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Cameron Smith Colloquium Abstract (Mar 21, 2018)

Human Exploration Technologies for the Second Space Age: Private Development of Space Suits for Earth Orbit and Beyond

A Second Space Age is underway, featuring both private and federal space exploration; to facilitate this, nearly all space-access and -exploration technologies need updates and cost-reduction efforts as they derive from archaic concepts and systems of production of the federally-regulated First Space Age (c.1959-2002).  I describe the efforts of my team, Pacific Spaceflight (which is not a business) to tackle a basic space-access and space-exploration technology, the 'space suit'. We are currently on our 10th main design revision and have arrived at a low-cost, lightweight basic space suit; we hope to open-source the design so that others improve on this garment, and we'll soon be turning our attention to a Mars suit for the human exploration of that planet.


Dr. Smith is a prehistorian at Portland State University's Department of Anthropology, studying the human past, but he has strong interests in humanity's distant future as well. Since 2009 he has been developing low-cost, durable space suits for the "Second Space Age," emphasizing design simplicity and durability. Since 2013 this has been done as a team effort he has led with the noncommercial thinktank Pacific Spaceflight. He has published widely on the anthropology of space exploration and human space settlement, including popular articles in Scientific American, Spaceflight and OMNI magazines. His 2012 book Emigrating Beyond Earth: Human Adaptation and Space Colonization (Springer) was a semitechnical contextualization of space settlement in an evolutionary context, and his forthcoming technical book Principles of Space Anthropology: Establishing a Science of Human Space Settlement (Springer 2019) specifies an adaptive programme for successful human space settlement. Dr. Smith has spoken in the Future In Space Working Group (University of Texas-Houston) and has consulted with SpaceX on life-support matters; he has given invited talks at TEDX Brussels and TEDX Portland, the Oregon Institute of Technology and Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and in 2016 he was invited to Google's SciFoo Camp to present his work on reinventing space suit technologies. In addition to publishing on human preshitory and evolution in books and research articles, Dr. Smith has published on space-related issues including an evolutionary framework for space settlement and his research on the genetics of space settlement  both in Acta Astronautica); he has also published on Mars exploration technology in the Journal of the British interplanetary Society and on the threats to current global civilization in Nanotechnology Perceptions. A diver, paraglider pilot and hot air balloon pilot, Dr. Smith is applying his many years of solo Arctic icecap expeditions to devising ways to explore the surface of Mars.