Registration Opened for the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards

The Conrad Foundation, a non-profit science-education and entrepreneurship advocacy organization, announced that it has opened registration for the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards. This competition challenges teams of high school students to create innovative products in four categories: aerospace exploration, space nutrition, renewable energy and green schools. Competing students will be guided through a phased pathway incorporating science, technology, design, marketing and business in an interdisciplinary, project-based product development experience. Teams will be provided the opportunity to meet with and learn from professional scientists and entrepreneurs who will advise them on how to commercialize their products for general market use. Awards are provided to the schools, teachers, and students for the top product designs. Teams and their coaches will compete for more than $100,000 in prize money, opportunities to present their products to world level leaders in business and industry, an opportunity to become a Pete Conrad Scholar, and annual memberships to the ConradFoundation and its official partners, including Sigma Xi, the science and engineering research society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

“The Conrad Foundation is poised for another successful year for the Spirit of Innovation Awards as we work to bring the tools for success to a new generation of innovators,” said Nancy Conrad, Founder of the Conrad Foundation. “We are bridging the gap between the greatest minds of today and the brightest minds of tomorrow, and together our teams of innovators are designing the future.”

Registration for the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards begins today, and will remain open until December 15, 2009 when all team submissions are due. The Spirit of Innovation Summit and Final Competition will take place on April 8 – April 12, 2010 at the NASA – Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. During this event teams are introduced to leaders in business, industry, science, technology and work in a collaborative, peer-to-peer environment to refine their product concepts. Selected teams are invited to participate in the Conrad Portal and are offered the opportunity to commercialize their products. Recommendations and consultation on interdisciplinary educational pathways and product commercialization will be provided by theConrad Foundation’s official advisory partners: AIAA (Aerospace), Sigma Xi (Science) and NSTA (Education).

Spirit of Innovation Awards

Hopkins on The Inevitability of Space Settlement

The Inevitability of Space Settlement by Mark Hopkins

It is only a matter of time before the large scale move into space begins. It is the goal of NSS and more generally the Space Movement for this to occur sooner rather than later.

According to Michael Griffin, former NASA Administrator, “One day, I don’t know when, but one day, there will be more humans living off Earth than on it” (February 2006). NSS looks forward to that day.

Behind the Scenes at SpaceX

Behind the Scenes With the World’s Most Ambitious Rocket Makers– An improbable partnership between an Internet mogul and an engineer could revolutionize the way NASA conducts missions—and, if these iconoclasts are successful, send paying customers into space.

by early 2002 Mueller had moved his operations to a friend’s rented warehouse and was putting the finishing touches on the world’s largest amateur liquid-fuel rocket engine, an 80-pounder designed to produce 13,000 pounds of thrust.

Mueller’s ambitious moonlighting caught the attention of Internet multimillionaire Elon Musk, who met the engineer at the warehouse in January 2002 as Mueller was trying to attach his homemade engine to an airframe. Fresh from the $1.5 billion sale of PayPal to eBay, Musk was seeking staff for a new space company, soon to be called Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX. He eyed the rocket engine and asked a simple question: “Can you build something bigger?”

Mueller never fired that engine. He took it back to his garage, where it still sits. Instead, he took up Musk’s offer to join the nascent private space venture.

Welcome South Korea to the Club of Space Faring Nations

Congratulations to South Korea on their first successful rocket launch.

South Korea launches first rocket into space

It is South Korea’s first launch of a rocket from its own territory. Since 1992, it has launched 11 satellites, all on foreign-made rockets sent from overseas sites.

The rocket, built with Russian help, was carrying a domestically built satellite aimed at observing the atmosphere and ocean.

Space Solar Power Book on NSS Website

Sun Power -The Global Solution for the Coming Energy Crisis by Ralph Nansen, the complete online book on the NSS Website. (Thanks Ralph! I have heard rumors he has a new book coming out.)

“The future of mankind is dependent on abundant, low-cost energy that will not destroy our world. There is only one known source for that energy — solar power satellites.” So writes Ralph Nansen, who led the Boeing team of engineers in the Satellite Power System Concept Development and Evaluation Program for the Department of Energy and NASA. His book, Sun Power, offers a vision of hope and a plan to begin the long journey to environmentally safe energy independence and global healing.


“We in this country are too prone to deal with the issues facing us only after the problem has reached the crisis stage…. I believe that Sun Power will help to show that energy from space is a realistic proposal and that it has great commercial potential.” — Chris Kraft, former director, Johnson Space Center

“The time is again right to bring this very important energy option to the attention of the American public.” — Joseph P. Allen, former Space Shuttle astronaut

“The contents of this book should be of interest to the non technical reader…. Nansen presents the rationale for solar power satellites in an understandable form devoid of the usual technical jargon to make the subject accessible to the public.” — Dr. Peter E. Glaser, inventor of the solar power satellite concept

“This is a timely subject for many reasons: the growing realization of the need for energy, the enhanced environmental consciousness, and the strong . . . governmental interest in finding appropriate tasks for the defense industrial infrastructure.” — Gregg E. Maryniak, Director, International Space Power Program, International Space University

“Finally, the world can raise its hopes for a renewable, nonpolluting energy source. Sun Power should come . . . as good news after what has been a dismal public record on power issues. As a writer who has covered power issues for two daily newspapers, I consider this an opportune time for Sun Power to be published.” — Patrick Moser, independent consultant formerly with the Tri-Cities Herald

Dennis Wingo on Augustine Commission

Beyond Augustine by Dennis Wingo in On Orbit

There are many ideas that have been scoffed at or sidelined, like In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) that could be brought back into the mix. Ion propulsion space tugs are also much closer to reality than what most people think. Advanced computers and electronics could be introduced into space as well. There is no reason for not flying state of the art computers, software, and advanced analysis capability. This reluctance to use the advances in computers in space that we take for granted on the ground is a major impediment to lowering the operational costs of space exploration.

Dennis makes great points in this article that, if we are slowing down our post Shuttle/Station Program we can use the time to figure out how to go beyond LEO cheaper and better, even if it is slower.

Getting Space Solar Power off the Ground


Seed: What makes it superior to other forms of alternative energy?
WM: The way power is actually generated and handled in the world involves something called “dispatchable” power. Alternative energy is generally intermittent, and thus not dispatchable. Dispatchable means a utility can make a contract with someone that says, “On December 21st of 2011, I want you to carry 1,000 megawatts of my load for six hours.” So they make a financial contract, and these things are traded back and forth. This economic system behind [power generation] is the cornerstone of what keeps our lights on.

NASA Moon Plan Too Ambitious

NASA’s moon plan too ambitious, Obama panel says
A panel reviewing NASA’s current plans for human space flight will report that there is no realistic way to return to the moon by 2020 — or even 2028. –
The Miami Herald

NASA doesn’t have nearly enough money to meet its goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020 — and it might be the wrong place to go, anyway. That’s one of the harsh messages emerging from a sweeping review of NASA’s human space flight program.

Obama Review Panel Endorses Commercial Human Space Flight Options

Next Step in Space News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 13, 2009 – During what may be the last public meeting, the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, commissioned by President Obama to study current U.S. human space flight plans, there was a strong consensus for funding a robust commercial human space flight program to provide human space transportation to low Earth orbit (LEO).

Included in virtually every option presented was providing $2.5 billion over four years starting in FY2011 to support development of commercial human space transport capabilities. The panel also discussed options that included commercially-provided heavy lift capabilities for space exploration beyond LEO.

“We are pleased that the panel has endorsed commercial human space flight as an option for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS),” said Bob Hopkins, a spokesman for the Next Step in Space coalition. “We are confident that U.S. based commercial space companies will enhance the scientific and research capabilities of the ISS and ensure that funding now slated to go to Russia can contribute to high tech jobs here at home.”

“The panel’s thoughtful approach is appreciated and we look forward to its final recommendations later this month,” Hopkins said.

This endorsement of commercial human space flight comes a little over a week after NASA’s announcement of a $50 million commercial crew development program to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities while fostering entrepreneurial activity leading to job growth in engineering, analysis, design, and research.

The committee’s findings will be formally presented to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the end of August.

About Next Step in Space
Next Step in Space is a group of businesses, organizations, and people working toward ensuring the future of commercial human spaceflight in the US. Investment in commercial space will allow for full utilization of the International Space Station, enable NASA to focus its efforts beyond low-Earth orbit, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are reinvested in the US and not spent overseas. Visit us at: Become a fan and show support for commercial spaceflight on the Next Step in Space Facebook fan page at and follow on Twitter @NextStepinSpace.

Best regards,

Robert P. Hopkins
Senior Vice President
and Managing Director, Washington, DC office

Phillips & Company
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