Sunday, May 08, 2011

ISDC 2011: The Countdown Continues

We're now at about T-minus 9 days until the first ISDC activity starts: a tour of the United Launch Alliance plant in Decatur, Alabama. We're getting down to the brass tacks and nit-picky details that are the bane of any event planner's existence, but they're also things that need to get done. We'll get there, but I'll probably make myself crazy over the next nine days making sure that we do.

Speaking of tours, we have included tours to NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (due date for international visitors has passed, deadline for U.S. Citizens is TODAY!), the Von Braun Astronomical Society (full), and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology (also full, or close to it).

The good news is that we have our primary speakers lined up, and we've got some impressive ones. Our keynote speaker at the Governors Dinner/Gala, Robert Bigelow, for one. His company has been building inflatable space stations, and one of our primary sponsors, Dynetics, has been building the reaction control system for the next one to go up there. We've never had Bigelow at an ISDC before, so that's something of a distinction (got to thank our friend at Dynetics, Tim Pickens, for that). We're featuring past astronauts, current NASA center directors, folks from commercial ("New") space, traditional aerospace companies, space advocacy groups, academia, and international organizations. If you're in the neighborhood and can't afford to do all four days, we do have a one-day registrations you can purchase, and you also can purchase meal tickets.

We've filled up our hotel block at Embassy Suites, but you might be able to find non-block rooms there. Holiday Inn is right across the street from Embassy, and last I heard they still had rooms. Most of the action will be happening at the Von Braun Center, though the one-day Space Investment Summit will occur at Embassy. If you're an ISDC attendee, your price for SIS drops from $125 to $50, so that's definitely worth investigating!

Among our participants are over 130 students from around the world, all of whom participated in the Space Settlement Design Contest. They'll be on hand to show off their work during poster sessions set in the exhibit area. We've got seven of the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams showing up for our Saturday plenary to talk about their projects and, hopefully, show off their hardware. NASA will have a 30' X 30' booth in the exhibit area, as will the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. We've also brought in UAHuntsville, Dynetics, ATK, Astro- und Feinwerktechnik Adlershof GmbH (please don't ask me how to pronounce that), NASA Federal Credit Union, and others. Our major sponsors include Boeing, Dynetics, UAHuntsville, Space News, and Space Canada.

In addition to the paid programming, we will have some freebie activities for the general public, including a space career fair for job seekers (participants include Dynetics and Aerojet) and a book fair, where eminent space authors will be discussing the future of space and signing/selling their books.

Exciting stuff! As it was while I was working at Walt Disney World, so it is here: my job is to make sure others are having a good time and getting the most out of their experience. I'll get to play tourist and have fun of my own later. Meanwhile, I hope to see you there. If you're interested in what the future of humans in space will look like, and learning how we can grow a spacefaring civilization "from the ground up" (our conference theme), then ISDC is the place for you, May 18-22. See you there!

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