The information on this page was published in the past, thus it may be different from the current status.
To check the date of issuance, please refer to the following URL for the list of interviews, or for the list of special articles.

Promoting Public Participation in Space Science
			Louis D. Friedman
			Executive Director, The Planetary Society
			The Planetary Society is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman. It is working on launching the world's first solar sail spacecraft, and has put a Mars microphone on a NASA space probe. The Planetary Society's chief goals are to promote international cooperation in space exploration, and to inspire interest in space exploration through education and public participation.
Louis D. Friedman
Founder and Executive Director, The Planetary Society
Dr. Friedman earned a B.S. in applied Mathematics and Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin in 1961, followed by an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics at Cornell University in 1963, and a Ph.D. from the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971. The following decade, 1970-1980, found him at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, involved in planning deep-space missions. In 1980, he co-founded The Planetary Society. Today he is the Project Director for Cosmos I, the Planetary Society's solar-sail mission, and is taking an active role in space cooperation projects around the world.
?ailing?to the Stars
Q. Can you explain the planetary mission you are currently directing?
The Planetary Society is conducting its own mission, trying to fly the world's first solar-sailing spacecraft. [The solar sail uses particles of light, or photons, to propel a spacecraft through space, like a conventional sail uses wind power.] It's a long-term interest. Many space agencies - NASA, JAXA, the European Space Agency and the Russians - are all working on solar-sailing technology, but nobody has ever attempted to fly a mission, except for us. This is a privately funded activity, done for only $4-million. We contracted with the Russians for a launch vehicle, which was a converted ballistic missile. We tried in June 2005 to fly this mission, and unfortunately our rocket failed. So now we have to raise the money to try again. But we will try. The reason solar sailing is so interesting is that it is the only known technology that someday may take us to the stars. It doesn't require fuel, so you don't have to carry your fuel along for the long interstellar voyage.
Solar Sailing Spacecraft Cosmos I
Q. Is it difficult to do planetary exploration using private capital?
Yes, I think it's difficult to use private capital for planetary exploration. The Planetary Society actually raised $4-million for this first attempt at a solar sail. But of course, that's an Earth-orbiting spacecraft, and not planetary exploration.
To actually conduct a space-exploration mission, which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, I think it's unrealistic to think of private missions. Even a private mission to the moon is unrealistic, though there are people who have tried. This is the type of work that governments do.
It's very risky, as we know, in space. Always something happens which is difficult. And there's no immediate return. You go there for knowledge, for discovery - the kinds of things that benefit society generally. So it's the kind of thing that governments must do. It's not the kind of thing that can return an investment to somebody who wants to make money.
Space Exploration Is an Important Link with the Public
Q. The U.S. government has reduced its budget for space development over the last several years, especially the budget for basic space science. What do you think about that?

In a way, we are very fortunate to live at a time when we can witness great missions like the Mars Exploration Rover, Cassini Huygens, Hayabusa. Governments are spending money, and they're doing this for the science and the joy of discovery, and the adventure of exploring other worlds. So we're fortunate that they do spend as much money as they do. At the same time, governments do not always spend the money wisely, and there are choices they make that don't bring the same return. It's very hard to get science funding, because sometimes it's very hard to explain to politicians why the benefits of science are important.
I think the chief product of space missions is inspiration. Kids are typically interested in space exploration because it represents a positive future. And this allows them to learn science, and mathematics, and many other subjects. This is very hard to explain to politicians, and sometimes they cut science budgets because they think it's not of great importance to the interests of the country. In the U.S. right now, we're having a disagreement with the budget that has been proposed for NASA, because they've cut science funding.
The same in Japan and Europe and Russia, which have all decreased their science funding for space missions. I think that's a mistake. The public is excited about the discoveries from Mars, from Saturn, and they're excited about the great Hayabusa mission. I think the public knows the value of space science. So it's the politicians that we must convince.
Q. What is the Planetary Society's relationship with NASA?
The Planetary Society supports space exploration, and we sometimes urge NASA, and other space agencies around the world, to continue with their programs of exploration, and to help involve the public in this. Sometimes space agencies and governments forget the public interest. They think they're serving just a small group of people. They're not. They're serving everybody.
1    2    3    4    5 Next