The International Space Development Conference:
A Space-Based Opportunity for Science Cheerleading
Bart D. Leahy
Greetings, Science Cheerleader readers! Darlene has given me a little time and space to talk about an event I’m running, as I think it will be of interest to some of you.
The International Space Development Conference (ISDC) is the annual gathering of the National Space Society, a non-profit educational group (501(c)(3)) dedicated to accelerating the day where human beings are living in working in thriving communities beyond the Earth. ISDC 2011 is our 30th such event, and as usual it will feature a varied audience of space professionals, industrialists, astronauts, educators, scientists, engineers, policy analysts, NASA leaders, and—most importantly—interested citizens.
Given that this year’s conference is in Huntsville, Alabama, home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, we are leveraging the people and experiences of America’s “Rocket City.” These include technical tracks about launching payloads to the International Space Station, future uses of NASA’s planned heavy-lift rocket the Space Launch System, and military space. The National Space Science and Technology Center, a cooperative venture between NASA and numerous Alabama universities, is host to experts in solar and planetary science as well, so we have a lot of smart people to bring to the party.
Just as Science Cheerleader is focused on education and engagement, so too is ISDC. Through our web sites, Ad Astra magazine, and local chapter activities, we share information about the current state of human activities in space and, more importantly, what that future could be.
Several educational aspects of ISDC are also related to Darlene’s activities, specifically Science for Citizens. One workshop ISDC will host is called “The Foundry,” which will help participants with bright ideas turn those ideas into actual hardware and “doable projects.” Another event, the Space Investment Summit, is an all-day seminar that can help aspiring entrepreneurs take the next step, attract investors, and turn their project into a business.
Lastly, space exploration activities continue to inspire young people across the country. Some of that is fueled by science fiction, and some by human beings going to exotic places and doing things that have never been done. ISDC brings together ambitious people who are eager to extend humanity’s reach into space. Such ambitions will require citizens who are literate in science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as artists and even English majors like me to tell the stories and convey the wonders. So I hope you’ll join us in Huntsville this May and that you’ll be inspired by a diverse group of people who hope to build a spacefaring civilization from the ground up. Goooo [into] space!
Bart Leahy is Conference Chairman for ISDC 2011 and Cheer Operations Ninja (and Go-fer) for ScienceCheerleader.com. He lives in Huntsville, Alabama.