Shark Tank in Space: Space Business Pitch Competition to Be Held May 26 at the International Space Development Conference in St. Louis

National Space Society and The Center for Space Commerce and Finance have announced that this year’s second regional NewSpace Business Plan Competition will be held in conjunction with the 2017 International Space Development Conference (ISDC) on May 26, in St. Louis. Competitors will present their business plan in front of a panel of investors and the ISDC audience, for a chance to win a cash prize and guaranteed entry into the national NewSpace Business Plan Competition in November.

“We’re looking for startup companies, at any stage, that have a technology or product that will significantly advance the new space movement,” said Joel Vinas, Executive Director of the Center for Space Commerce and Finance, the organization that manages the NewSpace Business Plan Competition. “This could be anything from launch and propulsion companies, to small satellite manufacturers, or companies that provide products or services to any sector of the emerging commercial space economy.”

Companies with space-scalable technologies are highly encouraged to apply. This includes technologies that are primarily developed to solve problems here on Earth for commercial benefit and profit, but are also scalable to solve key long-range space problems when the demand ultimately exists.

“The wide range of companies and technologies that we’re seeing develop in this industry is indicative of its rapid growth,” said Steve Jorgensen, founder of Space Finance Group and chair of the space business track at this year’s ISDC. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the competition that helps catalyze this industry’s growth by promoting, educating, and connecting the next generation of explorers.”

The winner of the St.Louis regional event will receive a $2,500 cash prize, courtesy of the Heinlein Prize Trust. The winner will also be guaranteed the opportunity to compete at the national NewSpace Business Plan Competition, to be held at the New Worlds Conference in Austin, TX on November 10-11, 2017.

“As an angel investor myself, I’m excited to see a competition focused on space, that is intended to simulate the real world process of entrepreneurs soliciting funding from early stage investors and venture capital firms,” said Alice Hoffman, president of the National Space Society. “I can’t wait to see what exciting companies will present this year!”

All interested space startup companies are encouraged to apply on the NewSpace Business Plan Competition website: newspacebpc.com/apply. Interested investors, media, students, and anyone who would like to be in the audience, are encouraged to sign up to attend the International Space Development Conference: isdc2017.nss.org. To learn more about this and upcoming competitions across the world, sign up for the NewSpace Business Plan Competition newsletter: eepurl.com/bF4MBj.

About NewSpace Business Plan Competition

Originally started as a project of the Space Frontier Foundation in 2006, the NewSpace BPC has awarded over $300,000 in cash prizes to space-enabling startups. Now a product of the Center for Space Commerce and Finance, the NewSpace BPC is expanding its reach, hosting regional competitions and raising investor awareness towards space-related startups. Chosen competitors attend a private, 2-day, Boot Camp session, and make a final pitch to investors at the annual New Worlds Conference where a winner is announced. For more information visit www.NewSpaceBPC.com.

“Godspeed John Glenn” from National Space Society

The National Space Society pays tribute to visionary champion of space exploration, Honorable Senator John Glenn, who passed away December 8 and today is being buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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 NSS 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 the 2012 International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC.

John H. Glenn was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio. 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.

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, Glenn took an active part in Democratic politics in Ohio and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974. Senator Glenn retired in 1998.

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 was married to Anna (Annie) Margaret Castor from 1943 to 2016. They have a son, John David, and a daughter, Carolyn Anne, 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.

NASA at Saturn: Cassini’s Grand Finale

The final chapter in a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery, Cassini’s Grand Finale, ending September 15, is in many ways like a brand new mission. Twenty-two times, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will dive through the unexplored space between Saturn and its rings. What we learn from these ultra-close passes over the planet could be some of the most exciting revelations ever returned by the long-lived spacecraft. This animated video tells the story of Cassini’s final, daring assignment and looks back at what the mission has accomplished.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about Cassini’s Grand Finale, please visit https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale.

National Space Society Hails a New Age of Reusable Rockets

The National Space Society (NSS) declares that in consideration of the achievements by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Boeing over the past few years, it is now obvious that a revolution in spacecraft technology, operations, and economics is occurring. There is every prospect that privately owned re-usable spacecraft operating under service contracts will greatly lower the cost of reaching space.

NSS calls on Congress, the Administration, and NASA to immediately begin a review of all current NASA and other spaceflight related programs to consider how the usage of commercially available launch vehicles and spacecraft that are largely reusable can lower costs and/or increase operational capability. Suggestions to guide this review can be found in the NSS position paper “Now is the Time: A Paradigm Shift in Access to Space” (also available via: tinyurl.com/AccessToSpace).

Falcon-SES launchThe SpaceX Falcon 9 made history on March 30, 2017, at 6:27 EST by lofting the SES 10 communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit using a “flight-proven” first stage. The first stage flown was initially used to launch a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on April 8, 2016, as part of the Commercial Resupply Services program. After returning safely from space and landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), the flight proven first stage was returned to dry land, refurbished, tested, and sent back to Florida to support the re-launch on March 30th, after which it again landed successfully on OCISLY. In another historic first SpaceX attempted F9 fairing recovery using parachutes. The fairing is the enclosure for the rocket’s payload.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, “This is ultimately going to be a huge revolution in spaceflight. It’s sort of the difference between (throwing away airplanes) after every flight vs. where you could reuse them multiple times. It’s been 15 years. It’s a long time…a lot of difficult steps along the way…incredibly proud of the SpaceX team for being able to achieve this incredible milestone in the history of space. (It’s) a great day not just for SpaceX but the space industry as a whole and proving that something can be done that many people said was impossible.”

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of SpaceX’s achievement,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX today, for the first time, demonstrated the successful re-use of an orbital first stage. Companies can only take risks on new technology with the support of customers like SES that have the courage to do new things in space. NSS congratulates SpaceX and SES on a resounding success that heralds the dawn of a new age in space, and thanks NASA for its on-going support of SpaceX’s technology development program with Space Act Agreements and service contracts.”

“Once first stage re-use is firmly established,” added Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, Mark Hopkins, “the economics of access to space will enter a new era. The re-use of first stages is a step towards Milestone 2 of the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement which is Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit.”

The roadmap can be found at: www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html. A great way to learn more about the connection between launch technology and the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap is to attend the NSS International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) (isdc2017.nss.org) in St. Louis, Missouri, May 25-29, 2017.

ISDC

The ISDC’s Space Transportation track will examine all facets of space transportation from the new generation of commercial launch vehicles that through technical innovation and reusability are lowering the cost of space access to in-space transfer vehicles and deep space interplanetary propulsion systems. Many examples of reusable first stages (flyback and vertical descent boosters), reusable capsules, air launch systems, laser launch, suborbital tourism vehicles, and heavy lift boosters will be included in this track as will cis-lunar transportation elements necessary to enable cis-lunar operations and lunar exploration, and architectures that enable Mars exploration.

“The re-use of a Falcon 9 first stage paves the way for the initial flight of the Falcon Heavy later this year, and is a key step toward a commercial return to the Moon,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman.

SPACE Canada’s George Dietrich Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Special Merit Space Pioneer Award

George Dietrich, the founding President of SPACE Canada, is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Special Merit category. This award recognizes his dedicated support for Space Solar Power and conferences that cover it.

The National Space Society invites the public to join them in presenting the Space Pioneer Award to George Dietrich at its Gala Dinner on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at the 36th NSS International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). The conference will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel, running from May 25-29, 2017.

About George Dietrich

George DietrichGeorge Dietrich is a lawyer by profession and a space development supporter by preference. George is the founding President of SPACE Canada. SPACE (Solar Power Alternative for Clean Energy) Canada is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of solar energy from space; an abundant and sustainable source of safe, affordable clean energy for the world.

George graduated from the University of Windsor Law School in 1989. He also holds degrees in Science (Physics and Mathematics) and the Arts (Political Science). He received his Masters Degree in Law from McGill University’s Institute of Air and Space Law in 2002. He has written articles on space law and co-authored an article on the international legal prerequisites of solar power satellites with Jeff Kehoe and William Goldstein. George Dietrich was called to the bar of the Province of Ontario, Canada in 1991. His law firm is located in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

George has provided direct and generous support for many events over the last decade in direct support for space-based solar power (SBSP). NSS believes that SBSP is the only currently existing means of electricity production with sufficient capacity to provide human civilization with the power it needs. Such abundant, clean power is needed, both to raise the global standard of living and to end the release of carbon-based greenhouse gases. SBSP is extremely efficient in use of materials and land compared to most other existing energy sources including ground-based solar power. NSS supports the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization, for which we will need such a large source of clean energy, both on Earth and in space.

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.

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award for Historic Space Achievement

Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, USAF, Ret, is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Historic Space Achievement category. This award covers his service in the Gemini, Apollo and Apollo-Soyuz programs. In particular, the flight of Gemini 9A on June 3, 1966, was 51 years ago.

The National Space Society invites the public to join them in presenting the Pioneer Award to General Stafford on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the 36th NSS International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). The conference will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel, running from May 25-29, 2017.

About Astronaut and Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford

Thomas P. StaffordThomas Stafford graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1952 but quickly became a US Air Force Officer. He graduated from the Experimental Test Pilot School in 1959, and then held leadership roles in the Air Force, including being a flight test instructor and creator of flight test manuals. Then in 1962, he was selected for the second group of U.S. Astronauts. Three years later he flew on Gemini 6, which performed the world’s first space rendezvous. Then he flew on Gemini 9A, which is memorable for the “Angry Alligator” appearance of the launch shroud on the Agena’s docking adapter. The failure of the release system prevented the docking which was a major flight objective. He also flew on Apollo 10 on May 18, 1969, the second flight to reach the Moon, paving the way for Apollo 11. His last flight was as U.S. Commander for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project on July 15, 1975. His leadership has continued after his retirement from the Astronaut Corp in 1975, as he served on the Space Policy Advisory Council 1990-91, and continues to serve as the Chairman of the NASA International Space Station Advisory Committee.

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.

Space Exploration Alliance Blitz in Washington

NSS members supported the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) DC Blitz (Feb. 26-28) this year. A major theme of this year’s blitz was to pass the NASA Transition Act of 2017, something NSS has been contributing to over the last year. The picture shows “Team 11” of the SEA Blitz meeting with Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, 2nd district. Left to right are Bill Gardiner (NSS), Timothy Wilkes (Planetary Society), Rep. Sanford, Joi Spraggins (Society of Black Engineers), and Dale Skran (NSS Executive VP).

SEA Blitz

Become a NASA HERA Test Subject

NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Test Subject Screening is recruiting volunteers for a long duration mission to simulate flight operations and confinement. Subjects will spend the mission in confined habitation in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) facility at JSC. Researchers will collect blood, urine, and saliva; study personal behaviors; and evaluate team cohesion, cognition, and communication.

HERA

This opportunity is for healthy, non-smoking volunteers ages 35 to 55 years old. Volunteers must pass a JSC physical and psychological assessment to qualify and fit the following requirements:

  • Take no medications
  • Have no dietary restrictions
  • Have a BMI of 29 or less
  • Be 74 inches or less in height
  • Have no history of sleepwalking
  • Possess highly technical skills and a Master of Science degree in science, technology, engineering, or math discipline, or equivalent years of experience.

Volunteers will be compensated. If interested in becoming a test subject, submit CV to jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or contact Test Subject Screening at 281-212-1492.

SpaceX to Send Privately Crewed Dragon Spacecraft Around the Moon Next Year

SpaceX released the following statement February 27:

We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the Moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a Moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration. We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow. Additional information will be released about the flight teams, contingent upon their approval and confirmation of the health and fitness test results.

Most importantly, we would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission. In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V Moon rocket. At 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, Falcon Heavy is two-thirds the thrust of Saturn V and more than double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying.

Later this year, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, we will launch our Crew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station. This first demonstration mission will be in automatic mode, without people on board. A subsequent mission with crew is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX is currently contracted to perform an average of four Dragon 2 missions to the ISS per year, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew. By also flying privately crewed missions, which NASA has encouraged, long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions.

Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the Moon and return to Earth. Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral – the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions. This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.

Designed from the beginning to carry humans, the Dragon spacecraft already has a long flight heritage. These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars.