Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the former president of India and an aeronautical engineer, gave a presentation entitled “World Space Vision 2050” to UCF students on October, 22 in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union.
After a brief introduction from President Hitt, Kalam asked what UCF students would be remembered for. He said that it would be something different; some out of the box missions, but that there were many possibilities as to what it could specifically be.
The list on his slide was as follows:
-Visionary action for the nation
-Creating an aerospace system for exploring Mars
-Making solar energy from space possible and safely transmittable to Earth
-Creating a lunar or Mars penetrator to find water
-Unifying Earth, the moon, and Mars
-Making Earth better with space technology
-Utilizing valuable resources in our solar system
-Becoming entrepreneurs of space technology
-Conducting basic scientific research in space
-Protecting space assets
-Establishing competence in space human resources
-Bringing down the cost of access to space
He then asserted the importance of viewing the globe as a single entity and establishing a world community. Kalam stated that the future of space travel lies in cooperation between the nations with space programs.
The next argument was that the Earth had two needs: Protection of the environment for living and energy.
He showed graphs detailing how the stratosphere is cooling and the troposphere was warming, and claimed that burning fossil fuels leads to 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Though frightening figures, Kalam proposed that improved space technology can actually help the crisis, such as by helping us settle on Mars. In order for this space travel to improve, however, we need a dramatic reduction of cost, which he elaborated on later in the presentation.
Kalam then revealed his actual initiative, World Space Vision 2050, a three-part proposal to improve space travel and international relations.
The three facets were:
-Large scale societal missions and low cost access to space
-Comprehensive space security
-Space exploration and current application missions
Kalam argued that the cost of access to space would be lessened over time by new advances, but also by introducing reusable launch vehicles (RLV), that can be launched more than once, thus reducing the number of space vehicles that need to be produced.
The RLVs would be able to lift off, like conventional airplanes, on runways and explore energy sources in space. Another cost-saving aspect of the RLVs is their ability to collect and liquefy oxygen in space, negating the necessity of returning to Earth for more oxygen.
Space satellite service stations would be created for all satellites in the GEO as a permanent international facility. These stations would extend the life of satellites by providing in-orbit maintenance such as diagnosis, replacement, recharging, powering, refueling, and de-boosting after use.
His next point was comprehensive space security.
Kalam made the distinction between “defense” and “security” by elaborating on his plan’s goal of protecting the Earth, not engaging in military competition. The proposed security involved averting dangers that arise, protecting space and global assets, prevent militarization of space, performing necessary space rescues, managing space debris, and monitoring and defending against asteroids.
Kalam then explained that steps can be taken now to ensure make these plans a reality. The first step is to use our current capabilities to undertake interplanetary missions. The second is to develop more international cooperation, especially on projects that go beyond a global scale. The third step is to continue exploring space, and trying to provide current applications to the missions that we undertake.
If these steps are taken, Kalam believes that, in addition to scientific knowledge and advances, space travel can bring peace.
There was still some time after his presentation ended, so Kalam answered a few questions from the audience.
The first question dealt with concerns over the history of mankind, such as wondering if colonies in space would ever fight for independence. Kalam responded by saying that we need to work closely with those who are both developing the colonies and working on the science behind it to make sure that it is not an issue.
The second questioner asked if “space law” would become clearer in the future. Kalam responded positively, claiming that enhanced communications through satellites would make developing the laws much easier than earlier laws, which did not have the advantage of satellite communications.
The third questioner asked how we should go about getting politicians involved, especially those who do not believe that space travel is a big issue. Kalam responded by saying that democracies just need to make sure that their officials back them on these issues, especially because space travel can help solve other issues, such as energy sources.
The fourth questioner asked if there was Indian Astronauts were being actively pursued, to which Kalam suggested that Moon and Mars landings would be a great possibility. More so than nationality, he claimed, people needed to view “Earth, Moon, Mars as a single complex,” as opposed to worrying about nationality.
The fifth questioner asked if it was justifiable to spend so much money on space programs if the nation is in poverty. Kalam responded by saying that the space program, such as the case in India, can actually improve poverty, by creating jobs and increasing communication to impoverished parts.
The sixth questioner asked if future space endeavors would be funded by the private or public sectors. Kalam responded by saying that a World Space Council would control the funding, which consists of many governments.
The seventh questioner asked how space traffic would be dealt with, citing the example of hundreds of satellites, to which Kalam responded by proposing bringing nations together to make sure that it is not an issue.
The eighth questioner asked if humans would be able to survive the travel to places such as Mars. Kalam responded by claiming the colonization to be a long-term venture, and that with proper training it would be possible.
The ninth questioner asked if students were contributing to the future of space travel, to which Kalam responded that they are.
The tenth questioner asked if any large Indian companies, such as Tata Consistency, were contributing to space travel. Kalam responded by saying 500 industries have.
The final questioner asked how space could be protected, considering many major space companies have ties to the military. Kalam responded by saying that there would be a multinational defense force in space, to prevent any one country’s dominance.