NSS and Explore Mars announce September 12th Congressional Space Blitz

The National Space Society (NSS) and Explore Mars will be conducting the “We Choose to Explore Space” Congressional Blitz on September 12, 2012 — the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s iconic “We choose to go to the Moon” speech.

According to NSS Executive Director, Paul Damphousse, “Our nation’s space program is at a crossroads in these difficult economic times. We can think of no more fitting date for our members to have their voices heard on Capitol Hill than on the upcoming anniversary of President Kennedy’s famous speech — a momentous call to action which set the United States on a path to the Moon.”

Participants in this legislative outreach event will talk to key congressional offices about strategies for advancing our space program.

“This blitz will take place a little more than a month after the scheduled landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars,” commented Explore Mars Executive Director, Chris Carberry. “We hope that the Curiosity mission and other exciting and important developments in the space sector will lead to bi-partisan support in Congress for a sustainable and goal oriented space program.”

If you are interested in participating in the We Choose to Explore Space Blitz, please contact Rick Zucker at rick.zucker@nss.org. Otherwise, we hope that you will reach out to your members of Congress in other ways, to let them know that there is strong constituent support for an ambitious and well-funded space program.

NSS Mourns Sally Ride – First American Woman Astronaut

The National Space Society (NSS) mourns the death of Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut and, at the time of her first flight, the youngest as well. Ride passed away on Monday, July 23 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

“Sally Ride was an extraordinary woman who spent almost her entire life as a role model to women and girls desiring to pursue careers in space and other STEM fields,” said Paul E. Damphousse, Executive Director of NSS. “She was an inspiration to many of us, men and women alike, desiring to open up the space frontier for exploration and settlement and her dedication and enthusiasm will be sorely missed by the entire space community.”

Ms. Ride was selected as one of the first five women in the astronaut corps in 1978 and her historic first flight into space took place on June 18, 1983 on board Challenger for the STS-7 mission, which deployed two communications satellites and conducted several scientific experiments. She returned to space as a member of STS-41G in 1984. A third mission for which she had been selected was cancelled after the Challenger accident in 1986. Sally Ride was the only person who served on the investigative commissions for both the Challenger and Columbia accidents.

“I remembered watching her launch with pride, and I had read and remembered her work on the Challenger commission when I met her,” said NSS Board of Governors member and CEO of XCOR Aerospace, Jeff Greason. “It was a privilege to work with her on the Augustine Committee. Her passion for education was clear and it was the subject she would turn to whenever we had a free moment. I am surprised and saddened to hear of her death.”

After a short tenure at NASA Headquarters as a special assistant to the NASA administrator for long-range and strategic planning, Ms. Ride became a highly respected physics professor at the University of California in San Diego in 1989. She founded Sally Ride Science in 2001, to pursue her long-time passion of motivating girls and young women to pursue careers in science, math and technology.

Ride was soft-spoken and not a fan of being in the limelight, although she executed her role as the first American female astronaut with grace and style. She also faced her illness in the same way, sharing it with few and spending her last days peacefully at home. We hope she is now soaring freely among the stars….

Sally Kristen Ride, 1951 – 2012

Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.

Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.

Sally’s historic flight into space captured the nation’s imagination and made her a household name. She became a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers and a hero to generations of adventurous young girls. After retiring from NASA, Sally used her high profile to champion a cause she believed in passionately—inspiring young people, especially girls, to stick with their interest in science, to become scientifically literate, and to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering.

In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.

More information at www.sallyridescience.com.

Texas Space Alliance Brings Together Texas Governor and Private Space Leaders

Groundbreaking meeting brings Texas closer to becoming Gateway to the Stars!

The Texas Space Alliance (TXA) and the office of the Speaker of the Texas House are pleased to announce the meeting in Austin between Governor Rick Perry and numerous representatives of the nation’s top new commercial space firms. The TXA team brought together representatives from SpaceX, XCOR Aerospace, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), Armadillo Aerospace, NanoRacks, Celestis, and ATK Liberty to talk about the needs of Commercial Space, and what Texas can do to fully embrace and nurture this vital, fledgling new industry.

“We’ll defer to historians on where this goes in the books, but this is the first time ever that representatives from so many commercial (NewSpace) firms have gathered in one place to share their support for our shared vision for the future of Texas in space, and communicate that to the Governor,” said Bob Lancaster, TXA President. “Definitely a significant milestone in the history of Texas.”

Over the past year the TXA, members of the legislature, and the Governor’s staff have begun to forge a new set of partnerships, between federal, state and local governments and those who are ready to step up in the private sector – with the shared goal of lowering costs, creating wealth and jobs and re-casting how Texas “does space”. In the last legislative session TXA partnered with Blue Origin and helped pass a landmark tort reform bill as a first step in this journey. Meanwhile, the Governor’s staff has been working to bring new space firms to Texas and open new facilities here including spaceports. In the next legislative session TXA will build on the steps already taken and the hard work performed by the Governor and his staff to create the tools and find the funds needed to transform Texas into not only the leading “Space State” in America, but a leader in the world.

TXA’s Director of Policy and Government Relations Wayne Rast commented: “This is a meeting that our organization has long sought, and we are very pleased to be able to announce it today as the formal kick-off of our ‘Space for Texas’ campaign. We appreciate both the Governor and the Space business leaders that brought it to fruition, and who share our vision that our Great State can be the leader in Commercial Space. We hope this is the first of many meetings that lead to a thriving space industry and community in our state. Certainly after today it has been made emphatically clear that ‘Texas is Open for Space Business!'”

From the current Texas NewSpace companies; Armadillo, NanoRacks, Celestis, SNC, and ATK, to the recent SpaceX interest to expand from their McGregor engine test site to a possible launch site near Brownsville and last week’s announcement by XCOR that they are moving their R&D to Midland, it is clear commercial space efforts in Texas are on the uptick as these companies see what Texas has to offer. The TXA intends to serve as a catalyst to facilitate and accelerate this process.

TXA’s Rick Tumlinson concluded: “We can make Texas the best state possible for space activities; commercial, educational, and scientific. The future looks bright! New jobs, new breakthroughs and new inspiration for the youth of Texas lie just ahead – and yes, someday we believe there will be rocketships flying from the Lone Star to Mars!”

Spurring Economic Growth and Competitiveness Through NASA Derived Technologies

(Washington, DC) — On July 12 the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a hearing entitled, “Spurring Economic Growth and Competitiveness through NASA Derived Technologies.” The purpose of the hearing was to highlight the direct economic and societal benefits that investment in NASA has generated and to examine how best to ensure that continued investments will maintain a pipeline for future economic growth. Testifying before the Subcommittee were Dr. Mason Peck, Chief Technologist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Mr. George Beck, Chief Clinical and Technology Officer at Impact Instrumentation, Inc.; Mr. Brian Russell, Chief Executive Officer of Zephyr Technology; Mr. John Vilja, Vice President for Strategy, Innovation and Growth at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne; and Dr. Richard Aubrecht, Vice President at Moog Inc.

The technical challenges of NASA’s space exploration, space science, and aeronautics missions have necessitated the development of unique skills and capabilities and required significant technological advances. These advances have contributed directly and indirectly to America’s economic strength, capacity for innovation, and global competitiveness by permeating our everyday lives in ways that are not readily apparent to all Americans.

“This hearing serves as an opportunity to remind the public on the connection between the federal government’s investments in space and the benefits to society,” said Ranking Member Jerry F. Costello (D-IL) in his prepared statement. “These contributions developed important products, such as satellite radio, medical diagnostics and aeronautical advances that have improved the safety, and fuel-efficiency performance of both commercial and military aircraft. In carrying out its missions and developing these technologies, NASA also has inspired young people to enter educational and career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

In addition, NASA investments have helped fuel the innovation economy by expanding the knowledge base of scientists and engineers who are building the technologies of the future. “Knowledge provided by weather and navigational spacecraft, efficiency improvements in both ground and air transportation, super computers, solar- and wind-generated energy, the cameras found in many of today’s cell phones, improved biomedical applications including advanced medical imaging and even more nutritious infant formula, as well as the protective gear that keeps our military, firefighters and police safe, have all benefitted from our nation’s investments in aerospace technology,” stated Dr. Peck.

Industry also benefits from continued investments in NASA, applying the knowledge used to create new technologies and the derivative technologies themselves to create new commercial opportunities. “NASA has played a very significant role in the development of leading edge technologies,” said Dr. Aubrecht. “These core technologies and knowledge have enabled much economic growth in the USA, not only in aerospace industries but in many other sectors of the economy who benefit from the new technologies. The model of NASA investing in really hard problems and challenging American companies has enabled the development of many core, pre-competitive technologies. This model is an example of where a Federal investment in technology development has an enormous impact on the overall economy.”

Focusing on how NASA could expand partnerships, such as that between the agency and General Motors, which resulted in such innovative technologies as the robotic glove, Rep. Clarke (D-MI) urged NASA to seek opportunities to partner with small businesses, academic institutions, and economic development organizations. Congressman Clarke also questioned witnesses on how start-up companies might engage with NASA. “There are many start-up companies in Detroit, Michigan that are eager to partner with NASA to create jobs,” stated Congressman Clarke. “I look forward to working with NASA to facilitate that collaboration and spur economic growth in metro Detroit.”

Coalition for Space Exploration "Why Explore Space?" Video Contest Winners

The Coalition for Space Exploration has chosen the grand prize winner and runner up videos in its “Why Explore Space” video contest. Each video is two minutes long.

Dreams of Space by Raymond Bell

The Economics of Exploring Space by Garry Livesay

Virgin Galactic Unveils LauncherOne

Virgin Galactic Unveils LauncherOne to Deliver 225 KG Orbit for $10 MIllion
Image Credit: Virgin Galactic

In an announcement today at the Farnborough International Air Show, Virgin Galactic revealed it is partnering with a privately funded satellite launcher to build a two stage air launched rocket capable of placing 225 kilograms into orbit for around $10 Million dollars.

Skybox Imaging announced it has raised $91 million for a high resolution imaging system, which will use LauncherOne.

GeoOptics Inc. is developing a constellation of remote sensing satellites to be orbited by Virgin Galactic.

Spaceflight Inc. and Planetary Resources also plan to use LauncherOne.

Also, Surrey Satellite Technology and Sierra Nevada Space Systems, announced that they would create optimized satellite designs to match LauncherOne’s performance specifications.

More Videos from the International Space Development Conference

The following presentations from the 2012 NSS International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC, are now available on the NSS website.

Jim Muncy Jim Muncy, Government Relations Consultant at XCOR. 64 minute video.
Alexandra Hall Alexandra Hall, Senior Director, Google Lunar X Prize. 44 minute video.
Rick Tumlinson Rick Tumlinson, Founder of Earthlight Institute. 52 minute video.
NSS Awards NSS 25th Anniversary Awards Presentations. 2 videos, 2 hours total.
Paul E. Damphousse Conference Wrap-Up: Paul E. Damphousse, NSS Executive Director. 52 minute video.