Monday, September 19, 2011

Session Recaps: Dr. Krathammer, Dr. Hensel and NASA Administrator Bolden

Guest blogger Micah Foster, gave us some great recaps of the afternoon sessions!

On Dr. Charles Krathammer's session -- The New Isolationism?:

During the talk entitled "The New Isolationism?", Dr. Charles Krauthammer, MD outlined his definition of what isolationism is coming to mean, and his view of the current state of America's foreign policy.

As a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist and nightly panelist with Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier," Dr. Krauthammer has had a vast amount of experience in critiquing policy and put to good use his analytical skills during the afternoon's talk. Using China as an example, Dr. Krauthammer spoke of the dangers of indifference to foreign affairs and of the folly that isolating one's country from the rest of the world could bring. China's rise in its region is a result of its desire to become a more global power, and the idea of pulling the US's resources from Asia would result in an accelerated timeline for China's regional dominance, he outlined. Dr. Krauthammer expressed his hope that the current Administration wouldn't engage in "passive isolationism" in a kind of slow motion pull-out of the country's resources that are currently abroad.

At the very end of his talk, Dr. Krauthammer noted that he didn't want people to leave his talk gloomy from his analysis, saying tongue-in-cheek, "you know, I am a psychiatrist, so if anyone needs a prescription for some anti-depressants, come talk with me afterwards."

On Dr. Nayantara Hensel's Session -- Changing Tradewinds in the Global Economy/Impact on Defense:

During the talk entitled "Changing Tradewinds in the Global Economy/Impact on Defense", Dr. Nayantara Hensel spoke to all the "closet economists" in the room with a lecture chock-full of data and graphs on the current state of the global economy. She went over the changing demands of global markets and the shift in weapons demands from countries all over the world. The main question of the day was "how will the defense industrial base be changed over the next decade or more?"

Essentially with the austerity measures that many governments are considering putting in place to combat their dire financial states, Dr. Hensel has seen the shrinking and growth of markets within the defense industry. With shipbuilding as an example of a shrinking market, less states are spending less money on their navy's ships, while more states are spending more money on UAV's. Dr. Hensel also spoke about the world's dependence on rare earth minerals from China presenting challenges for the global economies over the next decade. Currently China produces 95% to 97% of the rare earth minerals used in products ranging from a Toyota Prius to the F-22, and are using that market dominance to their advantage.

Dr. Hensel wrapped up her talk with a few thoughts on how the EU financial crisis may deepen, undermining the Euro's market value.

On NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's Session -- The Future of Space:

During the talk entitled "The Future of Space", former astronaut and current NASA Administrator Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., USMC (Ret.) spoke on NASA's current developments and future plans.

With the SLS Heavy Lift-Launch Vehicle design chosen last week, NASA has decided to focus its mission on working with its corporate partners to provide commercial access to Low-Earth Orbit assets (i.e. the International Space Station) while also developing its ability to travel above Low-Earth Orbit. Giving a tentative timeline during the sessions Q&A, Bolden said that he hopes NASA will be able to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. These deeper space missions will come from working with the SLS and developing components that were already designed with the Constellation program.

Describing the state of space commercialization, Bolden outlined his confidence that working with aerospace industry leaders will lead to a new era for NASA that will allow them to refocus on bold new exploration missions.

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