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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Apr 30, 2018

Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of billionaire entrepreneurs, jocularly referred to as the “Space Barons,” are pouring their fortunes into the resurrection of the American space program. Washington Post staff writer Christian Davenport brought to our stage the remarkable accounts of risk and high adventure by these four billionaires—Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Paul Allen—sharing excerpts collected in his book The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos. Drawing on years of investigation and exclusive interviews with all four of the “Barons,” Davenport brought us a report on the birth of a new Space Age, fueled by some of the world’s richest men as they struggle to end the governmental monopoly on the cosmos. Davenport was joined for an onstage conversation with award-winning science writer and editor Alan Boyle.

Davenport and Boyle discussed the Silicon Valley-style innovation at work to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, and the potential for these programs to send humans even further than NASA has ever achieved. Together they outlined the hardships facing this new space movement: startups warring with established contractors and the entrepreneurs’ personal clashes which threaten to scuttle their private projects before they come to fruition. Join Davenport and Boyle for a comprehensive look at the spacefaring projects funded by the founders of some of the biggest brands in the world, and the potential for these industry-upending titans to aim for the moon, Mars, and beyond.

Christian Davenport is a staff writer at the Washington Post covering the space and defense industries for the financial desk. He is a recipient of the Peabody award for his work on veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and has been on reporting teams that were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize three times. Before joining the financial staff, Davenport was an editor on the Metro desk, overseeing coverage of local government and politics. As a frequent radio and television commentator, he has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, PBS NewsHour, and several NPR shows, including All Things Considered and Diane Rehm.

Alan Boyle is an aerospace and science editor at Geekwire.com, creator of Cosmiclog.com, and award-winning science writer and space reporter. Formerly the science editor of NBCNews.com, MSNBC, and MSNBC.com, he is the author of The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference.

Recorded live at Museum of Flight on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.