Beyond the Cradle 2022: Life in Space


Space Exploration Initiative

Space Exploration Initiative

April 28, 2022

Beyond the Cradle 2022

Life in Space 
Thursday, April 28, 2022 
Virtual and In-Person 

This year at Beyond the Cradle, we will focus on Life in Space, and the very real possibility of near-term interplanetary life. 

On April 28, we will bring together the very best of the space industry—from space scientists and astronauts at the vanguard of exploration, CEOs and founders building a burgeoning space ecosystem, and artists and sci-fi storytellers who are shaping our conception of the possible.

Join us for an exciting day of discussions, workshops, and presentations. Please check this space soon for updates on our program schedule, registration, and Covid-19 safety protocols.

This is an invitation-only event. If you are interested in attending in person, please reach out to explorespace@media.mit.edu. The captioned live stream will be free and open to the public (and posted right here!) on Thursday, April 28, 2022, starting at 9am ET.  

Beyond the Cradle: Life in Space will adhere to MIT policies for Covid-19 safety. We will provide an update on our event protocols as we get closer to April 28.

Speaker Bios


1:00pm | We are go for launch with Ariel Ekblaw and Dava Newman

1:10pm | Democratizing Access to Space with Timiebi Aganaba (Arizona State University),  Christian Maender (Axiom),  Mona Minkara (Northeastern University), Dylan Taylor (Voyager Space Holdings)

1:45pm | Zero G Lighting Talks

2:15pm | Life in Space: From Anthropocene to Anthropocosmos with Sydney Do (NASA JPL), Jaden Hastings (Cornell Weill), Ravi Kumar Kopparapu (NASA GSFC), Sunanda Sharma (NASA JPL)

2:50pm | Break

3:00pm | Space Art: Cosmic Sensation with Sarah Rosalena Brady (artist), Xin Liu (artist), Ari Melenciano (artist), Rachel Rose (artist)

3:45pm | Workshops: Human Computer Interaction for Space Exploration,  Space Architecture (to attend virtually, find the zoom link on our event page),  Space + Play

4:45pm | Break

5:00pm | Evolution of Human Spaceflight with Mike Massimino,  Scott “Kidd” Poteet, John Shoffner, Sana Sharma

5:45pm | Closing Remarks by Ariel Ekblaw


Space Architecture
Space architecture is an interdisciplinary field that involves many branches of knowledge, such as space science, engineering, architecture, industrial design, medicine, psychology, and art. It covers all aspects of and needs for human space exploration in low earth orbit (LEO) and other celestial bodies, including the Moon and Mars.

In this Space Architecture Workshop, participants will complete a cross-pollinating design thinking activity with several experts in the field, envisioning possible future scenarios of space architecture in order to design a safe and livable ecosystem for sustaining human life in space.

The research questions will address many aspects of design around the future of crewed missions to the Moon and Mars, including habitation systems and habitability requirements, in situ resources utilization, human factor design, micrometeoroid, solar flares and GCR shielding technologies, human-machine interaction, and ethics and sustainability of space exploration.

Workshop Format:
15 min: Quick roundtable intro by facilitators (1 min max/facilitator)
30 min: Subdivision into groups, both online and in person, for the design thinking activity.
Each group will brainstorm about one of these specific topics:
1. AI and construction autonomy
2. VR, AR, and wearable technology applications during operations and
living on long term missions
3. Bringing lessons learned from space architecture back to Earth
15 min: Wrap-up by each group

Organizers and main facilitators: Valentina Sumini (Politecnico di Milano, MIT Media Lab), Guillermo Trotti (Trotti Studio)

External Facilitators: Olga Bannova (University of Houston – SICSA), Miriam Dall’Igna (Foster + Partners), Rus Gant (Harvard), Georgi Petrov (SOM), Ramandeep Shergill (Bartlett School of Architecture)

This is a hybrid workshop. Please register in advance if you are participating online, so we can send you the link to join on April 28. 

Human-Computer Interaction for Space Exploration
Space travel and becoming an interplanetary species have always been part of humanity’s greatest imaginings. Research in space exploration helps us advance our knowledge in the fundamental sciences, and challenges us to design new technologies and to create new industries for space, all while prompting us to answer the most essential questions about our place in the Universe. However, keeping a human healthy, happy and productive in space is one of the most challenging aspects of current space programs. Our biological body, which evolved in the Earth’s specific environment, is not designed to survive by itself in extreme conditions such as high radiation or low gravity (among other threats). Therefore, researchers have been developing different types of human-computer interfacing systems (HCI), which support a human body’s physical and mental performance in space. 

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