2005 MAPLD International Conference
Building and International Trade Center
September 7-9, 2005
Editor, NASA Watch
Keith Cowing, Webmaster, astrobiologist, journalist, former rocket scientist, and recovering ex-civil servant.
Keith Cowing is trained as a biologist (M.A. and B.A. degrees) and has a multidisciplinary background with experience and expertise that ranges from spacecraft payload integration and biomedical peer review to freelance writing and website authoring.
Keith is editor and webmaster of the somewhat notorious NASA Watch, an online publication devoted to the free and uncensored exchange of information on space policy and NASA operations. This website is read regularly within NASA, Congress, and the global space community. Keith is also editor of SpaceRef.com an online space news and reference resource he runs with his business partner Marc Boucher.
Keith has appeared many times on television and radio including ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, NPR, CNN, PBS, CBC, CTV, Discovery Channel Canada, NHK, BBC, Travel Channel, Tech TV and has been quoted in a number of newspapers and magazines ranging from Wired and the Washington Post to the Economist and Pravda, among others.
Keith has written a book with fellow journalist Frank Sietzen "New Moon Rising: the Making of America's new space vision and the remaking of NASA". This book chronicles President Bush's recently announced space policy and the process that led up to its development. Keith and Frank broke the news of Bush's new space policy in a series of exclusive UPI articles in January 2004. Keith and Frank are now working on a sequel titled "Uncertain Moon" which is due in bookstores by Christmas 2005.
Keith donated his time to serve as an organizer and later, as the proceedings co-editor, for the NASA Administrator's Symposium "Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea, and the Stars" which was held at the Naval Postgraduate School in September 2004. The proceedings are now online and have been published in hardcover as a volume in NASA's history series.
NASA Watch has been cited as a news source multiple times in Congressional hearings by the Chairman of the House Science Committee. In 1998, as editor of NASA Watch, Keith was asked to submit testimony for hearings held on NASA's 40th Anniversary by the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. A portion of this testimony appeared on the 23 October 1998 editorial page of the Washington Post.
In addition to NASA Watch and SpaceRef, Keith is also editor of the Astrobiology Web and has been active in Astrobiology activities since the onset of this emerging discipline in 1996. Keith participated in the first Astrobiology Workshop in March 1996 and the Astrobiology Roadmap Workshop in July 1998 as a member of the Astrobiology focus group. Keith coauthored "Astrobiology at T+5 Years" with NASA Astrobiology Institute Director and Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg, which was published in Ad Astra magazine in 2002.
Keith was also the guest editor, contributing author, and lead illustrator of three special issues of the National Space Society's magazine "Ad Astra": two issues on Astrobiology (Jan/Feb 1999 and Jan/Feb 2002), and one on terrestrial Mars analogs (May/June 2003).
Being a former NASA employee, Keith has been itching to get back into some hands-on space related research. As such, Keith has become involved with the NASA Haughton Mars Project (HMP), an ongoing research activity conducted on Devon Island in the Canadian high arctic less than 1,000 miles from the North Pole. Keith and his SpaceRef business partner Marc Boucher donated an experimental greenhouse which they constructed on Devon Island in the Summer of 2002. A journal of Keith's month-long experiences on Devon Island during 2002 can be found online here. Keith returned to Devon Island for another month in 2003 (journals).
In addition to the Astrobiology Web and NASA Watch, Keith is also webmaster of Science.Bio.org sponsored by Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
While employed at the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), Keith managed various peer review contracts, including the FY 94 and FY 95 peer reviews for NASA's Office of Life and Microgravity Science and Applications. Keith also had a senior management role in the AIBS review of 2,668 proposals for the Army's 1994 Breast Cancer Research Project, the largest single peer review project ever performed by or for the Federal government.
Between 1990 and 1993, Keith was a NASA civil servant and served as Manager of Pressurized Payload Accommodations at the Space Station Freedom Program Office (SSFPO). As part of his prime responsibilities, Keith served as the Payload Accommodations Manager for the 2.5 Meter Centrifuge Facility, the Gas-Grain Simulation Facility, the Gravitational Biology Facility, and the CELSS Test Facility. Keith also participated in all SSF design reviews held during 1990-1993, representing the interests of the scientific payload community. Keith was also the SSFPO lead on biospecimen containment and was a NASA representative to the NRC Committee on Toxicology's subcommittee on Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentrations.
Prior to his work at NASA, Keith worked for AIBS on NASA Life Sciences Division Peer review and for the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) where he managed a subcontract in support of the NASA Life Sciences Strategic Planning Study Committee (a.k.a. the Robbins Committee). Keith is also a former member of the governing board of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB). Keith also designed the ASGSB logo which adorned t-shirts worn by crew members on both STS-40 and STS-58 and by NASA scientists in Antarctica. Keith managed to wear one years later in the arctic.
Keith at the top of a 7 pitch, 1,000 foot climb on
Stately Pleasure Dome, just above Lake Tenaya, Yosemite
National Park, the most awesome place on this planet
Keith has had several other "careers". He has worked as a certified sign language interpreter for the hearing impaired at several universities and signed various speeches from the podium of the 1980 Democratic National Convention; was an advance man, local organizer, and finance officer for Jerry Brown's 1980 Presidential campaign and the 1982 Brown for U.S. Senate campaign; taught biology and sign language on several college faculties; worked on the Space Shuttle Program at Rockwell International's Downey Facility, and served time as an art major (earning an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts).
At one time or another Keith's hobbies have included running, skiing, hiking, fossil collecting, SCUBA, and rock climbing (Keith and his wife Jenny met while climbing).
Keith has written several climbing-related articles. One of them, "Everest On-Orbit " was published in Climbing Magazine. Another, "Oh Mons! The First Ascent of Olympus Mons" was published in the National Space Society's Ad Astra Magazine (their first published fiction). Another climbing-related article "Roger Houston. On Belay" appeared in the Winter 1997 issue of Tranquility Base, the newsletter of the 2111 Foundation. Keith also wrote about a rather spectacular climb (at least he thinks so) in Rocky Mountain National Park called The Petit Grepon and a introspective travelogue called "Going Off Source: Time away with SETI in West Virginia"
2005 MAPLD Panel Session - "Why Are Space Stations So Hard?"
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