On May 7, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia, The Planetary Society will hold the second in a series of Town Hall meetings to engage the public in charting a course for human space exploration beyond Earth orbit. Bill Nye the Science Guy, the Society's Vice President, will moderate the meeting at Georgia Institute of Technology's LeCraw Auditorium. The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Space Systems at Georgia Tech, and is free and open to the public.
The first Town Hall, held at the Clay Center Observatory of the Dexter and Southfield Schools in Brookline, Massachusetts, attracted hundreds of participants.
The Atlanta Town Hall Meeting will include short presentations by Bill Nye and by Planetary Society Board member Lon Levin, President of SkySevenVentures and co-founder of XM Radio. In addition, Robert J. Schack, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Teak Technologies will represent the taxpaying public, while Jarret M. Lafleur, a graduate student at the Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, will present the Generation Y viewpoint. Following the presentations, the meeting will open up discussion with the audience to hear the public's opinions about what direction the United States and the world should take in space exploration.
Professor Robert Braun, the David and Andrew Lewis Associate Professor of Space Technology at Georgia Tech, is organizing the Town Hall with The Planetary Society.
“Space exploration inspires and brings home benefits to the people of Earth,” said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society. “What will it take for such inspiration and benefits to be part of the new political priorities in a new U.S. Administration? That is the question motivating our Town Halls,” 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.
In February, 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 Atlanta Town Hall will be held on Wednesday, May 7 at 7:00 PM in LeCraw Auditorium at the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Management Building, 800 West Peachtree Street NW. While this event is free, seating is limited.