After dealing with a buildup of static electricity and a few other minor problems, an announcement suddenly flashed across the main TV screen -- an unknown object had been detected, on a collision course with the Spacecraft!
Iranian officials consider it to be a reconnaissance satellite that will remain in orbit for 18 months. That's the longest any Iranian satellite has ever been in orbit.
Recently, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told 60 Minutes that the reason he seeks to develop spacecraft is to save humanity itself.
Spaceflight is hard. Really hard. And that's one reason that we bother going to space at all.
What surprised me in the symposium, however, is how much telerobotics and telepresence is being used today, right here on our own planet, enabling people to survey, explore, mine, and even kill from great distances.
I'd never heard of a space conference for business majors before. How exactly would students in BU's School of Management or the equivalent elsewhere explore space?
Will we look back and ask ourselves whether the decision to abandon space was a wise decision? Or will historians look back and identify this decision as a textbook example of when America sacrificed long-term strategic goals for short-term interests.
The American Apollo program was one of the greatest events in all of human history. By turning our backs on JFK's achievement, we have consented to national humiliation and national decline.
Although space shuttles inspired generations of space-gazers and contributed greatly to our national pride and identity, there are many misconceptions about the space shuttles and their missions.
It turned out that the time Dr. Nicholas Patrick had actually spent flying in space had accounted for only .6 percent of his total time as an astronaut! However, the way he spent 1/3rd of his time was something he found just as satisfying -- engineering.
These missions don't present threats to life on Earth -- unlike the use of nuclear power overhead. Also, the production of nuclear fuel on Earth for use in space -- or in the atmosphere for drones -- constitutes danger, too.
In 2001, space enthusiasts decided April 12th was the perfect day to throw a party celebrating space exploration, and in the 11 years since, it's grown by leaps and bounds.
Could there be a faster way to discover interesting galactic neighbors? Is there some scheme for detecting aliens that might work quicker than tuning in their radio transmissions or hunting down their laser pulses?
What will travel look like in fifty years? Will heavy suitcases and lineups be annoyances of the past? It is hard to know, but we can speculate.
After eating lunch with the center staff in the Aeronautics room, they let me try a flight simulator. I managed to take off from LaGuardia Airport, navigate to another airport, and land, all without crashing, something I felt very proud of given my general lack of video-game skills.
"The thing I want people to take away is the example of international collaboration that created and built the space station. It's just awe-inspiring."