The National Space Society Pays Tribute to Dr. Kalam — One of Our Leading Lights Has Joined the Stars

On 27 July 2015, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, eleventh President of India and a friend and inspiration to the National Space Society (NSS), passed away. “NSS would like to convey our condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Kalam, and to all of India. His death is a great loss not only to India, but to the whole of humanity,” said Mark Hopkins, chair of the NSS Executive Committee. “In his honor, a permanent part of the online NSS library will be dedicated to his visionary space legacy.”

Dr. Kalam shared the National Space Society’s vision of the future of space solar power, exploration, and human development. He was a true friend to NSS — making time to meet with our members, attending and addressing the 2013 International Space Development Conference, taking part in our society’s press conferences, and giving his name to our shared Kalam-NSS Space-based Solar Power Initiative.

In alignment with NSS, Dr. Kalam’s vision encompassed the mining of asteroids and the use of the Moon as an industrial base and source of energy. Looking into the future, he saw an extra-terrestrial habitat on Mars as a fail-safe mechanism for problems on Earth. He hoped to see these activities blossom into a mature regime of space security, with Space Traffic Control, Space Debris Management, and an International Space Force for defense against asteroids.

Born in 1931, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was an aerospace engineer, a true rocket scientist who significantly advanced rocketry and spacefaring in India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and in the Indian Space Research Organization. Heir to the vision of Professor Vikram Sarabhai, who set India on a course of a socio-economically oriented space program, Dr. Kalam was the man who raised India’s eyes to the stars, and led India to join the community of spacefaring nations. One of the true statesmen of our generation, Dr. Kalam served as the 11th President of the world’s largest democracy, and was regarded as one of the greatest minds, visionaries, and peacemakers of the early 21st century. He died at age 83, articulating his visions to a new generation.

In a stirring eulogy entitled “India has lost its Jewel,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Kalamji saw poetry in a tree and energy that could be harvested in water, wind, and sun. We should learn to look at the world through his eyes, and with the same missionary zeal.” He further stated, “his memory is best honored by the creation of new institutions that nurture science and technology, and enable us to find a beneficial equation with the awesome power of nature.”

We at NSS could not agree more. At the heart of Dr. Kalam’s vision was an international initiative to harvest the power of the sun and transmit it to Earth, what he called a “Global Energy Technology Initiative for Harvesting Energy from Space.” Dr. Kalam asked what vision could be “greater than any other vision so far envisioned by humanity?  … Clean energy from space solar power for 24×7.” NSS will pick up the torch and carry on his vision.

Dr. Kalam believed that space solar power was the key to a livable planet and to the elimination of man-made green house gasses. The scale of his vision for the benefit of humanity was vast — he believed that by 2052, India alone could have 108 satellites delivering 544 gigawatts of green power, doubling India’s per-capita GDP and avoiding 66 million tonnes of carbon emissions. To that end, Dr. Kalam proposed that the US, India, and other spacefaring nations invest $4 billion dollars in the next five years for a feasibility study and for development of the necessary technology to realize economical space solar power.

Dr. Kalam was a towering spacefaring advocate. His passing is a deep loss to NSS. Loved and admired by the masses of India, he was loved and admired by us as well. The legacy of Dr. Kalam’s writings will form a permanent part of the online NSS library. We were honored to work with him and to present him with our 2013 Wernher von Braun Memorial Award for leading India into space and for being a global leader in space development. He will be missed terribly by all around the world who share a common vision of humanity’s future in space.

Ad Astra, Dr. Kalam.

KalamHopkins
Dr. Kalam receives Wernher von Braun Memorial Award from Mark Hopkins at ISDC 2013.

Kalam Dream

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NSS/SFF August 2015 Home District Legislative Blitz – Sign Up Now!

The National Space Society (NSS) is organizing jointly with the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) a “home district” blitz during August when Congress is in recess and members of Congress are most probably in their home districts. The themes for the blitz include supporting Commercial Crew, advocating for a gapless transition from the ISS to commercial space stations, supporting the “Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act” (SEDS Act) and protecting the Earth against asteroids and comets. Three of these four items are in support of the 2015 Campaign of the Alliance for Space Development.

Signup to the August Blitz this year is via google forms. Signup is open to anyone who wants to join, as this is a joint NSS/SFF activity. In other words, you do not need to be an NSS or SFF member to participate. However, you MUST fill out the google form. Please distribute this link to the google form to anyone you know who you think might be interested. Send email to dale.skran@nss.org with any questions.

The materials for the August Blitz are now available. They include:

It is planned to set up Contact team leaders on August 1st. The exact date of Congressional recess is still unclear, but is at least one or two weeks in the future from July 29, 2015.

You should read the first three bulleted items above as soon as you can. Please send any questions to dale.skran@nss.org and answers will be circulated to all participants. Please circulate the Blitz FAQ to anyone who may be interested in signing up. Remind them to fill out the google form if they have not yet done so.

Thanks to all who are helping,

Dale Skran
Chair, NSS Policy Committee
Chair, NSS/SFF August Home District Blitz

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NASA-Funded Study Reduces Cost of Human Missions to Moon and Mars by Factor of Ten

Video of press conference below.

The National Space Society (NSS) and Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) today announced their support for NASA’s funding of the newly released NexGen Space study, illustrating how to cut the cost of human space exploration by a factor of 10. The study, “Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture that Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public – Private – Partnerships,” finds public-private partnerships are able to return humans to the Moon for approximately 90% less than the previously estimated $100 billion, allowing the United States to ensure national security in a new space age.

“The Space Frontier Foundation supports and recommends public-private partnerships in all proposed human spaceflight programs in order to reduce costs and enable these missions that were previously unaffordable,” said the Space Frontier Foundation’s Chairman of the Board, Jeff Feige. “This is the way that America will settle the final frontier, save taxpayers money and usher in a new era of economic growth and STEM innovation.”

NSS and SFF call attention to these conclusions from the study:

  • Enabled by public-private partnerships, NASA’s current human spaceflight budget is sufficient to return humans to the surface of the Moon and develop a permanent lunar base.
  • Mining fuel from lunar poles and transporting it to lunar orbit for use by other spacecraft reduces the cost of sending humans to Mars and other locations beyond low Earth orbit. These commercial fuel depots in lunar orbit have the potential to cut the cost of sending humans to Mars by more than $10 billion per year.

“NSS congratulates NASA for funding the team at NexGen that discovered how such cost reductions are possible,” said NSS Executive Committee Chair, Mark Hopkins. “A factor of ten reduction in cost changes everything.”

NSS and SFF add that any space programs able to establish viable commercial partnerships can potentially achieve similar cost reductions.

Video of one-hour press conference:

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NSS Director Al Globus Featured on The Space Show

Al GlobusNSS Director Al Globus appeared on the internet radio program The Space Show on July 12, speaking on his latest research on Low Earth Orbit space settlements which can be made at much lower mass than previously thought due to lower radiation requirements and higher rotation rates.

The full program, which runs just under two hours, can be found online here and a more thorough description with commentary can be found here.

Al’s latest papers on the subject are listed below.

  • Space Settlement Population Rotation Tolerance (PDF 10MB), Al Globus and Theodore Hall, preprint, June 2015. This paper reviews the literature to find that space settlement residents and visitors can tolerate at least four, and proabaly six, rotations per minute to achieve 1g of artificial gravity. This means settlements can be radically smaller, and thus easier to build, than previously believed. Combined with the next paper on radiation shielding, the first space settlements can be two orders of magnitude less massive and closer to Earth than previous designs, making launch from Earth practical.
  • Orbital Space Settlement Radiation Shielding (PDF 2MB), Al Globus and Joe Strout, preprint, May 2015. The major result of this paper is that settlements in low (~500 km) Earth equatorial orbits may not require any radiation shielding at all based on a careful analysis of requirements and extensive simulation of radiation effects. This radically reduces system mass and has profound implications for space settlement, as extraterrestrial mining and manufacturing are no longer on the critical path to the first settlements, although they will be essential in later stages. It also means the first settlements can evolve from space stations, hotels, and retirement communities in relatively small steps.
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NSS of North Texas and “Moon Day” on July 18, 2015

Moon Day 2015

Over the last seven years, NSS of North Texas, in conjunction with the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas has created the largest annual space exposition in the State of Texas. This year, the event features a live Uplink with the ISS, solar telescopes, three inflatable planetariums, robots, teacher workshops, three dozen exhibitors, over twenty hours of classes and lectures, Scout patches and the renowned Lunar Sample Bags — swag bags used to distribute a half ton of space informational materials to young visitors each year. Organized each year by former chapter president Ken Murphy, the event has become a showcase for space-related educational resources in North Texas with an increasing focus on STEM activities. It has also established NSS of North Texas as a credible source for high-quality space content in support of local community activities.

Details for the 2015 Moon Day event.

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NSS/SFF August 2015 Home District Legislative Blitz – Sign Up Now!

The National Space Society is organizing jointly with the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) a “home district” blitz during August when Congress is in recess and members of Congress are most probably in their home districts. The currently expected themes for the blitz include supporting Commercial Crew, advocating for ISS extension and utilization, supporting the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act (SEDS Act), and protecting the Earth against asteroids and comets. Signup to the August Blitz this year will be via a Google form. Signup is open to anyone who wants to join, as this is a joint NSS/SFF activity. In other words, you do not need to be an NSS member to participate. However, you MUST fill out the Google form. A few of you filled out an earlier test form; please fill out the form again as it is somewhat different than the test version.

Please distribute this link to the Google form to anyone you know who you think might be interested. Send email to me at dale.skran@nss.org with any questions.

The link is: http://goo.gl/forms/RfTEFF9XWC

2015 Training materials and talking points will be emailed to those who fill out the Google form.

Thanks in advance,

Dale Skran
Chair, NSS Policy Committee

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Buzz Aldrin: SpaceX Failure Shows We Need More Commercial Space Travel—Not Less

Buzz AldrinBuzz Aldrin, second man on the Moon and member of the National Space Society Board of Governors, has a fine op-ed piece for Time magazine which we recommend:

http://time.com/3945033/buzz-aldrin-spacex-commercial-space-travel/

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Epic Video Takes Pluto-mania Viral

Video on NASA’s New Horizons Mission Gets a Million Views in a Week; This Extended Director’s Cut Version Dropped Today on YouTube

This extended version of a viral video detailing NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, entitled “New Horizons [Extended Version]” was released today to the public via YouTube. A shorter version of the video had gone viral just two weeks prior, amassing over a million views in less than a week.

The video, commissioned by the non-profit National Space Society, highlights the historical significance of the New Horizons mission.

The fastest spacecraft ever created, New Horizons will speed past Pluto on July 14, 2015, 50 years to the day after humans first explored Mars with NASA’s Mariner 4 on July 14, 1965. The spacecraft will beam back high resolution imagery and invaluable scientific data of the dwarf planet’s surface for the first time in human history, thus bringing a dramatic culmination to 50 years of NASA’s initial efforts in planetary reconnaissance.

“This extended version of the video, New Horizons, is amazing, showing why we explore the planets, and what an incredible and historic accomplishment human beings have achieved in the past 50 years – from the first missions to Venus and Mars to New Horizons at Pluto – in that pursuit,” said Alan Stern, NSS member and Principal Investigator of the New Horizons mission.

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National Space Society Urges NASA and SpaceX to Continue Developing Innovative Rocket Reuse Technology

The loss of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 7 (CRS-7) mission on June 28th demonstrates, in the view of the National Space Society (NSS), the wisdom of NASA’s policy of maintaining technologically different competitive CRS providers. This was the seventh of 12 contracted flights to the International Space Station (ISS) by SpaceX. All 18 previous flights of the Falcon 9 (including five v1.0 flights and thirteen v1.1 flights) have been successful in meeting their primary objectives. CRS-7 was to have launched a new docking ring to the ISS for future use by NASA Commercial Crew flights and would have made another first stage recovery attempt.

NSS would like to express continued support for SpaceX and NASA as they analyze and test to understand and recover from Sunday’s launch failure.  “Spacecraft engineering is a very challenging profession and failure is always one possible outcome but we learn, implement and move forward,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Operating Officer. “NASA and the US government should continue to support the ISS, including the commercial cargo and crew programs.”

Paul Werbos, member of the NSS Board of Directors, said, “In a free market world, the government is supposed to be taking on the burden of the most advanced, highest risk challenges, in an open competitive way. NASA has been doing this by supporting SpaceX via the Commercial Resupply Services program as SpaceX develops the technology to reuse launch vehicles.”

NSS fully supports Space X’s efforts to upgrade its Falcon 9 rocket, especially its efforts to make it reusable.   As SpaceX said recently, “A jumbo jet costs about the same as one of our Falcon 9 rockets, but airlines don’t junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York. Yet when it comes to space travel, rockets fly only once-even though the rocket itself represents the majority of launch cost (www.spacex.com/news/2015/06/24/why-and-how-landing-rockets).” NSS believes reusable rockets, once perfected, will be inherently more reliable than expendable vehicles, as well as less costly.

NSS Executive Vice President Dale Skran said: “After a failure like this, voices will be heard calling into question NASA’s use of commercial launch service providers. We need to recall that in spite of the best efforts of NASA and the expenditure of many billions of dollars, NASA lost two space shuttles with their entire crews. Eventual success is built on lessons learned from failures. We are confident that SpaceX will learn from the loss and rapidly return to service.”

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The National Space Society Releases a Stirring Video to Salute the Arrival of NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft at Pluto and the Completion of the First Reconnaissance of the Planets by NASA

(Washington DC, June 16, 2015) On July 14th, NASA’s New Horizons mission will make its closest approach to the Pluto system, completing the first reconnaissance of the Solar System, begun over 50 years ago by NASA. With the completion of the Pluto flyby by New Horizons next month, NASA will have completed successful missions to every planet in the Solar System from Mercury to Pluto.

To celebrate, NSS commissioned a short video film titled “New Horizons,” which is being released today. The stirring video recognizes the historic culmination of this era of first planetary reconnaissance, for which the United States will be forever inscribed in history. New Horizons, can be watched and shared here:

National Space Society’s New Horizons Video

Pluto and Charon art for NSS New Horizons Video

Pluto, its moon Charon, and the New Horizons spacecraft (small white dot near right edge) in a scene from the NSS Video

“NSS is delighted to support the New Horizons mission by helping to share this exciting milestone in space exploration with the general public in America and around the world,” said NSS Senior Operating Officer Bruce Pittman.

The New Horizons video was funded by contributions to NSS made by New Horizons mission partners Aerojet Rocketdyne, Ball Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, and United Launch Alliance. New Horizons was directed and produced by Erik Wernquist, whose video Wanderers, looking to the future of solar system exploration by humans, created a viral sensation last year. New Horizons principal investigator and NSS member Alan Stern served as advisor to the video.

“As both an NSS member and the Principal Investigator of New Horizons, I’m excited about this beautiful film—and very appreciative of the efforts of NSS and its sponsors to create this. It really is stirring; I hope you’ll think so too.” said Alan Stern.

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