Category Archives: Conference

SSI 50: First Conference Panel Lineup Announced

The Space Studies Institute has announced the first full panel lineup for its upcoming conference, SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise, which takes place September 9-10 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

The Extraterrestrial Resources panel will be chaired by Dr. George Sowers, professor of space resources at the Colorado School of Mines.

The other speakers on the panel will be Chris Lewicki, former president and chief engineer of the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources; Dr. Philip Metzger, who pioneered techniques for using lunar regolith at NASA’s Swamp Works laboratory; Rob Meyerson, CEO of Delalune Space and former president of Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin; and Dennis Wingo, lunar resources researcher and president of SkyCorp, Inc.

The two-hour panel will discuss strategies for using space resources (including the Moon and asteroids, as well as recycled space “junk” from early space missions) for future space stations and settlements.

 About the Speakers

Prior to joining the Colorado School of Mines, Prof. Sowers worked in senior positions at United Launch Alliance and Lockheed Martin Corporation, including chief scientist and vice president of advanced programs at ULA, vice president of human launch services at ULA, and director of advanced programs at Lockheed Martin.

Chris Lewicki recently joined ConsenSys Space from Planetary Resources, where he was CEO and chief engineer for PR’s audacious plan to explore and and mine asteroids for use in fueling the space economy. Under his leadership, Planetary Resources raised over $50M in revenue and equity and launched three satellites. Prior to Planetary Resources, Chris Lewicki worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he served as flight director for the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity and surface mission manager for the Phoenix Mars Lander.

Dr. Philip Metzger is a researcher in the Planetary Sciences Group at the University of Central Florida. He previously worked for NASA at Kennedy Space Center where he co-founded the KSC Swamp Works, a technology innovation lab which developed extraterrestrial excavators, regolith conveyers, dust mitigation systems, lunar/martian landing pads and other planetary surface systems technology.

Rob Meyerson has more than 30 years of experience in the space industry. For 14 years, he served as president of Blue Origin, managing development and flight of four unique rocket-powered vehicles and in-house developed liquid rocket engines. Meyerson stepped down from that position to serve as Blue Origin’s senior vice president for advanced development, responsible for a portfolio of systems and concepts included the Blue Moon lander, Earth entry vehicles, in-space habitats, space tugs and transfer stages. His new venture is Delalune Space, whose name means “of the Moon.” Delalune’s goal is to enable a future where lunar resources will seed and grow our human presence in space.

Dennis Wingo is a long-time lunar resource advocate who led the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center, a digital archeology project that recovered and restored images from the 60’s-era Lunar Orbiter program. Dennis has more than 30 years experience designing avionics and space systems, including the first Macintosh computer to fly in space

 About the Conference

SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise celebrates the 50th anniversary of the High Frontier vision of space settlement created by Princeton University physics professor and Space Studies Institute founder Gerard O’Neill. Professor O’Neill demonstrated that it was possible to build very large space habitats using extraterrestrial materials and foreseeable technologies. O’Neill’s vision inspired a generation of followers, including one young Princeton student, Jeff Bezos, who went on to found Amazon and Blue Origin.

SSI 50 marks the kickoff for a multi-year effort by the Space Studies Institute to update the High Frontier vision, incorporating new technologies, new knowledge of solar system resources, and new commercial space capabilities developed by companies such as Blue Origin.

SSI 50 will include six two-hour panel sessions. In addition to Extraterrestrial Resources, panels will cover Habitats and Facilities, In-Space Construction, Transportation and Logistics,  Space Health and Life Support, and Economic Prosperity.

Additional panel lineups will be announced in the near future.

Interest in the conference has been strong, and early ticket sales have been brisk. Early Bird tickets sold out quickly, and about 25% of the available conference tickets have already been sold. The Space Studies Institute urges all interested parties to act quickly to ensure ticket availability.

Online registration is available at:

SSI 50 Conference Update

Time is running out to buy tickets for the Space Studies Institute’s 50th anniversary conference at the special Early Bird rate. The special ends May 18.

Planning for the conference, which takes place September 9-10 in Seattle, is coming along nicely. Our venue is the Museum of Flight, a world-class air and space museum. We have engaged McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood and Steaks to cater two gourmet luncheons for us, as well as afternoon snack breaks. Early ticket sales have been brisk, and response from invited speakers has been enthusiastic.

SSI 50 marks the kickoff for a new SSI project, the Space Settlement Enterprise. This multi-year project will reexamine the original High Frontier vision created by Professor Gerard O’Neill, bringing his ideas up to date with new technology, new discoveries, and new space ventures. This year’s conference will lay the groundwork that project, helping to determine the questions that need to be addressed. Our panel format is designed to allow for plenty of Q&A and audience interaction. There will be no passive lectures. We need your ideas.

Preliminary Schedule

Monday, Sept 9

8:00 On-site registration

9:00 Keynote and Welcome

9:30 “Habitats” — panel hosted by Dallas Bienhoff, founder, Cislunar Space Development Co.

11:30 Lunch

1:00 “Space Construction” — panel hosted by Joe Carroll, president, Tether Applications

3:00 Snack break

3:30 “Space Resources” — panel hosted by Prof. George Sowers, Colorado School of Mines

7:00 Possible Event Event TBA


Tuesday, Sept 10

8:00 On-site registration

9:00 Keynote

9:30 “Transportation and Logistics” — panel hosted by Henry Vanderbilt, founder, Space Access Society

11:30 Lunch

1:00 “Life Support and Public Health” — panel hosted by Dr. Jim Logan, Space Enterprise Institute

3:00 Snack break

3:30 “Economic Viability” — panel hosted by Edward Wright, senior researcher, SSI


SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise

Bernal Sphere

Update: Super Early Bird tickets are sold out! Early Bird tickets are still available. Act now to get the best price.

Update 2: Please note new dates, September 9-10

The Space Studies Institute (SSI) is pleased to announce the date and location for its 2019 conference. Make your plans now to attend SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise September 9 and 10 July 15 and 16 at the renowned Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

Tickets are on sale now at, with a limited number of Early Bird and Super Early Bird tickets at greatly discounted prices. As soon as those tickets sell out, prices will go up.

The conference is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969.

2019 also marks the 50th anniversary of the “High Frontier” concept created by Princeton physics professor and SSI founder Gerard O’Neill. As NASA was preparing for the Moon landing, Professor O’Neill asked an intriguing question: “Is the surface of a planet the best place for an expanding technological civilization?”

After careful study and consideration, O’Neill came to a remarkable conclusion: It was possible to build large space habitats, each housing more than a million people, using materials readily available from the Moon or asteroids. A fleet of such habitats could house more people than are currently living on the surface of the Earth.

As a first step, O’Neill conceived a smaller habitat, called Island One, capable of housing 10,000 people. The residents of the Island One habitat could build solar power stations that would supply clean electrical power to the surface of the Earth.

Prof. O’Neill authored a best-selling book, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space, and founded the Space Studies Institute to promote and develop his High Frontier vision.

Now SSI is preparing for a dramatic reboot of Professor O’Neill’s research program. The SSI 50 conference marks the start of a multi-year effort to reevaluate the High Frontier vision in light of new technology and the emerging commercial space industry.

SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise will be an exciting two-day event featuring some of the space industry’s top thinkers. Nestled alongside history-making exhibits, experts will seek to identify the technological and economic obstacles to space settlement. Panel discussions will cover six major areas:

  • Habitats and Facilities: What do we want to build?
  • Construction: How do we build it?
  • Resources: Where and how do we get the materials?
  • Transport: How do we get there?
  • Life in Space: How do we survive there?
  • Economics: How do we pay for it?

We have structured the event to allow plenty of time for questions and audience interaction. The questions developed at this conference will inform SSI’s research programs over the next few years.

In addition, we’ve arranged for two gourmet luncheons catered by McCormick and Schmick’s. These luncheons will provide a great opportunity for networking and informal discussion of the day’s topics. Luncheon tickets are limited. We strongly recommend that conference attendees take advantage of the luncheon option, but the museum has two excellent cafes that are available if luncheon tickets sell out.

We look forward to seeing you in Seattle.

Space Access 2019

Some people have expressed surprise that the proposed agenda for SSI’s 2019 conference does not include a strong focus on space transportation, which has been one of the primary obstacles to space settlement up to now.

Some have speculated that SSI considers space transportation to be a solved problem, thanks to companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if one assumes that Blue Origin and SpaceX will be successful in solving the low-cost Earth-to-orbit problem (which is still not guaranteed), there are still many challenges involving low-cost operations in cis-lunar space and beyond.

The reason we’re not discussing these problems at our conference is because they’re being addressed elsewhere. The Space Access Society, whose annual conference has been on sabbatical for the past couple of years, has announced that their conference will resume in 2019.

Space Access 2019 will be held at the Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley on April 18-21. The Space Access Society is working with a new team from the Bay Area’s Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society to make the conference better than ever.

Preliminary information and signup are available at

We encourage anyone who’s interested in the transportation side of the space-settlement equation  to sign up and attend Space Access 2019, which will be a perfect complement to the Space Studies Institute conference later in the year.