NASA's Steven Gonzales ( gives insight into the future of human space exploration. This inspirational discussion of the space industry touches on aerospace innovation and the future of Houston's space program.


Well thank you Sarah and thank you Ed
for inviting me, and I'm excited because

what I need help in is getting the word
out about the Johnson Space Center. So, in

my comments there are two things that if
you get nothing else

nothing else from from the presentation
this morning the first is to turn around

the perception that Johnson Space Center
is closing with the end of the shuttle

program, that we've got an exciting
future. Actually, the years ahead of us

are some of the best years that
I'm looking forward to and that is what

I hope to convey this morning. The second
one is that the message has changed and

the audience is changing, and that I
really would love your ideas, your thoughts

your support in being able to get out
the message of human exploration of

space and what an exciting future it has.

23 years ago I started at NASA and what
brought me to NASA was not what brought a

lot of my colleagues, it wasn't

My 17 year old son said you want me to
edit that, you want me to make it

shorter, quicker, and stuff. He says it
takes too long between the pauses but

no, what brought me to, I said now we need to keep it to the original, but what brought me was this.

And that's what got me started and it's
already showed a difference between the

generations. Half of my peers came in and
they were wanting to go back to be that

first step on the moon, and for me I
wanted to go boldly go where no one had

gone before, and so back in New York
where I was born and grew up in Jersey

about 8th grade the magic stuck, the vision
stuck, and I remember being in

eighth grade and of knowing that I
wanted to go to NASA knowing that I

didn't want to be an astronaut because
at the time you had to be a fighter

pilot and I didn't want to go into the
military, but I knew I wanted to get into

computers. And so eighth grade go to the
guidance counselor, getting ready to put

together my high school plan and it was
a go college prep and being the only

Hispanic family in this school, the
guidance counselor looked at it and said

college prep, I don't think so, I think
you need to go to a motor class

I said no I'm going to college, she said no
you really need to go to auto shop, I think

that's more your speed, and I
said no no, no one's going to keep me

from going where no one has gone before,
and so went to

school in Boston University, got an
undergraduate in computer engineering

did my graduate work at Texas A&M

That's where my wife says I really went to
school then so, met my wife there. I told

her when we first met, I met her the
second week of school, told her there's

nothing that's going to keep me in Texas,
I'm not gonna date anyone, I'm going

right back up to the northeast. So we
played a lot of racquetball for six

months, and after watching her in shorts
for six months that was it, and here

I am. But when I finally got to NASA, and
I went there straight from Texas A&M, I

was expecting this.

I thought NASA well you know it's been
now, 69, it's been almost 20 years since

we went to the moon, and I'm
ready to start working on transporter

rooms and phasers and that. and
instead I end up here. Now, there's

nothing wrong with this. Every time I go
back in there, and it's a historical

monument if anyone ever gets a chance to
go down to Space Center Houston, they'll tour you

through there, and it still
absolutely is inspiring and it still

makes the sends chills every time I go
into the room, but it wasn't the deck of the

Starship Enterprise, and this is was part
of the challenge because we were

bringing children at the time and they'd go
in there and they'd come up here to this

little spot here,
and they would look at it and they would

asked her their mom and dad what's this?
And what you can't see in the picture

but was actually in there is a little
dial tone, and you know so here you are

you're trying to inspire the next
generation and you still have equipment

there that is using the old rotary phone
to be able to contact with each other

and so

from here I've tried to bring new
technology to try to create that Mission

Control Center that looked like the deck of the
Starship Enterprise, and was able to move

on and be able to train a crew of
astronauts. It was a phenomenal

experience, two years of being able to
get this group that went up in the

summer 1994 up into the space it was
they were on board the shuttle Columbia

and normally when you get to train a
crew you get to go and see the launch

and from the Kennedy Space Center in
Florida, and I didn't get to go

because at the same time that they were
preparing to launch my son was about to

be born, so I figured I'd stay around
for that launch instead of seeing the

other one and haven't regretted that one
bit, and while the crew was up in

space he was born actually on a 25th
anniversary of us landing on the moon

nothing that I planned, I didn't
tell my wife hold on hold on hold on

but when he was born she,
Mission Control pulled up to the crew up

in space and told him about my son's
birth and they called down. Jim Hassell

the pilot pulled back down to Mission
Control and said Houston this is

Columbia, just like to congratulate
Gonzalez on the birth of his son and so

I've got my son's birth announcement
from space. So I got to do this and it

was phenomenal, but yet it still wasn't
going where no one had gone before and

so I've returned back to to the
technology to what I love because I

found out that after two years I'm
actually a lousy instructor. I'm a big

picture person, trying to be able to
focus on the details was a bit of a

challenge, and so
got to work on Mission Control and I

thought I finally made it when the
Houston Chronicle compared this new

control room at Johnson Space Center
to look like the deck of the Starship

Enterprise. I still try to stretch it to
make sure that what they said actually

matches that picture, but it was nice,
it was a nice compliment to be able

to get the technology there, yet
something was missing and actually


three shifts in my perspective NASA
and three shifts

in the message that I share, and it was
at this point that all of a sudden the second

shift came about. I came in originally to
go where no one gone before, to be able to

explore, to be the one that went out
there, but it was about this time that

all of a sudden I was working my way up
to leadership on the chain up and

NASA trying to figure out how do I get
to the top level management position, and

the feeling was gone, I had gone to a
leadership class where a gentleman by the

name of Peter Sangai was doing this
session, and I don't remember a single word

that he said but he showed this video,
and in this video there was a

gentleman that was going to Italy, he was
a violin maker and he wanted to go to

the hometown of Stradivarius and be
surrounded by people that were

passionate about what they did, and he
wanted to feel passionate about what he

did and you can see that passion, he was
surrounded by people that were just

fired to to get up and to be able to
make these violins. I told my wife you

know after ten years at NASA the
passion is gone, and I said I'm way too

young at the time, this was before
my gray hair, to have the fire go and

she said okay fine you've been talking
about this for a while, what are you going to do, and

I said well I need to get back to the
technology, get back to why I had come

there but also started formulating in my
mind that my son and daughter, I needed

to do something for them, and so it
started coming the idea of being able to

what I did at NASA was to enable them to
have an opportunity to go into space, what

we were about was trying to make sure
that the idea of living on the moon or

vacation on the moon became a reality in
their lifetime or at least for their son and

daughter, and so it's wonderful.
These images here are from children

around the world, there was an event
last spring that NASA had

sponsored to be able to get artwork, and
this is from a Russian child about 11

years old who captures what I wanted. I
wanted to be able to get back to the Moon

and Mars, to be able to focus on that
and what I wanted to be able to do is be

able to get to that base, to get to that
place on the moon, and to be able to have

this generation feel that connection, to
be able to feel that they could have the

moon within their grasp, within their
reach, and so a team of us got together

and we looked at year 2076. There's a
wonderful novel

by Robert Heinlein called The Moon is a
Harsh Mistress, and so we were about

creating a place where

the next generation would be able to live
and work, and after this image, if you

aren't familiar with his work this is
Pat Rawlings a space artist who has

phenomenal drawings out there and
wonderfully inspiring. It was amazing

that this past year when we did that art
contest we had

children that understood the challenge
of living on the moon that

to actually live there, is it is a
harsh environment, but it's because if

you live underneath the ground it
protects you from all the radiation, so

here it is, a child somewhere in the
Middle East that put together this image

that is captures the feeling and all of
a sudden you see the connections being

made through the art. I love the woman
that has up this program, she's calling it

Steam, she wants to put the arts back
into STEM education - science, technology

engineering and math, and

and that ability to see themselves
on the moon, to be able to see themselves

as a vision for the future, to see space
within their grasp is now making the

connection, now allowing them to
to see this not as

we did 40 years ago, which is you
only have the right stuff and a couple

astronauts to get to the moon, but
actually they can see themselves as

being on there, being able to play there
on the floor

and so

this was where I wanted to go, this is
where our team at JSC was working on

the technology to be able to create that
environment there that reaches out and

so started on a path six years ago at
the Johnson Space Center to look at how

we position JSC for the future and the
center director wanted us to look out 20

years, to look out not to 2076 but let's
just go out to into 2020s and

figure out how we position the center,
and it was interesting when we started

that process we asked them okay so,
we've got a whole generation that

actually will be here in 20 years you
were asking us to work with the

leadership team but we'd rather or, in
addition to the team, we'd like to work

with those people that actually are
going to be here 20 years in our leading

up the center, and so the center director
bought off on the idea and said okay

bring together about 30 of the young
engineers and get them working here to

put together a strategy for the future.
Well, before we brought them in

actually yesterday you had here at
conference next kid and he and a team of

three others have put together a
presentation to say okay, what does the

NASA mission and space exploration
mean to his generation, and they had

gathered a lot of data and statistics on
it, and it was rather sobering to find

out that for their generation,
they're not engaged. The majority

of them don't understand why NASA, what
does it have to do with what

they're doing? And it was

a surprise because everyone you know,
especially even though I do a lot of

presentations outside it still had this
philosophy that everyone loves the

meet, everyone loves NASA but then
they told us that, and through the data

that they discovered, and this is just
data is above five years old now but

forty percent actually are not
supportive of it, which just breaks my

heart, and but they said what the
challenge is is that they just don't

understand. We don't communicate in a
way that makes sense, we continue on with the

old images, with the old ways of doing
things. As one person has said we love to

talk about the toys, if you will - about
the rockets, about the vehicles, or

actually Pat Rawling - all of his images
try to capture the inspiration to people

not the toys, not the rockets, and for
this generation they kept saying where

is the connection to the people, what is
the connection to making a difference,

where is it that allows us to see
ourselves in the future?

So it's not surprising that they
don't get it and because of the amount

of as they said in their presentation,
how much they're being inundated and

this is old, this is four years old, my
son probably has had about a two thirds

of those already. And how do you
break through to that community with the

NASA message, how do you break through
to show them that it is relevant to

them today? And so

It was also interesting when we brought them together that their image of NASA and

what brought them there was a little bit
different than mine, so mine was Star

Trek, but theirs actually was Apollo 13.
It's interesting that all of them came

in and said it was the, for my colleagues
it was the one man standing

stepping off the lunar module and
making that first step. For them it was a

team, it was the group that came together
that said failure is not an option which

unfortunately, as much as it is
incredible that phrase drives

me crazy because it also set us down a
path where failure is, it makes sense

in the context of space, but on the
ground we need to be able to fail to be

able to do things that we want to do. But
they came together as a team and so

there that we need to be able to show,
they want it to be in an environment

where the team comes together, where it's
not the individual that is celebrated

but as a team that able to move forward.
And when they came together after a

month of putting together strategy for
the center, at the end of the day

they wanted the same thing. It was
amazing that at the end of the

day that they still wanted to explore, to
go where no one had gone before, yet they

wanted to do it collaboratively, they
wanted to do it connected wise, they

wanted to be able to do it in a way that
would bring other people and get other

people engaged in putting together the
programs, get other people those

insights, ideas, perspectives on how we
actually move forward to do human

exploration of space. And they wanted to
be able to

reach far, to be able to explore, and yet they
didn't have the same division that we

had before where there was a difference
between human exploration of space and

robotic exploration. For them it was just
different means to be able to get out

there, they wanted to be international
and collaborative, and they were - it was

interesting, the common philosophy at the
time was all we need is another space

race, let's go ahead and if we just got
the Chinese back in the space race with

us like we did with the Russians we'd be
able to do incredible things, and they

said we don't want a space race, we
want a collaboration, we want everyone to

work together. Already a lot of them
go to international space university or

they have partnerships and relationships
with team members and international

agencies all around around the world, and
so that's what they were looking for.

So we were moving forward with the
strategy for the center, looking to build

at Johnson Space Center an innovation
park, building relationships, positioning

the center so that it can go beyond
low-earth orbit to be able to focus on

getting to the moon, Mars, or an asteroid,
and it was a great time and an

incredible part of my career, and then
the third shift came in my

thinking of where we needed to go, from
going to where no one had gone before

getting to the moon to allow my son and
daughter to vacation to a point where

now my focus and what I'm hoping to get
your help in is Houston

because right when all of the vision has
started right whenever we got together a

team to move forward my son was
diagnosed with a rare version of

leukemia, and it was

five years ago next week that the
doctors told us that he had a two

percent chance of making it. And

the good news is

that now he is a junior in college, he's
looking at being able to

go to Savannah College of Art and Design.
He wants to be a game designer, he's

already made games for kids at the
hospital when he got out after

his first year, he had made a video game
with a program called game maker and in

his video game he was able to pick
pac-man, but in his version of pac-man

pac-man were the children and the ghost
represented the cancer cells, and after

15 levels when you beat the game a
screen pops up and said you just beat

cancer, and so he just went off on
Christmas Eve and delivered them to the

kids there in the hospital. But when you have

an experience where
every day is a gift, and my son, he

teaches me this every day. He took me out
to New Mexico this summer, we went to

back packing up in 30 miles east of
Taos for a two-week backpacking trip

supposed to be 70 miles, I think we ended
up doing about 90 miles with with

other Scouts, and he got me to do
mountain climbing repel and, even though

you showed me with the in space me and
heights don't do very well but he's

especially when they tell you to you
know go off the edge of the cliff and

just keep leaning back off a perfectly
good hill, so

so when you get to the point where

every day is a gift, the idea of him going to
the moon and being able to vacation

there was wonderful, but I needed to
make sure that what he and his sister

had here was more opportunities. They
needed to be able to, I needed to know

that human exploration of space and what
Houston was about would offer them more

opportunities than when they graduate from
college, and here

my daughter is, she's phenomenal. When
we found out that her brother was

had cancer, he needed, his version of
leukemia required a bone marrow

transplant, and so she was determined to
be his donor and when she found out that

she wasn't a match she looked for every
way to to help out her brother

including, she is an entrepreneur in her
own right. At the age of 10 had

worked with

aunts and uncles and cousins and set up
a little business, she called the

little business Miracle Massages and
More, so any time aunts, uncles, grandparents

and nieces, nephews came over she would
give him massages, manicures, pedicures

facials - the whole works, and after
a month my wife said you know how much

our daughter has made? And I said no, she
said in a month our ten year old has made

two hundred and fifty dollars. So we quickly
incorporated her and took some

options on her

And here you see her, she is donating
her hair for Locks of Love to

help out her brother, so

for me, as this one child captured,
Houston has to be the place where human

the next generation, the next era of
human space exploration

is sparked from. We've had an incredible
50 years so far, but the next 50 years have

to be a place where

if you want to be able to go to
explore, if you want to be about space

exploration, if you want to be able to do
some of the suborbit activities i'll

share with you in a moment, Houston is a
place. If you want to find, to start up a

new company, if you want to be able to
invest, it's Houston. And so that's what

actually brought me to the Houston
Technology Center where I'm at for the

next year is to be able to see if we can
create that new environment, to be able

to attract to, through the Clear Lake
area, entrepreneurs and new

investments, to be able to create new
companies so that this vision would

become a reality. Once again
with Pat Rawlings we had put together a

comic to try to reach another generation.
It's interesting, when we first

introduced thus to see how one generation
loved it and another generation thought it

was silly and hokey and didn't
support it, but it was to show that the

Johnson Space Center had a rich future,
because when we introduced this comic two

years ago, it was right when everything
was turning upside down and it seemed

like with the shuttle program that there
wasn't a future, and in reality

we've got expertise, capability,
technology, we've got the astronauts, we've

got Mission Control. We've got so much
here in Houston and we have an

environment around us of so much
entrepreneurial spirit, that the next 50

years is going to be phenomenal. And so
we started off with 2069, the 100th

anniversary of us landing on the moon,

if anyone's interested I could get you
the the pages, but we wrapped up with

2169, the great science fiction story
that we put together for this.

The question now remains is what's
going on now, what is happening here?

Because, as I started off, the belief is
that with the end of the shuttle program

it's the end of the Johnson Space Center,
and that's the furthest thing from the truth

and right now we have circling above the
earth at 200 miles six astronauts

working on the most incredible vehicle
that has ever been put together by an

international community, but it is
12 years in the making. It is a

laboratory that covers a couple of
football fields. It has participation

from the European Space Agency, from the
Russian Space Agency, Japanese Space

Agency, Canadian Space Agency. The crew is
international, it is up there

continuously manned for the past 10 or so
years, it has had a crew of six

for the last two to three years, and it
is doing things right now that is

helping out life here back on Earth.
One company here in Houston, Astrogenetix

has been up experiments up on the
space station that is looking at the

Salmonella virus, and
from their experiments they believe they

have a vaccine for the virus when
people get sick with that, and also have

countermeasures for where it's found
at the source, because they found out

that that virus up in space is a lot
more aggressive, and because of it and

the way it behaves, they were able to find
solutions that they couldn't back here

on Earth because on Earth it's a lot
lower of a virus. But this space station

is controlled out of out of Houston, the
management is down here in Houston, the

astronauts are still trained down
here in Houston, and we have relation to

have an opportunity with the Medical
Center and with the community around us

to be able to take the discoveries on
board that vehicle and bring them back

down and create new industries like
Astrogenetix is doing down here in


Not only is this exciting, but with the
end of the shuttle program we're

entering a new phase where NASA is now
returning back to what we're about, to

exploration of space, because now we've
got other companies

like Bigelow. Entrepreneur out in Vegas
made his

millions in Vegas with building Microtels in
Vegas, and decided that he

wanted to create the first hotel in
space. He came to NASA and asked

if we had any technology, and about a
dozen years or so we were working on a

project called Transhab where we're
building inflatable habitats, and so he

came by and he said can I take that
technology, and so right now he has a

two-third scale version of this module
circling up in space. He's got a, so he's

ready to send up his full-scale one so
that you could have the first

space hotel up in space. The challenge
was that he needed a ride, and when he came

to NASA the second time he says okay I
got the technology, but I need some

additional help because the technology
we had developed didn't put a window on

there, and he says if I want to build a
hotel but no one can look outside not

many people are going to pay the money to get up there.
So now the version that he has

circling around the earth has a window
to allow people to look out, but he put

this up six years ago, or about
five years ago, but he's been waiting for

the ride and now

we've got the industry going up to give rides.
Up in Dallas you've got armadillo, a great

story because it's a bunch of volunteers
there on the weekends, and that start up

on weekends and evenings after they have
their full time job, they come together

because they wanted to build a space
vehicle. And they were competing for

prize, it was known as the Grumman XPrize,
and to be able to have a vehicle that

would go up, translate over, and land
another spot with the accuracy

of a diamond and do it a couple of
times. A bunch of volunteers

there was another company out in
California, Mastin, a father-son team that

actually did the same thing. So you have
all of sudden these new players in the

market that we never had before,

Space X. Elon Musk made his millions, he's
you know he's doing Tesla also at the

same time, the electric race car, but
working here he's going to be flying to

the space station at the end of this
year with his payload, so now we have new

companies - new commercial companies
providing access to space, and in a

couple of years he hopes along with his
other companies similar companies, you've

got Blue Origins - originally in West
Texas, now is up in Washington State, you've

got Orbital here in Nevada, in Colorado
you've got about a half a dozen other

companies that are working together to
be able to provide access to space, where

before was only the sole domain of NASA.
And so with that, the opportunities are

endless because now what we can do is to build
that vehicle that I grew up with

and NASA can focus on building a
vehicle that just stays in space

kind of like the Enterprise, it allows us
to be able to look at the technology

There's activities now looking at how do
you build fuel depot in space, as opposed

to having to take everything with you on the
ground, because as a friend of mine said

when you take a trip across country you
don't take all the fuel with you and put

it all into your into your car and try to
make it all the way to California

you're able to stop along the way. Now
we're looking at strategies and

technologies to allow us to be able to
refuel and do things along the way

instead of trying to pull up everything
in one shot

and the one that is is even as
incredible as you've heard about the

XPrize that allowed Richard Branson and
Virgin Galactic to be able to do their

their launch, to be able to show that we
can do suborbital spaceflight . Well

Google partnered up with the XPrize, and
they've got something called the Google

Lunar XPrize, and hopefully we'll see a
winner next year. And we've got a couple

dozen teams that are committed for the
Google Lunar XPrize, and it's supposed to be

the winner of the team will be the one that is
able to send a satellite to the moon, and they

will get additional prizes depending
what they're able to do on the moon. If

they're able to go to an Apollo site and
send back high-definition video they get

extra money, if they're able to
translate a certain amount of distance

then they get extra money. The incredible
part of it is that as I was talking to

Peter Diamandis, the head of the XPrize,
he says people that submit these ideas

aren't constrained with the way that we
have done things before because he said

you know when NASA sends a vehicle they
put lots of experiments, they put a lot

of instruments on there, we're trying to do
tons of things in order to be able to

get to the moon or to Mars, and
when you do that you build a two-ton

robot that requires a lot more
propulsion. He says what they're coming

back with are things about this size.
When you send something this small up to

to the moon, it's a lot smaller rocket
that can do things, but they send a bunch

of them and they move around it becomes
a little, if you will, a little spider

web of robots to go around and explore
and do things, instead of

sending up one big thing. It's just
amazing how the community is coming

together to be able to move forward
to allow us to be able to explore space

And so with all of that here
we should be able to

create in Houston

the seed for the next generation of human
space exploration. What we're doing at

the Houston Technology Center is

trying to make lemonade out of lemons
with the workforce that now has been

laid off. Unfortunately yes, with the
shuttle coming to a completion we have

about four thousand individuals that are
now looking for the next opportunity, and

what's amazing is that the city and
industry is helping us

and pulling out all the stops in order
to help out the community down there

If you've seen in the paper
we've had the energy industry and the

petrochemical coming down. I'm looking
to try to capture the talent down there

but what we're doing with the Houston
Technology Center is trying to see okay

of those engineers that are available
now, who has the stomach to become an

entrepreneur? Who has the desire to
take their technology, take their

capabilities, to take their their great
ideas and turn them into a new company

that would allow us to do things that we
hadn't done before? And so we've done a

couple of workshops down there and we've
had engineers popping up with their

business plans come forward, but their idea
is to start up companies that will

either go into aerospace or help out
other industries. We've had some that

will have technologies that will help
out energy or the life sciences. But then

the other thing actually we're doing
tomorrow down in Clear Lake is saying okay

not all engineers make good CEOs. I
know, it's a revelation to some

What we're saying is tomorrow we're bringing down some entrepreneurs, some CEOs that have

done this before, done it a couple of times
looking for the next opportunity and saying

okay, talk to these engineers and see if a
match can be made. If the person has the

technology, the capabilities, if we bring
in someone that has been successful in

creating companies and they create some
new opportunities and be able to allow

us to to keep that talent and Workforce
here because

we are going to explore, we are going to

breaking beyond the boundaries of
low-earth orbit, and we need that to be

able to keep that equity, that
talent, and to be able to attract new

ones here. And so what I

would love your help on is being able to
get that word out, to be able to share

especially as I said, there's different
messages at different communities. There

are different ways that NASA resonates with

individuals. What we, what started me
there 23 years ago isn't what keeps

me there today, and so in

work and what you are able to do, how can
the NASA message

be brought to a larger community, and
how can we get the embassy turned around

that Houston is the place to be for
exploration, that it's not in New Mexico

with the new spaceport there, it's not in
California, it's not in Colorado, it's Houston.

Because what I firmly believe, what
I would love to see, is that when we get

here that there's only one word that should
be the first word out of the astronauts

mouths when they get there

It should be the same thing as when we went down to the moon, it'll be the same. We've got to start now

to be able to make sure that that
becomes a reality, that at the end of the

day that this is the birthplace of
the next generation of space

exploration, it's the birthplace of where
we're able to send communities up into

space, and it's the birth place where, if
you will, space commerce and space

industry - the next generation of it,
is found. Help me make those words a

reality. With that, thank you and I'll
take any questions that you may have.

Alright so I don't think Stephen's giving
away any free Martian trips today, but

I'm sure that he will be more than
happy to answer some questions. Sorry

guys, come on. I gave you coffee, what do you want?
So we we have time for probably two or

three questions and hang out. Definitely
if we don't get to you do not panic, you

know, you'll definitely have all of your
questions and dreams discussed and more

So who wants to start? Any questions?


Went back into my jogging routine again. I
better shoes today

Some of your statistics note that
certain demographics are resistant to

express an interest in space exploration,
and I'm not sure if you mentioned it, but

is the reason related to not seeing a
practical application for it in our

everyday lives or not realizing the
importance in our everyday lives?

We don't know exactly why. The team that
entered the data speculated on a couple of things

One was, yes, that they didn't see the
application. The other part they saw it

as an environment for a few, so you know,
what you see as I said when we started

off it was we talked about those with
the right stuff. We talked about the

Apollo team, and that generation was
looking for the collective, how do

things come together, and that's why the
Apollo 13 resonates with them. Then

the other one is

with such a focus on the thing that kept
coming up again, was that they want those grand

missions though they'd like to be able
to do things that will change the world

they didn't see how this actually
changed the world, but in reality what

we do, I mean another small example of what Johnson

Space Center does from human exploration
that helps out kids over at premature

infants over at MD Anderson, not MD Anderson,
at Texas children's. It was about

three years ago, Texas children's had come
by and said we have a challenge when we

transport our premature infants, and that
the transportation of them takes them

quite a bit and injures them. And
so they said do you have anything

that could help us out with that? And so
on the shuttle there is some technology

that helps to dampen out the vibration
on there so it doesn't shake the

astronauts apart when they launch,
but also on Space Station they have a

treadmill that allows them to exercise
and keep up their muscles and their bone

strength while they're up there, but at
the same time you've got experiments

that are needing that microgravity
environment to be able to perform, and so

they've got technology that keeps the
treadmill from taking the station apart

and that technology is now being applied
to the transportation of these premature

infants, and so you've got things that,
and it goes back to also to to these

engineers, we've got technologies that
can help out in other roles or

other industries but we don't have the
understanding of the problems in those

industries and hopefully tomorrow we can
start on that path, but it's those

connections that people don't understand.
Actually at the center the director, every

time he does a presentation he'll start
off by asking the audience okay, how many

people know or have had LASIK eye surgery?
And and once he gets the

hands raised he says you're welcome,
because that technology came from NASA

to be able to do that precision surgery
that you have there, so that's what part

of our challenge is, that we don't explain
that connection well enough to the

larger population

Kind of a two-part question - one, it seems
like America has kind of surrendered to

Russia as far as it comes to getting to
space, we don't have any heavy lift

vehicle that I know of, and in Washington
right now and in the debates that are

going on I see no political will. It's as
if we've just kind of surrendered. Do you

see that changing, and is that something
that we as a group should be addressing

in some manner? And if so, how? Okay,
excellent, so yes. As far as

human access to space, the only nation
that has that capability is Russia

And as far as large rockets, every nation has
one, and we have large rockets that we

use for sending satellites into space,
but as far as being able to send crews

Russia is the only one that has it. The
shift has come, and it is that

Congress, the administration, is trying to
create a new industry, and unfortunately

we started a little late on that, but the
Elon Musks, the Richard Bransons, those new

companies - they're wanting to help get
them providing access into space and to

be able to create a new economy from
there, so they're investing quite a

bit of the NASA budget to that to be
able to help it out, and the difference

is that the money that they're investing
isn't for the complete building of these

rockets, it's just showing that we're
willing to invest and they need him to

find the money and the matching funds
elsewhere to be able to do it, so

in about, you know, if you listen to those
companies, in three years they'll have

human access to space. We'll see if we'll
get there, but that's what they're

predicting. They got access to
be able to provide payloads in space

real quick, they're able to do that this
year, but they're supposed to get there

The other piece is that NASA just got
endorsed last week, two weeks ago, to

build a rocket that's even bigger than
what was built, than the Apollo, to

be able to get us beyond low-earth orbit
to go on to an asteroid or

Mars. Right now Congress and the
president, and the authorization for NASA

said next you need to go to an asteroid
in the 2020s time frame, in the mid

20s, and to Mars in the mid 30, and the
only way to get there is with a

rocket of that size. Though the
development is underway on that, they're

using the new technology and some
technology that we've validated with the

shuttle rockets, so that's the piece that people don't

understand. They think it's an
either/or that the end of the shuttle program,

end of NASA having access to space, means that
NASA is no longer the business and

that America is getting out of the
business of space exploration

The reality is that NASA is trying to be
returned back to exploration, to get back

to what it was founded, was to go where
no one else has gone before and to build

a new industry at the same time that
allows NASA to leverage that and not

have to do all the investments in doing
that because, quite frankly, as incredible

of a vehicle as the shuttle was, it was an
expensive vehicle, and to be able to do

that and maintain that kept NASA from
being able to do some of the exploration

activities that they wanted to do. Now we're
having another commercial industry

provide that, and we hitch a ride on it, it
creates the resources we get from

the government to be able to do that

Guys can we get a round of, oh well,
hold the rounds. Make it a half circle. One

last question

It introduces new ideas and new
activities that NASA has to respond to

A perfect example is last summer the Opera
partnered up with one of the NASA centers

to introduce the 100-year challenge,
because now that you're finding planets

and stuff there, and actually they're taking
applications for people to plan a

mission to go to that planet, but it
would be a hundred years - it's a

one-way ticket. It would be, what would
you do if you were to send a contingent

of people from Earth to that distant
planet to be able to extend humanity

to another galaxy, but as far as the
core mission, it actually changes more so

with administration than it does with
discoveries, unfortunately. It's a part of

our reality and when a new
administration comes in, depending on

what discoveries have been made,
depending on what whether or not it

focuses one way or the other,

with the support that we're getting from
from both sides of Congress and wanting

us to be able to do the exploration, we'll
be able to stay on that for the next

10 or 20 years.
Now, a huge round of applause.
That was awesome!

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