The Baker Institute Space Policy Program, with the Rice Space Institute and Rice University Scientia, will host a conference exploring the impact of space exploration on humanity's self-perception.
Arguably, one of the most culturally impactful scientific endeavors of the last century has been the conquest of space. Space exploration has led to the rapid rise of interest in science and science fiction, as well as their stimulation of the imagination, including the social and cultural aspects of life on Earth. The prospect of extending humanity to other worlds, combined with the scientific discovery of planets around other stars and the possibility that life may exist elsewhere in the universe, have profoundly impacted how humanity perceives its place in the cosmos and how society has adapted to a human presence in space.
This conference focuses on the influence that space exploration has had on humans and human imagination, how it has changed our worldview, how it affects modern society and what it holds for humanity's view of itself in the future. Discussions will generate a broader awareness of the influence of space exploration on human creative thought; demonstrate the inter-relatedness between the fields of science, humanities, social science, business and policy; stimulate discussion about what the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe means for life on Earth; and bring together diverse points of view and expertise to consider the human ramifications of exploring the universe.
Speaker George W.S. Abbey
George W.S. Abbey is the Baker Botts Senior Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the director of NASA Johnson Space Center. Prior to being assigned as an Air Force captain to NASA’s Apollo Program at the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1964, ...
George W.S. Abbey is the Baker Botts Senior Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the director of NASA Johnson Space Center. Prior to being assigned as an Air Force captain to NASA’s Apollo Program at the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1964, he served in the Air Force Research and Development Command and was involved in the early Air Force manned space activities, including the Dyna-Soar Program. In 1976, he was named director of flight operations, where he was responsible for operational planning and management of flight crew and flight control activities for all manned spaceflight missions. In 1983, he became director of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate. In 1990, Abbey was selected as deputy for operations and senior NASA representative to the Synthesis Group and was charged with defining strategies for returning to the moon and landing on Mars. In 1991, Abbey was appointed senior director for civil space policy for the National Space Council in the Executive Office of the President. Abbey has received numerous awards, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and three NASA Distinguished Service Medals. He was a member of the operations team presented with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1970 by President Richard Nixon for its role in support of the Apollo 13 Mission. Abbey graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1954 and received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology in 1959.