“Humans in Space,” with Roger Launius (Smithsonian Institution).

December 1 at 7:00 in Lovejoy 100

Imagining Space

Imagining Space: Achievements, Predictions, Possibilities, 1950-2050.

Trips to the Moon, humans in Earth orbit, and plans for exploring Mars all dominated thinking in the twentieth century. Even so, as the twenty-first century dawned an expansive vision for human spaceflight has not emerged. The Space Shuttle has been retired without a clear follow-on human spaceflight vehicle in the United States, and efforts to generate public excitement in lunar and Mars exploration have faltered. What does the first half of the twenty-first century hold for humans in space? In this presentation I will survey more fifty years of space exploration, reviewing the major human programs from the first efforts through the successful spaceflight programs of the recent past and offering comments on the possibilities available in the decades to come.

Roger D. Launius is Associate Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. He has written or edited more than twenty books on aerospace history. Between 1990 and 2002 he served as chief historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A graduate of Graceland College, he received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 1982. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the American Astronautical Society. He also served as a consultant to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003 and presented the prestigious Harmon Memorial Lecture on the history of national security space policy at the United States Air Force Academy in 2006. He is frequently consulted by the electronic and print media for his views on space issues, and has been a guest commentator on National Public Radio and all the major television network news programs.

Student Discussions:

  • Robots in Space December 15, 2015 Sophie SuechtingI thoroughly enjoyed this week’s talk on robots in space. The most thought provoking aspects were the city plans for what life in space might look like. To see a ...
  • Robotizing Humans and Humanizing Robots December 15, 2015 Kay ShigemoriRoger Launius’s talk on “Robots vs. Humans in Space” was truly thought provoking. The theme on humans and robots (or robotizing human beings) appears to be a re-curing theme, in this ...
  • Narcissism To The Human Condition December 14, 2015 Jay ArrHomo sapiens as a species evolved approximately one hundred thousand years ago, as the next logical step succeeding Homo erectus. According to evolutionary theory we as a species were most adapted to ...
  • Art Through history December 14, 2015 Kate KerinArt has had a huge evolution since humans have been around it has evolved along with us. Humans are the only life forms that make art for pleasure. We make ...
  • Humans In Space: The Last Frontier December 14, 2015 Jay ArrThe speaker’s talk was focused on the prospects of human exploration of space. In his talk he outlined a number of issues with Space Exploration. He also suggests a plan ...
  • Out in space: Rebuilding the Human Race December 11, 2015 Nick PattisonI loved hearing about the possibilities of humans entering into space! It was intriguing how humans would travel to the moon or mars, and what that would look like, and what ...
  • The Final Frontier December 10, 2015 wavinkeDuring his talk on whether robots or humans are the best choice for space flight, Roger Launius kept making the point that humans are designed from an evolutionary perspective for ...
  • Humans are stuck on earth December 9, 2015 Roger StoneIn Roger Launius’s lecture entitled “Robots Vs. Humans in Spaceflight” he made some thought provoking comments on humans ability to survive in space that I never previously thought about. I ...
  • Cyborgs, Today and Tomorrow December 8, 2015 Maya MeltsnerOne idea that I found interesting in this week’s lecture was Roger Launius’ suggestion that we are already well on our way towards becoming cyborgs. I had not previously considered ...
  • Is space traveling safe for humans? December 8, 2015 Stacey HouIn this lecture, Mr. Launius enlightened us with pros and cons about humans in space traveling. In many ways, robots/machines are better space travelers than human beings: they are perfect ...