Will Collaboration or Competition Propel Humans to Mars and Beyond?

Between the close of the Cold War and the more recent retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, we’ve long since left the first space age behind. But now it seems there’s a new space race brewing—one that may take humans out of our planet’s orbit.

At the height of the Cold War, the first space age was a geopolitical race between superpowers eager to outreach each other. Today's space race is a more complex interplay of networked nations and private players alternatively competing against, and collaborating with, each other. Once the exclusive provenance of old power nations, space exploration has increasingly opened to new global players with India, China, Nigeria, Japan, the EU, and the UAE getting in the race. Private enterprises are also playing an increasingly prominent role in our interplanetary yearnings, as evidenced by the ventures backed by Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson. 

NASA is still very much in the game but without a moonshot-like commitment for Mars, their projected 2040 manned mission seems far off. A start-up company, or an upstart country, may beat us there—or perhaps help us all get there together as partners. 

Future Tense met in Washington, DC on Wednesday, March 8 to consider whether it will be competition or cooperation that finally gets us to Mars and beyond. 

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University



Introduction - Andrés Martinez, Editorial Director, Future Tense 

Panel: How Much for a Round-Trip Ticket to Mars? featuring George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company; Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America 

Presentation: The Need for a Tangible Goal (Mine's Mars) featuring Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Director, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University 

Panel: The New Age of Competitive Exploration featuring Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Director, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University; Scott Pace, Director, Space Policy Institute, Elliott School of International Affairs and Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, George Washington University; Eric Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation; and, Ellen Stofan, Former Chief Scientist, NASA. Moderated by Konstantin Kakaes, Fellow, New America and Author, The Pioneer Detectives.

Presentation: Why the UAE is Bound for Space featuring Talal M. Al Kaissi, Senior Advisor Commercial Affairs and Special Projects; Director of U.S./U.A.E. Space Affairs, UAE Embassy Trade & Commercial Office 

Panel: From Hypercapitalist Asteroid Mines to Militarized Lunar Bases to Terraformed Mars Communes, How Will We All Get Along in Space? featuring Rob Chambers, Orion Production Strategy Lead, Lockheed Martin Space Systems; Thomas Cremins, Associate Administrator for Strategy and Plans, NASA; and, Véronique Dockendorf, Deputy Chief of Mission, Luxembourg Embassy. Moderated by Konstantin Kakaes, Fellow, New America and author, The Pioneer Detectives.

Panel: Will Imagination Propel Humans to Mars and Beyond? featuring Deji Bryce Olukotun, Author, Nigerians in Space and After the Flare (forthcoming, 2017) and Senior Global Advocacy Manager, Access Now and Karl Schroeder, Science Fiction Writer and Futurist. Moderated by Konstantin Kakaes, Fellow, New America and author, The Pioneer Detectives 

Event highlight video.

March 8, 2017
Run time
New America
Presented by:
Future Tense