“We Are Going to Mars”

Boeing version:


Trailer for “Journey to Space” IMAX 3D film opening February 2015.

SpaceX version:


Silent animation of Falcon Heavy launch with booster return.

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February Legislative Blitz and March Storm

Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2015 Legislative Blitz

The National Space Society will be participating in the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2015 Legislative Blitz. During the SEA Blitz teams of up to four space advocates from various organizations visit Congressional offices in Washington, DC. NSS encourages all members to sign up for and participate in the SEA Blitz as described at www.spaceexplorationalliance.org/blitz. When registering for the SEA Blitz we request that you answer the last question by saying that you will represent NSS.

We are currently planning on holding a special dinner training session for NSS members only on the evening of Sunday, February 22nd, following the SEA training session. Dale Skran, Deputy Chair of the NSS Policy Committee will be coordinating NSS members. Please send him a short email message at dale.skran@nss.org indicating you plan to participate in the Blitz and whether you will be attending the Sunday evening NSS-only session.

SEA includes groups ranging from NSS and Explore Mars to AIAA, the Moon Society, the Mars Society, the Planetary Society, the National Society of Black Engineers, SEDS, and Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation. The major goal of the SEA Blitz from an NSS perspective will be to provide as much support for the NASA budget as possible during these difficult budgetary times. Now is the time to stand up for space and be counted.

I look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC. February 22-24, 2015.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

March Storm

If February in Washington DC is too cold for you, consider joining the March Storm Congressional action event organized by the Space Frontier Foundation March 15-19. The March Storm focuses more narrowly on space development than the SEA Blitz. You can expect topics being pushed to include a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and increased funding for commercial research on the ISS. The basic commitment is to a training session on Sunday, March 15, and to one day on the Hill on March 16th. Supporters with more time can join additional Congressional visits on March 17/18/19. If you are interested, register at joshuajenkins.wix.com/marchstorm2015 with an email to dale.skran@nss.org.

I plan on joining the MARCH STORM March 15-16th, and look forward to seeing you there.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

NSS August Home District Blitz

If you live too far from Washington to participate in the SEA 2015 Blitz or the March Storm Blitz, NSS organizes a “home district” Blitz later in the year during August when Congress is in recess and members of Congress are most probably in their home districts. This Blitz supports an agenda that is fully determined by NSS. If you are interested in participating in the home district visits please send an email to dale.skran@nss.org. This email should contain your contact information. Please indicate in the email if you are willing to act as a local visit organizer in addition to joining a visit trip. We need at least one local organizer in each state, and especially encourage multiple volunteers for larger states such as California and Texas.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

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National Space Society Applauds Milestone on the Road to Space Settlement: First Precision Return of a Falcon 9 First Stage to an Ocean Platform

The recent launch of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 5 (CRS-5) on January 10th represents a major step towards space settlement, according to the National Space Society (NSS). The Dragon capsule berthed with the International Space Station (ISS) at 5:54 am EST Monday, January 12th. This is the seventh flight of the Dragon, and the fifth of 12 contracted flights to the ISS by SpaceX.

CRS-5 marked a major step forward for SpaceX’s efforts to develop reusable rocket technology. Such technology is called for in Milestone 2 of the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap, titled “Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit” based on, among other things, “re-usable vehicles.” For the first time ever, SpaceX attempted to land a returning first stage on an ocean-going platform. The stage impacted the platform “hard” according to Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO. The ocean platform measures 300-ft by 170-ft, and achieving this level of precision on first stage return represents a significant milestone toward a reusable launcher. CRS-5 also utilized for the first time hydraulic grid fins to control the descent. Musk stated that the “grid fins worked extremely well…but ran out of hydraulic fluid right before landing.” The next Falcon 9 flight will increase the amount of hydraulic fluid by 50%, raising the chance of a successful landing that will lead to ultimate re-use of the first stage and a significant drop in the cost of flying to space.

NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman said: “We congratulate SpaceX on this significant step toward a fully re-usable first stage, and look forward to even greater success as SpaceX continues to test its re-usable vehicle technology during 2015.”

The Dragon cargo includes the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) experiment in the unpressurized Trunk section of the Dragon. CATS, a laser based imaging system, will be connected to the Japanese section of the ISS, Kibo, and will be used to study atmospheric particulates. The ability of the Dragon (and the Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus, once it returns to flight) to routinely take new experiments to the ISS, and for the Dragon to return experimental results, is critical to enabling the ISS to be used for scientific and commercial research. Over 1,662 kg (3,664 lb) of cargo is targeted for return to Earth via this Dragon capsule.

New scientific breakthroughs often result when science is done in unexplored extreme environments such as the microgravity found in space. Among the scientific experiments on CRS-5 are a study of cell regeneration in flatworms in microgravity and a study of fruit fly immune systems in space. Other CRS-5 payloads include a pair of Planet Labs commercial Earth imaging Flock -1d’ satellites that will replace some of the satellites lost when the Orbital Sciences Antares failed in October 2014.

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Indian Space Research Organization Mars Orbiter Programme Team Wins National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

The National Space Society takes great pleasure in announcing that its 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category has been won by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Programme Team. This award will be presented to an ISRO representative during the National Space Society’s 2015 International Space Development Conference, the 34th ISDC, to be held in Toronto, Canada, at the Hyatt Regency Toronto (downtown). The Conference will run from May 20-24, 2015.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at left, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988.

About ISRO Mars Orbiter Programme Team and the Mars Orbiter Mission

ISRO MarsThe mission was launched on Nov 5, 2013 and went into Mars orbit on Sept 24, 2014. This mission has achieved two significant mission firsts. (1) An Indian spacecraft has gone into orbit around Mars on the very first try (on Sept 24, 2014). No other country has ever done this. (2) The spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit with a high apoapsis, and has a high resolution camera which is taking full-disk color imagery of Mars. Very few full disk images have ever been taken in the past, mostly on approach to the planet, as most imaging is done looking straight down in mapping mode. These images will aid planetary scientists. The Mars Orbiter programme team located in Bangalore, India, is headed by Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai.

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NASA Commercial LEO Workshop

On December 10-11, 2014, NASA held a workshop on the commercialization of low Earth orbit.  The goal of the workshop was to start a dialog about creating a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO over the next decade, enabled by human spaceflight.  Historically, NASA has been both the primary supplier and consumer of human spaceflight capabilities and services in LEO.  However, NASA has begun to change this historical model by purchasing cargo transportation services commercially and is facilitating the development of commercial crew transportation and rescue capabilities.  By the end of 2017, NASA plans to purchase both crew and cargo delivery services to the ISS from commercial suppliers.  By the 2020’s, near the planned end of the life of the ISS, NASA’s intention is to transition LEO from being government-led to significantly more private sector involvement (both supply and demand side).  In this scenario, both research requirements and investigations are private sector need driven, and the supply-side transportation and microgravity capabilities are private sector provided.

To date, NASA has worked on establishing a private sector transportation capability for both cargo and crew.  Also, NASA, through CASIS and other efforts, has offered the ISS as venue for the private sector to explore the benefits of space-based research for terrestrial companies.  In the future, it will be critical for a commercial market for microgravity capabilities be developed by the private sector.  Creating this marketplace will require the efforts of both government and industry.  Through the information and ideas gathered and developed during this workshop, NASA intends to formulate a new strategy – including new initiatives and projects – designed to encourage the emergence of this commercial marketplace to the maximum extent possible.

Topics covered included enabling policy statements and incentives; enabling mission goals; promising commercial markets in LEO; commercial operation of ISS systems; promising microgravity R&D investment areas of high probable return to the nation; barriers to commercialization of LEO.

Some key questions that were discussed included:

  • What regulation changes and investment incentives would encourage commercial research and application activities in LEO?
  • What kind of intellectual property rights protections are required to engage private capital for research on ISS?
  • What are the most promising near-term market opportunities in LEO and how can they better be enabled using the ISS?  What are the most promising long-term applications of LEO that the ISS program can enable?
  • Is there a business case outside the government for multiple LEO platforms that are specialized for individual markets  (tourism, micro-gravity research/production, free-flying human tended Earth observing platform, etc.)?
  • What can the government do to encourage LEO supply providers to seek non-NASA customers for their services or capabilities?
  • Is there an overlap between LEO commercial platform capabilities and NASA’s exploration goals?

A summary of the workshop will be posted by NASA in January along with possible future activities.

Presentations:

NASA – Sam Scimemi, Director, International Space Station

FAA – Dr. George Nield, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation

CASIS – Greg Johnson, Executive Director

Industry Perspectives:

Carlos Grodsinsky, ZIN Technologies

James Muncy, PoliSpace

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Voting Is Open For The Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest

NSS Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest Vote
Enterprise In Space Project

Voting is open for the public to select their favorite entry in the National Space Society (NSS) Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest. The purpose of the Enterprise In Space (EIS) project is to build and return to Earth a satellite that will carry approximately 100 student experiments to low-Earth-orbit. Upon its return to Earth the satellite will go on a tour of museums world-wide before becoming a permanent exhibit at a museum to be named.

The public vote represents the first round in the selection process. The results of this vote will be a key consideration in the final round of judging which involves a panel of seven judges. These judges will formally select the Grand Prize, First Prize, and Second Prize winners. In addition to the results of the public vote, the judges will consider design feasibility as well as submission adherence to contest guidelines.

Voting ends at midnight UTC on December 21.

Vote now in the Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest.

Update: Close of voting has been extended from midnight UTC Fri. Dec 19 to midnight UTC Sun. Dec 21 to give people the opportunity to vote over the weekend.

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Benefit eBay Auction to Name Martian Crater the Size of Florida

The National Space Society and Uwingu are excited to announce a partnership for a first of its kind auction. Uwingu and eBay will be auctioning the naming rights to the biggest unnamed crater on Mars with 25% of the proceeds benefiting the National Space Society.

eBay

With over 14,000 craters named on it by the public in 2014 alone—more than ten times the number named by scientists in the past 50 years, Uwingu Mars’s map is becoming a de facto standard as the most complete map of Martian craters.

The huge, ancient crater, located at 25.1 deg south latitude and 327.3 deg east longitude on Mars is 627 km (391 miles) in diameter—as big as the state of Florida; it is bigger than 60% of the countries on Earth.

As with all Uwingu efforts, 50% of the proceeds will go to Uwingu Fund sales to support space exploration, research, and education grants. For the eBay auction, the National Space Society will be supported via eBay’s Giving Works program. The balance of the Uwingu Fund proceeds from the auction will benefit other grant recipients of the Uwingu Fund, including the Mars One project and other efforts to further space education, exploration, and research.

The name given to the crater by the eBay auction winner will forever be recorded on our new map of Mars, and then sent to Mars by the Mars One project. The winner will also receive a framed certificate of naming, two (2) VIP passes to the Mars Insight mission launch (NASA’s next Mars launch), and a handsome desk globe of Mars valued at over $300.

“Our goals at Uwingu are to get more people excited about space exploration, and to fund space exploration, research, and education projects via this new private sector way,” said Uwingu’s CEO, planetary scientist Alan Stern. “There are still almost 500,000 unnamed craters on our people’s map of Mars.”

The auction will run until Monday December 15th at 4:49pm Mountain Time. Go check it out on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Naming-Rights-to-the-Largest-Crater-on-the-Uwingu-Mars-Map-/351246953010?

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International SunSat Design Competition

International SunSat Design CompetitionSunSat Design is an international competition intended to accelerate the conceptualization, manufacture, launch and operation of the next-generation satellites that will collect energy in space and deliver it to Earth as a non-polluting source of electrical power.

The purpose of the SunSat Design initiative is to move space solar power out of the research labs and onto the public agenda. This is being done by virtual story-telling and networking on a global basis, explaining what space solar power is and how and why it will become the ultimate renewable energy resource for Planet Earth.

The strategy is to link global scientific communities with university-based (and other) digital media labs for the purposes of advancing knowledge of space-based solar power satellites (SunSats) and illustrating their many Earth-energy applications.

Winning designs are high-impact digital art, supported by credible science, engineering and business plans, that best promote media understanding and public acceptance of a path forward in using space satellites to deliver energy on-demand to any and all places on Earth.

Registration for the competition is now open, and team enrollments will be taken until January 31, 2015. Deadline for submission of completed designs and supporting documentation is March 27, 2015. Winners will be announced and their “Creative Visualizations” will be shown and celebrated in May 2015 at ISDC-Toronto.

See the International SunSat Design Competition website for more information.

The winners of the 2014 competition were announced at the ISDC-Los Angeles in May 2014, with six teams honored. Three of these were given cash prizes. The first-place award was $10,000 and there were two second-place awards of $5,000 presented at ISDC-Los Angeles. The three top designs have been published in the Online Journal of Space Communication:

The SunSat Competition is an initiative of the Online Journal of Space Communication in partnership with the Society of Satellite Professionals International, the National Space Society, and the Ohio University GRID Lab.

Posted in Education, Event, Space Solar Power | 1 Comment

Join the NSS Leadership Team — Apply by December 31

The National Space Society (NSS) is an open, democratic, grassroots organization where its members are directly involved in NSS operations and thus help shape the future.  You are not only the heart and soul, but the legs and arms, of NSS.  Apply now to become an active part of the Space Movement via any of our various committee or officer positions.  We want you to be a part of the NSS leadership team.  Help make the future happen.

NSS Officers and their operating committees work as necessary with staff, volunteers, Chapters, and contract services to further the Vision, Mission, and Objectives of the Society, as outlined in the Strategic Plan and related corporate documents.

In order to ensure that the Society finds the best people to join the NSS Leadership Team, the NSS Executive Committee has established a 2014 Leadership Search Committee.  Its purpose is to seek out, from throughout the community of NSS members and those who share our vision, those individuals with the qualifications, abilities, and desire to serve a two-year term as an Operating Committee member or Chair, or NSS Officer.

This is your chance to join the leadership of NSS and shape the future of space settlement!  Our goal is to engage every interested NSS member at some level in Society activities.

The Leadership Search Committee is seeking volunteer candidates with the time, talent, and motivation to serve as a member, Secretary, or Chair on one or more of the following committees (click links for descriptions):

Superior candidates will also be considered for the following Officer positions (click links for descriptions):

NSS Officers and Committee members and Chairs are unpaid, volunteer positions, serving two-year terms.  Most positions come with voting privileges.  Some out-of-pocket expenses for volunteer leaders may be tax deductible.  See IRS Publication 526 for more details.

If you are motivated to become a part of the exciting new developments in space and have the right stuff to help make NSS the premier voice for space advocates and enthusiasts, then now is the time to join the NSS leadership team!

Please send a resume or bio and cover letter or message listing position(s) of interest to the email address leadership-2014@nss.org by Wednesday, December 31 to be considered for nomination by the NSS Executive Committee in January.

Note for existing NSS volunteers:  Feel free to use this solicitation to supplement the knowledge we have from your years of service to the Society.  There is a good chance that you have more skills and interests than we know about, especially if you have an interest in expanding your horizons and serving the Society in a different capacity.  What makes NSS great is its ability to help members to grow into leaders of the space movement.

Thank you for all you do to advance the space movement.  Ad Astra!

— The NSS 2014 Leadership Search Committee

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Once the Officer Elections are completed in February, a follow-up notice will be released that will focus on seeking additional candidates for NSS committee positions.

People interested in serving in a leadership capacity are encouraged to join a local NSS chapter and/or to attend the NSS annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC).  ISDC 2015 will be held from May 20 to 24 in Toronto, Ontario.

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National Space Society Highlights Contribution of Japanese Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Mission to Space Settlement

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on the successful launch of Hayabusa 2 December 2, 2014, at 11:22 PM EST on the Japanese H-IIA booster. Hayabusa 2 is planned to arrive at asteroid 1999 JU3 in July 2018, gather samples for about a year and one half, and return those samples to the Earth in 2020. The first Hayabusa craft gathered samples from the Asteroid Itokawa in September 2006 and returned them to Earth in 2010. Hayabusa 2 sports many improvements over the first probe, and carries a MASCOT Lander and three MINERVA Rovers.

Asteroid Itokawa is an S-type asteroid, meaning that it was of stony composition. A sample return from Asteroid 1999 JU3, a C-type (carbonaceous) asteroid, represents a major advance in our understanding of the availability and distribution of resources in the solar system. C-type asteroids are dark relative to other asteroids, and are believed to contain sources of water. Water can be used both to sustain human life in space, as well as to provide rocket fuel and store energy for later generation of electricity via fuel cells.

The utilization of asteroidal resources is a key step toward space settlement as described in the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement which can be found at: nss.org/settlement/roadmap. The success of the Hayabusa 2 will represent a significant step toward the realization of the NSS Roadmap, and will help allow asteroid mining companies such as Planetary Resources (planetaryresources.com) and Deep Space Industries (deepspaceindustries.com) to advance their plans more quickly.

Hayabusa’s characterization of a C-type asteroid will also aid in deflecting similar asteroids should one threaten Earth.  The data gathered will help understand the structure of such asteroids which is key to choosing a deflection technology.  This contributes to the goals of the NSS policy on defense from cosmic threats described in the position paper at tinyurl.com/planetarydefense.

NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos summed up the situation: “We congratulate JAXA on the successful launch of Hayabusa 2, and wish them much success on this vital mission. Japan is to be commended for a steady focus on challenging robotic asteroid missions that are helping to bring the human settlement of space a bit closer.” Paul Werbos’ biography can be found at nss.org/about/bios/werbos.html.

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