Announcing the 2012 Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest

The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest has been co-sponsored by NSS and Baen Books since 2007. Science fiction writers who create positive stories about man’s future in space are rewarded with professional publication, NSS membership and an award presented each year at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC). These winning entries aren’t pulp tales about galactic empires or alien abductions, but serious near future stories about the sacrifice, heroics, adventure and discovery that will no doubt come hand in hand with our expansion into the solar system.

Submissions are accepted now through Feb.1, 2012, with winners announced no later than March 15, 2012. Grand Prize will be awarded at the 2012 ISDC in Washington D.C., May 24-28, 2012. Please visit the contest website for the full guidelines before sending an entry and please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.

Join NSS at the Women & Mars Conference

The National Space Society is a co-sponsor of the Women and Mars Conference presented by Explore Mars in partnership with NASA and the Space Policy Institute on November 9-10, 2011 at the Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University.

Registration and Conference Agenda at:

Use NSS Discount Code: WomenandMars-NSS

In addition, they have arranged a tour of the Lockheed Martin Space Experience Center in Crystal City, VA on November 8 at 6pm. This tour has a limited capacity. If you are registered for the Women and Mars Conference and would like to attend this tour, please RSVP at

For additional conference information, including hotel rates, please visit:

SPS-ALPHA: The First Practical Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program has issued a grant to John Mankins of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions for a study of space solar power. SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array) is a novel, bio-mimetic approach to the challenge of space solar power. If successful, this project will make possible the construction of huge platforms from tens of thousands of small elements that can deliver remotely and affordably 10s to 1000s of megawatts using wireless power transmission to markets on Earth and missions in space. The selected NIAC project will enlist the support of a world-class international team to determine the conceptual feasiblity of the SPS-ALPHA by means of integrated systems analyses, supported by selected “proof-of-concept” technology experiments.

Nasa To Seek Applicants For Next Astronaut Candidate Class

HOUSTON — In early November, NASA will seek applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates who will support long-duration missions to the International Space Station and future deep space exploration activities.

“For scientists, engineers and other professionals who have always dreamed of experiencing spaceflight, this is an exciting time to join the astronaut corps,” said Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This next class will support missions to the station and will arrive via transportation systems now in development. They also will have the opportunity to participate in NASA’s continuing exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit.”

A bachelor’s degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required in order to be considered. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet-aircraft.

After applicant interviews and evaluations, NASA expects to announce the final selections in 2013, and training to begin that August.

Additional information about the Astronaut Candidate Program is available by calling the Astronaut Selection Office at 281-483-5907 or by visiting

ALMA: Atacama Large Millimeter Array

Humanity’s most complex ground-based astronomy observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), has officially opened for astronomers at its 16,500-feet elevation site in northern Chile.

Detailed views of star-formation in the Antennae Galaxies are the first astronomical test images released to the public from ALMA, confirming that this new telescope has surpassed all others of its kind.

“We chose the impressive interacting system called the Antennae galaxies as a test subject,” said Dr. Alison Peck, an astronomer from the NRAO who is serving in Chile as ALMA Deputy Project Scientist during its years of careful construction and rigorous testing, “because it is in the process of undergoing the type of spectacular, violent merger that many galaxies may have undergone since their formation, but that we can rarely catch in action.”

This image is a composite of views of the Antennae taken with several different types of telescopes, including test data from ALMA (orange and yellow, and shown alone in the inset). Like the view from an ultrasound of an expectant mother’s womb, ALMA reveals hidden starbirth nestled inside otherwise obscuring dust clouds.

“ALMA’s test views of the Antennae show us star-forming regions on a level of detail that no other telescope on Earth or in space has attained. This capability can only get much better as ALMA nears completion,” said Dr. Mark McKinnon, North American ALMA Project Manager from the NRAO in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The photo above is a multiwavelength composite of interacting galaxies NGC 4038/4039, the Antennae, showing VLA radio (blues), past and recent starbirths in HST and CTIO optical (whites and pinks), and a selection of current star-forming regions in ALMA’s mm/submm (orange and yellows) showing detail surpassing all other views in these wavelengths.

Below is a 6-minute video about ALMA.
More information about ALMA.