The Next Space Race
Opening Space to All
What is “commercial” human spaceflight? Why have only a relatively small number of highly trained government specialists flown into space 55 years after Yuri Gagarin’s first flight?
This lecture will discuss the relatively recent development of commercial human spaceflight, with a focus on reusable space transportation systems designed to greatly decrease the cost and increase the safety of travel to and from low Earth orbit (LEO), opening space to thousands of ordinary people and entrepreneurs for the first time since the dawn of the space age.
The lecture will focus particularly on the advent of truly reusable rockets, the new engines that power them, and the current capabilities and strategies of Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and NASA. Blue Origin’s New Shepard and New Glenn space transportation systems and the BE-3 and BE-4 liquid rocket engines that power them will be discussed in some detail. These systems will be compared and contrasted with other past and current approaches, including the Space Launch System currently under development by NASA.
Finally, the lecture will reach beyond the technical details of launch systems and rocket engines to discuss how the development of safe, affordable access to space for people and cargo will open up vast resources for the benefit of humanity in myriad ways we cannot yet even begin to envision.
About the Speaker
Bretton Alexander serves as Director of Business Development and Strategy at Blue Origin. Previously, he served on NASA's Advisory Council as Chair of the Commercial Space Committee, as a member of Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, as President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and as Executive Director for Space at the X-Prize Foundation, where he led the Google Lunar X Prize competition. He also was Vice President for Corporate and External Affairs at t/Space and served as Senior Policy Analyst for Space in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). While at OSTP, Brett worked to develop the "Vision for Space Exploration" and he was deeply involved in the response to the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Among other awards, Brett is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal.
Brett earned a BS and an MS in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia.