I attended a great panel discussion about the future of the space race at Caltech on January 10, 2013. This panel was assembled by students at the college as part of a Keck Foundation grant. I have complained in this blog that so many community forums really only have as their motive the PR of some writer, thinker, organization. I am not surprised that when college students organize and host an event, they do not shy away from controversy, that they saw this opportunity as one to participate in civic activism as well as to learn from some luminaries in the field. My hat goes off to these students! The panel consisted of two professors from Caltech, Fiona Harrison (Professor of Physics) and Paul Wennberg (Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering) as well as John Grunsfeld, astronaut and now at NASA, Steve Isakowitz, Exec VP at Virgin Galactic, John Logsdon, founder of GW Univeristy’s Space Policy Institute and Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. I’ll share the discussion of the evening, in context of the discussion I have been riffing on here for last bit, after I return from a trip up north (in southern California jargon, that means to San Francisco).
(Update: It made more sense for me to post about the Skeptic’s Dr. McCray lecture first, as a lead in to this panel discussion and others which I will address later. 1-21-13 – Terry)