Background from the Space Seminar proposal

September 12 – 16, 2023 in Florence, Italy made possible by the support of the Menarini Foundation.

We are entering one of the most aspirational periods in the history of human spaceflight, if not the human race. The birth of orbital spaceflight, the Apollo Moon missions, the space station, and a plethora of advanced space missions led humans to live vicariously through the lives of professional astronauts. Indeed, the Apollo 11 Moon landing may have been the first (and sadly the last) time humanity collectively celebrated a singular event together.

This vicarious aspiration has now morphed into a new era of civilization where all citizens of the world can see themselves entering the domain of space, should they wish to do so. The advent of commercial space travel harkens back to the mythical invention of the warp drive of Star Trek fame—the invention that permitted interstellar travel and exploration beyond our wildest dreams. It spawned the aspirational age of humans living and working space, bringing forth the marriage of culture, advanced technology, and shared community in pursuit of new frontiers.

Today, we can dream of bringing our Earthbound culture into space to work, play, dream, invent, and explore. This is made possible only by the converging advances of aerospace engineering, biotechnology, spaceflight medicine, finance, and political will. Driven by its inherent difficulty, spaceflight is one of our day's most translational scientific efforts.

But what will this bring us?