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International Space University to Come to Athens

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The 28th Summer Space Studies Program (SSP15) of International Space University (ISU), the world’s premier international space education institution, will begin on the Ohio University campus next week, with many events open to the public, according to a press release.

Supported by major space agencies and aerospace organizations from around the world including NASA Glenn Research Center, SSP15 will draw more than 110 participants from 30 countries – and 150 more faculty members – to Athens, Ohio, from June 8-August 7. They are engineers, scientists, and legal and medical professionals from government and space agencies, academia and aerospace companies.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Ohio University community and for southeast Ohio as a whole,” said OHIO President Roderick McDavis in the release. “We look forward to engaging with the global space community and supporting future space exploration through the use of our academic and research facilities.”

The intense nine-week professional development program covers all aspects of space programs and enterprises, including lectures and activities with leading space professionals such as astronauts. Disciplines highlighted include space physical sciences; space engineering; space policy, economics and law; space management and business; space and the humanities; space applications and human performance in space, the release stated.

SSP sessions target young and seasoned professionals from all disciplines, as well as post-graduate university students. Team projects allow participants to refine the topic as a team, and also produce professional quality reports and final presentations, all in the span of a few weeks.

Planning for the conference is being led by the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, with many units on campus including Event Services, Facilities and Auxiliaries, and OIT – and community partners such as the Athens Uptown Business Association, Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau – having played key roles for months. Campus-community partnerships include a sponsorship by the Southern Ohio Copperheads baseball team, local business discounts for participants, and space-themed music at this summer’s Concert Under the Elms series, and even a seasonal local beer to be announced next week.

Local Director Steve Riesbeck, who is grants coordinator for the Russ College, says the connections have been years in the making. “We’ve worked on the project for three years since the proposal phase, and transitioning from planning to operations is very exciting,” he said. “The support and collaboration among multiple units at Ohio has been outstanding,” he added.

The run-up to SSP15 has resembled how NASA plans and then executes a space mission, according to SSP15 director John Connolly, who was most recently NASA’s chief exploration scientist.

“We’re now in the transformation from years of planning to nine weeks of intense activity. Along the way, we’ll invite the Ohio community to join us at special events with astronauts, the heads of space agencies, and noted scientists, space entrepreneurs, film makers, authors, and rocket scientists from around the world,” Connolly said in the release. “After our program ‘blasts off’ June 8, our international, interdisciplinary and intercultural ‘crew’ will spend two months absorbing both their space studies as well as the American hospitality of southern Ohio.”

Recent sessions have convened in Montreal, Barcelona, the NASA Ames Research Center and Beijing. SSP16 will be held in Haifa, Israel; and SSP17 will be held in Cork, Ireland.

The conference partner is NASA Glenn Research Center. Sponsors are NASA, Aerospace Corporation, Boeing, the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, the Chinese Aerospace Corporation, the European Space Agency, the Indian Space Research Organization, Lockheed Martin Corporation and the UK Space Agency.

For more information about public events, visit For more information about ISU SSP15, visit