The following is a conversation with David Newman, she's the Apollo program professor at MIT and the former deputy administrator of NASA and has been a principal investigator on four space flight missions. Her research interests are in aerospace biomedical engineering, investigating human performance in varying gravity environments. She has designed and engineered and built some incredible spacesuit technology, namely the biosphere that we talk about in this conversation due to some scheduling challenges on both our parts. We only had about 40 minutes together and in true engineering style, she said.
I talk fast, you pick the best questions, let's get it done. And we did. It was a fascinating conversation about space exploration and the future spacesuits. This is the Artificial Intelligence Podcast. If you enjoy it, subscribe on YouTube, get five an Apple podcast, support on Patrón or simply connect with me on Twitter. Allex Friedman spelled Fraidy Man for the first time. This shows presented by Kashyap, the number one finance app in the App Store cash app, is the easiest way to send money to your friends and it is also the easiest way to buy sell into the Bitcoin.
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Don't forget to use the Code Lux podcast when you download cash app from the App Store or Google Play store today. And now here's my conversation with Dava Newman. You circumnavigated the globe on boat, so let's look back in history, 500 years ago, Ferdinand Magellan's crew was first to circumnavigate the globe, but he died.
I think people don't like halfway through and so did two hundred forty two of the two hundred sixty sailors that took their three year journey.
What do you think it was like for that crew at that time, heading out into the unknown to face probably likely death. Do you think they were filled with fear, with excitement? Probably not fear.
I think in all the exploration, the challenge and the unknown. So probably wonderment. And then just when you really are sailing the world's oceans. You have extreme weather of all kinds. When we were circumnavigating, it was challenging, new dynamic. You really appreciate Mother Earth to appreciate the winds and the waves. So back to Magellan. His crew says they really didn't have, you know, a three dimensional map of of the globe of the Earth when they went out, just probably looking over the horizon, thinking, what's there, what's there?
So I would say the challenge that had to be really important in terms of the team dynamics and that leadership had to be incredibly important team dynamics. How do you keep people focused on the mission?
Do you think the psychology that's interesting. This probably echoes of that in the space exploration stuff we'll talk about. So the psychology of the dynamics between the human beings on the mission is important? Absolutely.
For a Mars mission, it's there's lots of challenges, technology.
But, you know, since I specialize in keeping my astronauts alive, the psycho social issues, the psychology of psycho social team dynamics, leadership, that's, you know, we're all people. So that's going to be that's always a huge impact. One of the top three, I think, of any isolated, confined environment and any mission that is really pretty extreme.
So your Twitter handle is Devah Explorer. So when did you first fall in love with the idea of exploration?
Oh, that's a great question. Maybe as long as I can remember as I grew up in Montana and the Rocky Mountains and Helena and the capital and so literally Mount Helen, it was my backyard was right up there. So exploring, being in the mountains, looking at caves, just running around, but always being in nature. So since my earliest memories, I think of myself as kind of exploring the the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains where I grew up.
So exploration is not limited to any domain, it's just anything. So the natural domain of any kind that are going out to the woods into a place you haven't been. It's all exploration. I think so. Yeah.
I have a pretty all encompassing definition of exploration. So what about space exploration? When we first captivated by the idea that we little humans can venture out into the space, into the great unknown of space.
So it's a great year to talk about that. The fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11 as I was alive during Apollo and specifically Apollo 11, I was five years old and I distinctly remember that. I remember that humanity. I'm sure I probably didn't know their names at the time. You know, there's Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and never forget Michael Collins in orbit.
Now, those three men, you know, doing something that just seemed impossible, seemed impossible a decade earlier, even a year earlier.
But the Apollo program really inspired me.
And then I think it actually just taught me to dream to any impossible mission could be possible with enough focus. I am sure you need some luck, but you definitely need the leadership. You need the the focus of the mission. So since an early age, I thought, of course, people should be interplanetary. Of course, people we need people on Earth and going to have people exploring space as well.
That seemed obvious.
You know, at that age, of course, it opened it up before we saw a man on the moon. It wasn't obvious to me at all. But once we understood that, yes, absolutely. Astronauts, that's what they do. They explore. They go into space and they land on other planets or moons.
So, again, maybe a romanticized philosophical question, but when you look up at the stars knowing that, you know, there's at least one hundred billion of them in the Milky Way galaxy. Right. So we're really a small speck in this giant thing. That's the visible universe. How does that make you feel about our efforts here?
I love the perspective. I love that perspective. I always open my public talks with the Hubble Space Telescope image and looking out until you mentioned just now the solar system, the Milky Way, because I think it's really important to know that we're just a small, pale blue dot. We're really fortunate. We're on the best planet by far. Life is fantastic. Know of your.
This is the best planet I'm pretty sure is the best plan, the best planet that we know of.
I mean, I started my research, as you know, in Mission Worlds. And when will we find life? I think actually probably the next decade we find probably past life, probably the evidence of past life on Mars.
Let's say you'd think there was pretty light once life on Mars, or do you think there's currently I'm more comfortable saying probably three point five billion years ago.
I feel pretty confident there was life on Mars just because then it had an electromagnetic shield. It had an atmosphere has wonderful gravity. Level three three, just fantastic. You know, you're super human, human. We can all slam dunk a basketball.
I mean, it's going to be fun to play sports on Mars, but so I think we'll find past the fossilise probably the evidence of past life on Mars currently.
That's again, we need the next decade. But the evidence is mounting for sure. We do have the organics, we're finding organics, we have water, seasonal water on Mars. We used to just know about the ice caps, you know, North and South Pole. Now we have seasonal water. We do have the. Building blocks for life on Mars, we really need to dig down into the soil because everything on the top surface is radiated. But once we find down, will we see any any lifeforms?
We see any bugs?
I leave it open as a possibility, but I feel pretty certain that past life or, you know, fossilized life forms will find and then we have to get to all these ocean worlds, these these beautiful moons of other other planets since we know they have water and we're looking for since simple search for life, for follow the water, you know, carbon based life. That's the only life we know. There could be other life forms that we don't know about.
But it's hard to search for them because we don't know. So in our search for life in the solar system, it's definitely, you know, search, you know, follow the water and look for the building blocks of life. Do you think in the next decade we might see hints of past life or even current life? So that's pretty. I love the optimism.
I'm pretty optimistic. Humans have to be involved or can be robots and rovers and probably teams.
I mean, we've been at it on Mars in particular 50 years. We've been exploring Mars for 50 years. Great data. Right. Our images of Mars today are phenomenal. Now we know how Mars lost its atmosphere. You know, we're starting to know because of the lack of electromagnetic shield. We know about the water on Mars. So we've been studying 50 years with our robots. We still haven't found it. So I think once we have a human mission there, we just accelerate things.
It's always humans and our rovers and robots together. But we just have to think that 50 years we've been looking at Mars, Mars and taking images and doing the best science that we can. People need to realize Mars is really far away. It's really hard to get to this extreme extreme exploration. We mentioned Magellan first or all of the wonderful explorers and sailors of the past, which kind of lots of my inspiration for exploration. Mars is a different ball game.
I mean, eight months to get there, a year and a half to get home. I mean, it's really extreme environment and all kinds of ways.
But the kind of organism might be able to see hints of on Mars, the kind of microorganisms perhaps you think remember that humans were kind of, you know, we're host right.
Where hosts all of our bacteria and viruses. Right.
Or do you think it's a big leap from the viruses in the bacteria to us humans? Put another way, do you think, on all those moons beautiful. What moons that you mentioned? You think there's intelligent life out there? I hope so.
I mean, that's that's the hope. But, you know, we don't have the scientific evidence for that now. I think all the evidence we have in terms of life existing is much more compelling, again, because we have the building blocks of life. Now, when that life turns into intelligence, that's a big unknown.
If we ever meet, do you think we would be able to find a common language? I hope so. We haven't met yet. It's just so far. I mean, do physics does play a role here? Look at all these exoplanets, 6000 exoplanets, I mean, even a couple dozen Earth like planets that are exoplanets that really look like habitable planets. These are very Earth like. They look like they have all the building blocks. I can't wait to get there.
The only thing is they're ten to one hundred light years away. So scientifically, we know they're there. We know that they're habitable. They have, you know, everything going from. Right. You know, in the Goldilocks zone, not too hot, not too cold, just perfect for how to habitability for life. But now the reality is if they're ten at the best to hundreds of thousands of light years away.
So what's out there? But I just can't think that we're not the only ones. So absolutely. Life, life in the universe, probably intelligent life as well. Do you think there needs to be fundamental revolutions in how we the tools we use to travel through space in order for us to venture outside of our solar system?
Or do you think the the ways, the rockets, the ideas we have now, the engineering ideas we have now will be enough to venture out?
Well, it's a good question right now because the speed of light is a it is the limit. We don't have warp speed warp drive to explore our solar system, to get to Mars, explore all the planets. Then we need a technology push. But technology push here is just advanced propulsion. It'd be great if I could get humans to Mars and say, you know, three to four months, not eight months. I mean, have the time, 50 percent reduction.
That's great in terms of safety and wellness of of the crew, orbital mechanics.
But physics rules, you know, orbital mechanics, the physics for that. We can't defy physics. I love that. So invent a new physics.
I mean, look at quantum, you know, look at quantum theory. So you never know exactly. I mean, we are always learning. So we definitely don't know all the physics that exist to but where we still have to. It's not science fiction. You know, we still have to pay attention to physics in terms of our speed of travel for space flight.
So you were the deputy administrator of NASA during the Obama administration. There's a current artists program that's working, kind of crude mission to the moon and then perhaps to Mars. What are you excited about there? What are your thoughts on this program? And what are the biggest challenges, do you think, of getting to the moon, of landing to the moon once again and then the big step to Mars? Well, I love the moon program now, Artemus.
It is definitely we've been in low earth orbit at Love low Earth orbit, too, but I just was looking at three phases, so low Earth orbit where we've been 40 years. So definitely time to get back to deep space, time to get to the moon. There's so much to do on the moon. I hope we don't get stuck on the moon for 50 years. I really want to get to the moon, spend the next decade first with the lander, then humans.
There's just a lot to explore, but to me is a big technology push. It's only three days away. So the moon is definitely the right place. So we can buy down our technology. We invest in specifically habitats, life support systems. We need suits. We really need to understand really how to live off planet. We've been off planet and low earth orbit, but still that's only 400 kilometers up, 250 miles away. So we get to the moon.
It really is a great proving ground for the technologies. And now we're in deep space. Radiation becomes a huge issue again to keep our astronauts well alive. And I look at all of that investment for moon moon exploration to the ultimate goal, the horizon goals, we call it, to get people to Mars, but we just don't go to Mars tomorrow.
Right. We really need a decade on the moon. I think investing in the technologies, learning, making sure the astronauts are there, health, they're safe and well. And also learning so much about in situ research utilization is are you insitu? Resource utilization is huge when it comes to exploration for the moon and Mars. So we need a testbed. And to me it really is a lunar testbed. And then we use those same investments to think about getting people to Mars in their 20s, 30s.
So developing sort of a platform will all the kind of research tools of all the what's the resource the can you speak to that?
Yeah. So I are you for the moon. It's we'll go to the South Pole and fascinating. We have images of it. Of course we know there's permanently shaded areas and by Shackleton Crater and there's areas that are permanently in the sun. Well it seems that there's a lot of water ice water that's trapped in ice and the lunar craters. That's the first place you go. Why? Because it's water. And when you want to try to, it could be fuel life support systems.
So you kind of get you go where the water is and so on the moon, it's kind of for resources utilization. But to learn how to can we make the fuels out of the resources that are on the moon? We have to think about 3D printing. Right. You don't get to bring all this mass with you. You have to learn how to literally live off the land. We need a pressure shell. We need to have an atmosphere for people to to live in.
So all of that is going to buying down the technology, doing the investigation, doing the science. What are the basically lunar volatiles? You know, what is that ice on the moon? How much of it is there? What are the resources look like to me that helps us? That's just the next step in getting humans to Mars.
And it's cheaper and more effective to sort of develop some of these difficult challenge, like solve some of these challenges, practice, develop tests and so on. On the moon. Absolutely. On Mars, absolutely.
People are going to love to get to the moon. You get to you have a beautiful Earthrise. I mean, you have the most magnificent view of Earth being off planet. So it just makes sense. I think we're going to have thousands, lots of people who'll be tens of thousands in low Earth orbit because Earth orbit is a beautiful place to go and look down on the Earth. But people want to return home. I think the the lunar explorers will also want to do round trips and, you know, being on the moon, three day trip explorer to science also because the lunar day is fourteen days and lunar nights also fourteen days.
So in that twenty eight day cycle, you know, half of it is in light, half of it's in dark. So people would probably want to do, you know, a couple of week trips, month long trips, not longer than that.
What you mean by people, what explorers, explorer astronauts are going to be civilians in the future to not not all astronauts are going to be government astronauts. Actually, when I was at NASA, we changed. We actually got the law changed to recognise astronauts that are not only government employees, NASA astronauts are European Space Agency astronauts or Russian space agency that astronauts, because of the big push we put in the private sector, that astronauts essentially are going to be astronauts to get over a hundred kilometers up.
And I think once you've done orbital orbital flight, then you're an astronaut. So a lot of private citizens are going to become astronauts.
Do you think one day you might step foot on the moon? I think it'd be good to go to the moon.
I'd give that a shot. I'm going to it's my life's work to get the next generation to Mars. That's that's that's that's you or even younger than you. You know, my students generation. Yes. Will be the Martian explorers. I'm just working to facilitate that. But that's not going to be me.
Hey, the moon's pretty good and it's a lot tough. I mean, it's still a really tough mission.
It's an extreme mission. Exactly. It's great for exploration, but doable.
But again, before Apollo, we didn't think getting humans to the moon was even possible. So we kind of made that possible. But we need to go back. We absolutely need to go back. We're investing and the heavy lift launch capabilities that we need to get there. We haven't had that, you know, since the Apollo days since and Saturn five. So now we have three options on the board. That's. It's so fantastic NASA has its space launch system, SpaceX is going to have its heavy capability and Blue Origin is coming along, too, with heavy lift.
So that's pretty fantastic. From where I sit, I'm the Apollo program professor today.
I have zero heavy lift launch capability. I can't wait just in a few years will have three different heavy lift launch capabilities. So that's pretty exciting. And, you know, your heart is perhaps with NASA. But you mentioned SpaceX and Blue Origin. What are your what are your thoughts of SpaceX sex and the innovative efforts there from the sort of private company aspect?
Oh, they're great there. Remember that the investments in SpaceX is government funding is NASA funding. Is US Air Force funding just as it should be because you're betting on a company who is moving fast, has some new technology development. So I love it. So NASA's really was under our public private partnerships. So necessarily the government needs to fund these these startups. Now, SpaceX is no longer a startup, but it's been at it for four, 10 years.
It has some accidents, learned a lot of lessons, but it's great because it's the way you move faster. And also some private industry folks and businesses will take a lot more risk. That's also really important for the government.
What do you think about that culture risk? I mean, sort of NASA and the government are exceptionally good at delivering sort of safe, like there's a little bit more of a culture of caution and safety in sort of this kind of social engineering. And I think SpaceX, well, has the same kind of stuff, has a little bit more of that startup feel where the take the bigger risk. Is that exciting for you to see seeing bigger risks in the skies?
Absolutely. And the best scenario is both of them working together because there's really important lessons learned, especially when you talk a human space flight safety quality assurance. These things are of the utmost importance for both aviation and space, you know, when human lives are at stake. On the other hand, government agencies, NASA can be European space agency, you name it. They become very bureaucratic, pretty risk averse, move pretty slowly. So I think the best is when you you combine the partnerships from both sides.
An industry necessarily has to push. The government takes the more risk. You know, they're smart risk are actually gave an award at NASA for failing smart buildings.
Yeah, I love that you're seeing kind of break open the culture. Say no, that Apollo. That was a huge risk. It was done. Well, also, there's always a culture of safety, quality assurance, you know, engineering at its at its best. But on the other hand, you want to get things done and you have to also get them. You have to bring the cost down. Now for when it comes to launch, we really have to bring the cost down and get the frequency up.
And so that's what the newcomers are doing. They're really pushing that. So it's about the most exciting time they can imagine for for space flight. Again, a little bit. It really is the democratization of space flight opening it up, not just because the launch capability, but the science we can do on a CubeSat. What you can do now for those used to be, you know, student projects that we would go through, conceive, design, implement and think about what a small satellite would be.
Now, the most you know, these are really advanced instruments, science instruments that are flying on little teeny CubeSat that pretty much anyone can afford. So there's not a there's every nation, you know, every place in the world can fly a CubeSat. And so that's the CubeSat.
CubeSat is a this is called one you group says we measure in terms of unit. So, you know, just in terms of I put my both my hands there, that's one unit to squeeze. So little small satellite. So cube SATs are for small satellites and we actually go by mass as well. You know, small satellite might be 100 kilos, 200 kilos, well under a thousand kilos. CubeSat, then are the next thing down from small SATs, you know, basically, you know, kilos, tens of kilos, things like that.
But kind of the building blocks, sets are fantastic. Design is kind of modular design. So I can take a one you one one unit of CubeSat. And you know what? If I have a little bit more money and payload, I can fly three of them and just basically put a lot more instruments on it. But essentially, think about something the size of a shoe box, if you will. You know, that would be a CubeSat.
And those how do those help empower you in terms of doing size, sort, doing expose?
Oh, right now there's going back to private industry planet, the companies, you know, flying CubeSat and literally looking down on earth and orbiting or taking a picture, if you will, of Earth every day, every twenty four hours covering the entire earth. So terms of Earth observations in terms of climate change, terms of our changing earth, it's revolutionizing because they're affordable. We can put a whole bunch of them up. The telecoms, we're all on our cell phones and GPS.
We have our telecoms. But those used to be very expensive satellites providing that service. Now we can fly a whole bunch of modular cube sets. So it really is a breakthrough in terms of modularity as well as cost reduction. So so that's one exciting set of developments. Is there something else that you've been excited about and like reusable rockets perhaps that you've seen in the last few years?
Yeah, well, the reusability you had other your usability is. Awesome. I mean, this is the best now we have to remember the shuttle was a reusable vehicle. Yes. Which shuttle is an amazing as an aerospace engineer, you know, when the shuttle is still this, the most gorgeous, elegant, extraordinary design of a space vehicle, it was reusable. It just wasn't affordable. But the reusability of it was really critical because we flew it up.
It did come back. So the notion of usability, I think absolutely. Now, what we're doing with we, you know, the global web with space exploration, sending the rockets up, recovering the first stages where if they can regain 70 percent cost savings, that's huge. And just seeing the control, you know, being in control and dynamics versus just seeing that rocket come back and land. Oh, yeah, that's it.
Never gets old. It's exciting. Every single time you look at it and say, that's magic.
So it's so cool to me. The landing is where I stand. Upstair clapping is just just the control.
Just the control that goes and hitting that landing. It's, you know, it's gymnastics for for for rocket ships. But to see these guys stick a landing. But it's just wonderful. So every time, like I say, every time I see. Yeah. The reusability and the rockets coming back and landing so precise is really exciting. So it is. It is actually. That's the game changer.
We are in a new era of lower costs and lot the higher frequency. And it's the world, not just NASA, it's many nations are really upping their frequency of launches.
They've done a lot of exciting research, design, engineering on spacesuits. What is the spacesuit of the future look like?
Well, if I have anything to say about it, very it'll be a very tight fitting suit. We use mechanical counterpressure to pressurize right directly on the skin. Seems that is technically feasible. We're still at the research and development stage. We don't have a flight system, but technically it's feasible. So we do a lot of work in the materials. You know, what materials do we need to pressurize someone? What's the patterning we need? That's what our patents are in the patterning of how we apply this.
It's a third of an atmosphere just to sort of take a step back.
You have this incredible Bielsa where it's Tight-fitting, so it allows more mobility and so on. So maybe even take a bigger step back, like what are the functions that a space should perform here? So start from the beginning. The spacesuit is the world's smallest spacecraft. So I really that's the best definition I can give you right now. We fly gas pressurized suits, but think of developing and designing an entire spacecraft. So then you take all those systems and you shrink them around a person, provide them with oxygen to breathe, scrub out their carbon dioxide, you know, make sure they have pressure.
They need a pressure environment to live in.
So really, the spacesuit is a shrunken, you know, spacecraft in its entirety has communicated well, probably communications.
Exactly. So you really thermal control a little bit of radiation, not so much radiation protection, but thermal control, humidity, oxygen to breathe. So all those life support systems as well as the pressure production. So it's an engineering marvel, you know, the spacesuits that have flown because they really are entire spacecraft that a small spacecraft that we have around a person, but they're very massive, but 140 kilos, the current suit, and they're not mobility suits.
So since we're going back to the moon and Mars, we need a planetary suit. We need a mobility suit. So that's where we've kind of flip the design paradigm. I study astronauts. I study humans in motion. And if we can map that motion, I want to give you full flexibility, you know, move your arms and legs. I really want you to be like an Olympic athlete, an extreme explorer. I don't want to waste any of your energy.
So we take it from the human design. So I take a look at humans. We measure them, we model them. And then I say, OK, can I put a spacesuit on them that goes from the skin out. So rather than a gas pressurized, shrinking that space craft around the person, say here's how humans perform. Can I design a spacesuit literally from the skin out? That's what we've come up with, a chemical counterpressure, some patterning.
And that way it could be an order of magnitude less in terms of the mass. And it should provide maximum mobility for for moon or Mars.
What's mechanical counterpressure like? How the heck can you even begin to create something that's Tight-fitting so and still doesn't protect you from the elements and so on?
And the whole the pressure thing that's the challenge is the big design challenge we've been working on it for. So you can either put someone in a balloon. That's one way to do it. That's conventional. That's the only thing. That means the balloon. That's a pressurized suit. So put someone in a balloon.
It's only a third of an atmosphere to keep someone alive. So that's what the current system is.
So depending on what unit you think and 30 KR Pascals, you know, four point three pounds per square foot, much less than the pressure that's on Earth, you can still find a human alive with zero point three and it's alive and happy, alive and happy.
And you mix the gases here at work. We're having this chat and we're we're at one sea level in Boston, know one atmosphere, but nitrogen in nitrogen, you put a suit if we put someone to a third of an atmosphere. So for mechanical counterpressure now. So one way to do it with a balloon, and that's what we currently have, or you can apply the pressure directly to the skin. I only have to give you a. Third of an atmosphere right now, you and I are very happy in one atmosphere, so, you know, so if I put that pressure, a third of an atmosphere on you, I just have to do it consistently across all of your body and your limbs and it'll be a gas pressurized helmet.
Doesn't make sense to shrink wrap the head seen Blue Man Group.
That's a great it's a great act, but we don't need there there's no benefits like shrink wrapping that you put gas pressurized helmet because the helmet then the future of suits. You asked me about the helmet just becomes your information portal.
Yes. So it will have augmented reality. You have all the information you need. Should have the map. So I need I'm on the moon. OK, well hey smart helmet then. Show me the map. Show me the topography. Hopefully it has the lab embedded too. If it has really great cameras, maybe I can see what that regolith that's just lunar dust and dirt. What's that made out of. We talked about the water. So the helmet then really becomes this information portal is how I see kind of the architecture of the helmet is really allowing me to use all of my modalities of an explorer that I'd like to.
So cameras voice over images. If it were really good, it would kind of be would have lab capabilities as well.
OK, so the pressure comes from the body, comes from the mechanical pressure, which is fascinating. What aspect when I look at Bielsa, just the suits you're working on, sort of from a fashion perspective, they look awesome.
Is that is that a small part of it, too? Oh, absolutely. Because the teams that we work with, of course, I'm an engineer. There's engineering students, there's design students, there's architects. So it really is a very much a multidisciplinary team. So sure. Colors, aesthetics, materials, all those things we pay attention to. So it's not just an engineering solution. It really is a much more holistic is a suit. It's to suit your dressed in a warm fitting.
So we really have to pay attention to to all those things. And so that's the the design team that we work with. And my partner, we try to you know, we're partners in this in terms of he comes from an architecture industrial design background. So bringing those skills to bear as well. We team up with industry folks who are in athletic performance and designers. So it really is a team that brings all those skills together.
So what role does the space suit play in our long term? Staying in Mars, sort of exploring the doing all the work that astronauts do, but also perhaps civilians one day, almost like taking steps towards colonization of Mars. What role does a space suit play there?
So you always need a life support system, pressurized habitat. And I like to say we're not going to Mars to sit around and say, you need a suit.
You're you know, even if you land and have the lander, you're not going there to stay inside. That's for darn sure. We're going there to search for the evidence of life. That's why we're going to Mars. So you need a lot of mobility. So for me, the suit is the best way to give the human mobility. We're always going to need rovers, we're going to need robots. So for me, exploration is always a suite of explorers.
Some people are some of the suite of explorers are humans, but many are going to be robots, smart systems, things like that. But I look at it, it's kind of all those capabilities together make the best exploration team. So let me ask.
I love artificial intelligence. And I've also saw that you've enjoyed the movie Space Odyssey, 2001 A Space Odyssey. Let me ask the question about HAL 9000. That makes a few decisions there that prioritizes the mission over the the astronauts. Do you think from a philosophical question, do you think how did the right thing of prioritizing the mission, I think are artificial intelligence will be smarter in the future for a Mars mission is a great question of is that the reality for a Mars mission?
We need fully autonomous systems. We will get humans, but they have to be fully autonomous. And that's a really important that's the most important concept because, you know, there's not going to be a mission control on Earth, you know. Twenty minute time lag. There's just no way you're going to control so fully autonomous. So people have to be fully autonomous as well. But all of our systems as well. And so that's that's the big design challenge.
So that's why we test them out on the moon as well. When we have a few second, you know, three second time lag, you can test them out. We have to really get autonomous exploration down. You asked me earlier about Magellan, Magellan and his crew. They they left. Right. They were autonomous. You know, they were autonomous. They left and they were on their own to figure out that mission. Then when they hit land, they have resources that's in situ resource utilization and everything else they brought with them.
So we have to, I think, have that mindset for exploration. Again, back to the moon is more the testing ground, the proving ground with technologies. But when we get to Mars, it's so far away that we need fully autonomous systems. So I think that's that's where I and autonomy come in a really robust autonomy, things that we don't have today yet. So they're on the drawing boards, but we really need to test them out because that's that's what we're up against.
So fully autonomous, meaning like self-sufficient. There's still a role for the humans in that picture. Do you think there will be a time when A.I. systems just beyond doing fully autonomous flight control, will also have. Or even take commission decisions like how did. That's interesting. It depends. I mean, they're going to be designed by humans that you mentioned. Humans are always in the loop. I mean, we might be on earth, we might be in orbit on Mars, maybe the systems, the landers down on the surface of Mars.
But I think we're going to get we are right now just on Earth based systems, A.I. systems that are incredibly capable and, you know, training them with all the data that we have now, petabytes of data from Earth. What I care about for the economy and A.I. right now, how we're applying it in research is to look at Earth and look at climate systems. I mean, that's the it's not for Mars to me today. Right now, eyes to eyes on Earth, all of our space data compiling that, using supercomputers because we have so much information and knowledge and we need to get that into people's hands.
We need versus the educational issue with with climate and our changing climate, then we need to change human behavior. That's the biggie. So this next decade is urgent. We take care of our own spaceship. Was your spaceship Earth? So that's to me where my focus has been for A.I. systems using whatever is out there, kind of imagining also what the future situation is with the satellite imagery of Earth of the future. If you can hold that in your hands, that's going to be really powerful.
Will that help people accelerate positive change for Earth and for us to live in balance with Earth? I hope so. And kind of start with the ocean systems. So oceans to land to air and kind of using all the space data. So it's a huge role for artificial intelligence to help us analyze. I call it curating the data, using the data. It has a lot to it visualizations as well.
Do you think in a weird, dark question, do you think human species can survive if we don't become interplanetary in the next century or a couple of centuries? Absolutely.
We can survive. I don't think Mars is option B, actually. So I think it's all about saving spaceship Earth and humanity. I simply put, Earth doesn't need us, but we really need Earth. You know, all of humanity needs to live in balance with Earth because Earth has been here a long time before we ever showed up, and it'll be here a long time after. It's just a matter of how do we want to live with all living beings, you know, much more in balance because we need to take care of the Earth.
And right now we're we're not. So that's the urgency. And I think it is the next decade to try to live much more sustainably, lived more in balance with Earth. I think the human species has a great, long, optimistic future. But we have to act. It's urgent. We we have to change behavior. We we have to we have to realize that we're all in this together. It's just one blue bubble. It's for humanity.
So when I think people realize that we're all astronauts, that's the great news, is everyone wants to be an astronaut of Earth. We're all on it. We're all astronauts on Spaceship Earth. And this is our mission. This is our mission to take care of the planet.
And yet, as we explore out from our from our spaceship Earth here out into the space, what do you think the next fifteen hundred, two hundred years look like for space exploration?
I'm I'm optimistic. So I think that will have lots of people, thousands of people, tens of thousands of people who knows, maybe millions in low earth orbit.
That's just a place that we're going to have people and actually some industry manufacturing, things like that, that that dream. I hope we realize getting people to the moon so I can envision a lot of people in the moon. Again, a great place to be living or visiting, probably visiting and living, if you want to.
Most people are going to want to come back to Earth, I think. But there'll be some people and it's not such a long it's a good view. It's a beautiful view. So I think that we will have, you know, many people on the moon as well. I think there'll be some people. You told me well, you know, hundreds of years out. So we'll have people will be interplanetary for sure as a species. So I think we'll be on the moon.
I think we'll be on Mars. No, Venus, no. It's already a runaway greenhouse gas and not a great, great place for science. You know, Jupiter all within the solar system, great place for all of our scientific probes. I don't see so much in terms of human physical presence will be exploring them. So we we live in our minds there because we're exploring them and going on those journeys. But it's really our our our choice in terms of our decisions of how in balance, you know, we're going to be living here on the Earth.
When do you think the first woman, first person will step on Mars, step on Mars?
Well, I'm I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it happens in the twenty thirty point twenty. Say, you know, twenty, twenty, twenty, twenty, twenty five, twenty thirty five will be on the moon and hopefully with more people than us.
But first with a few astronauts, it'll be global international folks. But we really need those ten years I think on the moon. And then so by the, by later in the decade, in the twenty thirties we'll have all the technology and knowhow and we need to get that human mission to Mars, then live in exciting times.
And David, thank you so much for leading the way and thank you for talking today and thank you.
My pleasure. Thanks for listening to this conversation and thank you to our presenting sponsor cash app, remember to use Code Leks podcast. We download Kashef from the App Store or Google Play store. You'll get 10 bucks. Ten dollars and ten dollars will go to first, a STEM education nonprofit that inspires hundreds of thousands of young minds to learn and to dream of engineering our future. Thank you and hope to see you next time.