The Rafael del Pino Foundation hosted the Keynote Lecture by Miguel López-Alegría entitled "Space exploration half a century after Gagarin" on 9 June 2011.
Miguel López-Alegría said: "The private sector is going to limit itself to sub-orbital flight before taking on the challenge of orbital flight; it is not, therefore, going to undertake what we understand as space exploration as we know it. I think it just needs time, because it has already started on the path and concrete goals will be achieved with the necessary time.
Space exploration faces new challenges, according to López-Alegría: "If we consider that returning to the Moon is not the next step in space exploration, because we have already been there, the next stop would be to set foot on Mars. But for that, we need new propulsion methods, different from the current chemical systems, that would allow us to shorten the trip; instead of nine months each way, we would be talking about a few weeks. That is what we need, from a technological point of view [...] Who knows what we can expect from space exploration when we celebrate the centenary of Gagarin's flight! Much will depend on the evolution of the economic and geopolitical situation and on the will of space agencies and publics. These are the factors to consider when expecting results. So we will have to wait.