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SXSW Interactive 2013

Space Tech After NASA: Boom Times for Innovation?

With the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis in July of 2011, NASA effectively took itself out of the manned spaceflight game—at least for now. In the months that followed, an array of private companies have filled that void—groups such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Orbital Sciences. Not only are these industry leaders rethinking how humans will travel in space and where will be going (it’s not just low-Earth orbit anymore), they’re also bringing a bracing profit motive to the job—one that is unleashing a wave of innovation and experimentation. Business leaders are watching closely for emerging space technologies that could be put to use in the worlds of energy, propulsion, food manufacturing, surveillance and beyond. Space guru and “Apollo 13” author Jeffrey Kluger speaks to space experts, academics and executives to consider just how the privatization of manned spaceflight could ignite a tech race unlike anything we’ve seen.

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  1. What happens to the development and advancement of America’s manned spaceflight technologies when you inject the profit motive of private firms?
  2. Will innovation happen more quickly, and produce better results, when freed from government bureaucracy? What are the potential pitfalls of private development?
  3. Which private firm is best positioned to not only become the industry leader in manned spaceflight, but also to deliver the rapid pace of technological innovations needed to succeed in space?
  4. How long will it be before we see boots on another planet in this solar system, and what key technological advancements are required to cross that threshold?
  5. How much will the government remain involved in the private pursuit of spaceflight?


  • Jeffrey Kluger, Senior Editor, TIME
  • Marc Rayman, Chief Engineer / Mission Director, JPL


Catherine Sharick, Managing Editor, TIME Magazine

Meta Information:

  • Tags: innovation
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Science and Space Exploration
  • Level: Intermediate
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