It Takes a Team: Reflections at the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight

Event Date: November 10, 2011
Speaker: Gary Horlacher, Flight Director, NASA; Dr. Michael Smith, Dept. of History, Purdue University
Sponsor: College of Engineering
College of Liberal Arts
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Armstrong Hall Atrium
Contact Name: Lisa Tally
Contact Phone: 494-9391
Contact Email:

Inaugural Interdisciplinary Engineering Colloquium

Purdue is rightly proud of its reputation as the “cradle of astronauts.” But it takes a team to launch an astronaut into space, and Purdue graduates, researchers and scholars have contributed in many different ways to making human space travel possible and to helping us understand the broader social, political and historical significance of these technological accomplishments. Spaceflight is a high-risk endeavor involving the flawless integration of an extremely complex set of technological and human systems—a system of systems. It also depends upon the sustained political will of a nation—the desire of the people—to provide the resources necessary to take these risks and to seek the potential rewards. 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, this joint event between the Colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts at Purdue places a spotlight on the geo-political and societal context and technological challenges of the Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, explores the much more complex nature of the human and technological systems in the space shuttle era, and asks what lessons we can learn from this for the future of human exploration of space.


Click here for WIBC radio interview with Dr. David Radcliffe on the colloquium.