Space Exploration, Rocket Not Required: Florida Tech Symposium Offered Moonshot Insights

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Luminaries from NASA, industry and academia gathered at Florida Tech on Wednesday, Nov. 6, as the university hosted JFK’s Moonshot Mandate: Then, Now, and Desiny at Gleason Performing Arts Center.

A crowd from the community and across campus were welcomed to the half-day event by Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay, who said the symposium is another major space-related event the university has been honored to host in 2019, noting the March visit from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“This has been quite a year at the Florida Institute of Technology,” he said. 

Leaders from event partners John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Universities Space Research Association addressed the crowd.

Special guest Al Worden, Apollo 15 command module pilot and a representative from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, then presented scholarships to Florida Tech students Nathan Hadland and Noah Nodolski.  

“It’s going to rest on young people to do the things that have got to be done to get us where we need to go in space in the future,” he said.

Then panel discussions were held on the past, present and future of space, moderated by former CNN space correspondsent John Zarrella.

Panel participants were:

  • Andrew Aldrin, director of Florida Tech’s Aldrin Space Institute
  • Saida Caballero-Nieves, assistant professor, Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Tech
  • Alyssa Carson, astrobiology student at Florida Tech and the youngest person to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy
  • Suzanne ‘Suzy’ Cunningham, strategy and integration manager for communication and public engagement, NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Scott Henderson, vice president, test and flight operations, Florida site director, Blue Origin
  • Jeffrey Isaacson, president and CEO, USRA
  • David Kring, principal scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute at USRA
  • Dwayne McCay, president,Florida Tech
  • Shawn Quinn, director of engineering, NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Steven Rothstein, executive director, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
  • Winston Scott, former shuttle astronaut, NASA
  • Bob Sieck, former director of shuttle processing at Kennedy Space Center
  • Cynthia Simmons, deputy director of planning and business management operations, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Lee Solid, retired senior executive, Rockwell Space Operations
  • Al Worden, former Apollo astronaut, NASA


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