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IEEE Members at Forefront of Space Exploration

15 July – Forty years after the United States Apollo 11 astronauts became the first humans to walk on the moon, IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association, is joining the world’s citizens to recognize this feat and celebrate the advances IEEE members have made in space and aeronautics since that memorable day.  Before that special moment in the world’s history, and ever since, engineers, scientists, computing and technology experts, physicists and the like from around the globe, led by IEEE members, have worked aggressively to advance space exploration.   

 "Forty years ago, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, the mission was driven by international competition, national policy, and a spirit of exploration," commented David Mindell, IEEE Member, MIT professor, and space historian. His most recent book, "Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight" (MIT Press, 2008) explores the relationship between humans and computers in the Apollo program. "Once Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Apollo became a unique event in human history, our first physical foray onto another planetary body. There it stands, by itself forty years later, as a technological achievement that has not been superseded. But the Apollo program's vision of technology-enabled human beings remains embedded in the daily fabric of our world."

On the forefront of space-related leadership is IEEE Fellow Norm Augustine, former Lockheed Martin CEO and the previous chair of influential space panels and committees, including the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, the Aerospace Industries Association and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  Augustine was tapped by United States President Barack Obama to chair the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee.  By August 2009, the committee is expected to report whether NASA’s human spaceflight efforts should continue or whether the emphasis should shift to unmanned exploration.  New programs underway by private organizations, such as commercial flights in space, as well as the promise of exploring new planets, such as Mars, have rekindled interest around the world.

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