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Surprising Science

The Strange Phase of Space Travel

In the third installment of our new series, The Future In Motion, we sat down with Burt Rutan, famed aerospace engineer and winner of the Ansari X Prize. In this clip, he talks about suborbital space travel, and how he believes that he’ll be able to get 100,000 people up there in the next twelve years. Besides being a unique vacation, space travel could actually help our future: “That will breed the investment to go out and solve the other problems, so that people can afford to go to that resort hotel on orbit in the earth and take that shore excursion, which is a trip to swing around the moon and then back.”

As part of this series, every Wednesday until April 7, we will release new interviews with people who are changing the way we get from here to there, from entrepreneurs to policy makers. So far, we’ve featured interviews with Richard Schaden, Aeronautical engineer and founder of Beyond The Edge; Mitchell Joachim, founder of Terreform ONE; Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogata; and Felix Kramer, founder of the non-profit, California Cars Initiative. The schedule for the following weeks is as follows:

· March 3: Burt Rutan—Aerospace Engineer and founder of the Rutan Aircraft Factory and Scaled Composites, two companies which have developed and flight-tested more new types of aircraft than the rest of the US industry combined. Rutan was the recipient of the Ansari X-Prize and inventor of aircrafts including the Voyager, the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, SpaceShipOne, and VariEze. 

· March 10: William J. Mitchell—Director of MIT’s Design Laboratory and the research group, “Smart Cities,” which explores the new forms and functions of cities in the digital electronic era, and suggests design and planning directions for the future.

· March 10: Ryan Chin, Researcher in MIT’s “Smart Cities” research group, and is working to develop “the car of the future,” a stackable, electric, shared two-passenger city vehicle that rethinks urban mobility. 

· March 17: Geoffe Wardle, Director, Advanced Mobility Research, Art Center College of Design.

· March 24: Nathan Lewis, Professor of Chemistry, at the California Institute of Technology.

· March 31: Joseph Sussman—Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. Specializing in “Complex, Large-Scale, Interconnected, Open, Sociotechnical’ (CLIOS) strategic transportation systems.

· March 31: Douglas Malewicki, Aerospace engineer and inventor of the SkyTran, a Personal Rapid Transit system that uses magnetic levitation tracks to achieve the equivalent of over 200 miles per gallon fuel economy at 100 miles per hour or faster.

· April 7: Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which promotes the formation of space tourism and other major milestones and the co-Founder of Space Adventures. 

· April 7: Michael Schrage– Research fellow with the Sloan School of Management’s Center for Digital Business and a visiting fellow at Imperial College’s [London] ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ program. Research focuses on innovation risk management and the role of collaborative tools and technologies in enabling innovation.


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