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"The U.S. Space Program - What Lies Ahead?"


Jeff Hoffman '66
MIT professor and former astronaut
Larry Young '56
MIT professor

November 29, 2011

After 30 years of operations, culminating with the completion of the construction of the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle fleet has been retired from service. The program officially came to an end on July 21, 2011, when the Space Shuttle Atlantis rolled to a stop on the runway at its home port, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. What does this mean for the future of human space flight, both in the US and worldwide? For at least the next few years, human space flight will be concentrated on the Space Station, with crew transportation provided by Russian Soyuz rockets. However, several private companies are currently developing capabilities to send people into space and to conduct operations both in sub-orbital space and in orbit. Commercial access to space may be a game-changing development in human space flight.

MIT Professors Jeff Hoffman '66 and Larry Young '56 shared their insights into what the future may hold with respect to human space flight in the coming decade and beyond. Hoffman was a NASA astronaut for 19 years, making 5 space flights including the 1993 rescue/repair of the Hubble Space Telescope. Young has been the principal investigator on numerous space experiments as well as having been trained as an alternate payload specialist for NASA spacelab missions.

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