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June 6, 2024 @ 2:30 - 3:30 pm

How Can Philosophy Help NASA Explore the Cosmos?

Join G. Ryan Faith, Daniel E. Hastings, Tony Milligan, Erica Rodgers, and Marcia Smith to discuss how philosophy can help NASA consider humanity’s future in space and develop its vision for exploring the cosmos.

After the success of the Apollo missions in landing men on the moon more than 50 years ago, humans have not left low Earth orbit. Changing political directives, myriad technical options, and limited budgets have left NASA struggling to articulate and achieve a coherent strategy for human deep space missions.

In a recent essay for Issues, G. Ryan Faith notes that many of the larger dilemmas that NASA grapples with are as philosophical as they are practical: “Why go to the expense and danger of sending humans into space at all, rather than working with robots? Is there an inherent value to human presence in space? And if so, what is it? Is the scientific benefit commensurate with the added cost and risk?” Faith calls on the space agency to engage more deeply with questions of values and purpose. “NASA needs to embrace philosophy,” he argues, “so that it can better explain what it is doing and why to the public and itself.”

G. Ryan Faith, PhD Candidate, University of Southampton; Former House Space Subcommittee Staff and VICE News Defense Editor
Daniel E. Hastings, Interim Vice Chancellor and Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; President, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
Tony Milligan, Research Fellow, Kings College, London
Erica Rodgers, Director of Advanced Programs, NASA Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy
Marcia Smith (moderator), Founder and Editor, SpacePolicyOnline.com

Issues in Science & Technology
Arizona State University