Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award Competition Begins

From Monday, March 29th through April 9th, YOU have the opportunity to vote for your favorite high school innovators! 24 of the top high school teams have been designing the future. Its not science fiction. Its where education meets innovation and entrepreneurship. Its where real science gets real. Teams have created innovative products to solve some of the grand challenges facing society. From rural water collection devices, to robotic astronaut assistants. From Satellite attitude-control systems to Navajo Solar Frybread Ovens. These students will rock your world! Now, they need YOU to help select the winners of the Spirit of Innovation Awards by voting online for your favorite teams.

Finalists have created videos, blogs, photos and more to show off their products. From March 29 to April 9, you can help a generation of 21st century innovators change the world, one vote at a time. Check out for information on the teams, their products, and to submit your vote.

The Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship by challenging high school students to design products using science and technology. The competition includes platforms in personal spaceflight, lunar exploration, and renewable energy. Teams will compete for over $120,000 of prize money as well as the opportunities to connect with leading scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. The awards create a long term community for students and teachers and also provide resources and opportunities to develop and incubate commercial products.

SpaceShipTwo makes first captive flight

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, now dubbed the VSS Enterprise, completed its first flight March 22 — a captive flight while attached to its mother ship, the White Knight Two.

VSS Enterprise first captive flight
VSS Enterprise first captive flight

This very first captive carry was a huge success and both the mother ship and spaceship looked absolutely stunning against the blue back drop of the skies above the Mojave Air and Spaceport.

Commenting on the historic flight, Burt Rutan said: “This is a momentous day for the Scaled and Virgin Teams. The captive carry flight signifies the start of what we believe will be extremely exciting and successful spaceship flight test program.”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic added: “Seeing the finished spaceship in December was a major day for us but watching VSS Enterprise fly for the first time really brings home what beautiful, ground-breaking vehicles Burt and his team have developed for us. It comes as no surprise that the flight went so well; the Scaled team is uniquely qualified to bring this important and incredible dream to reality. Today was another major step along that road and a testament to US engineering and innovation.”

The VSS Enterprise test flight program will continue though 2010 and 2011, progressing from captive carry to independent glide and then powered flight, prior to the start of commercial operations.

International Collegiate Solar Power Satellite Design Competition

The International Collegiate Solar Power Satellite Design Competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students across the globe. This contest puts college students in the shoes of aerospace industry engineers designing a Space-Based Solar Power Satellite which will beam 10MWs of electricity down to Earth. Student engineers demonstrate creativity, technical competence, management skills, space environment knowledge, teamwork, and presentation techniques to conquer the problems inherent in siting and designing a Solar Power Satellite.

Registration for the contest closes August 15 and designs must be submitted by October 15, 2010.

National Space Society seeks donated items for auction

We would like your help to acquire items for us to auction at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Chicago this Memorial Day weekend. The auction will be held Saturday night, May 29, and will be a combination live and silent auction. Space-themed items are obviously preferred, but any items of value will be accepted.

Maybe you have an autographed book that you can part with? Maybe you are an artist who can donate a piece of your work? Maybe your employer can be persuaded to donate something? For more ideas and information on how to donate, see additional information here.

Also, if you are willing to volunteer at the auction table at the ISDC for a total of 12 hours, you will receive more than 50% off of the ISDC registration fee. See above page link for more details.

Buzz Aldrin "Dances to the Stars"

The National Space Society wishes Apollo 11 astronaut, and NSS Governor, Buzz Aldrin, great success in his latest adventure. As the next installment in his tireless efforts to raise public awareness of and support for the future of our nation’s space program, Buzz is trading in his moonwalking shoes for dancing shoes. By participating in the new season of Dancing with the Stars, Buzz (and the National Space Society along with him) will have a national audience, and a national stage from which to speak.

“My primary motivation for joining the show is to help bring NASA and the U.S. human spaceflight program to the front of popular consciousness. Until there’s a spectacular success or failure, the space program is not on everyone’s lips,” Aldrin says. “Dancing with the Stars has an audience of millions of followers and it would be great if those viewers became supporters of our space program. I’m hoping that all of my old friends and colleagues in the space community can tune in and cast their vote for the octogenarian on the dance floor!”

As long as Buzz remains a contestant on the show, he will be able to engage every American household in the debate about the importance of space exploration, development, and settlement to our nation’s future. Please support Buzz in his efforts to pump up public support for a new direction outward for America’s human space program.

Obama to hold Space Summit April 15

The White House has announced that President Obama will host a conference in Florida on April 15 that is focused on his new space policy.

“The president’s ambitious new strategy pushes the frontiers of innovation to set NASA on a more dynamic, flexible, and sustainable trajectory that can propel us on a new journey of innovation and discovery,” the White House said in a statement Sunday.

“After years of underinvestment in new technology and unrealistic budgeting, the president’s plan will unveil an ambitious plan for NASA that sets the agency on a reinvigorated path of space exploration,” the statement said.

“The conference will focus on the goals and strategies in this new vision, the next steps, and the new technologies, new jobs, and new industries it will create.”