Our Future in Space

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and a range of panelists gathered to address the “Final Frontier,” and humankind’s search for the unexplained.

The event, titled “Our Future in Space” and presented by The Paul and Nancy Ignatius Program, featured a diverse group of panelists that ranged from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, Rev. Prof. David Wilkinson of St. John’s College, Durham University, and Harvard Professor Avi Loeb.

Following a brief introduction by moderator David Ignatius of the Washington Post, the first panel of the evening led off with him being joined by Haines, along with a prerecorded series of questions conducted with Nelson.

After an introductory statement by Nelson, Ignatius posed his first question to Haines, which included a query as to whether her agency is collecting any “early signs” of possible extraterrestrial intelligence.

“On this topic of life out there, you issued an extraordinary preliminary assessment in June on unidentified aerial phenomena,” Ignatius said. “To summarize that report, you studied 144 reports from U.S. government sources. 80 had sensors that had made the identifications; in 18 of these instances observers, I’m quoting, ‘reported unusual UAP flight characteristics.’ You sorted these into five different bins, the last called just ‘other.’

“I want to ask you to share with the audience your takeaway after the completion of that report,” Ignatius said, “and what your own view is once you look at the evidence?”

“I mean, I think the bottom line is that we don’t understand everything that we’re seeing,” Haines responded. “And that’s probably not surprising to anybody in many respects.”

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