AMU Careers & Learning Editor's Pick Original Space

Comets, Astrobiology and More – 2020 Space Conference a Huge Success

By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor, In Space News, In Military and InCyberDefense.

Last week, the Space Education and Strategic Applications Conference (SESA), hosted by American Public University System (APUS), showcased industry thought leaders and academicians from across the galaxy.

Although pandemic precautions required that this year’s event be virtual, there was a silver lining. Many attendees who would not have been able to travel and attend were able to tune-in and benefit from the knowledge of SESA’s expert presenters. The result was an incredibly insightful experience for attendees.

As an attendee, I took note that the technology performed flawlessly. Presented via Zoom, the speakers were clear and audible, lag-free and their slides transmitted directly to my home office without issue. The SESA event organizers at APUS should pat themselves on the back for a well-executed event.

Did you miss this year’s conference? Conference presenters have the opportunity to submit a full manuscript of their presentation for publication in the Space Education & Strategic Applications (SESA) journal either prior to or following the conference.

Topics That Are Out of This World

The conference kicked off with a welcome message and introduction from American Public University System Provost Dr. Vernon C. Smith.

What followed were presentations on space education, astrobiology, space entrepreneurship, space law, engineering, ethics and more, from some of the brightest minds in the country. Of note was a special session featuring The Honorable Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. Her speech focused on the importance of the newest branch of the U.S. military—Space Force—and its role in the increasingly competitive and crowded warfighting domain above our heads.

My personal favorite presentation was, “An Interconnected Cosmic Biosphere,” by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe. I also enjoyed the topic, “Space Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century” by Dr. Gary Deel, Faculty Director for School of Business, American Public University System.

The presentations were complete with Q&A sessions that allowed attendees to submit questions for the presenters, much like they would at an in-person event.

View the SESA 2020 Program

Due to recent technological advances, interest in space is at its highest since the Apollo program. Commercial and government partnerships like SpaceX and NASA, have fueled enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and math. Also, increased competition from near-peer-level adversaries like Russia and China have signaled the start of a new space race for the capture of both national prestige and natural resources in space.

Because of this, the purpose of the SESA conference is to promote multidisciplinary conversation about issues related to both military and civilian space, at the intersection between science, technology and policy. On that front, they have accomplished their mission.

If you missed this year’s inaugural event, the second-annual Space Education and Strategic Applications Conference is taking place Thursday and Friday, September 23-24 in 2021. It is unclear at the moment whether that event will be in-person or virtual; however, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge space science topics from industry experts and thought leaders.

I now have a deeper appreciation for the multidisciplinary approach to space science and space education. As for next year’s SESA conference, “make it so.”

Wes O'Donnell

Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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