Monthly Archives: August 2010

Search for LAUNCH:Health Innovators

We’ve been super busy planning our next LAUNCH sustainability forum. The topic for our second forum is “sustaining human life.” LAUNCH is our incubator program that searches for visionaries, whose world-class ideas, technologies or programs show great promise for making tangible impacts on society. At each LAUNCH forum, ten innovators and 40 thought leaders come together to address these sustainability challenges.

Often health isn’t considered a sustainability challenge, but think about it. What good is sustaining air quality, clean water supplies, and renewable energy sources if humans aren’t here to enjoy it? What happens if we’re not around to tell the story of humanity?

Sustaining quality of life for the human race is the ultimate challenge.

Astronaut Shannon Walker on Space Station using glovebox. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Shannon Walker on Space Station using glovebox. Credit: NASA

Human health is an important part of NASA’s portfolio. We strap human explorers (otherwise known as medical test subjects) to incendiary devices (otherwise known as rockets) and blast them outside our protective atmosphere.

Keeping astronauts healthy and safe = CRITICAL mission requirement.

Right now, our astronauts live off planet Earth for missions that last half a year. How the human body reacts to changes in gravity, radiation, and even psychological isolation, mirrors health issues faced by the rest of us who never leave the planet. For instance, we’ve learned the value of daily exercise in keeping bones strong during space missions — just like the need for exercise at home.

How we use technology to monitor and address health issues in the extreme environment of space has direct applications for use by communities living in remote locations on Earth — in developing countries or isolated regions.

@Astro_Wheels works on science freezer in Space Station Destiny lab. Credit: NASA

@Astro_Wheels works on science freezer in Destiny lab. Credit: NASA

Someday, we’ll leave this planet for longer periods. We’ll travel around the universe. We’ll set up colonies on other planetary surfaces. We already monitor maternal health concerns, with so many females in the astronaut corps. At some point, we’ll concern ourselves with child health — once they’re born on long-duration missions. Yes, it will happen.

The real question is: when.

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on Space Station. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on Space Station. Credit: NASA

Fun Fact: I’ve been part of a long-term health study for the last 25 years. I’m a “control subject” for female astronauts.

LAUNCH: Health will be held in conjunction with the STS-133 Space Shuttle launch down at the Kennedy Space Center. We’ve been working closely with our founding partners USAID, State Department and NIKE, and our forum partners Vestergaard Frandsen and IDEO, to develop criteria to select the LAUNCH: Health innovations.

We posted the LAUNCH: Health call for innovators on InnoCentive as an ideation challenge. We’ll have the challenge open for 30 days. Your ideas can be social, policy or technology innovations that have potential for disruptive impact — in a positive way, of course. You will need to sign up as an InnoCentive Solver to post your solution.

Toms ShoeSocial Change: Personally, I think TOMS Shoes, as a business concept, is an amazing example of social innovation. For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, a second pair is donated to a child. The simple act of wearing shoes prevents cuts that expose children to tetanus, as well as diseases like human hookworm and podoconiosis. My daughter Steph and all her friends wear TOMS, and request TOMS for birthdays and holiday gifts. They believe wearing TOMS makes a statement that they care about making the world better, one pair of shoes at a time.

TOMS One for One business model succeeded in:

  • creating awareness among those of us who have closets full of shoes,
  • changing attitudes, and
  • inspiring action.

In fact, TOMS birthed a movement. You can show your support by participating in “One Day Without Shoes” on April 5, 2011. Brilliant!

Toms Shoes Movement. Credit: TOMS

Toms Shoes Movement. Credit: TOMS

Aren’t you inspired? So, what do you have up your sleeve that you’re willing to share? Do you have what it takes to make a positive difference in world health? Get creative. I dare you.

Save the WORLD: one innovation at a time!

For more information about our first sustainability forum, visit: LAUNCH.org. (We’re busy updating the website to reflect LAUNCH: Health.)

Crosspost on GovLoop.

4 Comments

Filed under astronaut, Earth, leadership, NASA, social media, space, technology

Space Buzz: The New High!

The 18th annual SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas will be held on March 11-15, 2011. They bill the event as “five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders.” Potential presenters submit panel session proposals, which are sifted and selected for voting.

I’ve never been to SXSW, but I’ve wanted to go for years. Now is the time, I hope — with your help.

Our panel “Space Buzz: The New High” has been selected for consideration by YOU. You’ll have to sign up for an account, then you can vote and comment. Our panel will explore NASA’s social media conversation, specifically how to create and collect the buzz.

Come visit us in the NASA Buzzroom to see what the buzz is all about.

Star -powered panel: Jesse Thomas of Jess3.com, NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz, Miles O’Brien and Ariel Waldman have agreed to share the stage, if we get selected.

It’s all up to you to GIVE SPACE A CHANCE!

Space Buzz panel

Space Buzz panel

Let’s create some space buzzVote now…and tell all your friends.

Crosspost on GovLoop.com.


3 Comments

Filed under Gov 2.0, NASA, social media, technology

RESPECT: Just a Little Bit!

Do you ever have those days, weeks, or months where life just gets you down? Too many projects to juggle. Too many battles too fight. Too many bills to pay. Not enough hours in the day.

Do you ever feel like this?

He looks how I feel sometimes...

My self-portrait!

The last few weeks have been rough. Getting my daughter Steph graduated and packed for Africa consumed much of my energy and emotion. I haven’t recharged yet. I can see it daily, as I allow typical bureaucratic in-fighting to get under my skin. Normally I’m more resilient. Now, I just feel flat.

Doing the right thing can be hard...I received lots of TWencouragement from tweeps. Like this tweet from Gordon Vaughn @aeroG of Houston, Texas:

Tweet: Doing right thing is about long-term perspective.What’s been really hard lately (for a career government employee who despises paperwork of any kind — except a paycheck, and those are electronic now) is putting in place legal documents to enable a 5-year exhibit contract, a never-been-done-before technology concept to capture innovative thought-processes, and partnerships to propel forward our next LAUNCH sustainability forum.

Bow Wave by artist Edouard Kamhi

Bow Wave by artist Edouard Kamhi

Think about a power boat slicing the water in forward progress. What’s left behind? A bow wave. The water has to go somewhere, and it’s powerful enough to swamp another boat.

If you travel through the air, you create a shock wave. The point is: with forward movement, you displace what was once there and shift it somewhere else.

It’s the same in the government. You can push forward and make significant progress, but at some point, the paperwork catches up with you. It’s simply a given…

The cost of doing business with the government: paperwork.

But in the midst of all the scrambling the past few weeks to make sure we document the cool things we’re doing at NASA, a colleague made this comment to me:

“What’s different about you, Beth, is that you respect the bureaucracy.”

Ok, I’ve got to admit. I was horrified. I abhor bureaucracy. It’s the bane of my existence. When I asked what she meant, she explained. Though I push the envelop and make people crazy with my new ideas, I respect that legal documents make everything work.

I had to admit. She’s right. What I’ve learned through 25 years getting smacked around by the goverment: the law is the law. We can argue interpretation of the law (and I’m pretty good at arguing for flexibility), but we need our lawyers to bless our forward progress.

If our lawyers are with us, who can be against us…if you know what I mean.

I learned something new about myself in the midst of this crazy, chaotic, bureaucratic nightmare I’m in the middle of:

I really DO respect the difference between doing my own thing, and doing the right thing. Hopefully, they’ll always be the same thing.

Where’s Aretha when I need her? I feel like singing...R.E.S.P.E.C.T…just a little bit…!

Crosspost on GovLoop.com.

2 Comments

Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media