It was a great week in Seattle, and the 12th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) has come to an end. Enjoy a few highlights from Day 3 of the conference.
Day 3 kicked off with the Women’s Networking Breakfast, connecting women in the space industry. During the breakfast, Adele Luta, exploration extravehicular activities integration manager for Oceaneering International, discussed the value of living by “and” instead of “or” to open yourself to new opportunities.
The morning keynote featured representatives from NASA’s international partners, who discussed the importance of collaboration in space and how they are helping to inspire the next generation of explorers. Hazza AlMansoori, chief of the United Arab Emirates astronaut office, said, “We’re really just joining this race, but we cannot do it by ourselves; we have to do it together. This is the beauty of the International Space Station and collaboration and the international community coming together.”
In a Lightning Talk, Angela Hart, program manager for the Commercial LEO Development Program Office at Johnson Space Center, discussed the importance of identifying the right requirements for future commercial LEO destinations. “We have a big challenge in this plan to go to commercial LEO destinations and really develop this commercial LEO economy,” she said. “We know this strategy that we have is a major paradigm shift from what we have done before, and we know it’s going to take different ways of doing business to be successful.”
Meghan Everett, NASA’s ISS Program deputy scientist, moderated a fireside chat on the motivations and inner workings of NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP), which performs critical spaceflight research on the ISS to prepare for Artemis and Mars exploration missions. The panel emphasized the importance of partnerships between government and the commercial space industry to address the challenges expected during future space exploration.
Science communicator Maynard Okereke, known as Hip Hop M.D., moderated a panel discussion on the space workforce of the future and how to fill gaps in the industry. “We are really thinking about a vision where someday there are millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth, and that means that we need to find a creative, collaborative workforce that’s ready to pick up on that vision, be passionate about that vision, and be ready to execute,” said Erika Wagner, senior director of emerging market development at Blue Origin. “That passion for mission—the ability to come and bring your whole self to the table and to create this future—is what we look for.”
The luncheon keynote was given by Katherine Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist and senior climate advisor. Her talk explored satellites and instruments on the ISS that NASA is using to observe Earth, track environmental pollution and weather events, and better understand climate change.
In today’s technical sessions, talks covered a wide array of topics, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. One talk by Caitlin O’Brien, a 2022 ISS National Lab James A. Abrams Space Leader fellow, discussed how to make space accessible for all. O’Brien leads multiple programs to help expand outreach to underrepresented communities.
Day 3 wrapped up with the presentation of ISSRDC awards. During the session, the 2023 Genes in Space winner, Isabel Jiang, was announced. Jiang, who is a high school student from Hillsborough, CA, proposed to investigate the mechanisms that make latent viruses reactive in space. Awards were also given to educators that achieved excellence in inspiring students through space station science as well as researchers that led innovative experiments on the ISS and achieved compelling results. One group of researchers that received an award for compelling results leveraged the ISS National Lab to produce the first cool diffusion flame from gaseous fuel. The team’s results are featured in our latest issue of Upward.
Stay tuned for more post-conference content in the coming weeks, and save the date for ISSRDC 2024 in Boston July 29-August 1.