Dava Newman at the JFK Space Summit

Dava Newman at the JFK Space Summit

I had the honor of participating in the JFK Space Summit, hosted by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. This day-long symposium celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing and President Kennedy’s vision that launched the effort to get there, as well as current space initiatives and the exciting future of space exploration.

The day began with a warm and inspiring welcome from Ambassador Kennedy. Then there was a keynote address from Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Company Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. He spoke about Boeing’s commercial space vehicle—CST-100 Starliner—which is slated for an uncrewed launch later this summer and its first crewed launch hopefully by the end of the year.

Next, a panel of international astronauts including Chris Cassidy and Tracy Caldwell Dyson (United States); Koichi Wakata (Japan); Paolo Nespoli (Italy); and Oleg Kotov (Russia) captured the audience with their stories. These extraordinary men and women discussed the international cooperation that has been crucial for the numerous scientific technological breakthroughs resulting from human space exploration partnerships.

After lunch, CNN host S.E. Cupp moderated a panel entitled, “Earth, Moon, Planets, and Cosmos: What We Know and What Discoveries Await” that included a revealing keynote talk by Former NASA Earth Science Division Director Michael Freilich. This was followed by an outstanding scientific panel discussion with Maria Zuber, MIT Vice President for Research; Laurie Leshin, President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and Sara Seager, MIT Professor of Planetary Science and Physics.

I was privileged to participate in “NASA from: From the Moon to Mars and Beyond,” which was expertly moderated by Ellen Stofan, Director of the National Air and Space Museum. I was humbled and honored to share the stage with Apollo 11 Lunar Command Module pilot Michael Collins, former NASA administrator Charles Bolden, and former director of the Johnson Space Center Ellen Ochoa—all three former astronauts. We discussed NASA, and in particular the Apollo program’s impact and inspiration on all of us and, most importantly, the world. Plus, we had a lot of fun getting the crew back together again!

The event concluded with an intimate fireside chat between Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy where they discussed his vision of building the necessary space infrastructure for tens of thousands of space travelers and getting back to the moon safely and reliably with reusable spacecraft.

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