Why do we explore SPACE?
There are many good reasons to continue to explore SPACE. We do it for purposes of scientific discovery, economic benefit, and national security. First, as a society, we yearn to be “first or the best” in some activity. We want to stand out and we are driven to outperform others. This behavior is part of our genetic DNA. Second, we are just curious. Christopher Columbus didn’t believe the world was flat, so he led his exploratory voyage to find new worlds. Lastly, since the earliest civilizations, we build monuments. We want to leave something behind to show the next generations what we did with our time here.
Discovery, leadership and innovation are pursuits that have built and grown our nation. The space age that was launched in the 1960’s and has made significant contributions to the world we live in. The innovations and technological breakthroughs in communications, transportation, robotics, energy and environmental monitoring serve today as major economic ‘levers’ in a global economy.
NASA has been inquiring into how can we affordably take humans to the edge of deep space while growing the U.S. technological economy and continuing our international competitiveness. We have also been thinking about how we can create a sustainable program of discovery in space, and is it a strategic opportunity for continued US global leadership in space exploration. How do we further promote international collaboration for peaceful purposes while making new scientific discoveries and advancing high rates of return technologies in the current environment?
John D. Baker is currently a Program Manager with more than 25 years of experience at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. John leads the development of both human and robotic exploration system studies. His most recent study has been looking at how to capture and redirect a small asteroid, which has become a new initiative for NASA. He is also developing a new product line of small and very low cost planetary spacecraft. John has been both a recent Project Manager, running a drop test Project to supporting the design of the Orion Crew Module for water landing. He was a Program Executive at NASA headquarters in Washington DC for the successful LRO and LCROSS missions to the Moon. Prior to that, he managed the Mars Science Laboratory ‘Curiosity’ Rover Project Systems Engineering effort and developed numerous Space Shuttle remote sensing and educational payloads. John also developed a new framework for JPL and NASA to help ensure repeatable mission success. John has also led the development of numerous new innovative software applications, hardware technologies and mission concepts.
Over his career, he has held positions in Program and line management, systems engineering, avionics design engineering and mission operations for space systems and technologies. He has also received numerous citations and awards including the Exceptional Service Medal from NASA. His degree is in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University.