Some Additional Reaction to Neil Armstrong's Death

From Hugh Downs, Chairman of the NSS Board of Governors: “News of Neil Armstrong’s passing is so shocking that there is no way it can be absorbed right away as reality. His position in history is deeper than that of any known discoverer or explorer in the history of  this planet. As the first human to land on any world outside the Earth, and probably the first living creature of any sort to come from the Earth and reach the Moon, his legacy will be safe as long as intelligent life survives in this corner of the cosmos.”

From Paul E. Damphousse, NSS Executive Director: “Humanity will one day become a truly space-faring species and millions of people will venture beyond the Earth. But Neil Armstrong will always be the first among us to set foot on another world. Today we mark his passing and celebrate his place in history. He was one of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand, and we will honor his legacy by continuing our efforts to move humanity into the cosmos.”

From Buzz Aldrin, fellow Apollo 11 Astronaut and member of the NSS Board of Governors: “I am deeply saddened by the passing of my good friend, and space exploration companion, Neil Armstrong today. As Neil, Mike Collins and I trained together for our historic Apollo 11 Mission, we understood the many technical challenges we faced, as well as the importance and profound implications of this historic journey. We will now always be connected as the crew of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, yet for the many millions who witnessed that remarkable achievement for humankind, we were not alone.

“Whenever I look at the Moon I am reminded of that precious moment, over four decades ago, when Neil and I stood on the desolate, barren, yet beautiful, Sea of Tranquility, looking back at our brilliant blue planet Earth suspended in the darkness of space, I realized that even though we were farther away from Earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone. Virtually the entire world took that memorable journey with us. I know I am joined by many millions of others from around the world in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. My friend Neil took the small step but giant leap that changed the world and will forever be remembered as a historic moment in human history.”

From Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Carol and the rest of Armstrong family on the passing of Neil Armstrong. As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own.

“Besides being one of America’s greatest explorers, Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all. When President Kennedy challenged the nation to send a human to the Moon, Neil Armstrong accepted without reservation. As we enter this next era of space exploration, we do so standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut and true American hero.”

Family Statement Regarding the Death of Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong died today at the age of 82. His family released the following statement:

We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the Moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

Suborbital Reusable Vehicles: A 10-Year Forecast of Market Demand

A new 102-page study “Suborbital Reusable Vehicles: A 10-Year Forecast of Market Demand” is now available in the NSS website Space Transportation section as a 10 MB PDF file.

Suborbital reusable vehicles (SRVs) are creating a new spaceflight industry. SRVs are commercially developed reusable space vehicles that may carry humans or cargo. The companies developing these vehicles typically target high flight rates and relatively low costs. SRVs capable of carrying humans are in development and planned for operations in the next few years. SRVs that carry cargo are operational now, with more planned.

This study forecasts 10-year demand for SRVs. The goal of this study is to provide information for government and industry decision makers on the emerging SRV market by analyzing dynamics, trends, and areas of uncertainty in eight distinct markets SRVs could address. This study was jointly funded by the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) and Space Florida, and conducted by The Tauri Group.

Eleven SRVs are currently in active planning, development, or operation, by six companies. The payload capacity of these SRVs ranges from tens of kilograms to hundreds, with the largest currently planned vehicle capacity at about 700 kilograms. A number of SRVs can carry humans, with current designs for one to six passengers, in addition to one or two crew members in some cases. Some will also launch very small satellites.

The study concludes that demand for suborbital flights is sustained and appears sufficient to support multiple providers. Total baseline demand over 10 years exceeds $600 million in SRV flight revenue, supporting daily flight activity. The baseline reflects predictable demand based on current trends and consumer interest. In the growth scenario, reflecting increased marketing, demonstrated research successes, increasing awareness, and greater consumer uptake, multiple flights per day generate $1.6 billion in revenue over 10 years. In a constrained scenario, where consumer and enterprise spending drop relative to today’s trends, multiple weekly flights generate about $300 million over 10 years. Further potential could be realized through price reductions and unpredictable achievements such as major research discoveries, the identification of new commercial applications, the emergence of global brand value, and new government (especially military) uses for SRVs.

Earth Illuminated: ISS Time-lapse Photography

We recommend switching to HD full screen for this video if your bandwidth allows.

From high above the Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) provides a unique vantage point to view our home planet. Stunning time-lapse photography of cities, aurora, lightning and other sights are seen from orbit. Famed astronomer Galileo imagined these views from space and now through the technological marvel of the space station, we can see them for ourselves. For more time-lapse imagery, visit the NASA website:
From here, NASA invites you to download videos or stills to enjoy or perhaps even create an ISS time-lapse video production of your own.

Seeking Your Input on NASA’s Plans, Programs and Priorities

Here’s your opportunity to contribute to the future direction of NASA’s plans, programs and priorities, in a study directed by Congress and led by the National Academies. This is your space program and your future. What do you have to say about it?

The input form can be found here. Deadline for comments is August 17 and length is limited to 300 words.

In the FY2012 appropriations bill that funds NASA, Congress requested an independent study of NASA’s strategic direction. The study is being conducted by a committee of the National Research Council.

The study statement of task directs the committee to “recommend how NASA could establish and effectively communicate a common, unifying vision for NASA’s strategic direction that encompasses NASA’s varied missions.” Strategic direction can be thought of as the steps NASA needs to take over time to accomplish its vision and mission.

NASA’s Strategic Direction Committee is reviewing a large amount of published material, including the law that created NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, most recently amended in 2010) and NASA’s 2011 Strategic Plan, which begins with NASA’s statement of its vision and mission.

The current NASA vision is “to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown, so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind”, and its mission is to “drive advances in science, technology, and exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of Earth.” The NASA Strategic Plan also states that NASA’s current direction lays “the groundwork for a sustainable program of exploration and innovation. This new direction extends the life of the International Space Station, supports the growing commercial space industry, and addresses important scientific challenges while continuing our commitment to robust human space exploration, science, and aeronautics programs.”

The Strategic Directions Committee is listening to a wide variety of experts in aeronautics and space science and technology, space policy and programs, and communications strategy, and it wants to hear from other stakeholders, including the public, as well.

The website will be available for comments only through August 17, 2012. The response to each question is limited to 300 words so that the committee can efficiently collate and analyze your responses. The responses each person submits, along with the author’s name and institution will be available for viewing at the NASA’s Strategic Direction Committee website.

Successful Landing of Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Rover – Historic Next Step in Mars Exploration

The successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, early Monday morning marks a significant and historic achievement on the way to the eventual human exploration of Mars.

“Curiosity’s successful landing demonstrates the feasibility of delivering ever-heavier payloads to the martian surface, and paves the way for future missions to land, gather samples and return them to Earth,” said Paul E. Damphousse, NSS Executive Director. “The ongoing successes of these unmanned data-gathering missions will ultimately lead to manned Mars missions, thus bringing us ever closer to the realization of NSS’s vision – people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth and using the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.”

The MSL mission is not only about getting bigger and better equipment safely to the Martian surface. Curiosity is carrying the most technologically advanced instruments ever sent to Mars. This equipment is specifically designed to obtain samples from the rocks and soil and analyze their formation, structure and chemical composition in its onboard laboratory to determine whether the chemical building blocks of life exist and whether the Martian environment was capable of supporting life in the past.

The data gathered by Curiosity has the potential of greatly expanding our understanding of how life evolves in other planetary environments – in turn leading to increased knowledge, not only about the ability of planets outside our own solar system to sustain life, but also about what resources may be available on Mars that can be used to support and enable human exploration and settlement of it and other planets.

NSS Congratulates Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Participants

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), The Boeing Company (Boeing), and Sierra Nevada Corporation (Sierra Nevada) on their selection by NASA as Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) participants.

Through its CCiCap initiative, NASA seeks to facilitate American industry’s development of an integrated crew transportation system that includes spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground, and mission systems. Facilitating development of such a capability is intended to provide national economic benefits and support safe, reliable, and cost effective transportation to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

“With recent successes in commercial launches to Low Earth Orbit, including a successful cargo mission to the International Space Station, the United States has entered a new era in access to space,” said NSS Executive Director Paul E. Damphousse. “NSS welcomes this next round of funding, which is designed to expand those capabilities to include crewed access to LEO.”

According to the NASA announcement, the selection of SpaceX, with its Dragon space capsule, Boeing, with its CST-100 capsule, and Sierra Nevada, with its Dream Chaser space plane, will help to foster the development of a diverse portfolio of launch vehicles and spacecraft.

NSS has long championed the advancement of commercial cargo and crew programs, as the development of such capabilities will help to enable robust space operations while providing dramatic reductions in overall costs and the creation of new high-paying jobs for Americans. The CCiCap initiative, and the awarding of funding under this program, is the next phase in the public-private partnerships that are so critical to the future of the United States in space.

NASA Announces Next Steps in Effort to Launch Americans from U.S. Soil

NASA Friday announced new agreements with three American commercial companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years. Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements through the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.‬

CCiCap partners are:
— Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colo., $212.5 million
— Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Hawthorne, Calif., $440 million
— The Boeing Company, Houston, $460 million

“Today, we are announcing another critical step toward launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on space systems built by American companies,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “We have selected three companies that will help keep us on track to end the outsourcing of human spaceflight and create high-paying jobs in Florida and elsewhere across the country.”

CCiCap is an initiative of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and an administration priority. The objective of the CCP is to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low Earth orbit. After the capability is matured and expected to be available to the government and other customers, NASA could contract to purchase commercial services to meet its station crew transportation needs.

The new CCiCAP agreements follow two previous initiatives by NASA to spur the development of transportation subsystems, and represent the next phase of U.S. commercial human space transportation, in which industry partners develop crew transportation capabilities as fully integrated systems. Between now and May 31, 2014, NASA’s partners will perform tests and mature integrated designs. This would then set the stage for a future activity that will launch crewed orbital demonstration missions to low Earth orbit by the middle of the decade.

“For 50 years American industry has helped NASA push boundaries, enabling us to live, work and learn in the unique environment of microgravity and low Earth orbit,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The benefits to humanity from these endeavors are incalculable. We’re counting on the creativity of industry to provide the next generation of transportation to low Earth orbit and expand human presence, making space accessible and open for business.”

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities to low Earth orbit, the agency also is developing the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion MPCV will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

For more information about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, visit: