SPLIT, Croatia ? On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of space travel, space travelers with a combined 415 days of space experience gathered in Croatia to discuss the future of human spaceflight.
The summit brought together private
space traveler Greg
Olsen, veteran astronaut Ed Lu, active cosmonaut Valery Tokarev, and prospective space traveler
Olsen, Lu and Tokarev
all have substantial time on the International Space Station, while Wimmer
has tickets on future suborbital flights. It was the first time that all types
of space travelers had come together in
The conference, "Human Presence
in Space," was organized by the Croatian organization Znanost.org, a
non-profit dedicated to science education and outreach. The aim of the event
was to inspire the next generation of scientists in Europe and
Vladimir Ivkovic, a co-organizer of the summit, stated, "We hope these space pioneers will inspire children to pursue studies in science, math and technology."
Despite this, or perhaps because of
this, there is substantial interest in spaceflight in
Another hot topic was the lack of
spaceflight regulation in
Tonka Buric, a
Croatian student, presented a case study that showed that it was possible under
existing Croatian laws and airspace regulations to fly parabolic flights.
"Starting parabolic flight in
Ed Lu ? The Role of Coastal Countries in Asteroid Defense
Astronaut Ed Lu
has accumulated over 205 days in space on two space shuttle flights and one
long-term mission to the International Space Station. Lu was on the first space
launch to fly after the
Lu recently left the astronaut corps
for private industry. His recent research focus has been the threat of
asteroids to Earth, and how global space agencies might defend against the
threat. Coastal countries like
Lu underscored how countries like
Greg Olsen ? Don't Give up Your Spaceflight Dreams
Olsen, the third private space traveler to the International Space Station (ISS), is a successful entrepreneur who now devotes much of his time to promoting science and mathematics education among students.
He described how he had had the idea of going into space while at a Starbucks coffee reading an article about the first private spaceflight participant, Dennis Tito. The article sparked him to call Space Adventures, the company which has brokered private trips to ISS.
Olsen emphasized the importance of perseverance in pursuit of his spaceflight goals. After beginning his training in 2004, Olsen was medically disqualified by Russian doctors after discovery of a minor medical issue. Olsen did not give up and was eventually re-accepted into spaceflight training, launching in the fall of 2005.
Valery Tokarev ? International Cooperation in Space
Tokarev is an
active cosmonaut and the commander of the Soyuz flight that launched Olsen to
orbit. His first flight was on the
Tokarev discussed how space technology is now widely available for many nations, and how this trend has broadened global participation in space flight. As more nations build space capabilities, international cooperation will become increasingly important.
Per Wimmer ?
Private Space Travel an
Per Wimmer has
bought tickets to fly to space with two of the leading space tourism companies,
Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures. The Danish adventurer and financier
described the training activities he has pursued to prepare for his
spaceflight, including high altitude MIG flights to 80,000 feet and centrifuge
training at the Gagarin cosmonaut training facility outside of
Wimmer emphasized that the coming
revolution in personal spaceflight will open opportunities for countries like
Wimmer, a lawyer with four masters degrees, also described the international legal framework of space activities. He argued that the patchwork of treaties and agreements, including the 1963 Outer Space treaty ratified only a few years after the launch of Sputnik, must be expanded and that mechanisms for enforcement must be re-thought.
The Future of
Sited in the coastal city of
Znanost.org, the producer of the event, is led by a group of dynamic young scientists, many of whom have trained abroad but have returned to their home country to help develop the next generation of scientists.
Dr. Dejan Vinkovic, president of Znanost.org, said, "For a small country like Croatia without a space program, this event has opened the minds of children to the possibilities in space and science, and showed the general public the value of investment in science and technology."
The summit capped several years of
space and astronomy outreach organized by the group, including the development
of a national network of astronomy education, higher education and scientific
research. The name of this broader program is Astrophysics Initiative in
The next goal within the Initiative
is the creation of a center of excellence for space sciences. Znanost.org has
teamed with the physics department of the
George Whitesides is the executive director of the National Space Society.
NOTE: The views of this article are the author's and do not reflect the policies of the National Space Society.
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