National Space Society Congratulates SpaceX on the Falcon 9’s Return to Flight

The National Space Society congratulates SpaceX on the return to flight of the Falcon 9 on January 14, 2017, at 12:54 pm EST, successfully lofting ten Iridium NEXT communications satellites manufactured by Thales Alenia into polar orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Falcon 9 Iridium liftoff“NSS members are excited to see the F9 return to flight,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX has been pushing the envelope to perfect the use of technologies like sub-cooled rocket fuel and first stage recovery. Companies can only take risks on new technology with the support of customers like Iridium that have the courage to do new things in space. NSS congratulates SpaceX, Iridium, and Thales Alenia Space on a job well done.”

“The use of sub-cooled rocket fuel enables more fuel to fit into the rocket, providing extra thrust to allow for re-use of first stages which should result in lower costs to reach space,” added NSS Chair of the Executive Committee, Mark Hopkins. The re-use of first stages supports Milestone 2: Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit of the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement which can be found at: www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html. A great way to learn more about the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap is to attend the NSS International Space Development Conference (isdc2017.nss.org) in St. Louis, Missouri, May 25-29, 2017.

“NSS strongly supports the usage of space to provide benefits to people living on the Earth. The Iridium satellites enable first responders to communicate rapidly during an emergency anywhere in the world,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. The launch of the Iridium NEXT satellites support Milestone 7: Applications of Space Technology on and for Earth of the NSS Roadmap which can be found at:  www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart3.html .

This was the first flight for SpaceX since a Falcon 9 exploded on the pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on September 1, 2016, destroying an Amos-6 communications satellite. For the first time, SpaceX successfully landed a first stage on the drone ship “Just Read The Instructions” in the Pacific Ocean. This is the 7th time SpaceX has landed a first stage safely after a launch, and the third time SpaceX has launched from Vandenberg.

Falcon 9 Iridium landing

Iridium has a contract with SpaceX for seven Falcon 9 flights to launch a total of 70 Iridium NEXT satellites, including the 10 launched January 14th. When signed in 2010, the SpaceX/Iridium deal was the largest commercial launch contract in history. Since then, this record has been exceeded by a 21-launch order with Arianespace from OneWeb in 2015. The next launch by SpaceX for Iridium is expected in April 2017.

Join the NSS Leadership Team – Apply by February 28

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. Respond 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.

The NSS 2017 Leadership Search Committee is seeking volunteer candidates with the time, talent, and motivation to serve as a member, Secretary, or Chair on an NSS operating committee. Superior candidates will also be considered for an Officer position. Apply by February 28 to be considered for a committee position, or January 28 to be considered for an Officer position.

See the full announcement for details and links to committee and officer descriptions.

Eric Berger Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award for Mass Media

Eric BergerEric Berger, who is the senior space editor at Ars Technica, is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Mass Media category. This award will recognize the exemplary work he has done in the space news field for both Ars Technica, (a major technology news web site), and previously for the Houston Chronicle. It will be presented to him on May 29, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference (isdc.nss.org/2017). This will be the 36th ISDC and will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel. The conference will run from May 25-29, 2017.

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 right, 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 the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, and the Rosetta Mission Team.

About Eric Berger

Eric Berger covers space business, space policy, space technology and other related areas such as astronomy. In the very fast paced field he is covering, his frequent, accurate and detailed articles and series have helped the space community keep track of what is happening, why and what the result may be. He is a good analyst and extrapolator as well as a reporter. He is not afraid to cover controversial topics, and that coverage is often invaluable. His articles are always technically accurate. He has an astronomy degree from the University of Texas, as well as a MA in journalism from the University of Missouri. In addition, he is a certified meteorologist. He lives in Houston, TX.

A Survey of Space Settlement Designs

The paper “A Survey of Space Settlement Designs” by Thomas Marotta has been just been published in the NSS Space Settlement Journal.

Abstract

The author compiled every known orbital space settlement design into a database. Grouped into chronological ‘eras,’ the database describes basic information for each design: population capacity, dimensions, gravity level, energy source, etc. Using this information one can conclude that interest in space settlement is increasing, 1g is the preferred gravity level, solar power is the preferred energy source, and a torus is the preferred geometry. As for location, Earth-Moon Lagrange points dominate but there is a budding movement to place settlements in low Earth orbits. The database is accessible at www.nss.org/settlement/journal/Space-Settlement-Designs-Database-12.19.16.pdf.

John Glenn and the New Glenn Rocket

Shortly before his death, John Glenn wrote the following letter to Jeff Bezos:

****************

UNITED STATES SENATOR (Ret.)
JOHN GLENN
OHIO
November 28, 2016

Mr. Jeff Bezos
Founder and Manufacturer
Blue Origin

Dear Jeff,

I’m really thrilled to congratulate you on winning the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for your historic achievement in rocketry with Blue Origin.

When I first orbited the Earth, in 1962, you were still two years from being born. And when I returned to space, in 1998, Blue Origin was still two years in the future. But you were already driven by a vision of space travel accessible not only to highly trained pilots and engineers and scientists, but to all of us. And you understood that to realize that vision, we would have to be able to get to space more often and more inexpensively. So you and your Blue Origin team began designing rockets that can be reused over and over again.

I’m deeply touched that you’ve named the second generation of those rockets—the first reusable rocket to orbit the Earth—the New Glenn. As the original Glenn, I can tell you I see the day coming when people will board spacecraft the same way millions of us now board jetliners. When that happens, it will be largely because of your epic achievements this year.

Again, my congratulations and best regards.

Sincerely,
John Glenn

****************

Here is a current photo of the 750,000 square-foot New Glenn rocket factory under construction in Florida:

New Glenn factory construction

Here is a rendition of what it will look like by the end of 2017:

New Glenn factory rendition

Here is a comparison of the size of the New Glenn compared to other large rockets:

New Glenn comparison

Celebrating the Life of National Space Society Governor and American Hero John Glenn

The National Space Society celebrates the life and contributions of the visionary champion of space exploration, Honorable Senator John Glenn, who passed away today.

“John Glenn was an inspiration for the National Space Society and all those who believe humanity’s destiny lies in the stars,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the Executive Committee of NSS.

Hugh Downs, NSS Board of Governors Chair, said, “It was an honor to work with John Glenn as a member of the NSS Board of Governors. John had the courage of his convictions based on his knowledge of science. He did not fall for the myths that surrounded the medical risks of human space travel at the time. His understanding of the science was as important as his getting into the capsule and orbiting the Earth. It is hard to imagine today how important that was for the the U.S. at the time.”

Senator John Glenn served the National Space Society as a governor for over two decades. He was an advocate for a strong NASA along with the rest of the National Space Society. He appeared at the 2012 International Space Development Conference along with fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter where they both received the NSS Space Pioneer Award, for actually pioneering space!

Governors John Glenn and Art Dula, along with Scott Carpenter at ISDC 2012 in Washington, DC
NSS Governors John Glenn and Art Dula, along with Scott Carpenter at ISDC 2012 in Washington, DC

John H. Glenn was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio. Following graduation from New Concord High School, Mr. Glenn enrolled in Muskingum College and began flying lessons at the New Philadelphia airport, earning his pilot’s license in 1941. He left college before earning his degree (he was awarded a bachelor of science in engineering from Muskingum in 1962) and enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. He was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943. During his World War II service, Mr. Glenn flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific.

During the Korean conflict, he flew 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 311 and 27 missions as an exchange pilot with the Air Force. He holds the Air Medal with 18 Clusters for his combat service and has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions. He is the recipient of numerous other honors, including the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

In 1959, he was selected to be one of seven NASA Mercury astronauts from an original pool of 508. Three years later, on February 20, 1962, he made history as the first American to orbit the Earth, completing three orbits in a five-hour flight and returning to a hero’s welcome.

After his NASA service, John took an active part in Democratic politics and early environmental protection efforts in Ohio. In 1974, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Senator Glenn retired in 1998.

John Glenn

Mr. Glenn returned to space from Oct. 29 to Nov. 7, 1998, as a member of NASA’s Shuttle STS-95 Discovery mission during which the crew supported a variety of research payloads and investigations on space flight and aging. During that mission, Mr. Glenn made 134 Earth orbits in 213 hours and 44 minutes.

Mr. Glenn has been married to Anna (Annie) Margaret Castor since 1943. They have a son, Dave, and a daughter, Lyn, and two grandchildren.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We at NSS have no doubt that American Hero John Glenn heeded that call.

Enterprise In Space & Kepler Space Institute Sponsor Competition to Tackle Orbital Debris

Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), and the Kepler Space Institute have partnered with Global Aerospace Corporation (GAC) to launch the “Orbital Debris Mitigation” competition. In order to drive innovation forward in technology to remove the space debris orbiting Earth, EIS and its partners are offering university student teams a chance to propose experiments for space debris mitigation.

orbital-debris-mitigation-competition-banner

To enter the contest, university student teams may submit a white paper in either one of two competition categories. Category one is to design an experiment that fits on a CubeSat to detect, track or collect orbital debris. The second is to design an experiment to help evaluate the performance of GAC’s Gossamer Orbit Lowering Device (GOLD) that will de-orbit a CubeSat. To learn more about the competition, see the video presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AA5T7A70CVs .

“Currently, there are over 500,000 pieces of space debris orbiting the Earth and traveling up to 17,500 miles per hour, potentially causing serious damage to any satellite or spacecraft,” said Kerry Nock, President of GAC. “At GAC, we have invented a device for removing this debris called GOLD which uses a lightweight, continuously inflated envelope to increase the drag area and accelerate the natural orbital decay process of antiquated satellites and large orbital debris by orders of magnitude.”

Up to three members of the grand prize winning team will receive complimentary registration to present their white papers at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference ® (ISDC), May 25-29, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. Grand prize winners will have their experiment results paper published in Ad Astra magazine and an industry trade journal for orbital space debris mitigation and remediation. One member of the grand prize team will also receive an R. S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship, valued at $5,000, from the Kepler Space Institute to be applied towards a full certificate program. The R. S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship aims to encourage space advocates the world over.

To learn more about the Orbital Debris Mitigation Competition or to enter, visit the contest page at enterpriseinspace.org/space-debris and become a part of NewSpace future.

National Space Society Presidential Policy Workshop Leaders Urge Incoming Administration to Lead Lunar Base Construction

On Saturday, October 8th, the National Space Society (NSS) organized a workshop directed at recommending a space policy to the new Administration. Eleven thought leaders from government, industry, and academia gathered in a fruitful collaboration to produce a set of five recommendations.

Steve Jurvetson, a partner at the well-known Silicon Valley Sand Hill Road venture capital firm DFJ hosted the meeting at the DFJ offices. NSS has submitted the resulting white paper to the Trump Transition Team. The paper can be viewed at http://www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS-DFJ-Workshop-Recommendations-Nov-2016.pdf.

“NSS is proud to support this important workshop,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “We had a very extensive collaboration bringing together space entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and space activists to develop space policy recommendations for the new Administration.”

As a result of this workshop, the National Space Society calls upon the Trump Administration to:

  1. Re-establish a National Space Council.
  2. Establish a thriving space economy as a goal of NASA and implement this goal via public-private partnerships, including the purchase in-space of fuel mined from the lunar surface/asteroids, and the use of commercial services to supply future space projects on and near the Moon.
  3. Lead in the construction of a public/private lunar resource extraction base that includes international participation.
  4. Set up a space commodities futures trading exchange to jump start the use of space resources.
  5. NASA should conduct break-through R&D targeted at projects such as self-sustaining habitats in space, propellant production and storage (at the Moon, at small bodies, and at Mars), in situ manufacturing (Moon, small bodies, Mars), reusable large-scale solar electric or nuclear propulsion systems, space solar power (SSP), and others.
“The space paradigm is changing at an accelerating pace,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the Executive Committee of NSS. “The dramatic progress in commercial space calls for new thinking about why and how we explore, develop and eventually settle space,” he said.

Hold these dates! March 12-16, 2017 for March Storm

The Alliance for Space Development (ASD), the National Space Society (NSS), and the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) are sponsoring the annual March Storm Washington DC Blitz March 12-16, 2017. This is an early “heads up” to hold those dates. Sunday March 12 will be an all-day training event, followed by up to four days of Congressional visits.  Blitzers are asked to commit to a minimum of 2 days of Congressional visits, but those days can be picked from among March 13-16.

March Storm 2017 will support the Alliance for Space Development 2017 objectives, which will be available January 1st, 2017. However, it is very likely that at least two of the objectives will be supporting a gapless transition from the ISS to future commercial LEO stations, and continuing to to press for the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act (H.R. 4752) to make space development and settlement a permanent part of the NASA mission.