International Space University's summer program takes off in Montreal
Published Sunday, June 15, 2014 8:00AM EDT
Call it space camp for grownups.
For the first time in its 27-year history, the International Space University is holding its space program here in Montreal for the summer.
Originally established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the nine-week program is run by the Canadian Space Agency, in order to bring space education to a broad spectrum of people, so that all that space has to offer can be within reach.
Held at Ecole de technologie superieure in Montreal, 125 post-graduate students from 31 countries will all learn about space and the role space plays in our lives.
“This is a multinational, multicultural environment and it is really a dynamic learning environment for us,” said Sreerekha U, a space technologist from India.
“What we want to do is try and take an engineer and teach him about the legal and policy implications, take somebody who's in business and management who's maybe running a space company and talk to them about the space sciences being done,” explained David Kendall, director of the space studies program.
The goal is to seek people from a variety of disciplines to be able to understand and explain to others the importance of the practical work being done in space.
“Space agencies have a different niche now. Much of the space activities that we're doing are being driven by new entrepreneurs who are getting private money outside government are now forcing the way we think about space. This is very, very healthy,” said Kendall.
Those entrepreneurs include business people like Virgin founder and magnate Richard Branson, who's working to create space tourism flights and claims he will fly first with his family sometime this year.
There are currently more tangible benefits of space, said Scott Madry, a lecturer at the University of North Carolina.
“One of the things we say all the time is that a day without space would be a very bad day. Space is like an invisible infrastructure that we don't really realize on a day to day basis is there, but every time we swipe a credit card at a store or buy gas, that credit card is being verified not by land lines, but goes up to a satellite in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres from the earth,” he said.
As another example, Madry helped train Red Cross personnel to use satellite imagery during Hurricane Katrina, an invaluable tool in disaster management.
As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, ISU hopes increasing space knowledge will foster space collaboration around the world, to take us all to the next level.