Now to report back on how the LEAG meeting space.stackexchange promotion mission went. Pretty well, I think. There were things that made it harder for me to spend time talking about it, but when I did, it went well. The t-shirts disappeared in a flash and I wish I'd gotten more. The sharpie markers and stickers that were also on offer went much more slowly, but they were willing to let me leave the leftovers behind, there at LEAG headquarters, for people to take as time went on, if they ever needed a sharpie.
Above is David Dunlop, a long-time director of the National Space Society, wearing his tee shirt. He was my host, really. SX came up regularly in our conversation - since he is based in space advocacy, it often struck me as relevant.
Rich Vondrak, who sat in the middle of the front row for almost all the presentations given at the meeting, and commented or asked questions afterwards frequently and astutely, came up to me while I was setting up our poster presentation and asked me if I was giving away the tee shirts. He thus got the only XL there was. Then two other people noticed this and came to ask for one too. Rich walked off as I looked after them, and I never really talked to him. Much to my dismay, he is nowhere in the program and I can't determine what his position at NASA is. He is definitely a serious veteran. If anyone knows what center or program he is part of, please let me know*.
The two people who asked right after him were Ryan Clegg-Watkins and Lillian Ostrach. They got the two smalls (one of which I was wearing, over a sweater, and took off to give to Ryan). Ryan is on the executive committee of LEAG, and is currently a post-doc in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. Lillian is with NASA's Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory in Washington. I got to pitch SX to them properly. Both are active with the 'Next-Gen' group that organizes presentations and socials for young people at NASA, Ryan in particular does a lot of organizing for that.
Elizabeth Fisher is another next-gen, she was there with a veteran, I gave her a shirt when she came up to look at the basalt product samples I'd put on display. Once again, mea culpa, I didn't get a chance to ask her what her area is and now I can't get more information on her. Or even on the manager-type she was there with (Paul something...). They didn't give a presentation, and they weren't private industry, so they were gathering information. Next time I will be much more careful to note names and affiliations, this time it was all a bit overwhelming and there were constant distractions.
Kim Ehr works on lander technology at Marshall. She took a shirt for her son, who plans to start studying for a career in aerospace after highschool in a year or two. She came with Josh, who I thought I'd have a chance to hang out with again after the conference ended, at a pub a few of us had already picked out. But David wanted to wrap up some NSS and ILD business with me, and he was fried and didn't want to go to a pub. We talked at length, though I'm missing his last name. Of all the people I spoke to, he was the only one who had ever heard of Stack Exchange before, though he hadn't known there was a Space Exploration section.
Rob Kelso is head of PISCES, he got a shirt partly because I button-holed him because his center is also experimenting with basalt as a construction material on the Moon, so I wanted to talk to him. And later I ran into him at Baltimore Airport as we both waited to fly home, so he definitely remembers me :)
I gave a shirt either to Bob Cataldo, who does nuclear systems and mission analysis at Glenn, or Ron Candless, who is developing an educational video game based on lunar exploration - the8thcontinentgame.com. I'm not sure which. At any rate, I talked for a while to both. In particular, Bob presents the cynical case at all times but is then quite willing to talk things over. I'm glad I got his business card. Nuclear systems? Ooooo....
And then I went and made sure Jim Carpenter got one. I was down to one medium, which was small for him, but he said it could go to his kid as well. He is lead scientist on ESA's Luna 27 lander program, he was a very busy guy at the conference, representing ESA. I wanted at least one shirt to go to a European, and also he seems very focused on the role of outreach in spurring space exploration, he had said as much during at least one of several presentations he made on behalf of the agency. He didn't have a card but he invited me to email him through the agency, that I could look him up there. He also was the only person who said he could see a possible role for SX in their outreach activities and that it was the kind of thing he is interested in.
I got biz cards from Jordan Estrada, who heads the ELASCA project, a private undertaking to assist in mission planning by mocking up an analog for a spacecraft in a large truck, in support of the off-world analog projects at various locations. He's just starting out, and saw my point when I said SX could be useful to him. From Lawrence Taylor, of the U of Tennessee Planetary Geosciences Institute, who has seen it all, since Apollo days, and likes to yak. From Kieran Carroll, CTO of Gedex, who has developed a gravimeter for use in lava tube detection and is a former head of the Canadian Space Society. And from Greg Schmidt, deputy director of SSERVI.
I also connected with Perry Edmundson and Peter Visscher at the mixer on Wednesday, they are from Ontario Drive and Gear, they are developing lander drive trains. They are young representatives of the private industry perspective, and could be connected with again from that perspective.
Kim Ehr and Rick Elphic offered to email me info once they had the chance, I'd given them cards but they didn't have any themselves. If that later slips their mind, Rick is easily found. Kim I have not found and I am concerned I'm not spelling her last name right. Hunting around on Marshall's website hasn't turned her up yet. Rick was in fact going to forwards me Jerry Sander's contact info. He remembered - without cues - that I had asked about the status of tech development for extraction of oxygen from lunar regolith, which is Jerry's turf. So, when I have the right question or request for them, I plan to follow up with all the people I've mentioned. That is mostly for the sake of Moonwards, but also genuinely for SX too. It is a matter of having something that fits with the individual, something they know about, care about, and would be interested in doing a little work on. I'm pretty sure something can be found for every single case.
I will be attending the ISDC in Puerto Rico in May of 2016. That is the NSS's flagship annual event. This year the list of presenters was a mixed bag and included a lot of big names and up-and-comers. I expect next year will be the same. Next time I will blatantly record verbal notes when I talk to people, I can't afford to lose track of names and projects this way. And request photos for the same reason. I will be presenting at that conference on my Moonwards project. I know a bunch of NSS people, I have many people with whom networking can be coordinated, and most of us have shared agendas at least in part. Hopefully my plugging skills will have been honed to a finer point by this event, for that next event.
*Rich Vondrak is in fact project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, TildalWave informed me.