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Dava J. Newman    

Former Deputy Administrator of NASA; Professor of Aeronautics, Astronautics & Engineering Systems at MIT

Dava J. Newman, former Deputy Administrator of NASA and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is most notable for assisting NASA in developing new space activity suits, namely the Bio-Suit, which provide pressure mechanically, rather than with pressurized gas, and are designed to help astronauts move around more easily. Her main area of focus is a multidisciplinary research effort combining aerospace bioengineering, human-in-the-loop dynamics and control modeling, biomechanics, human interface technology, life sciences, and systems analysis and design. In doing so, she explores the mechanics and energetic requirements of human performance across the continuum of gravity, from microgravity to lunar and Martian gravity levels.

In October 2014, she was nominated by President Barack Obama as Deputy Administrator of NASA, but the U.S. Senate returned the nomination to the President in December 2014 when the 113th Congress adjourned without having confirmed her for the position. Under Senate rules, in order for Newman to be confirmed, Obama needed to re-nominate her to the Senate of the 114th Congress, and he did so on January 8, 2015. Her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation was held March 25, 2015, and the Committee unanimously recommended approval by the full Senate. She was confirmed by the Senate on April 27, 2015. She resigned the position upon the end of the Obama administration on January 20, 2017.

Speech Topics

Human Exploration from Earth to Mars: Becoming Interplanetary

Abstract: Recent space science missions to Pluto and Jupiter, the discovery of thousands of exoplanets, and orbital missions to monitor Spaceship Earth will be highlighted. Humanity will become interplanetary, and is on a journey to Mars. We are closer to reaching the Red Planet with human explorers than we have ever been in our history. Space agencies, academia and industry are working right now on the technologies and missions that will enable human “boots on Mars” in the 2030s. We are testing advanced technologies for the next giant leaps of exploration. From solar electric propulsion to cutting edge life support systems, to the first crops grown in space, the journey to Mars is already unfolding in tangible ways today for tomorrow. A three-stage plan will be highlighted – from missions close to Earth involving commercial partners and the International Space Station, advancing to missions in Earth–Moon orbit, or deep space, and finally moving on to Mars, where explorers will be practically independent from spaceship Earth. The innovation required to realize humanity becoming interplanetary cuts across science, human exploration and technology. Fundamentally, education, knowledge and access are the keys to exploring our solar system, Spaceship Earth, and ourselves. The urgency of education about our own planet is shown through super computer data visualizations accessible through online open platforms. The presentation concludes with an inclusive message on STEAMD (science-technology-engineering-arts-math-design) about changing the conversation to include everyone: the artists, designers, poets and makers. We are all astronauts on Spaceship Earth! Eleanor Roosevelt once said that the “future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”


This Sleek Spiderman Spacesuit Could Take Astronauts To Mars

When humans go to live on Mars, those 300-pound space suits are going to get old fast. The Biosuit, with its tight-fitting Spiderman look, could make exploring the red planet a bit sexier.

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