Public Release: 

Space exploration experts look to next frontiers at event

Celebration of launch of the Space Age looks at latest in technology, travel

University of Massachusetts Lowell

LOWELL, Mass. - Astronauts, scientists, NASA officials and entrepreneurs will come to UMass Lowell this month to explore the next frontiers in exploration, including space travel, humans' ability to live on other planets and research that benefits life on Earth.

"Space Exploration in the Upcoming Decade: The Domestication of Space," will unite astrophysicists, researchers, students and industry leaders from around the world to share their work and navigate new challenges. The conference, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the start of the Space Age, will be held on Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22 and is open to the public.

The event is presented by the UMass Lowell Center for Space, Science and Technology (LOCSST) and the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium. Keynote speakers include: Astronaut Col. Robert Cabana, director of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, who will talk about creating a spaceport where spacecraft can launch and land; Former astronaut Col. Catherine "Cady" Coleman, U.S. Air Force (ret.), a UMass graduate who will lead a program on how tech entrepreneurs can best bring their innovations to market to serve the space industry; John Connolly, leader of NASA's Mars Study Capability Team, who will provide analysis on when human exploration of Mars may be possible; U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson (ret.), who will discuss the future of space commerce and travel. A former associate director of NASA, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the first director of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI); Kenneth Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, who will talk about the NASA telescope that will launch next year and is designed to capture the most distant objects and events in the universe.

Before the conference gets underway on Friday, April 21, participants will have a chance to see Valkyrie, NASA's life-sized, humanoid robot, which is housed at UMass Lowell's New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. One of only four such robots in the world, Valkyrie is at UMass Lowell so researchers can work to develop its capabilities to assist NASA in space exploration, including missions to Mars.

Subjects of conference sessions include exploring how space travel continues to benefit life on Earth, along with forging new university and industry partnerships to spur research. The event will also feature a competition among students who will present their ideas to design and build miniature cube satellites.

The UMass Lowell Center for Space, Science and Technology is led by renowned researcher Supriya Chakrabarti, physics professor and associate dean of UMass Lowell's Kennedy College of Sciences. The center advances humankind's understanding of space and provides research opportunities for UMass Lowell students, training the next generation of scientists, teachers, business leaders and policymakers. In February, the center's researchers saw the successful launch of their Limb-Imaging Ionospheric and Thermospheric Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrograph (LITES) to the International Space Station where it is transmitting images of different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. By studying these images, scientists hope to improve how satellites and GPS navigational tools function by learning how irregularities in the Earth's upper atmosphere affect radio signals.

"Space Exploration in the Upcoming Decade: The Domestication of Space," will be held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. Those interested in attending or learning more about the event may visit The conference's sponsors include BAE Systems and L3 Technologies.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 17,750 students bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.


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