hands of governments, or public, or private companies,
and why? Dava Newman: Okay. Let’s all take a quick shot at that. Both, again. We can do both. We’re smart people, so again, public private
partnerships. Definitely think it’s government’s roles,
to invest in science and technology. Exploration. That’s the government role. When I hold the highest for our government
investing in science and technology, why? Because it’s about all of you. That’s education to me. Dava Newman: That’s about that investment
from governments, and private folks, and we’re trying to see if the business case closes. We want private folks to be successful, and
definitely [inaudible 01:23:38] with orbit, for communications, services. These business cases seem to close, so we’re
all in. Yeah. Not either-or. And again, the public, right? It’s government, which is kind of public,
and it’s the private companies, but the public, we need all of you. All the kids in public to tell us what to
do, as well. Jesse: I think that it’s more about seeing
long-term commitments. Which, that can come from government. It doesn’t always come from government in
the way that we want, and political wins, I think, kind of undermine those kinds of
long-term commitment. Whether it’s from the private sector or from
government, I think what we need to see are commitments on a 50 year timescale. An example that was just used in another event
I was at recently, was looking at Alaska. The purchase of Alaska, and the how. Actually, I think this might have been Alex’s
example. So, sorry. I’m stealing. Alex MacDonald: It wasn’t my analogy, but
it was in the same discussion, yeah. Jesse: But it was, you know, the purchase
of Alaska looked like a really bad investment in the typical venture capital return timescale. On that five, or even ten year timescale,
it didn’t return very much value. But on a 50 year timescale, it’s returned
huge value. So how do we create constructs in whatever
mechanism, government or private sector, to have the patience to hold out for that 50
year time scale? Cady Coleman: I’d say all of the above, and
to keep in mind- [inaudible 01:25:06] Pettit, one of our astronauts, would have told me,
I’ve been reading about when we first had railroads crossing the country. People would ask questions like, “Why would
you do this?” Like, “What are you going to do when you get
there? What advantage is there to go there?” And yet now, it’s everywhere, and I think
it’s really normal. We use airplanes and things like that too,
and so, always challenge your imagination. Public private partnerships are hard, and
government operations are hard. They’re all hard, and yet they just take our
imagination to figure out that little way to make things happen. Alex MacDonald: Absolutely. I would agree, all of the above, but also
just to remind us that private doesn’t always just mean corporate. The origins of funding, at a public level
in the US, for astronomy, you could argue that they started with an organization called
the Cincinnati Astronomical Society, which was set up in the 1840’s by a guy named Ormsby
MacKnight Mitchel. He went to the city of Cincinnati, and he
encouraged the people to fund the world’s largest observatory by public subscription. Alex MacDonald: He argued that because America
was a democratic country, and had no kings or queens – the traditional patrons of astronomical
observatories – that the American people would have to fund the telescope themselves. So they formed a private society. It wasn’t the government. It was people by association coming together
to work on a shared outcome, right? They weren’t there to make profit. They were there to create a capability for
the city. They didn’t get the world’s largest telescope,
they only raised enough money for the third largest telescope, which was pretty good for
Cincinnati in the 1840’s. Alex MacDonald: As a result, for a brief period
of time, the citizens of Cincinnati had access to the third largest telescope in the world
that they themselves could use, not to do science. But simply to access the heavens. To use it to look at the wonderful nebula,
to look at the planets. That’s a model that’s neither corporate, nor
is it a federal government. There’s a huge range of ways to organize to
achieve space exploration, and so it’s going to have to be all of the above. Dava Newman: Great. To the moon to stay, and from the moon, with
love. Alex, Cady, Jesse, thank you so much. And thank you to the audience for your great
questions. Cady Coleman: [inaudible 01:27:44]
Ariel Ekblaw: All right, now we are at the end of our afternoon. Thank you so much to all of you for coming
and participating in our small way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon
landing. We hope you’ll stay in touch, we hope to have
a large community of space cadets that join us in a modern conception of Starfleet Academy. Please stay in touch, please reach out, and
enjoy your time in the Media Lab. We’re really happy that we had so many students
coming today, as well. Thanks.

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