Astronaut Terry W. Virts thinks public-private collaboration is ‘the key’ to space exploration

He believes that Europe has “an important role to play” in space exploration and science

NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force Colonel Terry W. Virts stressed that public-private collaboration is “key to the future of space exploration.”

The shuttle Endeavor pilot on his last docking with the International Space Station (ISS) and commander of Expedition 43 which took him to spend 200 days in space explained that governments “are good at providing supplies because they have a big budget and they can collect money and taxes,” while businesses bring speed, agility and innovation. wedding”.

If so, “we will do better and better and we will go further and faster than in the 1970s,” Virts assured in statements to the press at the Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP) in Santander, where he participated in the course ‘Competitive opportunities for the new Spanish space sector: technology, impact and society’.

This seminar, organized in collaboration with SATLANTIS, was held at the Palacio de la Magdalena and brought together experts and leading players in space technologies in Spain and around the world.

In it, Virts explained how Earth observation has changed the perspective of citizens and presented some of the images he took during his space missions.

El astronauta ya retirado de la NASA y autor de numerosos libros que detallan sus vivencias ha commentado que ahora mismo “el espacio es un lugar apasionante y hay muchas compañías trabajando en proyectos” como la creación de nuevas espaciales estaciones, vuelos privados o misiones gubernamentales a the moon.

He also highlighted the appearance of new technologies “which have allowed us to connect to the internet and which have brought global communication”, such as increasingly specialized cameras or tools for identifying the weather. According to him, in the next ten years “there is going to be an explosion and it will be a very interesting time to be in space”.

Regarding the images captured by the James Webb Telescope, he said that “we have been waiting for years for robotics to be able to show Mars or Jupiter”. In fact, it captured “the most distant first image humans have ever seen.”

“It’s just amazing,” said the astronaut, noting that thanks to him “we are going to learn a lot about the universe and other planets.” “We can find out if there is life on other planets, we can get the answers to questions we haven’t even asked ourselves,” he added.

Virts took stock of the contribution of the European Space Agency (ESA) to space missions, in which the participation of this entity in the development of the James Webb Telescope stands out, with the launch of Ariane 5 which put the telescope in orbit.

She also mentioned its contribution to the Luna program in which other international space agencies participate, as well as its facilities in the German city of Cologne where the ESA has designed a reconstruction of the lunar surface in which astronauts can train and test. new technologies: “There is nothing like it on Earth like the one Europe has, which is the biggest,” he said.

Thus, he felt that “Europe has an important role to play in space exploration and science”, and described his space agency as “an important part of the International Space Station”, where many ” European modules and experiences”.

Regarding the influence of the Ukrainian conflict on international cooperation in space, Virts pointed out that “space is always a universe of inspiration for people around the world” but that “ultimately, the leaders of the nations must decide not to go to war.

“We work hard at NASA and ESA to cooperate and be an inspiration, but we cannot make the decisions that correspond to the leaders of nations,” he concluded.

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