• Nicole Ruskell

Meet NASA Astronaut Ron Garan at ELEVATE Space Conference

Monaco is teaching its children to reach for the stars with a visit from NASA astronaut, Colonel Ron Garan, for a space conference followed by dinner gala. We got an exclusive Q&A!


Astronaut space flight Ron Garan
NASA astronaut Ron Garan, flight engineer during space operation.

On 2 November, former NASA astronaut, Colonel Ron Garan will visit Monaco to meet and greet residents and local school kids before a public presentation to rediscover the awe and wonder of space.


In recent years, the Principality of Monaco has heavily invested in space programmes, creating the Bureau of Space Affairs, sponsoring a Monaco wing of the International Space Station, and the country’s satellite manufacturer, SSI, partnering with Axiom Space to send Monegasques to space! The once obscure concept of “Space Tourism” is now in full operation.

Following the 2018 visit from a team of astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, for the celebration of NASA’s 60th anniversary, Monaco once again welcomes an explorer of the final frontier to talk to about space.


During his visit, Ron Garan will take visitors on a 71-million mile journey from the heart of the Principality to the depths of our vast universe, thrilling the public with amazing stories of spaceflights and spacewalks from his own journey beyond the edge of space.

Colonel Ron Garan
Colonel Ron Garan

A real Top Gun, Colonel Garan had a long career with the US Air Force as a F-16 fighter pilot, flying in combat missions, for which he is highly decorated. Some of his medals include the Distinguished Flying Cross for Combat Valor, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Award, Kuwait Liberation Medal, and more. With NASA, he flew several space missions, including spending 6 months on the International Space Station and also received the NASA Superior Accomplishment Award and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. Today, he is an experimental test pilot, a humanitarian, and a social entrepreneur.


“We live in a world where the possibilities are only limited by our imagination and our will to act. It is possible to eliminate the suffering and conflict in our world: Nothing is Impossible #TheKeyIsWe.” - Colonel Ron Garan


How to Adopt an "Orbital Perspective"

In his book, "Orbital Perspective,” Colonel Garan writes that a little bit of fear and a lot of excitement flew him to new heights as he boarded the Space Shuttle for his first trip into space.


From that thrilling first launch, to what it was like for him to step out into space on his very first

spacewalk, Ron's story will make you feel like you're traveling with him on these incredible

journeys as he describes what it felt like when leaving Earth for the very first time or

seeing the beauty we never imagined could exist outside our planet.

“Looking back at our planet from space fills us with the realization that each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this spaceship we call Earth and that we are all in this together.” - Colonel Ron Garan

He also writes about the importance of awe and wonder for humanity, stating: “Starting from a foundation of awe and wonder changes everything. It is the ‘secret sauce’ that opens the mind to new ideas, connections, and creative solutions.”


Organising a space conference

It is thanks to Monaco resident, Zsolt Szemerszky, that we have the opportunity to learn from such a decorated and fascinating visitor. Organising this event through ELEVATE Monaco, Mr Szemerszky invited Colonel Garan to share his story with the audience.

Ahead of this fascinating conference, we have an exclusive Q&A with the organiser, Zsolt Szemerszky (ZS):


Zsolt, why did you decide to organise this event?

ZS: My goal was to bring an authentic voice to the Principality of Monaco who can deliver a renewed sense of awe and wonder, someone who actually has experienced living in the space station. Many people and future space tourists want to represent this industry but learning from someone like Ron, who has spent 178 days in space, and has accomplished four spacewalks is a special opportunity.


Why was it important to you to bring an authentic voice to Monaco?

ZS: I believe that space travel and space research is not just about technology, it is a humanitarian contribution to life on Earth. Also, living on a space station, astronauts and cosmonauts of multiple nations are working hand in hand for a common goal.


Why the name ELEVATE Monte-Carlo?

ZS: The borders are diminishing from the viewpoint of space and ELEVATE is all about opening up your perspective. Ron wrote a book called “Orbital Perspective” which is about his realisation that although we live in our countries and individual cities, each of us is deeply interconnected with everybody else. I believe it is a great message to bring it to all generations in Monaco as well.


Do you expect many future space tourists from Monaco?

ZS: Space travel and experiencing zero gravity are more affordable than ever. This is also the reason why we offer residents the opportunity to meet and talk with Ron, to have one-on-one meetings to talk about his experiences, and what a future space traveler can expect, or how they can prepare for the journey. The event is not limited to the rich, it is for everyone interested in space and for those who are curious to see what living in space is like.

ELEVATE Monte-Carlo Space Conference

The event will consist of a Space Conference at One Monte-Carlo conference centre where Colonel Ron Garan will give an interactive presentation. The second event will follow later with a Sensory experience of a two Michelin starred gala dinner at the famous Blue Bay Restaurant.

More information on the event: http://elevatemontecarlo.com

Space Conference

02 November 2022, 14:00 - 17:00

One Monte-Carlo

1 Pl. du Casino

98000 Monaco


Tickets: €139


Sensory Experiences Gala Dinner

02 November 2022, 19:00 - 23:30

Blue Bay Monaco

40 Av. Princesse Grace

98000 Monaco


Tickets: from €1,290, Early-bird prices until 30 September.


To buy tickets to the conference and/or gala dinner, click here.


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