Homesteading The Final Frontier

Heather Hava (CEO) with SmartPOT(SPOT) in front of the Dreamchaser at CU’s Bio-Astronautics Lab. Image Credit: Stellar Synergetics

Heather Hava (CEO) with SmartPOT(SPOT) in front of the Dreamchaser at CU’s Bio-Astronautics Lab. Image Credit: Stellar Synergetics

October 14, 2016 – On October 13, President Obama hosted the first ever White House Frontiers Conference to encourage Americans to imagine our Nation and the world in 50 years and beyond, and to explore the future of innovation with a focus on building U.S. capacity in science and technology.

The conference, which was co-hosted by the White House, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University, brought together researchers, business leaders, technologists, philanthropists, and students who are the change-makers of tomorrow. Conference attendees participated in a national conversation about keeping America on the cutting edge of innovation in the decades to come, and shared work already in progress.

University of Colorado Boulder aerospace PhD student Heather Hava was invited to speak on a panel discussion entitled Not Just to Visit, But to Stay. Hava’s research focuses on developing plant growth robotics and automation technologies such as SmartPOT and Ag.Q. (A.I. for agriculture) to improve astronauts’ nutritional and psychological health during long-duration space missions. Bioregenerative Life Support Systems (BLiSS) such as these will be cornerstone technology for space habitats. They also have potential here on Earth to increase self-sufficiency and food security.

In addition to Hava’s graduate work, Hava is an entrepreneur who has two start-up technology companies, Stellar Synergetics and Autoponics, which commercialize her research and innovations for sustainable Earth application and apace exploration.

At the event, President Barack Obama participated in a discussion on innovators in medicine and healthcare. The conference also included presentations by NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman and astronauts Anousheh Ansari and Serena Aunon-Chancellor.

Space Highlights From The Event Include:

  • A reaffirmation of the President’s commitment for America to explore new interplanetary frontiers, including a human mission to Mars in the 2030’s.

  • A White House report on preparing for the future of artificial intelligence (AI), outlining the issues that society will have to grapple with to unlock the possibilities of AI.

  • New steps to develop technology — such as deep-space habitats — to meet the President’s interplanetary goals. These steps include providing private companies with the ability to add their own modules and other capabilities to the International Space Station.

  • $50 million in Federal funds to fuel a revolution in small-satellite technology that could provide capabilities such as ubiquitous high-speed Internet connectivity and continuously updated imagery of the Earth.

  • A new space-weather Executive Order to coordinate efforts to prepare the Nation for space-weather events.