Breakthroughs in Science & Technology – Ken Savin

[Applause] [Music] so [Music] and now ken savin is going to join us
and talk a little bit about uh the importance of science just period and we certainly know that trained as an organic chemist he spent nearly two decades at eli lilly in various forms of drug development but he migrated into space as it were beginning to do experiments that were eventually carried on the international space station in fact five major experiments that were taken into space and worked on there so the technological intersection of science and space and experimentation has led him to become the senior program director in space production at the center for the advancement of sp science in space where he leads the international space station's u.s national lab please welcome ken savin [Music] hi everyone um so uh it's been a fantastic day you look at these speakers and they're really
remarkable it's and for me it's really intimidating to see some people who i think of as legends um come up here and speak about what they do and um i'll also tell you that before the program started somebody came at me and said are you nervous and i was like yeah i'm nervous and you know why i'm nervous it's because the last 24 hours people have been telling me what they want to hear i've got a list here we want to hear about elon musk spacex richard branson virgin galactic mars jeff bezos blue origin mars again children and their role neil armstrong apollo spacesuits it might be neil armstrong spacesuit i'm not sure how we benefit in our daily lives from activities done in space that was randy's women as pioneers in space and a real example of where we do something commercially significant in microgravity the problem is i turned my slides in last week so
but if you keep track i am going to hit all those topics i guarantee you um i was asked to come here and tell you my story like the other speakers and i am not going to do that what i'm going to do is i'm going to tell you our story because what i'm talking about and this is something that i had to learn over the last eight years that i've been sort of involved in the aerospace industry is that the things that are happening are us it's not a group people at nasa who are removed right the apollo missions were fantastic and we saw it well some of you saw it i missed it but it was something somebody else did and what i learned is that what's happening now and the topic i'm going to go over is really focused on things that ordinary americans are participating in so so with that it's a hard topic to connect to and what i'm going to do is i'm going to use a historic analogy something that we can
kind of connect with and through that i'm hoping you will not only be able to better relate to the topic and sort of understand it but perhaps we can all start to make some predictions about where it's all headed now the topic i was asked to speak on is commercial space and people when i started coming up with this and was talking to some of my friends about oh you're going to talk about office buildings and warehouses no we're talking about commercial activities that are happening in space mostly in low earth orbit but we of course are going to go beyond that and the historic analogy i am going to use is the california gold rush because i believe we are at the beginning of a kind of gold rush it's hard for us being in it in its infancy to see it but that's what i think is happening the people who participated in the gold rush were called argonauts an argonaut is a person who takes on a risky but potentially profitable venture and i think that's what the people during the gold rush did that is a little background
in the spring of 1848 a guy named james w marshall was wandering around near the job site he was working at in northern central california and he saw something in a stream he bent down picked it up it was a small golden pebble he had seen gold before of course because gold was used as money but to find it there in the dirt that was remarkable as the story goes he put the pebble on a stone and struck it with a rock it didn't break didn't crack it kind of flattened out it was malleable it was gold and the events that would ripple out from that point would change not only this newly acquired territory of california but the united states as a whole and thousands upon thousands of lives the first point i want to make is that there is a barrier for us normal americans to try to understand how we connect with this whole thing of work in space commercial space it is a physical barrier how do you get there but it's a
psychological barrier as i said it's something somebody else does so let's go back to 1849 you notice what's happening hey people are finding gold out in the streams you want to tell your cousins back in upstate new york to come out be a part of it so how do you tell them there's no facebook there's no internet enabled email no cell phones or texting not even telegraph that wouldn't be invented for another 30 years you're going to sit down and write a letter remember those days when people used to sit down and write a letter and then you're going to mail it and what are you gonna say uh this is cousin billy from mount california people are picking gold out of the dirt your cousins are gonna think billy's got a problem people did it they mailed letters they actually some cases went on their own and they traveled most cases all the way around the mail or the people all the way around south america up the east coast to go and tell these people what's happening and then these people get these letters
and what are they going to do you're telling them to give up their lives sell just about everything they own their homes say goodbye to everybody they know there because they're never coming back these are people that have probably never been more than 50 miles from where they were born in their lives and you're telling them to head out into the frontier 3000 miles into the unknown or and that's if they're doing it by land right get to st louis and wait for the spring and then make a run for it or you're going to get on a boat and go all the way around south america most of them actually went to panama there was no canal but you'd get to panama and then hike for 50 miles through the malaria-infested jungle and get to the pacific side and wait for a boat but people did it people did it because they didn't have hope in that time not the way we do prosperity wasn't something that you could work for you worked for your lives and that was it if you were poor you were going to be poor and now they were handing out lottery tickets in california and people took advantage of it people were able to overcome those the psychological barrier of giving up their
lives and going for it and getting out there the physical barrier well the physical barrier is being broken for space and as was talked about before going from space shuttle to uh the spacex falcon 9 to the falcon heavy the price is coming down and it's becoming routine people are launching on a regular basis now in fact i saw a presentation where a general us space force said that last year the united states launched 51 rockets 51 resupply missions into space for various activities satellites transport to the space station the price is coming down and it's becoming routine and as i said before ordinary people are starting to participate and the organizations that are shipping those people and that material into space are making money you may recognize some of these individuals jeff bezos and richard branson are running tourism that's what they're trying to do there's going to be bumps in the road but they're sending ordinary people that is ordinary if you believe billionaires and william shatner are
ordinary but you know what i'm saying right they're not just professional astronauts anymore and i know for a fact that jeff bezos has plans to build his own space station called the orbital reef already in the works and then there's elon musk elon musk is not in a different league he's playing an entirely different game than everybody else and he's winning at it he's it's very good if you just look at what that man has been able to accomplish with his company it is fantastic and it wasn't for him we would right now be dependent upon the russians for access to space think about that so back to our heroes and heroine picks and shovels what are the enablers to do work in space to do that commercial work in space well if we go back to the gold rush you can see the detritus there in front of them picks shovels pails pan all their clothing that sluice that's that trough that they're working on there materials had to be brought over and the organizations that brought that
stuff over made money when it got there had to go to the general store that's where you bought your picks and shovels and equipment to enable the work that would be done there people made good money they were selling shovels for the equivalent of several hundred dollars a shovel there's an oddity in this picture there's a woman women were not miners they did not mine okay it was dirty brutal dangerous work and in this pre-victorian era it was just unacceptable but what does she do in there well if you look at what she's got in her arm on her hand there it alludes to what her role was she was delivering a meal she has a basket they did that this is the grub hub of 1850. you're looking at it right there women had opportunities that they would not normally have okay there weren't many women in california and people ask me oh were they prostitutes some of them were they it was the euphemism was soiled doves but most of the women led normal relatively normal lives for that period of time and they had opportunities the
men were in the field so what did they do they ran the saloons they owned the hotels they ran the laundry services one woman made a near fortune baking and selling pies one guy took it to the extreme guy named sam brennan he was at the same site that james marshall was he was at stutters mill he owned his own little general store at sutter's mill with his buddy and they started to see what was happening people weren't showing up to work anymore they were just down in the stream digging for gold and he said well the only logical thing is to go out into that to become a part of it to go buy some picks and shovels but he he did it a little different he went into san francisco and he bought every pick and every shovel from every store put him in a warehouse and then he held a one-man parade waving his arms around walking up and down market street yelling gold gold gold gold from the american river this is a picture of the american river in the early 1850s sam brennan made a fortune he became one
of the largest landowners in the state of california there's two items i want you two things two concepts i want you to pull from this picture the first is if you look at it it is convoluted ugly industrial almost primitive but in fact you have to consider they don't have engines or motors like we're used to they don't have electricity they have to use the power of the water they're working within the bounds of nature they became very efficient at it you'll have a chance in a couple of slides to decide whether or not you think this is really primitive the other item i want you to notice is right in the front at the bottom of the picture there's a gentleman holding his daughter's hand see that she's wearing bloomers if you look really closely it's perfect we will take our children to space they'll come as families or we'll have children in space it's going to happen it's part of being a human it may i don't know it's hard for us to look at this and not have some strong emotion from looking at that picture this young girl among
all these men in this setting but we'll take pictures of our kids when we're in space and a couple centuries hence our descendants will look at those pictures have some of the same feelings you're having right now let's talk about children for just a second so they're they're going to come with us but the people who are children and some of them are young young individuals here they're the ones who are going to get us to mars i'm an old guy right i'd love to go to mars and just like richard it would be fantastic maybe i don't know 14 months there back and but our children are the ones who are going to get us there you can bet on it it would be it would be a bad bet to bet against them so what are the tools and enablers that we have today is it new in space that we would have you know people selling uh equipment that would enable our working space no it's been going on for years this is from the apollo missions if you need i'll say you're sending a couple of astronauts to the moon and you want them to take that one small step the better
of a spacesuit so what do you who do you go to who's going to build your spacesuit for you well you go to the people who are the best at it right american industry the people who make who are experts in form-fitting garments that are maybe made of latex or rubberized fabrics you go to playtex the people who make bras they made the they won the contract to make the spacesuits for the apollo missions they actually had the contract stolen from them and then won it back they went on to make all the spacesuits and they still make spacesuits for nasa now i told you i was going to have a picture of neil armstrong in a spacesuit that is not neil armstrong that is buzz aldrin but if you look really closely in the reflection in his visor you can see neil armstrong taking a picture of him so i'm going to check that one off on the thing so so people are making tools modern american companies are making tools that are enabling our work in space and it's trickling back down to us the tools that enable that work in space and the things that we're learning in
space are coming out in products that we use every day memory foam mattresses mylar insulating materials one of the first laptop computers was developed and produced for use on a space shuttle flight even gps where would we be without gps right that is a product of our ability to access and do work in space but what about the gold mine this is the gold mine this is what it looks like now remember what the american river looked like you thought that was primitive and convoluted look at that picture she's got wires and tubes and stuff flow going everywhere she's got diaper wipes stuck to the wall she's looking through a microscope that is stuck to the ceiling and she's sitting there floating and she's got velcro on her pants so her tools don't float away this alludes to the the power that we have the the ability to do things that you cannot do otherwise if you don't have access to space microgravity it's it is impossible to produce extended periods of microgravity
on the ground just can't do it but you can do it in orbit that is what we're taking advantage of for the most part people are taking pictures just as we're seeing in some of the previous presentations from the space station looking at the ground the satellite imagery is really powerful people are going to space because we want access to space to the vacuum of space but better than 85 percent of all the research being done on station is happening inside and it's taking advantage of microgravity now i don't want to say that we're not still developing tools going forward tools that will also have an impact on our lives so let's say that we're uh getting into orbit around mars and a very very important piece breaks and you need it i mean you really really need that piece what are you gonna do you call the guys back at nasa hey can you launch me peace xyz even if they launch it that day it's gonna take 14 months to get you if you really really needed it you're probably really really dead by the time it gets there so what do you do
you bring the general store with you in this it's a fabricator this one actually prints in three dimensions objects out of metal it's you can make items out of uh titanium in this case there's also printers that print in ceramic print in plastic and they're right now developing one that prints in tissue so you could put replacement people parts on there as well and the parts would be based on your own genetics from your own stem cells and in this case you don't have to wait the 14 months you just have them send you the plans that's 14 minutes or you don't even have to have them send the plans bring the plans on a memory drive you can have millions and millions of parts and your memory drive will never weigh any more than it does when you start but what about the gold that's what we really want to talk about so i'm going to just go back here just say really quickly a comment about this this is a loop a metal loop that has been dipped in sugar water you have never seen this
because on earth you would never be able to do this you dip it in you pull it out gravity would tug on it pull it all over to one end of the loop and it would drip off right that's what happens unless you're making soap bubbles but for just sugar water you'd never see it but when you remove the force of gravity all the other factors that were shrouded by gravity become dominant in this case water tension adhesion and cohesion and if you sit and wait the water evaporates and you start to produce these crystals now we've learned something about growing crystals in space the crystals grown in microgravity tend to be larger more ordered they're more perfect they have less imperfections in the matrix and they tend to be uniform they have the same shape and size compared to one another now you may look at this picture and say hold on sunken you said they're going to be same shape and size but there's different shapes you're looking at some of the crystals edge on and some of them from the side but as it turns out it's a really good example they're about the same size and
they are the same shape at this point you should be asking yourselves well can so what well it turns out that some parts of american industry really depend on certain aspects of crystal production uniformity like i just talked about crystals being the same size and shape one product that suffers from this challenge is katruda katruda is a monoclonal antibody which is a large protein product that is used in immunotherapy it entices your body's own immune system to fight cancer so this is a treatment for cancer that is used with standard chemotherapies it's extremely effective and merck the producer makes a lot of money from it it's well north of 10 billion dollars in revenue each year and it's worth it it works but they have a challenge and the challenge is when they make it on scale it tends to be a mixture of crystals the problem with that is you have to make the same mixture every time which adds to complexity in your production scheme
also because it's a mixture you have to treat it like a mixture of products when you go to deliver it you have to deal with it that way so there's added cost in production and on delivery a friend of mine guy named paul reichert looked at this he's a crystal growing expert who works at merck and he said i wonder if we could use the uniformity properties that we get from doing crystal growing in space on catruda and this is the results of the study so on the left is cuttruda that was grown terrestrially at merck in their lab and you can see it's a mixture of different sizes and shapes and on the right are the crystals that were grown in microgravity on the international space station you can see their tiny spherical crystal balls very similar in shape and size that is real commercial value that you can get a patent on that you can protect that product beyond its normal life now because you have new crystals and i don't want you to think well hold on a second does that mean we're gonna have to ship all that material into space and grow crystals no because what you can do is you can take those crystals back down
to the ground and you can use them as seeds to influence production of crystals into the future and they've done it now they're not talking about it merc has not published that part but that's what they're doing and i know that because from my time in pharmaceutical industry that's what i would do it's real money right it's worth more than its weight in gold and that's how you have to look at what we're doing in space it's expensive even if you're doing it at only ten thousand dollars a kilo to get your stuff in space and we're not there yet that means you're starting with something that's costing you ten thousand dollars more than if you did it on earth try to talk about the fact that there's a barrier between our perception and actual physically getting there but that barrier is being broken people are doing work in space ordinary people talk about the fact that you can make money doing other things other than just getting the gold enabling the work done in space is a huge industry thousands of u.s companies are participating in but i'm also telling you there are there is gold things that are of real significant value
so i stand before you here today waving my arms around in my own one-man parade telling you that there is gold in them their hills it's time for us all to go get our picks and shovels thank you