Space Exploration Missions Boost Universities — And The Local Economy

April 16, 2014

(Courtesy of asteroidmission.org)

NASA last week gave the go-ahead to researchers at the University of Arizona and elsewhere to start building the spacecraft and other facilities needed to study an asteroid. U of A is leading the OSIRIS-Rex mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2016, and meet up with the asteroid Bennu two years later. Joining me to talk about the mission is Dante Lauretta, a professor of Planetary Science at UofA and OSIRIS-Rex’s Principal Investigator.

In addition to the work going on at U of A, researchers at ASU are also exploring outer space. The two schools often work together on projects. A new program at ASU aims to connect the university with people and projects in the entrepreneurial space exploration sector. Jim Bell heads up that effort – he’s a professor of Planetary Science in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU. I asked him about a university’s role in doing this kind of work.

Arizona isn’t the only state exploring outer space, and how that kind of research can impact its economy. For more on that, I’m joined by Mark Muro, a Senior Fellow and Director of Policy for the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, and an author of a report on Colorado’s space economy.