Astrobiologist and space advocate Loretta Hidalgo is speaking today at Push 2005. The President of the Space Generation Foundation., she’s someone who clearly has been in love with the idea of space since she was in kindergarden. She’s interned with NASA, studied Martain plant growth in the Canadian Arctic, and done deep-sea diving (really, really deep sea – almost two miles in one case) to look for life in extreme environments and is featured in the IMAX film, “Aliens of the Deep”.
But most of her work seems to concentrate about getting people psyched about space. She’s one of the founders of Yuri’s Night, a global party to celebrate space exploration. She’s part of the in-flight crew for Zero Gravity Corporation and has done 14 weightless flights. (By the way, tickets for the flight now run $3700 and they fly again in July…)
Her talk moves from the grand ambitions of spaceflight – space tourism, settlement on other planets, point to point suborbital travel – to the immediate ambitions of NASA and private companies exploring space, looking at companies like Transformational Space, Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX.
She’s an extremely funny and enthusiastic speaker, pointing out that the reason to go to the moon instead of Mars is that, with only a second delay, you can have a phone call from the Moon, whereas from Mars, with a 6 to 20 minute delay, “you have to IM”. Space has never been my dream – actually, the most exciting thing Loretta says, as far as I’m concerned, is that point to point suborbital could allow me to travel anywhere on the planet in 90 minutes – but it’s easy to see how there are developments (most notably the Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne) that suggest that space could become routine and boring within our lifetimes.