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Operation Earth December 6, 2019

John has created a career out of bringing ideas, networks and people together to generate powerful results.

Before joining Link Ventures and Cogo Labs, John’s deep curiosity and penchant for problem-solving led him to a diverse set of roles spanning many fields and interests.

John also channels his passion and curiosity into cultivating platforms for thought and exchange.

John also founded Ideas in Action Inc., a non-profit that creates and produces TEDxBeaconStreet, whose talks have accumulated 250+ million YouTube views.

In his free time, John is a passionate photographer and an accomplished triathlete (qualified for the worlds and 4x nationals).

Designing humanity’s future in space

The class also served to take some of the intimidation factor out of the prospect of space research and focused on democratizing access to microgravity testbed environments.  “The addition of the course helped us build bridges across other departments at MIT and take the time to document and open-source our mentorship process for robust, creative, and rigorous experiments,” says Ekblaw.

SEI’s mission of democratizing access to space is broad: It extends to actively recruiting researchers, artists, and designers, whose work isn’t usually associated with space, as well as ensuring that the traditional engineering and hard sciences of space research are open to people of all genders, nationalities, and identities.

She also custom-made an astronaut’s helmet specially designed to accommodate a multi-course tasting menu, allowing her to experiment with different textures and techniques to make both food and eating more enjoyable on long space flights.  “The function of food is not simply to provide nourishment — it’s a key creature comfort in spaceflight and will play an even more significant role on long-duration space travel and future life in space habitats.

The human experience The extraordinary range of fields, goals, projects, and people represented on this year’s microgravity flight speaks to the unique role the Space Exploration Initiative is already starting to play in the future of space.  For designer and researcher Alexis Hope, the flight offered the opportunity to discover how weightlessness affects the creative process — how it changes not only the art, but also the artist.

“I’m excited for new materials that will behave in interesting ways in a zero-gravity environment, and curious about how those new materials might inspire future artists to create novel structures, forms, and physical expressions.” Ekblaw herself spent the flight testing out the latest iteration of TESSERAE, her self-assembling space architecture prototype.

The research has matured extensively over the last year and a half, including a recent suborbital test flight with Blue Origin and an upcoming International Space Station mission to take place in early 2020.  All of the research projects from this year’s flight — as well as some early results, the projects from the Blue Origin flight, and the early prototypes for the ISS mission — were on display at a recent SEI open house at the Media Lab.  For Ekblaw, the great challenge and the great opportunity in these recurring research flights is helping researchers to keep their projects and goals realistic in the moment, while keeping SEI’s gaze firmly fixed on the future.  “While parabolic flights are already a remarkable experience, this year was particularly meaningful for us.

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