National Space Society Calls on the Senate and the House of Representatives to Fully Fund NASA in Accordance with the NASA Authorization Act of 2010

In late September 2010, after many months of debate, Congress passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. This three-year authorization demonstrated a bipartisan, cooperative effort on the part of both the House and the Senate to provide a framework for engaging the Executive Branch in a comprehensive dialog on the future of NASA. On October 11, 2010, the bill was signed into law by the president.

In an era when such strong bipartisan agreement is rarely seen, the overwhelming support on both sides of the political aisle for our nation’s space program and for the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 reaffirmed our nation’s strong commitment to a space program that is dynamic, engaging, and sustainable. Although the compromise embodied in this legislation is not without risk to the ultimate success of the U.S. human spaceflight program, it nevertheless provides guidance to the Executive Branch and a path forward.

It is now incumbent upon Congress, the Administration, NASA, commercial concerns, and non-governmental organizations to work together to implement both the spirit and the letter of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. It is now time to enact legislation that appropriates the required funding in compliance with the Authorization Act.

Rick Zucker, Executive Vice President for the National Space Society (NSS), stated, “Throughout this debate, the NSS has reaffirmed its longstanding and unwavering commitment to further space exploration and development. We were encouraged that the Executive and Legislative branches listened to the public’s pleas to maintain American leadership in space, utilize our investment in the International Space Station, stimulate the development of commercial space, and develop technologies to reach beyond low Earth orbit. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was a victory for our nation as a whole. However, there is still much work to be done, not the least of which is the passage of an appropriations bill that is in accordance with the Authorization Act of 2010.”

NSS calls upon our political leaders to, once again, put aside partisan politics, and to enact an appropriations bill that funds NASA to the full extent of the Authorization Act. Unless the necessary funding as set forth in the Authorization Act is appropriated by Congress, the people will view the Authorization Act as just another empty promise from a government in gridlock. In contrast, with a matching appropriation passed, Congress and the Administration can share in the credit for NASA’s accomplishments in the coming years, including high-tech jobs, American youths dreaming of the future, and an economy stimulated by new technology and discoveries.

Therefore, NSS calls on Congress to pass an appropriations bill for NASA at the earliest opportunity.

NSS Competitions for 2010 -2011

podcast

For all of you space enthusiasts out there, listen to this podcast by National Space Society member Lynne Zielinski as she discusses contests for students. Lynne teaches at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook Illinois, and the podcast provides details on competitions sponsored by the National Space Society.

1. NASA/NSS Space Settlement Student Design Contest (for grades 6-12)

NASA Ames Research Center in conjunction with the National Space Society sponsors an annual space settlement design contest for 6-12th grade students. Each spring students send their designs for homes in space for judging by NASA engineers and scientists. The contest has inspired thousands of students and helped hundreds of teachers bring the excitement of space settlement to the youth of America and the world.

2. International Space Settlement Design Competition (for high school)

This contest puts high school students in the shoes of aerospace industry engineers designing a city in space that will be a home for over 10,000 people. 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 Space Settlement (aka Space Colony).

3. Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards (for high school)

The Spirit of Innovation Awards program challenges teams of high school students to create innovative products using science, technology, and entrepreneurship to solve 21st century, real-world problems. Eligible students may compete on teams in any of three Challenge Categories.

4. Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest (any age)

Since its early days, science fiction has played a unique role in human civilization. It removes the limits of what “is” and shows us a boundless vista of what “might be.” Its fearless heroes, spectacular technologies and wondrous futures have inspired many people to make science, technology and space flight a real part of their lives and in doing so, have often transformed these fictions into reality. The National Space Society and Baen Books applaud the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science and have teamed up to sponsor this short fiction contest in memory of Jim Baen.

The Kalam-NSS International Preliminary Feasibility Study on Space Based Solar Power Stations

Announcement of the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative
The NSS Press Conference Announcement
By Dr. A.P.J. Kalam, Former President of India

Our Vision for this unique initiative, now emerging from India and the United States, the largest and oldest democracies in the world, is for all nations of the world working together to enhance the quality of human life, inspire the spirit of space exploration, expand the horizons of knowledge, and ensure space security for all nations of the world. I am of the view that the present capabilities of major space faring nations are not optimally utilized. The launch vehicles of the world, the spacecraft of the world, the application potential of the world, the space scientific research potential of the world and above all the huge costs envisaged for long term space programmes would call for a “paradigm shift” in nations to work together to bring the benefits of space to humanity as a whole. This is possible, as my experience suggests, only if we have strong cooperation of each nation contributing substantially in technology and resources.

The constraints on growth of electric power capacity like land availability, water and fuel supply chains (for coal as well as nuclear power) and silting of dams etc, are among the major factors that have, so far, limited power capacity growth world-wide, and India with its large population is among those significantly concerned. I have been discussing with leaders, professionals and common citizens in India and various parts of the world on this serious issue of energy. When I was recently in USA, whether it was in Arkansas, Houston, Kentucky or Washington DC, it was apparent that energy independence is a key focus. Both developed countries and developing countries, while trying to overcome deficits in energy, are also discussing at public policy and implementation levels, as to how to intensify research and development on renewable energy systems. This is not only from the point of view of energy availability but also from the view point of a sustainable environment.

In India, the need for space based solar power stations was identified as far back as 1993. Since then, indeed earlier from 1987, work has been carried out in India on advanced space transportation system design concepts for affordable space solar power. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) have recently carried out some preliminary concept studies on Space Solar Power and examined three SSP configurations. ISRO has also welcomed an International Preliminary Feasibility Study.

In the USA, by 1995, NASA took a “Fresh Look” at Space Solar power, in the light of several advances made in systems architectures, solar cell weight and efficiency, light weight array structures. They concluded that the technology state-of-art was adequate to establish cost-effective SSP systems.

By 2050, even if we use every available energy resource we have, clean and dirty, conventional and alternative, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil, and gas, the world will fall short of the energy we need by 66%. There is an answer. An answer for both the developed and developing countries. That is a solar energy source that is close to infinite, an energy source that produces no carbon emissions, an energy source that can reach the most distant villages of the world, and an energy source that can turn countries into net energy exporters.

I am convinced that harvesting solar power in space can bring India and United States of America together in whole new ways. And I am certain that harvesting solar power in space can upgrade the living standard of the human race. Hence, the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative, to benefit the world community.

APJ Abdul Kalam
New Delhi
27th October, 2010

For more information see the paper KALAM-NATIONAL SPACE SOCIETY ENERGY TECHNOLOGY UNIVERSAL INITIATIVE: An International Preliminary Feasibility Study on Space Based Solar Power Stations.

Webcast of Kalam-NSS Energy Inititative Press Conference

A video of the press conference on the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative is available at the following URL:

http://www.nss.org/news/releases/pc20101104.html

The Press Kit regarding the NSS-Kalam Energy Initiative is also available.

The press conference was also covered in a story by Aviation Week.