IRG 2021 Participants

Dr. Louis Friedman worked at the AVCO Space Systems Division from 1963-1968, on both civilian and military space programs. From 1970 to 1980 he worked on deep space missions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In 1979-80 he originated and led the International Halley Watch. He was manager of Advanced Planetary Studies at JPL. In 1978-79, Dr. Friedman was the AIAA Congressional Fellow on the staff of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He worked there on Space Policy, Operational Remote Sensing legislation, NASA program oversight and technology innovation on the railroads. He is a member of the American Astronautical Society, the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, Sigma Xi and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the British Interplanetary Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is a National Fellow member of the Explorers Club and of the International Academy of Astronautics.

He left JPL in 1980 and co-founded The Planetary Society with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray. He was Executive Director of the Society for 30 years. Dr. Friedman led the design and development of the LightSail ™ spacecraft which successfully carried out its mission in 2019. Since retiring from The Planetary Society, he co-led the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study at Caltech and of Science and Technology to Explore the Interstellar Medium.  He is currently working on a NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts) Phase III study of a mission to image exo-planets using the Solar Gravity Lens by flying along its focal line which begins at approximately 600 AU.

Dr. Andrew Higgins is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He has over 25 years of experience in shock wave experimentation and modelling, encompassing shock and detonation waves in gas-phase and condensed-phase materials, with applications to advanced aerospace propulsion, defense, and fusion energy. He serves as the Managing Editor of Shock Waves, An International Journal on Shock Waves, Detonations, and Explosions. His two most recent projects have been: (1) Developing a hypervelocity launcher to launch projectiles to world-record velocities (exceeding 12 km/s) for orbital debris impact testing and (2) a research collaboration with General Fusion Inc. (Burnaby, BC) applying the implosion of liquid cavities to magnetized target fusion. In 2018, while on sabbatical from McGill, he was a visiting scholar at UC Santa Barbara in the Experimental Cosmology Group, working on problems related to interstellar flight. Andrew Higgins has a PhD (’96) and MS (’93) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a BS (’91) in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.

Troy Howe is the president of Howe Industries in Scottsdale, AZ, where he and his team explore new ideas for space power and propulsion. His background is in mechanical engineering, with a PhD from University of Idaho. Howe Industries has a number of fascinating projects underway, including nuclear thermal propulsion, solar thermal propulsion, thermoelectric power generation, and nuclear plasma propulsion.

Dr. Gerald Jackson received his doctorate in the field of accelerator physics from Cornell University, where he studied collisions between electrons and positrons. From 1985 until 2000 he was instrumental in improving the performance of the Fermilab proton-antiproton collider program through enhancements in the production, manipulation, and storage of antiprotons. Dr. Jackson was a leader in the design, construction, and commissioning of the innovative 2-mile circumference antiproton Recycler ring, the last major particle physics accelerator built in the United States. Designed to increase Fermilab performance by 2.5X, the Recycler and other upgrades actually resulted in an increase of more than a factor of five. His technical contributions to, and leadership of, the Recycler project won him the 1999 IEEE Particle Accelerator Science and Technology Award, helped earn him the status of Fellow in the American Physical Society, and elevation as a senior member of the IEEE. During his 14 years at Fermilab, he had been instrumentation department head, leader of Main Ring operations, and leader of many accelerator technology development projects. He has been a tireless proponent of new accelerator technologies for science. As a Wilson Fellow, he worked on the challenging problem of bunched beam stochastic cooling for the Tevatron Collider and collaborated in a study which discovered nonlinear wave-mixing in accelerator beams and the presence of soliton propagation in coasting beams. Since 2000 he has founded several companies, one working on antimatter propulsion problems for NASA and culminating in a 2016 crowdfunded study of antimatter production enhancements and a NIAC Phase I grant in 2020.

David G Messerschmitt is the Roger A. Strauch Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at the University of California at Berkeley. During retirement he continues his research in interstellar communications with application to the search for signatures of extraterrestrial technology, and communication with interstellar space probes. He started his career at Bell Laboratories, and at UC Berkeley has served as Chair of EECS and the Interim Dean of the School of Information. His doctorate is from the University of Michigan, and he is a Life Fellow of the IEEE, a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal recognizing “exceptional contributions to the advancement of communication sciences and engineering”.

Kai Staats is leading the development of a Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM) at Biosphere 2, a hermetically sealed habitat analog. Within this unique vessel teams will conduct research related to plant physiology and ecology, microbial community evolution, CO2 sequestration, water recycling, pressure regulation; human food studies, and with the use of a pressure suit, EVA, tool use, and rover studies, and more.

Kai is also the lead of the SIMOC [see-mok] project, a scalable, interactive software model of an off-world community. SIMOC is built on published data derived from Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) and closed ecosystem research at NASA and universities world-wide. The goal for the users to design a habitat that sustains human life with a combination of physico-chemical ECLSS and bioregenerative (living plant) systems, and is scalable to accommodate a growing community. Kai is a co-author of “World Ships: Feasibility and Rationale” as well as many other publications spanning a wide range of interests.

Dr. Alan Stern is planetary scientist, a former NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator, a former board chair of the Commercial Space flight Federation, and a current member of the National Science Board. In 2020, NASA selected Dr. Stern to fly the first NASA-
funded researcher aboard a Virgin Galactic suborbital space mission. He has been on 29 NASA and ESA space science mission teams, 14 of which he played a principal investigator (PI) role, including the nearly $1B New Horizons that was the first mission to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, conducting farthest exploration of worlds in history. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and The Explorer’s Club. In both 2007 and 2016 he was named to the Time 100.