Update On That SpaceX Mars Meeting In Colorado (Revised)

Keith's update: There is a meeting about Mars exploration underway at the University of Colorado in Boulder sponsored by SpaceX. Contrary to some initial descriptions the meeting is not "secret". But its not exactly "open" either. Rather, it is invitation-only. The purpose of the meeting according to sources is for SpaceX to ping Mars exploration experts outside their company about the technology needed to implement the Mars exploration plans that have been described by Elon Musk. It is likely that SpaceX will do more of these external events in the future.

While NASA has yet to confirm that any of the 50-60 attendees are from the agency, sources report that the following institutions are represented: Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado, Boulder; NASA HQ, ASI, JPL/Caltech; SpaceX, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona; ASURE, MIT, Bechtel Corporation; Schlumberger; University of Florida; Freestyle Analytical & Quantitative Services, LLC; Ball Aerospace; Arizona State University; Brown University; NASA Ames; NASA Marshall, NASA KSC, EchoStar; NASA Glenn; JAXA; SpaceX/Tesla; BAERI; ESA; University of Central Florida; University of Western Ontario; Caterpillar Inc; NASA JSC; Aerospace Corporation; Maxar Technologies; MBRSC - UAE; Planetary Science Institute; LASP / University of Colorado, Boulder; and Honeybee Robotics.

The big question is whether NASA is considering participating in the SpaceX Mars plans - plans which would send humans to Mars a decade or more before NASA does. While NASA human spaceflight people at HEOMD were invited to this event none of them apparently attended. Only Mars science types showed up. That's rather odd for a meeting where the prime focus is humans to Mars in giant rockets and building permanent human bases.

Keith's further update: I spoke with NASA Science Mission Directorate AA Thomas Zurbuchen about this meeting. He said that that some of his program staff were invited to give presentations of what NASA was doing (and planning to do) on Mars but that they really had no input into the meeting structure itself. One of the topics that interests Zurbuchen is how SpaceX might be able to work collaboratively with NASA on sample return. Zurbuchen says that he has encouraged discussions about commercial, public/private partnerships on this and other topics sich as smallsats. But as for participation in human exploration, Zurbuchen said that no policy positions should be implied by NASA SMD's participation in this meeting about SpaceX's human Mars plans and that to the best of his knowledge no one at NASA has really been authorized to have such a policy discussion.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 7, 2018 4:42 PM.

NASA Attends Stealthy SpaceX Mars Meeting (Shh!) (Update) was the previous entry in this blog.

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