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Space University completes Its First Semester At MIT

Boldly venturing where no dean went before, graduate students open an international college to study the universe The topic was the best design for a manned lunar base, and in the small room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the discussion was heated. Building the base in space and landing the completed structure on the moon just won’t work, argued the transportation experts. “We’re talking about a quantum leap in technology here,” warned Bill Unger, a Cana

Liz Marshall
Boldly venturing where no dean went before, graduate students open an international college to study the universe

The topic was the best design for a manned lunar base, and in the small room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the discussion was heated. Building the base in space and landing the completed structure on the moon just won’t work, argued the transportation experts. “We’re talking about a quantum leap in technology here,” warned Bill Unger, a Canadian engineer. But such an approach would be cheaper than constructing the base on the moon and would help advance the technology, countered the architects. “Here is an idea that works,” insisted Madhu Thangavelu, an Indian space architect.

No, this wasn’t a NASA long-range planning session. Instead it was part of an improbable, ambitious, and unprecedented undertaking the International Space University. Conceived and organized by a pair of precocious graduate students, the ISU is...

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