Space Conference Celebrates 25 Years

February 12, 2008

They’ve dreamed about space exploration since they were kids. Now many of them sport grey hair. Still dreaming about space, the men and women who do serious space research for private companies and the federal government come every winter to Albuquerque to talk about what’s new, what’s hot, who’s got research money, and how they can get involved in the most interesting projects.

They’ve made the pilgrimage for the past 25 years because the UNM School of Engineering’s Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies puts on a conference that encourages the disparate groups involved in international space efforts to sit down, talk and think about the huge technical challenges facing the human race as it prepares to move beyond the planet Earth.

It is neutral ground for the companies and agencies that compete for the increasingly scarce research money for space projects, a chance to catch up with the latest thinking in the field, and the newest projects. This year more than 500 people are in Albuquerque to spend most of the week talking about space.

The topics range from complex presentations on thermal control in spacecraft through ways to make a business case for generating electricity from solar power on the moon. The scientists examine the latest proposals for operating systems on space vehicles and discuss how to build sustainable living modules on the moon. For the adventuresome, a series of discussions called “Other Concepts and Theories” will feature presentations about the theory of faster than light space travel or the idea of space travel via black holes.

One part of the conference features a space design competition for middle school and high school students. The class project winners this year came from the 6th grade at Madison Middle School in Albuquerque. Individual winners are Shannon Archuleta from Eisenhower Middle School and Sam Pedrattin from Albuquerque High School. The conference is held February 10-14, 2008 at the Hotel Albuquerque. More information is available athttp://www.unm.edu/~isnps/staifhome.html.