By virtue of a long-standing tradition of collaborative projects between NASA and Rice University, the Baker Institute Space Policy Program is distinctively positioned to influence the national and international debate on the future of manned and unmanned space exploration, commercial space efforts and international cooperation in space. Almost 50 years ago, in a speech delivered at Rice University, President John F. Kennedy called for a great national effort to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, declaring, “The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.” Today, America’s pre-eminent role in space is being challenged both internationally and domestically. Space policy has become a prominent and contentious public policy issue. The future of America’s space program is at a critical point in time; decisions are being made that will affect not only our national security but also our ability to successfully compete with other countries in the commercial use of space.
Led by George Abbey, Baker Botts Senior Fellow in Space Policy, former director of Johnson Space Center and recipient of the Medal of Freedom, the Space Policy Program brings together experts from academia, government, industry and nongovernmental agencies and sponsors research, workshops, seminars and lectures covering a wide range of space-related topics from which public policy recommendations are generated. The Baker Institute and Baylor College of Medicine recently hosted the fifth International Space Medicine Summit, which gathered leading physicians, space biomedical scientists, engineers, astronauts and cosmonauts from the space-faring nations for high-level discussions about the research needed to prevent and/or mitigate the medical and biomedical challenges spacefarers experience in long-duration spaceflight.
From guests such as icons John Young, Joe Engle, Sally Ride and Vladimir Titov to modern-day heroes like Charles Bolden, Peggy Whitson, Leroy Chiao and Don Pettit, the Space Policy Program proudly continues to promote a relevant agenda to enhance the understanding of the principal issues facing policymakers and to shape the national space debate.