Beyond the Cradle


Space Exploration Initiative

Space Exploration Initiative

CANCELLED (in-person)

Context from MIT's President

Stay tuned for virtual content on March 12!


8:00am | Breakfast and registration

8:45am | Welcome and kickoff: Houston we are GO for launch

  • Ariel Ekblaw, Founder and Lead, Space Exploration Initiative

9:00am | Plenary keynote

  • Dr. Maria T. Zuber, MIT VP for Research

9:45am | Plenary panel: Our sci-fi space future

  • [Moderator] Lizbeth B. De La Torre, Space Enabled, MIT Media Lab 
  • Jeremy Lasky, Co-founder, Perception Studios
  • Dr. Tanya Harrison, Manager of Science Programs, Planet Labs
  • Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, writer, Marvel; Creative Director, Somos Arte

10:30am | Break

10:45am |  Session 1 | Please choose one track

(A) Space Research Talk

  • Sheperd Doeleman, Founding Director of the Event Horizon Telescope, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

(B) Democratizing "Open Space" Panel

  • [Moderator] Therese Jones, Senior Director of Policy, Satellite Industry Association
  • Emily Calandrelli, Host and Executive Producer, Xploration Outer Space
  • Prathima Muniyappa, Space Enabled, MIT Media Lab 
  • Jessy Kate Schingler, Director of Policy and Governance Research, Open Lunar Foundation
  • Matt Weinzierl, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

11:30am | Session 2 | Please choose one track

(A) Space & Storytelling Talk

  • Nia Imara, John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow, Harvard University and artist

(B) Frontiers for Space Exploration Panel

  • [Moderator] Farah Alibay, Flight System Systems Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Hajime Yano, Space Exploration Scientist, Associate Professor, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
  • Kimberly Slater, Space Innovations Lead, Program Manager, Space Systems Program Office, DRAPER Laboratory
  • Erika Wagner, Payload Sales Director, Blue Origin
  • Pete Klupar, Director of Engineering, Breakthrough Starshot

12:15pm | Lunch

1:15pm | Session 3 | Please choose one track

(A) Space Industry Talk

  • Dr. Zachary Pirtle, Lead Exploration and Operations Research Analyst at NASA Headquarters

(B) Space and the Arts Panel

  • [Moderator] Benjamin Bratton, artist
  • Lita Albuquerque, artist
  • Lisa Messeri, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale
  • Tavares Strachan, artist
  • Anton Vidokle, artist 

2:00pm | Session 4 | Please choose one track

(A) Space Industry Talk

  • Veronica Foreman, Payload Engineer, Virgin Orbit 

(B) Fireside Chat: Life in Space from Astrobiology to Planetary Science 

  • [Moderator] Sunanda Sharma, PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tanja Bosak, Associate Professor and Chair of the Program in Geology, Geochemistry & Geobiology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Professor, Arizona State University

2:45pm | Workshops

Explore full workshop descriptions here!

  1. Design Your Sci Fi Space Future
  2. Native Space Farer, Part III
  3. Space Architecture
  4. Space Governance
  5. Space Health 

3:45pm | Break

4:00pm | Plenary keynote

  • Nicholas de Monchaux, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, MIT

4:30pm | Event finale: Astronaut augury

  • [Moderator] Cady Coleman, ret. NASA astronaut
  • Samantha Cristoferretti, ESA astronaut
  • Oleg Kotov, Cosmonaut
  • Paolo Nespoli, ret. ESA Astronaut and Engineer

5:10pm | Event finale: Executive augury

  • [Moderator] Sarah Cruddas, Space Journalist, TV Host, Author and Director at Space for Humanity
  • Larry James, Deputy Director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
  • Brent Sherwood, Vice President of Engineering, Blue Origin 

5:45pm | Closing remarks

Ariel Ekblaw, Founder and Lead, Space Exploration Initiative

6:00pm | Cocktail reception

Accessibility Note: This event will have open captioning (English) at the event and on the webcast. Archival video will also include English-language closed captions.

Contact with general questions.  
Contact with accessibility questions.

View the archive of the 2019 event. Learn more about the Space Exploration Initiative.