On March 29, 2008 in Brookline, Massachusetts, The Planetary Society will launch a series of Town Hall meetings to engage the public in charting a course for human space exploration beyond Earth orbit. This first Town Hall meeting will be hosted by the Clay Center Observatory of the Dexter and Southfield Schools, and is free and open to the public.
Planetary Society Vice-President Bill Nye the Science Guy will conduct the meeting, which will include short presentations followed by public discussion. Planetary Society Board member and scientist, Heidi Hammel, will provide an overview of current and planned activities in space exploration; Erika Wagner, an Aerospace Medical Engineer at MIT, will present a “Generation Y” perspective; and Gerry Haas will present a citizen/taxpayer viewpoint. However, the majority of the meeting will be dedicated to audience participation.
“The upcoming change in U.S. Administration is certain to bring many changes and new political priorities,” said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of the Society. “We need to examine the current Vision for Space Exploration to see what it will take to gather greater political support and public interest to carry out the Vision,” he added.
Any possible course must take into account the current Vision for Space Exploration, as manifested in the Constellation program, as well as the growing priority of Earth observation from space, and the teetering balance between science and exploration in NASA. In addition, the once-exclusive club of spacefaring nations is growing, with China, India, and Japan joining the U.S., Europe, and Russia in space capability.
Six weeks ago, The Planetary Society joined with the Stanford University Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics to hold a workshop of space experts, “Examining the Vision: the Balance Between Science and Exploration.” The Town Hall meetings are following up that workshop with opportunities for public discussion. The Society will use the results of these discussions to produce a roadmap for space exploration for the next Administration and Congress. The roadmap will cover robotic missions of exploration, human space flight, international activities, and public interests.
The first town Hall Meeting on Space will be held on Saturday, March 29, 2008, 4:30 pm, at the Clay Center Observatory, Dexter and Southfield Schools, 20 Newton Street, Brookline, MA.
While this event is free, registration on-line is strongly recommended. Seating will be released on a first come, first served basis, with priority given to those who pre-register on-line.