Innovators in Space Technology



Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Upson Lounge


Dr. Ezinne Uzo- Okoro- Former Assistant Director for Space Policy at the White House

Title of the Lecture: Driving Innovation in Space through 2030

Abstract of the lecture: Our capacity for innovation is a phenomenally powerful engine for change, but it was built in the last century and aimed at last century’s challenges. Now, we aim to shape this richly complex system so it can change what’s possible for the great challenges of our times. This includes our work to ensure the US remains the leader in space by forecasting ahead with new capabilities and make the United States resilient to the effects of space weather. It also includes our work to ensure a smooth transition from the successful international space station, which brought together allies, partners, and strategic competitors over decades for scientific research and discovery to a commercial space station; monitor and bolster our climate through earth observations from satellites; and ensure that space remains sustainable through mitigating, tracking, and remediating space debris, and through regulatory improvements and increased space domain awareness. Yet we must ask: how do we strengthen, advance, and use American science and technology in space to achieve our nation’s great aspirations through 2030 and beyond? We continue to explore the depths of our universe using advanced technologies on telescopes that can show us stellar nurseries and 13.5 B-year-old galaxies and shift our future human exploration adventures to the Moon and beyond through the Artemis Accords. We celebrate the many opportunities and steps, and the use of American science and technology to inspire the next generation of explorers through our actions today.


Brief biographical sketch: Ezinne Uzo-Okoro has two decades of experience in government, in both NASA missions and policy. Dr. Uzo-Okoro drove innovation in space and aeronautics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Her policy work includes Earth Observations, Orbital Debris, Microgravity research in Low Earth Orbit, Space Weather, In-space Servicing Assembly and Manufacturing, Aeronautics, and space science. Her NASA 17-year engineering career spanned contributions to Earth Observations, planetary science, heliophysics, astrophysics, human exploration, and space communications missions. She earned an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and masters degrees in Aerospace Systems, Space Robotics, and Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, MIT, and Harvard University respectively. She also earned a doctorate degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. She has received several NASA awards and the 2023 Commercial Space Federation Commercial Space Policy award. Her story is profiled in President George W. Bush’s book, Out of Many, One.