Bringing together key scientists from the four leading national space agencies as well as a former astronaut and a former cosmonaut, the St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics (HAPP) held a global online panel discussion on "Space Travel Across the Decades and Beyond" on 26 February 2021. Organised by the Centre's Director, Dr Jo Ashbourn, the event attracted an audience of over 550 from around the world.
The panel included NASA's Dr Jim Green (Chief Scientist) and the European Space Agency's Professor Günther Hasinger (Director of Science) along with the Former Scientific Secretary of the Soviet Space Council, Professor Mikhail Marov, and the China Manned Space Programme's Chief Scientist, Professor Gu Yidong. Each discussed the history of their respective national programmes and their milestones before going on to touch upon future ambitions for space travel and exploration. The discussion was ably moderated by Dr Alice Bunn, International Director of the UK Space Agency. Following the talks, Dr Bunn engaged in a lively discussion and debate with the panel and the two distinguished discussants, Dr Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut and the first African American woman in space, and Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, a former cosmonaut and the first Indian in space.
Live questions and answers were posted online throughout the event which saw dozens of queries and comments from members of the audience, many of which were responded to online by the panellists and discussants. As the proceedings progressed, Dr Bunn also selected questions to put directly to the convened experts who shared additional insights in person in the Q&A session and expressed unanimous hope for deeper international collaboration in the future.
As with previous online HAPP events, this one reconnected the HAPP community during the pandemic and engaged a new global audience with HAPP's ongoing programme, increasing awareness of both the Centre and the College well beyond Oxford's lecture theatres.
A video of the Discussion Panel event is now available at https://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/event/space-travel-across-the-decades-and-beyond.