National Space Society Encourages Virgin Galactic to Press On

The National Space Society (NSS) extends its support to Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites over the tragic loss of SpaceShipTwo and offers its heartfelt sympathy to the families involved and to everyone who worked on that program.

“We are extremely honored that Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides served on the NSS team as our Executive Director and we all stand by him in this time of difficulty,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “We expect that the cause of the accident will be found and fixed so that the Virgin Galactic dream of ‘opening space to tens of thousands of people’ can become a reality.”

NSS encourages Virgin Galactic to continue moving forward. NSS has been a consistent supporter of private efforts to develop space commercially, including both orbital and sub-orbital tourism. Economic returns from spaceflight are necessary for humanity’s long-term future in space.

NSS notes that fatal accidents during both the testing of aircraft and their operation were relatively common during the early days of commercial aviation, and now it has happened in commercial space flight. America was always built on the courage of those who dared to explore new frontiers. From Lewis and Clark to the Apollo astronauts, great men and women have tested themselves against the frontiers of their age.

The frontier of space is far from tamed. The men and women of Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are engaged in one of the great efforts of our time: opening space for all humanity. That is a noble pursuit and we are all thankful for their work and for their sacrifice.

NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos sums up: “This is a sad moment for the space tourism industry and the families of the pilots. The Scaled Composites pilots are true heroes who risked their lives to blaze a trail to a better future for everyone.”

SPACE IS OUR FUTURE: A Campaign for Space

The National Space Society (NSS) has initiated a campaign to explain the importance and wonder of space exploration and development. To support this campaign, NSS conducted a Kickstarter project to produce a short, compelling video that explains the great things we can do in space, and why they matter. Focusing on the exciting new opportunities that are now appearing, the video includes interviews with a wide range of space proponents, from artists to astronauts, scientists to students, engineers to entrepreneurs. They all explain, in their own words, why space is important to them and to humanity, and how everyone can be involved. Their passion is evident, and typifies NSS’s commitment. The video is intended to be used with a wide range of audiences, from students to investors, civic groups and Congressional representatives, and explains why “Space Is Our Future”. The video consists of several independent segments that are shown here together in one 15-minute video.

National Space Society Leaders Have Their Say

NSS Senior Vice President and Senior Operating Officer Bruce Pittman was featured on The Space Show on October 13, speaking for 90 minutes on the emerging commercial space industry and related topics. You can listen to the program here.

NSS Board of Directors member John Strickland had an article published in The Space Review, also on October 13: The Incredible, Expendable Mars Mission. Five years ago, NASA published its latest detailed architecture for human missions to Mars. Strickland’s article explores that architecture and discusses several ways it could be improved to make it more robust and less expensive.

Sierra Nevada Corporation Developing Dream Chaser Version for Stratolaunch

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has announced a design for an integrated system for human spaceflight that can be launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) using Stratolaunch System’s air launch architecture and a scale version of SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft.

The Dream Chaser is a reusable, lifting-body spacecraft capable of crewed or autonomous flight. Dream Chaser is the only lifting-body spacecraft capable of a runway landing, anywhere in the world. Stratolaunch Systems is a Paul G. Allen project dedicated to developing an air-launch system that will revolutionize space transportation by providing orbital access to space at lower costs, with greater safety and more flexibility.

As designed, the Dream Chaser-Stratolauncher human spaceflight system can carry a crew of three astronauts to LEO destinations. This versatile system can also be tailored for un-crewed space missions, including science missions, light cargo transportation or suborbital point-to-point transportation. The scaled crewed spacecraft design is based on SNC’s full-scale Dream Chaser vehicle which, for the past four years, has undergone development and flight tests as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Chuck Beames, president, Vulcan Aerospace Corp and executive director for Stratolaunch Systems said, “Combining a scaled version of SNC’s Dream Chaser with the Stratolaunch air launch system could provide a highly responsive capability with the potential to reach a variety of LEO destinations and return astronauts or payloads to a U.S. runway within 24 hours.”

“This relationship would expand our portfolio to include the highly flexible Stratolaunch system for launching reusable crewed or uncrewed spacecraft, or for rapid satellite constellation deployment,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems.

In addition to supporting development of human spaceflight capability, SNC studied satellite launch options and mechanisms, as well as point-to-point transportation options using the Stratolaunch launch system with a Dream Chaser spacecraft derivative. The Stratolaunch system is uniquely designed to allow for maximum operational flexibility and payload delivery from several possible operational sites, while minimizing mission constraints such as range availability and weather.

Baen Memorial Contest Opens

Baen Books has opened the 2015 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award contest. Co-sponsored by the National Space Society, the contest focuses on stories of near-future space exploration. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2015.

The grand prize includes publication on the Baen website at professional rates, an engraved award, an assortment of Baen books, free admission to the 2015 International Space Development Conference, a year’s membership in the National Space Society, and National Space Society merchandise. The winners will be honored at the 2015 International Space Development Conference in Toronto, Canada, May 20-24, 2015.

Eligibility requirements and more information.