Monday, June 11, 2012

ISU SSP12: Week 1

If you've read the first entry, you'll remember I started the blog to document my time with International Space University's SSP12 in Melbourne, Florida, sponsored by FIT and NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC).  Week 1 has ended and Week 2 begun.  It's been said that ISU actually stands for insufficient sleep university, and I can see why.  The staff this year has done a very good job keeping us busy.  For participants we are somewhere in the 130 range (10 Americans), with 30 or 31 countries represented.  Not surprisingly, engineers represent about 58% of the participants, but law and policy makes a respectable showing at 7%.  There are participants from all the major Space Law programs (Nebraska, Paris, Leiden, and McGill), so I look forward to seeing if they have different perspectives during our discussions.

After one week we have already been to Brevard Community College's Planetarium. Unfortunately it was cloudy here in Melbourne, so we missed the Venus transit.  We also got to spend Saturday at the KSC visitor's center, and will be making several future trips to get a behind the scenes view of the complex.  I'm very excited about that.  Disney has also sent some sponsorship our way, and we'll be getting day passes for the parks this coming Saturday.  Like I said, they're keeping us busy.

I have also been enjoying the coursework.  We're still covering introductory classes, but since most of them are science/engineering related I find them interesting and plenty complicated.  Work has also begun on the four Team Projects (TP).  For anyone unfamiliar with the SSP system, each class works on TPs relevant to the space sector, preparing 100 page papers that will be presented at the International Astronautical Congress.  This year's topics are STE(A)M [Science, Technology, Education, (Art), and Mathematics] Space Debris Mitigation and Removal, Spaceports (addressing both in orbit and on celestial bodies), and Next Generation Space Stations.  I am working on the space stations group, so if any readers can point me to good resources about the process that lead to current ISS agreements, and assessments/critiques about how it has worked out in practice, I will be beginning my research soon.  I am the only lawyer in that TP, which I think can be fun since I will be largely autonomous, but it will also mean a very busy summer.

That about sums it up for now. Except to mention that Bill Nye joined the participants for dinner in the cafeteria this evening.

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