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OCA General Meeting
Friday September 14th, 2012, 7:30 PM
Chapman University
Free and open to public more

The Case for Increasing Our Exploration of Space

We are in the midst of the Year of the Solar System, a 23 month period during which more missions will be launched or reach their destinations than during any previous comparable period but space exploration is treated as a luxury rather than an imperative, with recent decisions to reduce funding. But space exploration is not just about increasing knowledge of the solar system and universe, though those are important reasons. It's also about addressing the challenges that we face as a society and civilization, and more immediate concerns can also be addressed such as energy, resources, and international security. The factors that will enable major exploration and development of space are converging and "the beginning (of a period of rapid advance) is near."

Paul Wieland

Paul Wieland caught the "stargazing bug" when growing up in the 1960s not just because it was the space race era, but also his older brother bought a telescope kit from Edmund Scientific and hand-ground his own 6" reflector telescope. That opened up many of the mysteries of the night sky as he tagged along with his brother on many cold winter nights seeking dark places to view the moon, planets, stars, and nebulae. Later earning degrees in botany and mechanical engineering, Paul began working for NASA in 1983 as a co-op student and had a small role in the Hubble Space Telescope, but spent much of his career developing the life support system for the International Space Station. In 1994, his report Designing for Human Presence in Space: An Introduction to Environmental Control and Life Support Systems was published as a NASA reference publication (RP-1324). In 2010, his book for the general public, Crossing the Threshold: Advancing into Space to Benefit the Earth, was published and in May 2011 it was awarded a gold medal by the Independent Publisher Book Awards, an international competition.

Crossing the Threshold: Advancing into Space to Benefit the Earth, by Paul O. Wieland, P.E.

The 21st century has challenges that will test our abilities in many ways, but we also have new opportunities to address them. Space exploration and development is one area of opportunity. At a time of limited funding for space activities, how can we best continue advancing our knowledge about, and presence in, space and utilize that knowledge to meet our challenges? Crossing the Threshold presents a vision in which space development has a vital role in addressing our challenges, from environmental monitoring to energy supply, and international security to material resources. Capabilities developed in other areas can help to lower the cost of space exploration and development, while increasing our knowledge and experience. And meeting the challenges of exploring and developing space will help address other challenges, as well. Successfully crossing the threshold to become a space-faring civilization will usher in a new age of discovery, and each of us has a role in making that happen.

"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by John Garrett

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