Space Artist Robert McCall Passes Away

The National Space Society is greatly saddened by the news that renowned space artist and long time advocate for human space exploration and settlement, Robert McCall, passed away February 26 at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital Osborne in his home town of Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 90 years old.

Robert McCall served for many years on the National Space Society Board of Governors. One can see the influence McCall had by going to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, where his vast mural depicting man’s conquest of the Moon covers an entire wall on the Museum’s main floor, as well as in old movie posters for 2001: A Space Odyssey, and in a two-decade-long series of postage stamps depicting space themes. An art school graduate from Columbus, Ohio, with a lifelong fascination of things that fly, McCall has illustrated the reality and the dreams of the space age since it all began in the 1950s.

McCall's Expanding the Frontiers of Flight commemorates NASA Langley Research Center contributions to aeronautics and space.
McCall's "Expanding the Frontiers of Flight" commemorates NASA Langley Research Center contributions to aeronautics and space.

Famous for his large murals, Robert was the creator of the Tour of the Universe Mural at the Challenger Space Center in Peoria, Arizona. The mural is six-stories high, encircling the entire interior rotunda of the main floor of the building. Utilizing 27,000 square feet of canvas, this phenomenal piece of artistry took six months to complete and is believed to be the largest mural in Arizona.

Our thoughts are with Louise, his wife of 50 years, his family and friends and all of those who appreciated the man who has shown us what the future would be like if we just believe and work hard enough to achieve our space goals. The Phoenix Chapter of the National Space Society was especially honored to have had Robert join them as an integral part of their Yuri’s Day 2008 celebration at the Peoria Challenger Space Center.

For more on the art of Robert McCall, see

McCalls art graced this cover of the L5 News for January 1980.
McCall's art graced this cover of the L5 News for January 1980.

Recent NSS Book Reviews

In case you missed any of them, here are some space book reviews recently added to the NSS website book review section:

The New Space Race: China vs. the United States, By Erik Seedhouse. The “race” with China for the dominance of space is more subtle than the old US-Soviet race. Reviewed by Ted Spitzmiller.

Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative, by Marsha Freeman. Biography and selected writings of one of the great thinkers of the space age. Reviewed by David Brandt-Erichsen.

Missions to the Moon, by Rod Pyle. With relatively few pages, this book is oversized and crammed with information — even with all the other histories out there, a valuable and fun book. Reviewed by Steve Adamczyk.

Impact, by Douglas Preston. This fiction book is not a disaster novel but a clever story focused on a mysterious meteorite impact. Reviewed by Marianne Dyson.

SpaceX Falcon 9 now vertical on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral

While the Obama commercial space policy is the news, SpaceX continues to move forward toward the initial launch of its Falcon 9 rocket within the next 1 to 3 months. The latest milestone was getting the rocket vertical on the pad.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 launch vehicle with Dragon qualification spacecraft raised to vertical on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.
The full flight-ready Falcon 9 launch vehicle with Dragon qualification spacecraft raised to vertical on the launch pad February 20 at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.
Falcon 9 flight hardware undergoing final integration earlier this month in the hangar at SpaceXs Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida. Credit: SpaceX.
Falcon 9 flight hardware undergoing final integration earlier this month in the hangar at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

In December 2008, NASA announced the selection of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon Spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. The Falcon 9 is designed to carry 23,000 pounds to Low Earth Orbit.

The Dragon Spacecraft, initially for cargo only, is later planned to carry astronauts as depicted in this SpaceX video.

Congressional Hearings on Challenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal – Testimony by Mike Snyder

Below are some excerpts from today’s Congressional testimony on the NASA budget.

My name is Mike Snyder and it has been my honor and privilege to work on the Space Shuttle Program for the past 13 years. I am not a civil servant, a CEO of a major aerospace corporation or even a member of senior management. I am an engineer and one of the tens-of-thousands of people across America who work daily on this Nation’s efforts in human spaceflight programs. The views you hear today are my own but I can assure you they are representative and shared by many in the aerospace workforce at large.

Today, I must inform you that morale across the entire human space flight workforce, civil servant and contractor, is extremely low. The lowest I have seen it in all my years of service.

Perhaps the single biggest contributor to the low morale is the perceived lack of any vision, purpose or detailed plans with clearly defined goals, objectives and timetables for the future of human spaceflight. We can all agree that Research and Development (R&D) is vitally important. However, R&D without direction and purpose, without a planned and well-defined operational concept is no more useful or sustainable than assuming we can explore the solar system and beyond without development of new technologies. I cannot stress enough the importance of having an over-arching program with clearly defined goals that focus these R&D efforts to near term as well as long term capabilities with the intent and strong National will to use them. Congress must not let our Nation fall into the trap yet again that vaguely ties these technologies and capabilities to some future date, future Administration and future Congress – because that way will ensure, in my opinion, that these expensive initiatives never bear fruit and will serve only as a disservice to this industry’s current and future workforce and to the United States of America as a whole.

Along these lines, we are all told by our Center Directors, company CEOs, and our senior management that more information will be communicated about the direction of the Agency. However, the problem is that they do not yet know either. What the everyday worker does know is the inescapable fact that two of three of this Nation’s major human space flight programs are proposed to be terminated.

Mr. Snyder’s complete testimony can be found here. The three major programs referred to are Shuttle, Constellation (both being ended), and the International Space Station.

Congressional Hearings on Challenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal – Testimony by Charles F. Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden testified before Congress today, providing more details of the NASA 2011 budget. Below is a summary of his testimony before the Subcommittee on Science and Space of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The complete statement can be obtained here.

Here is a broad outline of the FY 2011 budget plan followed by more details. In FY 2011, NASA will undertake:
• Transformative technology development and demonstrations to pursue new approaches to human spaceflight exploration with more sustainable and advanced capabilities that will allow Americans to explore the Moon, Mars and other destinations. This effort will include a flagship demonstration program, with international partners, commercial and other government entities, to demonstrate critical technologies, such as in-orbit propellant transfer and storage, inflatable modules, automated/autonomous rendezvous and docking, closed-loop life support systems, and other next-generation capabilities. It will also include projects that are smaller and shorter-duration, which will demonstrate a broad range of key technologies, including in-situ resource utilization and advanced in-space propulsion.
• Heavy-lift propulsion research and development that will investigate a broad scope of R&D activities to support next-generation space launch propulsion technologies, with the aim of reducing costs and shortening development timeframes for future heavy-lift systems for human exploration.
• Robotic precursor missions to multiple destinations in the solar system in support of future human exploration, including missions to the Moon, Mars and its moons, Lagrange points, and nearby asteroids.
• Significant investments for the development of commercial crew and further cargo capabilities, building on the successful progress in the development of commercial cargo capabilities to-date. NASA will allocate these funds through competitive solicitations that support a range of higher- and lower-programmatic risk systems and system components, such as human-rating of existing launch vehicles and development of new spacecraft that can ride on multiple launch vehicles.
• Extension of the lifetime of the International Space Station (ISS), likely to 2020 or beyond, in concert with our international partners, with investments in expanded ISS utilization through upgrades to both ground support and onboard systems and use of the ISS as a National Laboratory.
• Pursuit of cross-cutting Space Technology capabilities, led by the newly established Office of the Chief Technologist, which will fund advancements in next-generation technologies, to help improve the Nation’s leadership in key research areas, enable far-term capabilities, and spawn game-changing innovations that can unlock new possibilities and make space activities more affordable and sustainable. A NASA focus on innovation and technology will enable new approaches to our current mission set and allow us to pursue entirely new missions for the Nation.
• Climate change research and observations, which will enable NASA to substantially accelerate and expand its Earth Science capabilities, including a replacement for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, development of new satellites recommended by the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey, and development of smaller Venture class missions. This investment will ensure the critically important continuity of certain key climate measurements and enable new measurements to address unknowns in the climate system, yielding expanded understanding of our home planet and improved understanding of climate change.
• Aeronautics research and development, including critical areas of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, environmentally responsible aviation, and safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.
• Education initiatives, including the recently announced Summer of Innovation pilot program involving NASA scientist and curricula to inspire middle-school students and their teachers with exciting experiences that spur those students to continue in STEM careers.

Cosmos & Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context

A new NASA publication, Cosmos & Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context (NASA SP-4802) is available as a free 612-page 4MB PDF download. Editors Steven J. Dick and Mark L. Lupisella present a series of essays integrating concepts from philosophical, anthropological, and astrobiological disciplines to explore the interdisciplinary questions of cosmic evolution.

A couple of interesting quotes are below.

The first quote is by Howard Bloom (a member of the NSS Board of Governors) from an essay entitled “The Big Burp and the Multiplanetary Mandate”:

Evolution is shouting a message at us. Yes, evolution herself. That imperative? Get your ass off this planet. Get your asses, your burros, your donkeys, and as many of your fellow species as you can—from bacteria and plants to fish, reptiles, and mammals—off this dangerous scrap of stone and find new niches for life. Take the Grand Experiment of Cells and DNA, the 3.85-billion-year Project of Biomass, to other planets, moons, orbiting habitats, and galaxies. Give life an opportunity to thrive, to reinvent itself, to turn every old disaster, every pinwheeling galaxy, into new opportunity. Do this as the only species nature has generated that’s capable of deliberate travel beyond the atmosphere of Earth. Do it as the only species able to take on the mission of making life multiplanetary. Accept that mission—the Greening of the Universe—or you may well eliminate yourself and all the species that depend on you—from the microorganisms making folic acid and vitamin K in your gut to wheat, corn, cucumbers, chickens, cows, the yeast you cultivate to make beer, and even the bacteria you use to make cheese. What’s worse, if you fail to take life beyond the skies, the whole experiment of life—including rain-forests, whales, and endangered species—may die in some perfectly normal cosmic catastrophe.

The second quote is from an essay by Seth Shostak on “The Value of ‘L’ and the Cosmic Bottleneck” (where “L” is the average lifetime of a technological civilization):

We have seen that, if the dismal, albeit trendy, apocalyptic scenarios of war, environmental degradation, and short-term cosmic threats can be thwarted, our future might be anything from thousands to million of years. However, even with this sunnier prognosis, there is little doubt that—sooner or later—we will be obliged to move at least some of our population into space. Earth, being spherical, has the minimum surface area for its mass. Resources—both the obvious ones such as arable land, as well as the less obvious ones, such as platinum—are finite, and in many cases already scarce. So, putting aside the possibility that, by engineering our own successors or joining the “galactic club” we may introduce a major discontinuity in the story of Homo sapiens, there’s one reasonably reliable expectation we can have for our activities of the next 100 years: the expansion of habitat to the nearby, extraterrestrial realms of the solar system. This settlement of a new frontier could have a telling, and salubrious effect on the Earthly value for L.

We have visited the Moon, and our mechanical proxies have landed on Mars. Both worlds could be colonized, and in the case of Mars, made more amenable to life (Wood 2007). That this will happen is less a question of “if” than “when.” While the initial colonies will be small, historical analogs suggest that within a century they will have populations measured in the tens of thousands or more.

The carrying capacity of these nearby bodies is limited. However, the numbers of humans living in orbit could dwarf their populations. Two decades ago, Gerard O’Neill (1977) and Thomas Heppenheimer (1979) described in detail how we could build artificial habitats in space: slowly rotating aluminum cylinders, having diameters of several kilometers, that could house entire villages and towns. Their prediction was that by the 1990s, millions of Earthlings would be living in these space habitats. That hasn’t yet happened, but not because it’s technically impractical. Rather, at the moment, building such artificial cities in orbit is economically and politically impractical.

In the somewhat longer view, perhaps one to two centuries hence, we can consider colonizing the larger bodies of the asteroid belt.

While the exact time scale of these projects is subject to the vagaries of political will, one can conservatively foresee that within two centuries, at most, enough of us will be off the planet—in O’Neill colonies, on the Moon and Mars, and burrowed into the asteroids—that total annihilation of human society will be as impossible as the total annihilation of Earth’s ants. We will be dispersed, and dispersal is the ultimate insurance policy for survival. Modest colonization will inoculate us against self-destruction. It might be possible to exterminate all the individuals in one habitat, but not the entire populace of all habitats.

Obama remarks on "our NASA 'Vision for the Future'"

In his February 17 call to the International Space Station, President Obama stated “my commitment to NASA is unwavering” and that “one of the things that we’ve done with our NASA ‘Vision for the Future’ is to extend the life of our participation in the Space Station.”

After hearing Astronaut descriptions of some of the research being done on the Space Station, Obama went on to say:

Well, some of the things that you talked about are in line with where we want to see NASA going increasingly: What are those transformational technologies that would allow us to potentially see space travel of longer durations? If we want to get to Mars, if we want to get beyond that, what kinds of technologies are going to be necessary in order for us to make sure that folks can get there in one piece and get back in one piece and that — the kinds of fuels that we use and the technologies we use are going to facilitate something that is actually feasible? And we’re very excited about the possibilities of putting more research dollars into some of these transformational technologies.

A full transcript and video of this event are available on the White House website, but there is no further discussion of space policy.

Lori Garver on the New Space Policy

Remarks by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver
13th Annual FAA AST Space Transportation Conference
February 11, 2010

Days after release of the President’s 2011 budget, I am excited to continue to share information about our Nation’s bold new direction for human space flight. We plan to transform our relationship with the private sector as part of our Nation’s new strategy with the ultimate goal of expanding human presence across the Solar System.

Space tourism is a catalyst that has sparked a whole new industry of passenger-carrying spacecraft. New private firms that did not exist when this conference was first held 13 years ago now promise to revolutionize the space transportation industry. Thanks to President Obama, (and many of you), the United States and NASA are poised to take full advantage of this historic shift. The President’s budget commits substantial funding for NASA to increase the number and scope of its commercial partnerships. We plan to make use of commercial space providers to transport astronauts to the space station and other low-Earth orbit destinations.

This new direction may have been suggested as the preferred option by the Augustine Commission, but the decision was made by the President, with the full support of NASA’s leadership.

This change in national direction has been coming, with bipartisan momentum, for over two decades. It started in the Reagan Administration, when a Democratic Congress passed a law creating the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and President Reagan removed commercial satellites from the Space Shuttle by Executive Order. It continued in 1990, when a Democratic Congress passed the Launch Service Purchase Act of 1990, which was signed into law by the first President Bush. Then, in 1998, a Republican Congress passed the Commercial Space Act of 1998, which was signed by President Clinton.

Most recently, in 2004, under the second President Bush, the Aldridge Commission concluded that “NASA’s relationship to the private sector, its organizational structure, business culture, and management processes … must be decisively transformed”. This recommendation by the Bush Administration’s Aldridge Commission is especially pertinent now.

President Bush’s Aldridge Commission had more to say on this point. It recommended that “NASA recognize and implement a far larger presence of private industry in space operations with the specific goal of allowing private industry to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA, and most immediately in accessing low-Earth orbit.”

President Obama has decided that the time is now for NASA to decisively transform our relationship with the private sector. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and I fully support the President’s decision. NASA is going to implement a public-private partnership that brings the best of both private industry and the U.S. Government to the table. We will maximize each other’s strengths, and offset each other’s weaknesses.

In the short term, I know that many people are worried about jobs. I understand. This budget increases funding for NASA, which largely translates to increases in jobs.

In the long run, bolstering the U.S. commercial space industry will help the economy. A couple of decades ago, the United States was the world’s leader in launching commercial satellites. Today, we are fourth in the world, behind Russia, Europe, and Ukraine. We are in danger of falling further behind, as the Indians and Chinese bring increasingly cost-effective launch systems online. To facilitate U.S. commercial partnerships, we need to focus on some of the current barriers that commercial partners around the world face when trying to work in and with the U.S. The U.S. export control regime continues to engender delays and complications that greatly hinder the U.S. commercial launch industry. I know that many in the U.S. Government community, including President Obama, are aware of these concerns and are working hard to find ways to reform the regime, but right now, they remain impediments to full realization of the United States’ commercial potential.

These commercial partnerships will encompass more than space transportation, although that will be an essential component. Launches represent less than 5% of the global market for commercial space, which today is approximately a $250 billion-per-year industry, and growing. That is $250 billion with a “B”. The nation that is the world’s leader in commercial space will capture the lion’s share of new jobs in the future. Indeed, commercial space is where real job growth opportunities are located in that future.

If NASA’s investments in technology increase the growth of this industry by just 10% per year, for a period of 7 years, this would double this industry’s size to $500 billion per year. That is major job growth. America needs jobs — good jobs, and lots of them. The President wants NASA to foster real growth in the commercial space industry, and this new plan does so.

NASA will soon be spending more than a billion dollars per year to back-up our part in these commercial partnerships. We will be providing industry with NASA technical expertise, to help with the practical technical problems, as well as to make these vehicles safe enough for NASA astronauts to fly on. We will provide serious seed money on the investment side and a firm commitment to buy crew transportation services on the market side. We will diversify our risk by funding a portfolio of highly-qualified competitors. Instead of a highly-risky approach, in which we fund only one system, we are going to fund many systems to create redundancy. No single commercial system will represent the critical path. We are going to see the most exciting race that America has seen in a long time, and there is likely to be more than one winner.

It will likely be entrepreneurial and established entities that develop these new vehicles. This is really simply a new procurement method for working with NASA. Instead of cost-plus contracts, we will be utilizing fixed price contracts and later, service purchase agreements. We will ask industry to “put some skin in the game”, and will allow them to develop additional markets. This approach allows industry and government each to focus on those things we do best – while providing the very best value to the tax-payer. Many of these companies have been building spacecraft for the United States for the past 50 years. There is no doubt in my mind that these companies can build a safe, cost-effective commercial crew transportation systems for America. NASA is about to unleash the most exciting space competition in decades.

This new strategy also means helping to make our national investment in the Kennedy Space Center one that gives birth to a true commercial spaceport, with the most advanced launch facilities and passenger-carrying operations. Kennedy has tremendous assets, and the President’s budget makes a significant investment in transforming KSC into a world-leading commercial space transportation facility.

The President’s new strategy for NASA also means making full use of the extraordinary research capability of the International Space Station. We will not only have more cost-effective crew transportation to ISS, we are also continuing ISS operations to at least 2020, and reinvigorating the ISS research program. The United States spent about $100 billion designing, developing, and constructing our part of the ISS over the last two decades. The previous NASA plan was to finish the ISS at the end of this year, to use only a small fraction of this unique research facility for the next five years, but we then had no plans for after that. The President’s new plan for NASA fixes this problem.

We will open the ISS National Laboratory to new nontraditional users and new partnerships. It will truly become, as it was once envisioned, an orbiting hub for missions to Earth orbit and destinations beyond. A testing ground for breakthrough technology needed not only for living in space, but for research on human disease, and proving new technologies that will foster new space industries and create new jobs here in America. That is what commercial crew and cargo spacecraft will make possible – and the ISS in turn, offers that longer-term market, providing a catalyst for the commercial transportation development.

The President’s budget supports the development of new technologies that we can make use of in voyaging to more distant locations in the Solar System, both for humans and for robots. When we go beyond the Earth-Moon system, we must do it in a cost-effective manner. In order to do that, we need the capability to refuel transfer stages, the ability to live off of in-situ resources, and the ability to take advantage of breakthroughs in on-orbit space propulsion.

Let me say this, and, I cannot say this enough, the wonderful people working on Constellation did not fail. The NASA and contractor workforce is an incredible asset to this nation and deserve to work on programs that are well thought out, make sense, and have the resources to succeed. Our Constellation workforce were not given the tools to succeed or a program that could succeed. The situation we inherited upon our arrival was a program that did not make sense. We had a space transportation system to the ISS being developed (with 10’s of Billions more to be invested) that would not have gotten to the ISS before its planned de-orbit. Even those companies developing our cargo transportation system would only have had a few year’s operational time before the ISS made its way to the Pacific. We needed a sustainable strategy.

Now we have that strategy, and the President has given us the budget to pursue the capabilities we need to expand human presence across the solar system.

Some of you here at this conference are focused on the suborbital arena. NASA is also fostering the development of the commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry, because these suborbital RLVs could evolve to provide this Nation with much lower-cost and much more reliable access to space. I believe that suborbital RLVs could be important for science, technological, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, as well. Indeed, NASA’s Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research program is developing plans to use commercial suborbital space vehicles to inspire our children.

I anticipate the day, soon I hope, when these suborbital reusable vehicles will be safe enough that NASA will pay for hundreds of astronauts, scientists, and technology developers to fly to space each and every year. Again, NASA will make every effort to ensure that these vehicles meet NASA’s safety standards before we pay for any person to fly on these vehicles. We plan to take a slightly different approach in this case, and will treat these vehicles as the high-speed experimental aircraft they are. Dryden Flight Research Center, which has 60 years of experience flying high-speed experimental aircraft, including the X-1 and the X-15, will lead the safety assessment of these vehicles under NASA’s Airworthiness Flight Safety Review process.

This is an historic moment for NASA, for the commercial space industry, and for the United States. For the first time, NASA will trust in the innovation of American entrepreneurs in space, just as America trusts entrepreneurs here on Earth for everything else. For the first time, we will unleash the genius of the American entrepreneur on our great national space agenda.

NASA will transition from focusing on lowEarth orbit logistics and operations to space technology development and human exploration of the far frontier. This will allow NASA to do the things that the American Government does best — to make highrisk investments leading to fundamental breakthroughs and new innovative capabilities, and to explore new worlds where humans have not gone before. Commercial industry will do the things that it does best – designing and building the trains, owning and maintaining the trains, and then making them run on time.

I will not minimize the difficulties we face in this transition. Change is always hard, which is why it is so rarely implemented in large national programs. But the President believes – and Charlie and I believe – that moving from Government-owned and -operated transportation systems is in our national interest.

This is a turning point in history. And it won’t be easy. But we are at an incredible juncture and we are proud of the great support we are receiving from President Obama at a time when many agencies’ spending is being frozen. We will need your ideas, your support, your energy and your sheer will as we move forward with our new direction. Thank you.

Thoughts on the proposed NASA 2011 Budget . . .

“The National Space Society (NSS) commends NASA and the Executive Branch for proposing to increase spending for science, technology, and sustainable economic development in space; however, we believe the President’s 2011 budget request would leave the job only partly done.”

We need to support a space program (human and robotic) that goes beyond low-Earth orbit. 

We need a space program that will bring the inner solar system into our economic sphere and extend human presence throughout the solar system in accordance with U.S. national space policy, by adopting a long-term vision including power and materials from space.

The confluence of interests necessary to establish and maintain a national Space Policy is forged from a potent blend of promise, political interest, and economic wisdom … the promise of new real wealth — in terms of knowledge, resources, and technology;  the political interest of the body politic, and those that serve it; and last, but not least, the economic wisdom to choose goals and missions sufficiently compelling that they can and will endure across multiple administrations.

The proposed NASA 2011 Budget is pregnant with opportunity, laying forth a cornucopia of constructive endeavors in a reasoned programmatic framework while at the same time seeking to strike a balance between proposed funding and the programs to be carried forward. 

That said, technology development without requirements, without a set of missions that it is intended to enable, runs the risk of irrelevance if not being deemed a squandering of resources.

The challenge before us is to establish policy that sustains the confluence of interests necessary to achieve the future we wish to see come to pass … people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.

We need to support and expect a bright future in space, and the private sector cannot do it all alone.

Our space endeavors, government and commercial, provide strategic capabilities that define us as a nation and help maintain our leadership in the peaceful exploration and development of space.  

We need a comprehensive space program worthy of a nation willing to lead on the space frontier.  

Accordingly, whatever restructuring of NASA’s future is sustained and funded by this Congress, and those that come later, should be held to the standard of goals and destinations that foster the expansion of human activities and civilization into space beyond low Earth orbit. 

Ad Astra!

– Gary P. Barnhard

National Space Society Welcomes Sci-Tech, Private-Sector Spending in 2011 Budget, but Calls for Continued Human Spaceflight beyond Earth Orbit

The National Space Society (NSS) commends NASA and the Executive Branch for proposing to increase spending for science, technology, and sustainable economic development in space; however, we believe the President’s 2011 budget request would leave the job only partly done. NSS calls for the President and Congress to restore funding for human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA’s goal should be to make it possible to incorporate energy and resources from space into our economy and to extend human presence throughout the solar system.

Gary Barnhard, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee, states, “Investment in technology development needs to be focused on the requirements to enable real missions. We need to make the best use of the International Space Station and other key resources both on the ground and in space to improve our ability to use space for the betterment of humanity, and to hasten the day that those new missions can be flown. Supporting private sector space capabilities is a good and necessary step toward further space development. It makes sense to fund commercial providers for cargo resupply and return, as well as for crew transportation once their services have been demonstrated to be safe. Our space endeavors, government and commercial, provide strategic capabilities that define us as a nation and help maintain our leadership in the peaceful exploration and development of space. However, a truly ambitious space program always focuses on what’s next.”

NSS supports returning people to the Moon for the benefits it can bring to our home planet and as a starting point for people learning how to work and live elsewhere in the solar system. In keeping with the President’s original campaign suggestion to delay returning to the Moon by five years, NSS calls for a human return to the Moon by 2025. Such a mission should emphasize self-sufficiency and permanent human habitation by developing technologies that will enable humans to “live off the land.” According to Gordon Woodcock, the last President of the L5 Society (parent organization of NSS) and previous chair of the NSS Policy Committee, “Economic growth and humanity’s expansion into space require that we learn how to go somewhere and live there. That learning can only come through frequent access, and the Moon is the closest destination. Learning how to develop propellant on the Moon would be worth the price of the trip.”

“Technology development is good but requires focus to be meaningful,” asserts Greg Allison, NSS Executive VP and chairman of the NSS Policy Committee. “If we are to perform research for a heavy-lift launch vehicle, we should plan to develop one that matches our destinations and sustainability goals. We should build and fly prototypes along the way. We need to have missions in mind to make this work.”

All of this requires a sustained, generational commitment to NASA’s long-term mission. NSS is aware of the financial constraints under which the U.S. government will be operating in the next few years. Tax dollars should be spent wisely. We believe a larger budget for ALL of NASA’s efforts is needed to adequately engage the private sector and is in the long-term best interests of the country.

This is a copy of an official NSS Press Release