Dava Newman discussed developments in space technology and NASA’s plans on journeying to Mars during a visit to CU Boulder.
Newman is the keynote speaker for this year’s Conference on World Affairs and gave an address Monday titled “Humanity’s Exploration: From Earth to Mars and Beyond” to a crowded Macky Auditorium. Newman is the former deputy administrator of NASA, and, after resigning on Jan. 20, is now a professor of astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She began by discussing space missions that are currently in progress, including Juno, New Horizons, OSIRIS Rex and CU’s own MAVEN probe.
Newman said that she was inspired to get involved in space travel by watching the Apollo missions when she was young.
“The Apollo program taught me as a young girl growing up in Montana that all dreams are possible,” she said. “If we can get to the moon, then what’s the next goal for humanity?”
Newman said she believes the next goal is to send humans to Mars. She said this plan has three phases: preparing astronauts to live in space for long periods with the International Space Station, capturing an asteroid from space and putting it into orbit around the moon, and then sending human crews to Mars in the 2030s. The ISS gives astronauts valuable experience in space and helps researchers study how long durations of time in space impact the human body, important knowledge in advance of the journey to Mars. Capturing and then sending manned flights to an asteroid would give astronauts experience in space above low-earth orbit and will help NASA test new technology.
Newman also discussed the development of the BioSuit, which she is well known for. The BioSuit is more mobile and less bulky than a traditional spacesuit. It functions more like a leotard than the conventional, hefty suit. It was developed to maximize astronauts’ mobility and is much more practical than a common spacesuit for long missions like a journey to Mars.
Newman ended her talk by imploring the audience to think bigger about who can engage in space exploration. She said instead of focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) she was more interested in the potential of STEAMD: science, technology, engineering, art, math and design.
“It’s up to us to filter everyone in, not out,” Newman said. She explained that as an aerospace engineer she can only do her work when collaborating with people from a range of other fields, and she implored people from all backgrounds to get involved in the space industry.
“We need you,” she said.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Carina Julig at email@example.com.