Apollo 50: The role of intellectual property in space commerce (Part II)

Please welcome Laura Peter deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office I think as they get miked up I’ll just get rolling here in the interest of time good afternoon everyone it’s so wonderful to see you all here 50 years ago Apollo 11 became the first manned space flight to land on the moon the impossible was suddenly possible our pioneering spirit fueled by innovation and determination opened up a whole new frontier the space frontier the space program infused our scientific community and also our pop culture from television programs like the Jetsons I Dream of Jeannie Star Trek and Star Wars when I was about three years old I was going to be an astronaut too how many of you were gonna be astronauts about a quarter okay well today we have the opportunity to meet three fearless pioneers whose space missions and space innovations helped ignite our burgeoning space exploration it’s my pleasure to introduce our esteemed panel and to introduce our members each of them has a very long resume and of high accomplishments so in the interest of time I will be brief I’ll begin with dr. Katherine Sullivan Katherine served as an Astra astronaut on three Space Shuttle missions in 1984 she was the first American woman to walk in space all in all she has logged 350 so excuse me 532 hours in space which is about the equivalent of 66 and a half workdays here on earth she has had a distinguished career in public service including retiring with the rank of captain from the United States Naval Reserve and serving as the undersecretary minister of NOAA I’m pleased to learn that she has a great new book coming out this fall handprints on Hubble hopefully she will give us a sneak preview of the book our second astronaut paul richards began as an engineer with the Department of the Navy when he transferred to NASA he steered a number of crucial engineering projects in support of space missions he’s logged over 300 hours in space and crowned his NASA career serving on the 8th shuttle mission to the International Space Station where he conducted an extended spacewalk Paul is an inventor of a pistol grip torque measuring power tool design for which he received a patent in 1997 I’m happy to tell you that the NASA patent attorney who prosecuted that patent application now works with us here in the USPTO and is a patent examiner and is here with us in the audience Keith Dixon are you here [Applause] our third panelist is Frank J so Polina sepi as he calls himself he has worked at NASA since 1963 during his tenure he rose up the ranks at NASA and has made innumerable contributions to America’s space missions many of which solve problems on how to make repairs and improvements to equipment when it is already deployed in space he designed new tools and interfaces for astronauts to help them service satellites sepi may best be known for his work on the historic hubble space telescope telescope and it’s repair his work at NASA was not only important to space technology growth but has also been a springboard for developments in other industries including breast cancer detection and more powerful microchips for satellite optics we are very proud that he is in the inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame Frank is a very good friend of the seat to the USPTO on the behalf of the USPTO please let me welcome you we’re going to launch into a few questions here and there you will have the opportunity to ask questions as well and if you there are cards about if you want to hand them to the folks in the aisle we can ask them at the end of this panel so let me begin – all of you to become an astronaut there’s a lot of advanced education and training required what challenges did you face – had to overcome and how did you stick with it through all the not so glamorous and difficult education and training being older than Paul maybe I’ll start first the road probably changed a little bit between the time that I came along and when Nepal came along I actually started college as a language and linguistics major because my real driving ambition was to actually understand this planet in a the richest possible sense of the geography and a talent for languages languages led me to the first theory of learned a lot of them and somehow this will turn into airplane tickets and you get to go places my college forced me take some science classes that’s when I discovered the earth sciences so the first challenge was I was a year behind on a tough science major when I embarked through my undergraduate degree plenty of courses were hard and you said this sort of you know double down go to the life go to the library the bookstore and buy the trig for dummies as well as the class textbook and you know suck it up and get it done was the basic it’s not working all right but the other problems that are probably more unique to me than to sepia or to or to Paul I encountered one key professor my senior year the old curmudgeon and grandfather of the Department of Earth Sciences who just fundamentally believed women did not belong in the earth sciences did not belong in field camp and he taught one of the courses I had to get through I was at I was behind on that class because of a year spent overseas and he slammed me hard on my very first paper rightly it stank and the lesson I learned with him there was I went up to him and basically said I’ll work harder if you’ll teach harder and come you compelled him to you know give me more work I’ll catch up and he did in the astronaut corps I think the hurdles were lower than you might think for our class but there was still a couple I mean Paul might get to fly with one or two of the key influential senior men in the office I know of at least two of them who were under an edict from their wife to never fly with one of never fly in a two-seat jet with one of the women astronauts so those moments to get acquainted or build a little bit of rapport with the senior influencers in the office many of those were closed off every locker room I changed in at the gym or the flight line you know I was always the only person in the locker room again another chance to maybe build a little social connective tissue you just you know you just gotta find your way through those and stand up and keep going thank you so for for me the biggest hurdle was kind of economic I grew in the Rust Belt an old coal mining town up in outside of Scranton Pennsylvania so you know my mom was one of nine the one of the first to graduate high school I was one of six I was the first to graduate a four-year college and so I actually couldn’t afford college and I paid for my first year at Drexel University and luckily it was a cooperative education so you would work six months and go to school six months and I got a job with the government and the government offered tuition assistance usually for your last year’s I took it on the first years and talked them into paying all my years and I just signed up for more government service so and that’s how I transferred to to NASA and you know I think a lot of the hurdles you know I would wake up every day since I was I can remember and more so when I was in college and you know then working and think what can I do today to become an astronaut like it was just ingrained and and I think that drove me to you know find the opportunities I had a pathway in my head that changed as I got older you know and it morphed and I eventually found the Hubble telescope I didn’t even know that existed in servicing and that ended up becoming a pathway because as I had that mantra in my head I would just look at all the opportunities and I never used to believe in luck until somebody explained that walk is when opportunity when preparedness meets opportunity and I’m like no I was pretty lucky and the other thing is I think I was oblivious to the impossibility looking back on it the odds are just incredible and and had I really embraced those odds I no if I would have persevered I think being oblivious was pretty good I think this works I’ll move on to the next question and asks Eppie to respond the United States innovation ecosystem grounded in our intellectual property system is the gold standard in the world of no last fall the US Chamber of Commerce projected that the space economy the market for space related products and services will reach 1.5 trillion dollars within the next two decades in your view what do we need to do in order for the United States to maintain this gold standard and continue to lead and drive space innovation and space commerce I’m not sure what can you hear me good that this mic ok well quite frankly I think that what we have to do is work harder and we have to work more focused with the idea of spin-offs of spinning a lot of these new technologies which a lot of times they’re not even NASA’s technology or space technologies and spin them off more directly into recognizing various global social needs like food like water like plant growth like weather and basically focus a little bit more a little harder on making sure that we have a parallel path to be able to fund some of those technologies with private industry as private industry is ready to go private industry is works sort of on a confidence factor if NASA has confidence and NASA can explain it to a entrepreneur and private industry nine times out of ten that private industry will pick it up and roll and what we have to do is work very hard very focused in that area and we at NASA like to you know think about going to Mars going to the moon and and and and dreaming the impossible but we don’t always look back and say what does our society need today tomorrow in the next and that’s what we have to really concentrate on make it cats when we were talking in the back I think you had some thoughts too yeah I don’t know which microphones working maybe playing off sepia and picking back up to the earlier panel when when you set a great challenge that pushes you hard up against a lot of constraints and Apollo did that right you’ve got to be able to compute things more complex than a much smaller package than ever before I’m gonna I need that for the moon go figure it out biomedicine how do I measure monitor a heart rate on someone who’s 240,000 miles away so I know if they’re dying on the surface of the Moon you can go on and on and on so my way of thinking and I think we heard this in the last panel there’s a significant role also for NASA and other government agencies to set set those polled goals set the big challenges our challenge as a country is then to not blink and do put the appropriate amount of public investment in to help drive people past the constraints that hamper us on earth who would have known when you first funded physicists and a lab to make light go in aking coherent beam that was about the diameter of those two doors and would have vaporized anything had hit who knew that later on was some changes in power supplies and batteries and integrated circuit high speed switching that could become a scalpel the thickness of one photon that we would find ourselves using to heal our heal and correct our eyeballs so where I differ a little bit will sepi as I think having the guys charged with the grand mission mindful of other needs is helpful but I think it’s the rest of the ecosystem that’s been waiting forever for that battery to get that much smaller or that switching frequency to get that much higher and then what we want is to have the lateral the situational awareness across fields as fluid as possible and the transfer of those technologies as fluid as possible so that new innovations can be cobbled together do you want to add to that I concur I think you know the challenge when you’re challenged with something that you don’t know how you’re gonna do it as I think earlier that Spurs innovation like I’m the Hubble we had such when we found out about the spherical anomaly and we had such a short time to to get to the first service mission I think that was an advantage that we didn’t have enough time because we we had to go outside so I remember with with the teams I ran we went out to industry and we found better ideas than that we had and they were actually cheaper and a lot of times I remember going to this company called Bayside gears that was in an old supermarket in Long Island and their gears were better than when I designed that I went it to them I said I want to take your your gears I want to improve them with NASA technology I’m gonna give you the design back and then I’ll pay you to make it and they said no and I was like what and they said well you’ll steal our patent on this and I said well first of all were the government and we can make it because we’re not profiting from it and I said but we don’t want to be in the gear business I have a mission to do and we ended up doing and building it and we found that very successful as spin ins I call them as well as spin offs is to take one in there she’s doing and then improve it with the nasa technology and then give it back and it worked very very successful for us that’s fabulous well that leads into the next yes of course happy I think he’s right about spin-offs a lot of times we have this holier-than-thou attitude at NASA that says oh no we have to develop a brand new for the first time when in fact if you look around private industry you find that that technology may exist in medical it may exist in robotics ground-based robotics it may exist in material sciences for practical applications on the earth and so most of the work that we did on Hubble for the first three or four missions had to do with basically technology pushes not technology inventions but pushes pick up what the industry’s got and take it to the next step and arrange to have some kind of partnership with that industry that doesn’t scare them off over that company too doesn’t scare them off but gives them the assurance that they will be able to step out from there and commercialize and I think that that’s key in three or four key areas that that solve most of the Hubble sphere collaboration agenda that leads perfectly into the next topic which is that not all space inventions stay in space new products and new materials are developed for space applications and they sometimes do become spin-off technologies that have commercial benefit and commercial application and find their way into earth-based applications and we’ve got on the screen perhaps maybe not on the screen well we’ll skip to the screen we have different kinds the side screens very good food safety tools and cell phone cameras survival blankets invisible braces scratch resistant lenses memory foam these are all examples about how space-based inventions have spawned earth-based applications and forgive me I can’t see the screen so I don’t know what’s being shown can you please expand upon how private industry and public partnerships work together to bring to actualize these inventions in earth-based applications yes I think you hit it Intel Fairchild camera TI those companies started what was called integrated circuits yes and in fact what happened was when Hubble came along Hubble needed very very small ultra ultra precision polishing of optics that would correct the spherical aberration on Hubble and in order to do that we looked around and we went to all the big optical polishing companies in the country and went to all the small ones and we did that through violating the far regulations those days Hey okay wait with that so that’s your point it’s a good one and we found a company that was 80 persons strong in a little town in northern california called Tinsley optical and that little ad company came to us and said look we’ve got a patent where we build optics very tiny optics for the Japanese large screen camera manufacturers and they send us the prescription we go ahead and take care of this process of ultra polishing and ultra fine measurements do the optics and send the optics back to Japan and that’s all we know but we’ve got a patent on doing that much we will team with you guys so we teamed with them when we got this patent sharing arrangements and what had happened is they basically improved the technology so that we could do 1,000 times improvement in this small spherical misshaped polishing of those optics and today that is called photo lithography and they basically had subcontracts with photo lithography machine manufacturers and one of the commercial companies was called Simtek of that rings a bell and they turned around and today instead of carrying one microprocessor the size of the Apollo we carry 260,000 of them in one i phone six and something in the other because we can get tremendous number of transistors photo lithography placed on a head of a pen we can carry something in the order of six hundred and twenty thousand memory boards where we carried one on Apollo so that’s kind of an example of a push they went on and the companies went on and thousands of patents got released in terms of polikov terms of of steppers and and photo lithography and those are all over the industry now and I’m sure you’ve used so that’s Frank touches on what human spaceflight brings whether it was the integrated circuit or the micro processor well the Apollo crews their life’s depended on it so NASA drove into that quality and reliability and we also did that will the the tool the pistol grip tool we flew was the first flight of lithium ion batteries so I remember calling around the country and I called one company in the Midwest and they said I said do you have a d-cell that can pull 10 amp hours for 10 seconds they said well send us a request for a proposal and Willian answer our call the second company and they said we can give you a white paper and I called the third company and I was put on hold and I’m waiting on hold I’m waiting on hold and this guy dr. Bob from South comes back he goes yeah we have it I’m like how do I know I just went to the lab and did it I said I’ll be up tomorrow I drove up to pocky and Maryland to saft and we started a partnership the problem was there was too much energy in these batteries and they would explode and so we had to make them safe for the crew to use it’s a carried in the cabin and to use outside so we went through extensive development and used a crane Indiana to test batteries so we were able to get these batteries and help them with their polyethylene power micrometre their jelly rolls and everything so we were able to put nails through them short them put them next to each other put them in a fire and so we made them so safe and then that’s how that technology then advanced so then you can carry it in you know in your pocket and everything so and again it wasn’t our technology but we for human spaceflight it was so critical to drive the reliability and the safety in it that that’s where we got some of the innovations just like Apollo and the computers and the microwave processors to getting to that safety reliability level for our lithium-ion batteries but this was a couple year to get it done yes the boost starts because of a very different exogenous and so this is a case where you were actually working with the private industry to help them develop their technology for further reliability and use and they owned the intellectual property in that so the question is here’s a beautiful NASA doing all this wonderful stuff helping private industry it took increase its own intellectual property so why does NASA need any patents yeah well I think I think there’s two reasons really the first reason is protection most of the companies that you start to work with that have that want to make a push that already have some of the technology but recognize they need to make a financial push to get too worried to match up with NASA’s needs they want to be protected so somewhere somehow you have to have a protection system where their investment makes sense to them economically and protects them so protection is one part of it the other part that never gets talked about is acceleration the acceleration of is really the most incredible piece that I’ve seen when there is a not even a patent awarded but a patent pending awarded and there NASA puts us list out all of the sudden phone calls ring off the hook everybody in the country that’s interested in that particular technology wants to know what you’re doing wants to know if they can share in the patent wants to know if they can get it so it accelerates the innovation and innovation acceleration is really I think even more important than patent protection because you can have enough lawsuits eventually you win and then and now that they thrown away two notebook you know with patent law and so on it’s it’s a thing but the most if I need one more second the most important thing I look at all the women in this room the most important thing that came out of this technology push with Hubble when the second servicing mission we were looking for an instrument that could see stars that we could not see from the ground excuse me could see galaxies that were so faint we could not measure them or see them from ground and we needed a detector a super sophisticated detector in 1997 timeframe was when the mission was to fly we went basically to a university a medical university of all places and they said we’ve got a detector then we are developing for breast cancer detection and we think where we hit a hole and we can’t go any further can you help us and our company our partner company is a little company again 120 persons strong company in Beaverton Oregon and the two of them got together and signed an agreement NASA put some money in to push the breakthrough technology and within two years six in fact six months before we ever launched that instrument with that new detector to orbit there were over a thousand stereotactic breast mammography equipment machines sitting in hospitals and labs around the country it took off so fast and today if you do mammography and I’ve had several of our engineers work that have gone in they use the same kind of equipment and it’s my point is again innovation innovation push push push we don’t have to be the originators we don’t have to invent the velcro tape but we do it’s important that we team and make commercial pushes with companies to bring this technology out on the street but we’ve got to recognize it we have to recognize the need thank you yes why should NASA have any patents and I think one reason is that sometimes this spark the origin of an idea is within a NASA lab or NASA funded University and it is right and legitimate that that first spark of an idea be granted the protection as well but that what you’ve really been hearing here I think and certainly what I experienced in all my missions at NASA is a much richer interweave of push and pull between industry and NASA then is commonly conceived of it can certainly get better richer more Denson and and the faster pace but the whole story of hubble from the years before deployment through Paul’s time is very much a spin in and spin out its go to the hardware store and find a power tool that’s closer to what you need and then come back and start pushing on what does that need to change how does that need to change in order to go to space and then as Sethi said sometimes the other way around I’ve got a space capability that you can help us improve brilliant well Paul you are a patentee and you patented your design for a space power tool can you tell us about your own patent journey and what inspired you to create the invention and then patent it so you know part of trying to become an astronaut one of the things is to be the best that you can be at something and so I found a niche as a mechanism designer and they got the great opportunity on Hubble to take that space flight mechanism what I ate lunch with the Greybeards that you know I had patents on the brushless DC motor for years to learn how to do that bearings and I took it to power tools and so we wanted to make the best power tools that were going to last 15 years in fact the PGT still in orbit goes on every spacewalk I got to use it and it worked but we had several I don’t think at the time we were focused on patents but in hindsight when we saw what we built you know we went to try to see if we can license it and we didn’t have a particular patent so I said does it have to be utility patent so we actually got a design patent on it with Keith as a way to bring back to our team and then we did get a software patent to make a single chip to fault-tolerant the way we did read access memory and everything and some checks and ironically I took my name off that patent on early on because I wanted to give the kudos to my software designer and my electrical engineer and then through the process they said you can’t take your name off a patent that’s a matter of record not a matter choice and I’m like oh okay put it back on you know so it’s in the addendum so my name’s not on the official Pam but it’s it’s it’s in the dental because I could have been validated I didn’t realize it I wanted to give you know kudos and then there were some things probably that we missed I was starting to tell Frank in 2008 so we flew those lithium batteries the lithium-ion batteries in 1997 and in 2008 I got tracked down by an attorney from Chicago that was working for Black & Decker and he finally found me back at Goddard I had gone to Johnson back to Gadar he goes you’re a hard man fine and you know he goes I understand that you worked and and you invented this stuff I said yeah with my team he goes why didn’t you patent it I said I guess it just didn’t go through the process or we we were so busy he’s like well I’m using this prior art for you know to invalidate 16 Japanese patents on lithium-ion batteries that were working on right now in 2006 to 2008 goes what you guys did in 1990 you know for 297 they’re just starting to be able to do that in private industry right now and so a couple of other pens were released to me the adjustable extension and the multi setting torque limiter and again they were just we redesigned those because we were underwater trying to figure stuff out and I would see a crew member and I’m like that’s getting tangled it needs to be adjustable and then we would go at night into the back machine room and gets parts and just put them on a lathe and a machine thing and make it and put it in the water the next day and and start like putting things together that fast sometimes we were still in our scuba gear down and punching holes in the in the milling machine or the drill press and then we jump back in the water and the crews like oh that’s working better and it’s like yeah we added you said ending to the tether so we just added a hole to it like in our scuba gear safe food and used to simulate spacewalks yeah so that was the frantic pace we were at that like we needed to solve a lot of these things so quickly that we were like again in in a water in the NBL or MBS and like still you know machining things in our scuba gear to get it back to test it in the same test than the run so I found when I got those two pens to sum this up when I got released of those other pens I can patent them on myself I found what hard work you guys do to try to get that through because I had a friend who’s now a patent attorney and he was studying and I would go up to his place in Boston and we would try to hash out to get an application in and everything and we never we didn’t get the synergy enough to patent those two tools and I think our Public Disclosure ran out on it so we didn’t get the patent a couple of ones that were released to me but it was a daunting task so I applaud you guys and and Keith and how you know how these things actually get through the process and get patented in a timely manner before the public disclosure and they get written up that’s our job that’s our job thank you Katherine you were part of NASA’s first female class of astronauts in 1984 and he was the first American woman to walk in space during your spacewalks I imagine you were totally focused on your mission which was fixing the Hubble telescope but it must have affected you in other ways and changed your life can you please explain sure just a little clarification I did a spacewalk in 1984 from the space shuttle Challenger that was designed to evaluate tools that would allow refueling of satellites manual tools that would allow refueling of satellites on orbit my work on Hubble ran from 1985 to 1990 and involved setting the the initial foundation of tools and equipment and in spacewalk procedures that would support the servicing missions that would come afterwards so regrettably I did not get to go outside and work on the Hubble and in fact after working on the telescope for five years when it was deployed I was locked in the airlock of discovery solar array had jammed and my buddy and I had jumped into our spacesuits to go out and crank it open that would been my job and we got half the air duct out of the airlock when some blankety-blank software engineer on the ground came up with a fix so I won I have one and a half spacewalks and you all have seen as much of the Hubble telescope deployment as I’ve seen because I was staring at the stare aisle it white wall of the airlock at that point in time but it you know as Paul can confirm the space flight experience is notorious and celebrated for giving everybody sort of an overview of effective very such a different perspective on what this planet is for shuttle astronauts and station astronauts it’s not the small pea that you can block out with your thumb but it’s a beach ball I mean it’s a definite ball and you’re going around it and it does shift your perspective on kind of everything every earthly ill or care that you can matter or you look down that you can think of you suddenly look down and realize can’t really be as important as I’ve been making it be if you get to leave the spacecraft get on your own body shaped spaceship and go outside hand over hand moving around and move the shuttle out of your way so you can see the earth without a window frame or hang off a handrail and feel like you’re hanging from you’re a six year old kid hanging from a tree limb again looking at the blue of the earth slide move I between your boots that’s a that’s a really stunning experience spaceflight is still a very small Club of all countries and all peoples in whatever role they had it still numbers less than six hundred people who’ve ever left this planet and experienced flight in orbit and only about a third of those have had the extra experience of slipping into a spacesuit and going outside that’s brilliant it’s not a part of what your book discusses yeah the the book is a two strand memoir is what I call it it’s a my life story is a unifying thread if you will but the focus the primary focus and my main motive for writing it was to write about the five years of work that went into getting Hubble ready to be serviced before it was ever put into orbit Lockheed Martin corporation engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Flight Center and we knew here at the last human beings that would have this telescope on the ground we could take a wrench and go prove it fit and all the places it had to fit that mattered to us because NASA had had three shuttle flights go up and try to fix a sap like it was already in orbit and on all three occasions the mission almost failed because of some little detail that was not captured in the drawings that made some key tool not work so I wanted to write this story because there’s this band of engineers at Marshall in Huntsville and in California whose work really enabled and made possible they set the platform for sepi and his team to take over servicing and Paul and other crews to come along and they are the hidden figures of Hubble their names are virtually never mentioned you know thirty four thousand pictures reams of data the draft procedures the confidence that astronauts any astronaut could pick up this tool and go to up to the telescope and this would succeed that groundwork was all laid before we ever put it into orbit and those folks deserve to have a light shine on them well I believe it’s being released in the fall and we’ll look forward to it question for all of you this month we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission it is remarkable but it’s been 50 years in that time space has ignited the imaginations of millions of us and further exploring space has become a fascination in an obsession to some if you had a crystal ball what were what are your predictions for the next 25 to 50 years will we be colonizing another planet will we have commercial space flights please your thoughts sefie well I know that’s a good that’s a very risky question then but I would say that for sure we will be operational on the moon and we will be probably well on our way within 20 years to get to Mars I’m not sure that we can solve the energy problem of propulsion to go to Mars as quick as we’d like but I’d say within 30 30 year 35 years we will at least venture to ours with a one round trip kind of operation Wow that’s as far as I would take it but I’m more worried about little aliens on this planet that’s what worries me more than anything we have got to focus spin-offs that we get from space today tomorrow and yesterday so that we can somehow affect the aliens here in the next 10 or 20 years because is is the administrator said we’re going to be short on water we’re going to be short on food we’ve got to take the technologies we’ve got today that we’ve used in space and spin them down and I think that’s the major fundamental driver the NASA has to focus on that’s brilliant Catherine I’m confident that will we will be seeing commercial services moving at cargo and people back and forth to low-earth orbit I’m a little more skeptical about the space tourism market I think the the price point for spending a golly gee whiz week in space is going to stay pretty stratospheric for quite some time so I I’m skeptical whether there is genuinely a true commercial demand function there I hope we as a country have the persistence to see through the plans to go back to the moon I pleased by the president’s announcements but it’s the fifth time I’ve seen this movie and heard this announcement and it’s yet to be backed with the kind of perseverance and financial commitment and stick-to-itiveness across political administrations these are not goals that fit neatly in political timeframes so the tough question for the country is whether were serious about the goal or was serious about the politics I hope this time we’re serious about the goal thank you Wow so I have no idea what it’s going to look like but my hope would be that the next 50 years has two things that the past 50 years had would be the innovation and inspiration and we heard a lot about you know the integrated circuits the microprocessor real-time computing weather satellites communication satellites a worldwide Global data and navigation system that all came out and gave us untold things now gave us things in hardware but it also gave us things in people so as far as inspiration I mean 50 years ago I’m sitting here today because of Apollo my kindergarten teacher in 1970 wheeled out this big television and I saw the launch of Apollo 14 I had to go back and look and and that was an April or something of 1970 I said I want to be an astronaut and I actually had and I just found that the other day when the paper called from the Scranton times this poster of all the Apollo astronauts and the trajectory of how they were going to get and land on the moon and I still have it I would look at that every night I’d fold it and put it under my bed and so I’m hoping that you know out there I saw some young kids here and I see some other young kids here that there’s something about NASA and there’s something today that can inspire you so 50 years from now you’ll be on a panel you’ll be sitting back trying to do this and and even if I didn’t make it to become an astronaut I think you know being inspired to become an engineer to just contribute to our country was amazing so my hope was that we continue with the spirit of innovation and inspiration of course I was not a little kid I watched all of Mercury Gemini and Apollo and it the I want to be an astronaut sentence never entered my head it not because all the people doing it were male that actually didn’t bother me at all these are people doing an amazing thing but that’s what moved me there are people that set a goal and try something no one has ever done before and they get super smart they just figure things out they create new capabilities and the watching of them doing it was that just so adventurous I wanted my life to have that kind of adventure and when those missions succeeded and when Neil and Buzz stepped out on the moon I listened they watched that in black and white but suddenly my sense of how could have seventeen year old girl and Southern California’s a language major for crying out loud imagine she could have that kind of prospect in her life their footprints on the moon told me things you thought were impossible your entire life it can actually come true man on the moon never going to happen we watched it happen we got to believe we made the possible possible indeed you did I think we have time for some questions from the audience we’ll kick it over our first question comes from Andre he works in the under secretaries office gee thanks I have a very important question has NASA authorized any of you to tell us what we will find in area 51 when we all started to talk to Melanie the former Air Force officer alright so now to us some real questions we have quite a few audience questions here so Chris will run the show sure so our first question is what benefits have you imagined coming from the discovery of possible discovery of microbial life on Mars this was something that was mentioned in the keynote by the NASA Administrator and maybe it’s the oceanography or board I’ll take a first stab at that because in my lifetime we discovered life forms around hydrothermal vents high-temperature hydrothermal vents on this planet that we did not know existed and the bacteria that coexisted and made possible the chemosynthetic bacteria that made those large colonies of animals on the deep sea floor possible have been harvested and mimicked and DNA replicated to produce a number of pharmaceutical and other bioactive compounds here on earth that are being looked for looked to for food processing applications food safety applications and medical applications so I’m not trying to predict the same pathway but the likelihood that we may find bacterial life forms that can exist in conditions we cannot currently imagine may again help us unlock secrets of how life how biologic life really works so as an engineer you know the the the build it guy make it talk with the scientists and then make something work to get their science done and so the thing I rebel about that is that where is where another opportunity where science and human spaceflight can work together I just you know learn something doing some research on Apollo is that when the when the crew came in and had the lunar samples first they didn’t even know if they were gonna be flammable and so they had to watch them as they pressurize and then all of the crew mentioned that there was this gunpowder this smoke to it but by the time the samples got back to earth the smell was gone so you know what was that phenomenon and what are other phenomenons that can only be experienced on the site right at that microbial life that you need a human in the loop and so I hope that inspires us to continue the human exploration in the science and and get both communities to you know propel us you know politically to go to Mars the this next question deals with IP licensing at what point do you does NASA decide to declassify technologies and what does that selection process entail what exactly goes into that declassification process well normally the there’s it depends on on the application of that particular process if it’s something that’s that’s under the that’s it’s a hundred the arms agreement where we are prohibited from basically revealing to foreign nationals any kind of technology that we have that involved say satellite servicing is an example a satellite servicing can be thought of as a weapon and the wrong country does it and has that technology so there’s pieces of that that come into play and you have to look at it and a case-by-case basis generally speaking when we put into patent application for something that involves that kind of technology involving satellite servicing it gets redacted we don’t release that information and when you look at the patent you’ll see the title but there will be everything else will be black on them so there is a protection very important protection from a u.s. perspective that that protection only applies to companies and the individuals that are non-us US companies can get access at request for those technologies protection that just be clear that’s not national security classification that’s how a thank you I think our next question is going to come from Kevin who works in space commerce thanks and as I’m listening to you I just wanted to raise a worry that we see every day we’re sitting here and when we heard both the stories I always wanted to be an astronaut I never wanted to be an astronaut and one of the things we’re seeing as we talk about the trillion-dollar space economy is a worry that we have to pay careful attention to the talent and what I mean by that is we should not assume that the talent and someone said in a workshop that we commerce ran with state a couple of weeks ago we should not assume that the youth are as enamored of this space business as the 500 people sitting in this room today and so we’re gonna have to work hard to encourage them as well as other communities second-quarter would make on the talent issue is if we’re really going to hit the trillion dollar space economy we certainly need the technical talent but we’re gonna need a much wider range of talent we’re gonna need educators and we’re gonna need people to do business cases and and even you know artists and people like that who are gonna help build out the breadth of that economy yes sir American youth would like to be YouTube influencers than astronauts we saw the poll it’s pretty disheartening actually you know there’s another thing that connected with the inventors Hall of Fame is the invent now camps for the children Camp Invention and those camps deal with children from the fourth grade on up through juniors and seniors of high school we need to accelerate Camp Invention we need to get those kids in summer camps and then sometimes during the school years involved in in that now Camp Invention because that gets them stimulated at a very early age into being able to put things together figure out how things work come up with their own crazy ideas how to build bridges avoid eggs from crack and when you drop them from ten feet and so on that’s the kind of thing that’s a stimulus for innovation and those kids will carry it up once you get to the high school you have got to adopt an internship program for high schoolers who are interested in stem there’s only way you got to keep them is to basically involve them during the summers through the university through colleges who various different high schools into some kind of internship program working with engineers in private industry at NASA in DoD wherever but get them involved get them able to see that they can in a very early period or growth project and the ability to invent to do things to think on their feet to come up a clever idea once once you’re in college well you’re on your own but as I tell the kids are just come out of school of the first 4 to 6 years after they graduate are the most productive innovative years they’re going to have because they’re not boil down and knocked boxed in by unending bureaucracies rules regulations they can think at least for three or four years a lot more in a lot freer context as opposed to being sidelined or sidelined with bureaucracy and rules so I think that that’s the picture sixty thousand three hundred plus maybe three hundred sixty thousand those two numbers mean something to me sixty thousand engineers we graduated in the United States every year proud numbers three hundred and sixty thousand is what China graduates every year can you imagine that ratio that is scary now a lot of people’s argue well it’s the quality of education so it doesn’t matter 60 versus 360 scary scary if we’re going to keep ahead and be the economic prowess of the future as a country we’ve got to fix that number two I always try to tell my teams and tells you know students you know government’s don’t build great things the technology you know it’s companies don’t build you know great technology people do it’s all down to the end of ability of people in the talent you can even go you know a lot of companies might say you know we did this but unless you get that same team of people together another time to do it it’s it’s hard to replicate and you got to form that team so our biggest resource is the people and it’s walk away it’s a Nash it’s a renewable resource but we got to work on keeping that renewable resource because without the people government companies can’t do anything Cass and I would just add I think if we if we think we only have to solve the stem cohort problem we have to make seppies 60,000 become a hundred thousand one hundred twenty thousand that are stem majors and want to go into STEM careers I think we will still struggle because we we as a society need people in the law people in policy people in government people with business talents running companies that have some cognizance of the science and technology so if we think science is something a few folks do who like it who are good at it and the rest of us don’t need to know anything about it or making a huge mistake for our future thank you just to follow up on all that in the 60s and 70s we had the Apollo program moon landing and truly exciting times inspirational times frankly which there there were amazing tools to get people excited and interested in these types of things then we had a space shuttle to some extent that continued past 20 years maybe less of that what will it take going forward so first of all do you see that there was an actual gap in tech developed space tech development in the past 20 years or is that just myth a mythological and second what will it take to get back to the level of excitement we had three points on that you had Apollo and comma you had the National Defense Education Act which was a very concerted effort to fund and support and incentivize young people men at the time to go into science technology and engineering fields the country still had high confidence in science and technology as it non political enterprises that powered our secure our economy and sort of the hangover effect from the world war two mobilization so these were professions that were held in high regard they had just won the war they were doing all sorts of good things so you had he had a positive attitude toward science and technology widely shared across the country you’ve had an act that positively incentivized and funded people to go in to the to those fields and what I think I saw during through my career as I came along is the focus of the excitement and effort moved away from government military space into banking and finance and and media so the sharp kids that still want to go into the exciting fields no longer perceive that government is exciting no longer perceived and we’ve got several decades of bad-mouth the government is the stupid dump place that doesn’t enter to innovate that y’all not want to work we should not be too surprised that we’re sending people to other directions but I think the pockets do exist it’s to a smaller extent I mean the programs that I worked after my astronaut career back as a manager whether it was developing weather satellites for NOAA or working on laser communication or you know those pockets exist at all the NASA centers and other places through the government and I think to Frank’s point is you know maybe we need to do a better job of getting the young talent exposed to that because I actually talked to some folks that aren’t really engineers and they work at NASA Goddard and and they said well I just liked what you were doing here and they came as an artist or an admin or something so so I think trying to get that exposure to what we currently have you know it might be much easier than the daunting task of trying to get the nation excited is try to get your neighbor excited try to get the person next to you and think small versus think big because that’s under our control I think yes we have a good time for a couple more questions here there has been a few studies including one by the United States Patent and Trademark Office that women have not been participating in the STEM fields as much and the rate of women on patents is very low compared to that of men at least 1/4 that of men what can we do this is following on what can we do to inspire the next generation and get them more involved and engaged in wanting to take the hard path to stick it out to do all the education and training that isn’t so glamorous yeah the the statistics have remained really stubbornly stuck in particular in the engineering and physics disciplines that this room probably knows in the biological sciences in medical field the gender balance is much more equitable still other issues with other minority populations getting them into the STEM fields I’d you know I don’t have a magic formula for it I think the place is the institution is not familiar with that have leaned leaned in to recognize that women trying to come up through the early stages of their career face of different set of decisions about lifestyle and family and career and how to mix them than their male counterparts and spouses do and I think institutions that have moved forward and provided some greater flexibility adjustable 10-year clocks things like that to help take it away from a yes or no choice either I can have a family and and the life I thought I always wanted as a scientist than a mother or I have to pick one if we can take some of those barriers out of the way the statistics in the institutions where that’s happening are quite encouraging so I also serve on the board of the College of Engineering from my alma mater Drexel and we talked about this how do we get diversity and and women and there was an interesting study and a hypothesis that made me think about it totally different and and we’re still working into this is one of the reasons that they you know social scientists or they were looking at it is that women are more talented than men therefore they have more opportunity and you know they can be better at a brighter variety of something and they also tend to want to be if they’re going to be that engineer they want to be that a student my daughter’s like that while she’s studying engineering and she’s at a but if she was a C or B she’d move on to something else you know my son is like whoohoo C’s are great you know I got a C I’m average you know it’s like no no no you know so I think we have to also understand the differences between tween us and then find those policies that work within those differences because not and then even among individuals we’re all different so so it might not be a one-size-fits-all solution it might be do we really understand the problem and why it is and until we understand that problem we can’t come up with creative solutions so I think we’re still trying to learn that undergraduates who are just finishing their class had been 5050 female and male at the beginning of their four-year tenure and there were only about 9% of the women graduating at the end so those gals went out and surveyed themselves they found just what Paul was saying the first time they got a B they took it as a verdict that they can’t be the caliber of engineer they want to be and so they opted into marketing or some other field where they were sure they could they aimed to be the best of something they rat and they took minor signals as verdicts and that compelled them to move to other fields where they had greater confidence they could be the the top of the pack well it sounds like if it it was very similar to my day in engineering school where we started off almost 50% and graduated about 20 and that was in the 80s myself so I am a little sad that we don’t seem to have progressed that much further but certainly mentors and examples like all of you and the support with Camp Invention goes a very long way to help young we’ll understand they have to stick with it yet I think if my daughter didn’t have a father as an engineer I kind of push her she wanted to be an A student I’m like Shannon you’re in college now sees four degrees you know and and you know I said you’re not and then my son’s like what C’s for the oh no no no no you’re in high school in a daze and B’s but you know so the mentoring I think and you know I was able to mentor my own daughter but we need other people to mentor folks all along their journey to understand that you know there are different paths there’s totally different paths and different ways you can get to the endgame it’s not all one one-size-fits-all again Laura thank you very much please join all of us in thanking the panel very exciting thank you very much [Applause] [Music] thank you very very inspirational while we have one more speaker and while they’re setting up I want to take this this opportunity very quickly to to thank really the USPTO staff that has done such an unbelievable job setting up this event today more importantly the amazing job you all do on a day-in day-out basis to to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the United States I also want to thank our partners for this event as always the National Inventors Hall of Fame they are always gracious with their facilities knowledge and the like and I want to thank the I Triple E first of all for all the work that they do but also for for having a booth outside and also the virtual reality simulator moon walk ball which I guess that’s what I would call it sphere which I tried this morning and if you haven’t had a chance to try it if it’s still available out there we should go you should go ahead and and try it would be good to know if we are ready what’s that already if not I can tell another story because I can come up with all sorts of things okay so from this mic if that’s ok very good and now it is my distinct honor to introduce the United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross secretary unfortunately mr. secretary going to have to stand for a few minutes because I have a lengthy introduction of you know so the former chairman and chief strategy officer of WL Ross and company secretary Ross has deep investment and banking and private equity experience I guess it is working good he has been chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies operating in more than 20 different countries secretary Ross is the principal voice of business in the executive branch ensuring that US entrepreneurs and businesses have the tools they need to create jobs and economic opportunity secretary Ross also oversees the news space policy advancing commercial enterprise administration also the acronym space which coordinates the Commerce Department’s commercial space activities in this role secretary Ross leads the administration’s charge for increased international industry collaboration agency cooperation and regulatory relief in space commerce underscoring the important aim to increase the American space industry’s global competitiveness secretary Ross is also a frequent visitor to the USPTO and a strong supporter of intellectual property rights on a personal note it is an honor for me both personally and professionally to serve under his leadership please join me in welcoming secretary Wilbur Ross Thank You Andre for that kind introduction a lot of people in Washington think our whole administration is in outer space so it kind of comes naturally to us I’m always happy to be at the US Patent and Trademark Office and especially to celebrate the technology impacts of our greatest milestone it’s also a great excuse to hang around with astronauts and that’s a very welcome thing to me but to those of you in the room who are part of the Apollo program the astronauts engineers program managers technicians everybody congratulations and thank you for everything you have done for our fellow citizens that half-century sure did go by fast but you know something the majority of Americans were not even born when we had the moon landing two hundred eleven point six million Americans were born after 1969 so for 65 percent of the country Apollo is ancient history almost as much as Greek history from which it gets its name and the scratchy analog audio video technology that was used back then really makes it look ancient as well but today we have entered a new space age driven by entrepreneurs who have galvanized young engineers scientists and technologists with their vision for commercializing new space technologies with awe we’ve watched the infectious reactions of those involved with designing and building rockets as they’re launched in return back to earth just yesterday I was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a ribbon-cutting of the new one Webb small satellite manufacturing facility if you’re ever down at Cape Canaveral you ought to go by this operation it really looks much more like a laboratory than a factory and it is ruthlessly efficient wasn’t long ago that with the retirement of the space shuttle the space industry seemed to be shutting down but today companies like one Webb are mass producing hundreds even thousands of small satellites and they’re being launched into orbit by private companies soon every human on the planet will have access to the Internet thanks to constellations of small satellites that will provide full earth coverage every second of every day space as a growth industry and is exceedingly important to the US economy Space Foundation reported last week that global space revenues hit 414 billion dollars in 2018 and it’s well on its way to becoming a trillion dollar industry trillion with the big t there’s a new space race among the 80 countries that have targeted the industry think about that 80 countries all doing something in space protecting the intellectual property of new space companies entrepreneurs investors and individuals will be essential to our success space is benefiting already from innovative cost at the same time as impressive technological breakthroughs the whole concept of space is being reinvented and the people on the leading edge of this global competition are really the examiners and employees of USPTO thank you for your critical role in processing the ever-increasing number of patent applications while maintaining and improving both pendency and quality of the examinations you are providing inventors with the protections they need to commercialize their technologies create companies hire employees and put people satellites manufacturing plants and tourists into space the fledgling industry is also sparking the imagination of young people just as the original Apollo program did an inspiring a number a new generation of workers skilled in digital technologies programming science engineering and math new space technologies extend well beyond the space industry the Apollo program for example generated and improved a wide range of products sensing devices cat scanners cameras shock absorbers fireproof clothing scratch resistant lenses vacuum seals water purifiers and many other products that you don’t normally associate with Apollo the technologies licensed from nee at nasa’s patent portfolios touch many industries robotics electronics IT software manufacturing medicine and biotechnology and I’m sure future developments will have all kinds of spin-offs just like these so I’m honored to work with NASA Administrator bridenstine on implementing president Trump’s based policy directives as members of the reinvigorated National Space Council our goal is an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners so that we can enable human expansion of the solar system this will take a collaborative effort among industry government and academia and that’s why today’s event is so important we must work together for mankind to take another giant leap forward thank you everyone for helping humanity take that leap thank you Thank You secretary Ross for your inspirational words and thank you once again for coming to the PTO thank you everybody in the room for attending our event here today an inspirational set of speakers thank in particular to all the speakers and the leaders in government as well as in industry special hellos to the students in this room and the young ones we have at the Department of Commerce and here at the USPTO a whole host of summer interns and many of them in attendance here today and also younger kids who are coming who have come here and are attending I guess just for fun and this really is all about you and your future and what we can do to improve your opportunities to to make humankind take another giant leap forward so thank you to all thank you for being here and have a great rest of the day [Applause]

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