NSS Executive Committee Chair Quoted on Fox News

In an online article about Deep Space Industries, the newly announced asteroid mining company, Fox News quoted NSS Executive Committee Chair Mark Hopkins as follows:

“They have the potential to make an enormous amount of money,” Mark Hopkins, a founding member of the Space Development Steering Committee and the Chair of the Exec. Committee of the National Space Society, told FoxNews.com.

“It’s a risky venture. But if they don’t make it some other company is likely to do it in the future,” Hopkins said. “[Space mining] has the potential of restoring the American dream in the minds of Americans and the rest of the world.”

Hopkins is a former Rand Corporation economist.

See full Fox News article.

In Memoriam – Dr. David Fischer, NSS Blog Editor

It is with deep sadness that we announce the untimely death of our Blog Editor, Dr. David Fischer. NSS Director Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto has written the following in Dave Fischer’s memory:

The Renaissance Man
By Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto

The true definition of a “Renaissance Man” is that of an individual whose expertise spans a number of significant disciplines. For Dr. David Fischer of the National Space Society, this was indeed the case. He exemplified the meaning that of a “Gentleman and a Scholar.” On January 19, 2013, after holding an NSS Phoenix Chapter meeting, David taught his Tai Chi class and was on his way home. Only six blocks away from home, David was in a fatal car crash.

David was the principal blogger for the National Space Society as well as the acting Chapter President for the Phoenix Chapter of NSS. He was also their prized Webmaster. With over 1,000 website hits weekly, the Phoenix Chapter had a global presence promoting human space exploration and settlement. He was Senior Business Analyst for the Industry Relations group at Money Management International, a non-profit consumer debt management company. He was in the Consumer Credit Counseling world since 1996. Prior to that he was MIS Director for Alphagraphics. He earned his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry at The Ohio State University in 1974.

David had a serious passion for human space exploration and settlement and often gave talks within the Phoenix region. It is said that his special interests were his 3-year old granddaughter, science fiction, and travel with his wife Marty.

Here are a few statements from the Phoenix Chapter members of the National Space Society:

“Dave Fischer was instrumental in solidifying the NSS chapter in Phoenix in recent years. He secured a free, well-equipped meeting place for the chapter and did a wonderful job in establishing a great local blog and getting the word out on our local meetings and events. He and his wife Marti hosted several holiday parties for the club and his graciousness, organizational skills, and friendship will be missed.” – Michael Mackowski, Phoenix Chapter Member

“I have attended many conferences with David. He had such a passion for space exploration and science. I will miss our talks during these times. It gives me great pleasure to know that he is traveling thru the universe with Neil and Sally.” – Phoenix Chapter Member Stacy Sklar

“The first time I remember meeting Dave was at one of our NSS Phoenix Chapter meetings over at the ASU library. I don’t recall the topics we discussed but I do remember that when Dave spoke of Space exploration or rocketry you got the sense from his deep knowledge that he’d actually been to Space or helped to build rockets. Dave in a few words was, a very intelligent, loving, and passionate man! He will be dearly missed. While I don’t know where he is I do know it’s a place I’d like to end up. Godspeed Dave!” – Phoenix Chapter Treasurer Patrick Lonchar

“David Fischer was dynamic space activist, generous with his time and very informed about space development and exploration. He attended one of our meetings in Tucson about a year and a half ago and gave a terrific presentation on the status of both privately and publicly funded space developement. After the presentation he fielded numerous questions, and we were all impressed with his graciousness and high level of knowledge. He will be dearly missed.” – Al Anzaldua. Chapter President, Tucson L5 Space Society

“A friend of many, Dr. Dave will be missed by those inside the pro-space community and by others in Phoenix not just because of his good works but because of his warmth as a human being.” – Phoenix Chapter Member Greg Rucker

“I will miss you Dave. I know I still owe the Chapter a lecture so I will do that in your honor. You have done so much for the Chapter and for me. Are you somewhere between Mars and Jupiter? Only the Universe knows. God Speed, for your journey has just only begun.” – NSS At-Large Director / Phoenix Chapter Member Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto

A clip of David accepting the National Space Society Excellence in Public Outreach award for the Phoenix Chapter of NSS can be found at the 9 minute mark of the 2011 Awards Ceremony video. Special appreciation goes out to Alvin Remmers from moonandback.com, who filmed the NSS Awards Ceremony.

National Space Society Launches “Our Future in Space” Kickstarter Campaign

The National Space Society (NSS) has just launched a campaign on the popular Kickstarter internet platform for the creation of a cutting-edge film about the ways in which all of humanity benefits from the expansion of space exploration and development. This ground-breaking education initiative, entitled “Our Future in Space” is designed to bring NSS’s vision of human beings living and working in space to a broader audience.

The campaign can be accessed at our Kickstarter web page. It not only provides an opportunity to help fund and support the film’s development, but also to use the completed video to help promote the Society’s mission.

“We’re very excited to be undertaking this video project,” noted Paul E. Damphousse, NSS Executive Director. “It’s a chance to create media that accurately and compellingly conveys why the space industry is so important for the U.S. and the world.”

NSS has gathered a stellar team of creative experts to bring the video to life, including Oscar-nominated producer Jeffrey Marvin. Members of the team have worked with some of the biggest stars in film and TV in both the U.S. and Europe, and have a history of space-themed movie creation.

At a time when so many are uncertain about our space future, “Our Future in Space” will show how the work of NASA and private industry can lead to a more prosperous future for the United States and the world. Drawing from decades of research and the latest film-making technology, the final product will present a compelling and motivating glimpse of what should be.

Here are the steps you can take to support this campaign:

1. Become a “Backer” — visit the Kickstarter web page to pledge your support;

2. Spread the Word through Social Media — share your support across all of your social media accounts;

3. Email Everyone on Your Contact List — ask everyone you know to participate; and

4. Engage Your NSS Chapter and/or Other Organizations — there’s strength in numbers — bring in group support.

Note that this shorter URL can also be used to access the NSS Kickstarter web page:

tinyurl.com/nsskickstart

We have the potential to reach thousands of new people through this campaign and the successful production and distribution of this film. We know we can count on you to help and we thank you for your support in making “Our Future in Space” a reality!

Deep Space Industries Promotional Video

Deep Space Industries believes the human race is ready to begin harvesting the resources of space both for their use in space and to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people of planet Earth.

See also the Deep Space Industries full press release and full press conference on the NSS Blog below.

Deep Space Industries offers competition for Planetary Resources in mining asteroids

Deep Space Industries announced January 22 that it will send a fleet of asteroid-prospecting spacecraft out into the solar system to hunt for resources to accelerate space development to benefit Earth. These “FireFly” spacecraft utilize low-cost cubesat components and get discounted delivery to space by ride-sharing on the launch of larger communications satellites.

“This is the first commercial campaign to explore the small asteroids that pass by Earth,” said Deep Space Chairman Rick Tumlinson (who signed up the world’s first space tourist, led the team that took over the Mir space station, was a Founding Trustee of the X Prize, and Founded Orbital Outfitters, the world’s first commercial space suit company.) “Using low cost technologies, and combining the legacy of our space program with the innovation of today’s young high tech geniuses, we will do things that would have been impossible just a few years ago.”

FireFlies mass about 55 lbs. (25 kg) and will first be launched in 2015 on journeys of two to six months. Deep Space will be building a small fleet of the spacecraft using innovative miniature technologies, and working with NASA and other companies and groups to identify targets of opportunity.

“My smartphone has more computing power than they had on the Apollo Moon missions,” said Tumlinson. “We can make amazing machines smaller, cheaper, and faster than ever before. Imagine a production line of FireFlies, cocked and loaded and ready to fly out to examine any object that gets near the Earth.”

Starting in 2016, Deep Space will begin launching 70-lb DragonFlies for round-trip visits that bring back samples. The DragonFly expeditions will take two to four years, depending on the target, and will return 60 to 150 lbs. Deep Space believes that combining science, prospecting and sponsorship will be a win/win for everyone, both lowering costs for exploration and enabling the public to join the adventure.

“The public will participate in FireFly and DragonFly missions via live feeds from Mission Control, online courses in asteroid mining sponsored by corporate marketers, and other innovative ways to open the doors wide,” said CEO David Gump. His earlier ventures include producing the first TV commercial shot on the International Space Station for RadioShack, co-founding Transformational Space Corp. (t/Space) and Astrobotic Technology Inc. “The Google Lunar X Prize, Unilever, and Red Bull each are spending tens of millions of dollars on space sponsorships, so the opportunity to sponsor a FireFly expedition into deep space will be enticing.”

Bringing back asteroid materials is only a step on the way to much bigger things for DSI. The company has a patent-pending technology called the MicroGravity Foundry to transform raw asteroid material into complex metal parts. The MicroGravity Foundry is a 3D printer that uses lasers to draw patterns in a nickel-charged gas medium, causing the nickel to be deposited in precise patterns.

“The MicroGravity Foundry is the first 3D printer that creates high-density high-strength metal components even in zero gravity,” said Stephen Covey, a co-Founder of DSI and inventor of the process. “Other metal 3D printers sinter powdered metal, which requires a gravity field and leaves a porous structure, or they use low-melting point metals with less strength.”

Senior leaders at NASA have been briefed on DSI’s technologies, which would make eventual crewed Mars expeditions less expensive through the use of asteroid-derived propellant. Missions would require fewer launches if the fuel to reach Mars were added in space from the volatiles in asteroids. Mars missions also would be safer with a MicroGravity Foundry on board to print replacements for broken parts, or to create brand new parts invented after the expedition was on its way to the Red Planet.

“Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development,” said Gump. “More than 900 new asteroids that pass near Earth are discovered every year. They can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century – a key resource located near where it was needed. In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century. That is our strategy.”

For example, a large market for DSI is producing fuel for communications satellites. Low-cost asteroid propellant delivered in orbit to commsats will extend their working lifetimes, with each extra month worth $5 million to $8 million per satellite. DSI has executed a non-disclosure agreement with an aerospace company to discuss collaboration on this opportunity.

In a decade, Deep Space will be harvesting asteroids for metals and other building materials, to construct large communications platforms to replace communications satellites, and later solar power stations to beam carbon-free energy to consumers on Earth. As DSI refines asteroids for in-space markets, it also will harvest platinum group metals for terrestrial uses, such as pollution control devices.

“Mining asteroids for rare metals alone isn’t economical, but makes senses if you already are processing them for volatiles and bulk metals for in-space uses,” said Mark Sonter, a member of the DSI Board of Directors. Mr. Sonter combines experience in planning, permitting, and management of large and complex terrestrial mining projects with funded research into the development of asteroid resources. “Turning asteroids into propellant and building materials damages no ecospheres since they are lifeless rocks left over from the formation of the solar system. Several hundred thousand that cross near Earth are available.”

Asteroids that fall to Earth are meteorites, and the Deep Space team includes Geoffrey Notkin, star of the international hit television series Meteorite Men about hunting for them. Notkin has unparalleled expertise in the diversity and market value of these elusive rocks, which are transformed by intense heat during their plunge to the surface. By contrast, the initial asteroid samples to be brought back by Deep Space will have their original in-space composition and structure preserved, creating exceedingly rare specimens for sale to the research and collectors markets.

Deep Space is looking for customers and sponsors who want to be a part of creating this new space economy. The company believes that taking the long view, while creating value, opportunities and products in the near term will allow it to become one of the economic engines that opens space to humanity. By getting under way and taking calculated risks, while developing basic industrial technologies, DSI will be well positioned over time to supply the basic needs of life in space. Taking the idea of socially minded companies to a new level, DSI is literally reaching for the stars.

“We will only be visitors in space until we learn how to live off the land there,” concluded Tumlinson. “This is the Deep Space mission – to find, harvest and process the resources of space to help save our civilization and support the expansion of humanity beyond the Earth – and doing so in a step by step manner that leverages off our space legacy to create an amazing and hopeful future for humanity. We are squarely focused on giving new generations the opportunity to change not only this world, but all the worlds of tomorrow. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?”

NASA to Test Bigelow Expandable Module on Space Station

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced January 16 a newly planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology. NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year technology demonstration.

“Today we’re demonstrating progress on a technology that will advance important long-duration human spaceflight goals,” Garver said. “NASA’s partnership with Bigelow opens a new chapter in our continuing work to bring the innovation of industry to space, heralding cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably.”

The BEAM is scheduled to launch aboard the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the station contracted by NASA, currently planned for 2015. Following the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft carrying the BEAM to the station, astronauts will use the station’s robotic arm to install the module on the aft port of the Tranquility node.

After the module is berthed to the Tranquility node, the station crew will activate a pressurization system to expand the structure to its full size using air stored within the packed module. See animation below.

During the two-year test period, station crew members and ground-based engineers will gather performance data on the module, including its structural integrity and leak rate. An assortment of instruments embedded within module also will provide important insights on its response to the space environment. This includes radiation and temperature changes compared with traditional aluminum modules.

“The International Space Station is a uniquely suited test bed to demonstrate innovative exploration technologies like the BEAM,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “As we venture deeper into space on the path to Mars, habitats that allow for long-duration stays in space will be a critical capability. Using the station’s resources, we’ll learn how humans can work effectively with this technology in space, as we continue to advance our understanding in all aspects for long-duration spaceflight aboard the orbiting laboratory.”

Astronauts periodically will enter the module to gather performance data and perform inspections. Following the test period, the module will be jettisoned from the station, burning up on re-entry.

Space Coast NSS Chapter Changes Name to Florida Space Development Council

The Florida Space Coast Chapter of the National Space Society (NSS) has changed its name to the Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) to better reflect the group’s focus on assisting the development of a robust space-related economy in the state. FSDC will remain an active chapter of NSS, working with other Florida chapters to support the NSS mission to promote social, economic, technological, and political change in order to expand civilization beyond Earth.

“Florida is a major ‘space state’ and deserves an active and influential NSS chapter to provide grassroots advocacy,” said NSS Executive Director Paul E. Damphousse. “The Florida Space Development Council can provide support to reinforce the already-substantial efforts of Space Florida and other organizations in the state.”

The newly renamed chapter will continue to sponsor bi-monthly membership meetings, featuring ‘Space Locals’ discussions with featured aerospace professionals and project managers. FSDC members will also develop and provide advocacy for a slate of policy priorities intended to promote the growth of space-related business, academic, and government programs at the state and federal level.

“With an annual membership rate of only five dollars, we want to broaden participation in FSDC beyond our existing NSS chapter members,” said FSDC President Laura Seward. “FSDC will offer new networking opportunities and provide a grassroots voice to more Floridians on space-related policies and programs.”

As part of the chapter’s re-branding effort, FSDC has also unveiled a new website that features a statewide calendar of space-related events and a library of documents relevant to the state’s development of space policy and programs.

NSS Executive Director Paul Damphousse appears on The Space Show

Paul Damphousse, Executive Director of the National Space Society, was interviewed on The Space Show on January 6, 2013. The program is archived here — click on “Listen to the Show” or download it for later listening.

Lt. Col. Damphouse will also give a presentation for the Florida Space Institute Distinguished Lecture Series on February 12. More information.