GW Professor John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute and Center for International Science and Technology Policy, took to the airwaves this week to explain to viewers in America and Europe the significance of the space shuttle Discovery’s research mission.
Logsdon said astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) got the public to pay attention to the space program again with his return mission.
“Having Glenn on board makes this mission interesting,” Logsdon said. “Aside from that, it’s a regular research mission.”
Logsdon said the data Glenn will produce will help scientists understand the effects of space travel on the elderly and the aging process.
The Space Policy Institute started in July 1987, following the 1986 Challenger explosion. Logsdon said the program was designed to provide a neutral place for the consideration of space policy after seven astronauts, including one civilian, died in the accident.
Since then, Logsdon has served as a spokesperson when important missions have been sent to space. He has appeared on numerous television news programs and been cited in newspapers. Logsdon also edited and authored many books.
Logsdon said the department has received attention for a good reason.
“In terms of the organized study of the history of space policy, we’re it,” Logsdon said. “For what we do, this is the place to be.”
The Space Policy Institute often is called on by Congress and private companies to explain the possibilities of space exploration, Logsdon said.
This space mission is more than another chance to make NASA research relevant to world-wide audiences, Logsdon said.
“My memories of space began with Glenn,” Logsdon said. “I was on my honeymoon (during Glenn’s first trip to space) and my wife and I saw his recovery fleet in a harbor in the Virgin Islands. I saw his ticker-tape parade in Manhattan when we returned to New York.”
The University and the privately funded Space Policy Institute cultivate and house experts in the field of space policy and technology.
GW master’s graduates with concentrations in space policy now hold positions with NASA and one is a science adviser and occasional script writer for Star Trek, Logsdon said.
For the first time in what Logsdon called “a while,” seniors in the Elliott School of International Affairs will have a chance to take his Issues in Space Policy course next spring.