Stonecipher Symposium 2000 Features National Speakers on Exploring Space

Do Americans still care about space exploration? Should we go to Mars? Will we ever know what's "out there?" Will it benefit the human race?

Explore these questions March 27-28 at the third annual Stonecipher Symposium on Technology, Communication and Culture, held at Tennessee Technological University. With this year's theme, "Exploring Space," the symposium will provide an opportunity for students, faculty and the public to meet some of the most influential and controversial figures behind the U.S. space program. The symposium will host a variety of speakers and events and is free and open to the public.

Daniel S. Goldin, administrator of NASA since 1992, will give an address and answer questions Monday night, and Rhea Seddon, a medical doctor who was among one of the first female astronauts, will close the symposium with an address Tuesday night.

Presentations by authors Robert Zubrin, Andrew Chaikin and Howard McCurdy, whose works about the U.S. space program have been critically acclaimed, will also be featured. Other symposium events include panel discussions with NASA professionals and TTU faculty members who have conducted research for NASA.

Goldin has transformed NASA in his years as the agency's chief administrative leader by expanding public and educational opportunities in space exploration and research. With his "faster, better, cheaper" approach, Goldin has made aggressive management and budget reforms while increasing productivity, cutting the time required to develop spacecraft and slashing expenses by two-thirds. Despite these reductions, he has increased the average number of missions and improved mission capabilities and safety.

In the next decade, Goldin plans to increase Mars exploration with robotic missions every two years. He has also challenged the Aerospace Technology Program to make space travel 10,000 times safer and 100 times cheaper. Goldin will deliver his talk, "The Technology Triangle and the Future of the Space Program" at 7 p.m., Monday, March 27, in Johnson Hall Auditorium.

Murfreesboro native Rhea Seddon joined NASA with the first group of women astronaut candidates in 1977 and has logged over 722 hours in space. She served as mission specialist on the 1985 Discovery and 1991 Columbia Spacelab Life Sciences missions, and as payload commander on the 1993 Columbia Spacelab Life Science mission. She also served on science and advisory support teams at launch and landing sites and in the control center in between flying missions.

Her keynote address entitled, "Space Exploration and American Culture: An Astronaut's Perspective," is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 28, in Johnson Hall Auditorium.

Zubrin, whose work has influenced NASA's long-term plan to explore Mars, will discuss "Mars Direct: Humans to the Red Planet Within a Decade" on Tuesday morning. His step-by-step plan for future Mars expeditions is the subject of his book, "The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must." He is president of Pioneer Astronautics and a former senior engineer at Martin Marietta.

Chaikin and McCurdy, acclaimed authors who write about the U.S. space program, will give joint presentations Tuesday morning. Chaikin, executive editor of Space and Science and Space.com, is the author of "A Man on The Moon," the basis for Tom Hanks' HBO mini-series, "From the Earth to The Moon." Chaikin will discuss "The Apollo Experience." McCurdy, who has appeared on the MacNeil-Leherer Report, Firing Line and CNN's Newsmaker Saturday, is author of Space and the American Imagination and co-editor of Space Flight.

McCurdy, a professor of public affairs at American University in Washington, D.C., who frequently advises the media on public policy matters, will speak on "Imagination and the U.S. Space Program: Motivating Visions, Past and Future."

Tuesday afternoon events include a panel discussion with NASA representatives and Tech faculty who have conducted research for NASA and a panel discussion about NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and its research directions for the next decade. These will be followed by an address by Dale Quattrochi, geographer and remote sensing research scientist at NASA's Global Hydrology and Climate Center.

Monday afternoon, winners of the student essay contest will present their papers about the value of space exploration, and Goldin will present awards to the winners Monday night.

The symposium is named for and partially funded by Harry Stonecipher, chief operating officer of the Boeing Co. and a 1960 physics graduate of Tennessee Tech. His sponsorship is provided through the Terry Martin Stonecipher Fund for Arts and Sciences, which he established in honor of his son. Other sponsors include The Terry Martin Stonecipher Fund of the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Engineering; the Center for the Management, Utilization, and Protection of Water Resources; the Center for Manufacturing Research; the TTU General Education Fund; and the Commission on the Status of Women.

For more information about symposium events, see http://www2.tntech.edu/stonecipher/default.htm or call (931) 372-3507.
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