Celebrate 50 Years of Space Feats with USRA Symposium Today! How to Watch

An astronaut who walked on the moon and a renowned NASA mathematician join a group of experts discussing the future of space exploration at the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) conference today (April 23), streaming live online this afternoon.

The USRA will livestream its 50th anniversary conference, "Exploring New Space Frontiers," from Washington, D.C., and you can watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of USRA. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT (1700 to 2200 GMT).

The list of speakers includes Harrison H. Schmitt, a former NASA astronaut who walked on the moon during Apollo 17, the last Apollo mission to the moon, in 1972. Schmitt is the only scientist-astronaut to perform geology on the surface of another world. He also is a former U.S. Senator.

Also on the agenda is Christine Darden, a former NASA mathematician and aeronautical engineer who worked for the agency during the 1960s. This era was portrayed in the 2016 book (and 2017 film) "Hidden Figures," showing a time when black Americans participated in the space program as mathematicians and computer programmers. The contributions of these people during NASA's early spaceflight programs were not recognized widely until recent years.

Other speakers on the agenda include Jan Worner, the director-general of the European Space Agency; Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences; and Scott M. Pace, executive secretary of the National Space Council. You can view the full agenda and schedule online.

The USRA was established in 1969, in part due to NASA's request, as a nonprofit organization allowing scholars and scientists to examine samples of lunar material that the Apollo astronauts collected in 1969 and 1972. The 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Apollo 11, takes place on July 20.

"Now — 50 years later — USRA's mission encompasses far broader space- and aeronautics-related sciences exploration through leading-edge research, technology and education programs; space and aeronautics policy formation; and the operation and management of world-class facilities and initiatives through a consortium of 110 universities, the private sector and federal and foreign governments," USRA officials said in a statement.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace