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The 21st Century Conquest of Space
The 21st Century Conquest of Space

Date: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Time: 5:30pm
Location: von Karman Auditorium
Speaker: Brent Sherwood

AIAA San Gabriel Valley Chapter Meeting


Based on a paper published in the journal Acta Astronautica titled “Comparing Future Options for Human Space Flight,” this talk will discuss the ‘‘value proposition’’ for government-funded human space flight, a vexing question that persistently dogs efforts to justify its $10 billion per year expense in the U.S. The original Mercury/Gemini/Apollo value proposition is not valid today. Neither was it the value proposition actually promoted by von Braun, which the post-Apollo 80% of human space flight history has persistently attempted to fulfill. Divergent potential objectives for human space flight are captured in four strategic options—explore Mars; accelerate space passenger travel; enable space power for Earth; and settle the moon—which are then analyzed for their purpose, societal myth, legacy benefits, core needs, and result as measured by the number and type of humans they would fly in space. This simple framework is proposed as a way to support productive dialog with public and other stakeholders, to determine a sustainable value proposition for human space flight.


Sherwood is a space architect with 24 years in civil and commercial space. Until recently he managed the creation of the JPL Innovation Foundry, which helps ideate, mature and propose new mission concepts. Prior to joining JPL in 2005, he was at the Boeing Company for 17 years, where he led concept engineering teams for human exploration, ISS manufacturing engineering, Sea Launch program development, and business development for commercial and space science projects. In 2010 he was a core member of NASA’s Human Exploration Framework Team. He is active in the International Academy of Astronautics and the AIAA Space Architecture Technical Committee. He has published and presented more than 45 papers on the exploration, development and settlement of space; and edited the AIAA book “Out of This World: The New Field of Space Architecture.” Sherwood has an M.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland and a Master of Architecture from Yale.

Light refreshments and snacks will be offered. This event is open to the public, and von Karman will be reconfigured for outside access. This meeting does not include any access or tours of JPL.

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