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Annual Goddard symposium held in Greenbelt

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Courtesy photo. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden gives the keynote address at the 51st Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium at the Greenbelt Marriott.

Courtesy photo. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden gives the keynote address at the 51st Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium at the Greenbelt Marriott.

Published on: Wednesday, April 10, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

“Success Through Interdependence” was the theme of the American Astronautical Society’s 51st Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium held March 19-21 at the Marriott Hotel in Greenbelt.

For more than 50 years, senior representatives from NASA and government, industry and academic leaders in aerospace space policy have attended the annual event to review the status of space exploration and discuss challenges that might lie ahead.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden opened the session acknowledging the budget challenges and stressed an obligation to ensure America’s leadership in space exploration continues. He talked about having a crewed mission for an asteroid rendezvous by 2025 and a crewed mission orbiting Mars in the 2030s.

“We will continue with the international operations of the ISS,” said Bolden, “and the development of Orion with an upcoming test flight and development of the Space Launch System.”

Bolden talked about the success of current NASA missions, the commercial space accomplishments with the SpaceX Dragon vehicle and the soon-to-be-launched Orbital Sciences Corporation vehicle Antares.

Bolden took a few minutes to talk directly to a group of University of Illinois students, who again this year attended the symposium. He met separately with the students and interns from Goddard to talk about their goals and future career plans.

Key NASA and aerospace industry leaders led a series of panels. Former astronaut and now NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld examined “the NASA vision for continued robotic exploration of Mars that includes the 2016 InSight Rover mission and the Curiosity Twin Rover mission in 2020.”

Mike Gazarik, NASA associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, talked about “the three major technology focuses for NASA: optical communication, solar sail propulsion and navigation.”

Gale Allen, NASA’s acting chief scientist, discussed the importance of internal and external interdependence in space science research. She led a discussion about how budget challenges drive innovation and collaboration.

Opening the second day Rebecca Spyke Keiser, NASA associate deputy administrator for strategy and policy, provided the keynote address. During her presentation, Keiser described the strategic planning process citing increased interdependence as the building blocks for NASA’s space program.

White House representative John Olson, assistant director, Space and Aeronautics, in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, talked about “balance, innovation and cooperation, while bringing space into Earth’s economic sphere.”

Michael Maloney, director of Space Studies for the National Research Council, highlighted a finding in the 2012 study of NASA’s strategic direction.

“There is little evidence that the current stated interim goal for NASA’s human spaceflight program — namely to visit an asteroid by 2025 — has been widely accepted … by NASA’s own workforce,” Maloney said.

He remarked how a lack of consensus is undermining NASA’s ability to establish a direction that can guide program planning and budget allocation.

A final discussion about international influence focused on partner and customer interactions, team building and interdependence to meet mission requirements.

“International partnerships is an enabling feature, providing a ‘diversity of approach’ in science,” said Jim Garvin, chief scientist of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate at NASA Goddard. Quoting Antoine de Saint Exupery, he said, “Your task is not to foresee the future but to enable it.”

Jim Cocker, vice president and general manager of Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, provided the closing remarks for the symposium.

Cocker stressed the importance of interdependence and partnerships.

“Collectively, we can be greater than our individual efforts and this is enabled by trust,” he said.

“The International Space Station is a great example of the fulfillment of this vision,” Cocker said.

Referring to “vision” in Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting, Cocker urged the audience to “look at the stars and dream.”

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