NASA’s Jon Cowart to speak on the future of space travel


Having contributed to the success of numerous shuttle launches and ongoing operations for the International Space Station, Jon Cowart has been a key figure in America’s exploration of space for more than 30 years. On Saturday, October 20, Cowart will join other inspiring speakers at TEDxRiversideAvondale to share his uniquely informed vision for the future of space travel.

“I want to take the audience on a review of what has happened in space exploration in the last 50 years, but pretending our perspective is the year 2050,” explains Cowart. “I want to take plans NASA has on the books, and dream up a few more to help them know what our future in space exploration could be if we are simply willing to dare it.” (Cowart certainly isn’t afraid to dream big; his license plate, since 1984, reads “Go2Mars.”)

Cowart joined the Kennedy Space Center team in 1987 as a project engineer for space shuttle Atlantis. Since then, he has led many teams, including the International Space Station flight 2A and 3A processing teams, the orbiter docking system team, U.S. Destiny Laboratory and airlock processing teams, and shuttle Discovery engineering team. He has been in the launch control center for 65 Shuttle launch countdowns.

In 1993, Cowart was one of 50 people chosen from throughout NASA to participate in the Space Station Redesign. He received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for that effort. In August 1995, Cowart worked on special projects for the chief engineer of NASA in Washington, D.C., including next-generation spacesuits and launch vehicle reliability.

Today, Cowart is the NASA partner manager working with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On May 25, 2012, SpaceX made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first privately developed vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station. Previously only four governments — the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency — had achieved this feat.

Cowart is helping private companies build rockets and spaceships that will someday carry NASA astronauts into space–and soon thereafter, anyone who wants to go. At the same time, he is inspiring new generations who share his burning desire to explore the final frontier.

Jon is just one of many exciting, innovative and motivating presenters who will take part in TEDxRiversideAvondale. Organizers recently announced the inclusion of Roger Nierenberg, creator of “The Music Paradigm” and Bert Herring, MD, who will present “The Solution to Global Obesity.”

The inaugural TEDxRiversideAvondale will take place on Saturday, October 20 at the historic Friday Musicale. The theme is “Collective Genius” – sharing combined wisdom to effect positive change.

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