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Anousheh Ansari, who became the world's first privately financed female space explorer when she traveled to the International Space Station last year and who was the title sponsor of the $10-million Ansari X-Prize for private spaceflight, will give the kickoff keynote speech Friday, Nov. 9, for the SpaceVision 2007 conference at MIT.
The conference, which runs through the long holiday weekend, features dozens of other leaders of the "new space" business, NASA officials, rocket company leaders, space advocacy group founders and ex-astronauts. Organizers from the MIT chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) expect the meeting to draw several hundred students and other participants from around the country.
Among the speakers will be Elon Musk, the internet billionaire who heads the new rocket company Space Exploration Technologies; Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X-Prize Foundation; Stuart Witt, manager of Mojave Spaceport, the United States' first private spaceport; Simon "Pete" Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center and creator of the innovative DC-X rocket; Armadillo Aerospace vice president Neil Milburn; and former NASA astronauts Jan Davis and Winston Scott.
Other confirmed speakers include Mars Society founder and author Robert Zubrin, science fiction writer Joe Haldeman, Mars Desert Research Station researcher Ryan Kobrick, lunar rover project manager Jaret Matthews of NASA-JPL, National Space Society Director George Whitesides, Personal Spaceflight Federation Executive Director John Gedmark, and American Astronautical Society President Mark Craig.
After two days of talks and a banquet Saturday night, the conference concludes with a series of workshops Monday. A complete schedule, list of speakers and registration form are online.