The Baker Institute recently hosted the International Space Medicine Summit (ISMS), the fourth-such conference in a series to address the challenges of long duration space flight.
More than 140 leading physicians, space biomedical scientists, engineers, astronauts, cosmonauts and educators from space-faring nations around the world attended the three-day event. Representatives from Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom were included in their number.
In his keynote address, NASA administrator Charles Bolden discussed President Barack Obama"s plans for the space program and his intention to send humans into deep space -- a strategy that could, in the near term, mean job cuts at NASA facilities across the country. "It"s economics," Bolden said. If private companies service flights in lower Earth orbit, NASA can devote more of its budget to developing the technologies that will take humans to asteroids, Mars and beyond.
"It is a risk, yes, but we have to be brave enough to take that risk," Bolden said.
Bolden also stressed the importance of attracting a new generation of scientists and engineers to the space program. To that end, NASA"s 2011 budget will fund the education of 500 graduate students who plan to work in aerospace. "They will be the first wave of the new generation of technologists, engineers and scientists," he said.
George Abbey, the institute"s Baker Botts Senior Fellow in Space Policy and former director of the Johnson Space Center, called the ISMS a success, saying the way forward in space travel will be international cooperation and collaboration. "We will go to the moon again, and Mars, but will do it with people from other countries to make the best use of the expertise, knowledge and capabilities of other nations to achieve a common goal."
The ISMS series is co-hosted by the Baker Institute and Baylor College of Medicine.