The National Space Society (NSS) cordially invites your participation in the 2017 Annual Alliance for Space Development (ASD) 2017 August Home District Blitz congressional action event. During the blitz, local groups will arrange to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the August recess to increase awareness about space related issues. Briefing materials will be provided on topics such as Ultra Low Cost Access to Space initiatives, legislation to enable Cislunar commercialization, making space settlement part of the mission of NASA, and support for planetary defense. The August Home District Blitz is free and open to all; invite your space-interested friends.
The National Space Society (NSS) is very pleased to announce that the team it has been actively supporting in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers has placed first and won one of the three Cube Quest Challenge flight slots on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) scheduled for launch in 2019. The team is led by Dr. Mason Peck and their spacecraft are planned for lunar orbit.
“We at NSS are very excited that the Cislunar Explorers team will be given an opportunity for the first-time in-space demonstration of electrolyzed water propulsion and an autonomous optical space navigation technology,” said Dr. Dean Larson, NSS Director and volunteer member of the team. “These groundbreaking technologies will prove to be very important in opening and settling space and are to be made available open-source to the space community,” he said.
“We’re thrilled to be selected for launch on SLS,” said Dr. Mason Peck.”This spacecraft represents a step toward democratizing space exploration. NASA’s support here marks an important difference between the agency’s contemporary approach to human space and what we saw during the Apollo era: NASA is embracing collaboration, inviting perspectives and technical solutions from all across the nation–private companies or universities exploring on their own terms. We’re all in it together,” he said.
In addition to the rides, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded $20,000 each in prize money, to the winning teams of citizen solvers competing in the fourth and final ground-test round of the agency’s Cube Quest Challenge.
As part of their involvement in the team, NSS has designed an integrated test and evaluation plan and software verification guidance that will be used to help ensure correct functioning of spacecraft systems. NSS has also coordinated a space act agreement with NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and is helping to coordinate an agreement with the Goohilly Earth Station in Cornwall, England to verify our spacecraft will have achieved lunar orbit.
The unique aspects of the spacecraft are summarized on the team website as: “The Cislunar Explorers spacecraft leverage simple physics and symbiosis between several subsystems. The concept is a single rectangular 6U structure that splits into two L-shaped spinning spacecraft with a spring loaded separation mechanism. Each Explorer has a tank of water in the bottom of the “L,” off-center from the spin axis. That water is electrolyzed, using power generated from solar panels, into a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas–excellent rocket propellant. The spacecraft spin helps separate the combustible gas from the inert water like a centrifuge.” See the Cislunar Explorers website for more details about the spacecraft. (http://cislunarexplorers.wordpress.com)
According to NASA, once deployed from SLS, the CubeSats will vie for a share of a $5 million prize in the first-ever competition in cislunar and deep space. The three Cube Quest Challenge teams launching on SLS are:
Cislunar Explorers, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
CU-E3, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado
Team Miles, Fluid & Reason, LLC, Tampa, Florida
“We are delighted in the profound achievements of these teams,” said Steve Jurczyk, STMD associate administrator. “Each team has pushed the boundaries of technology and innovation. Now, it’s time to take this competition into space – and may the best CubeSat win.”
Also from NASA: “The final phase of the Cube Quest Challenge comprises two segments: the Deep Space Derby and the Lunar Derby. In the Deep Space Derby, teams must demonstrate communications capabilities from a range of at least four million kilometers from Earth – more than 10 times the distance to the Moon – while the Lunar Derby requires teams to achieve a lunar orbit where they will compete for near-Earth communications and longevity achievements. Prizes will be awarded for orbiting the Moon, communicating the fastest and farthest, and surviving the longest.
The Cube Quest Challenge offers a total of $5 million, NASA’s largest-ever competition prize purse, to teams that meet the challenge objectives of designing, building and delivering flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the Moon.”
NSS will provide updates as the project completes its milestones towards flight. Congratulations to our Cislunar Explorers!
In order to drive innovation forward in space manufacturing technology, Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), has chosen the grand-prize-winning university students in its “Print The Future” competition. Announced at its 36th annual NSS International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in St. Louis, Missouri last weekend, the winner is Team ProtoFluidics’ microfluidic modules from University of Pennsylvania. Undergraduate students Adam Zachar, Laura Gao and Jaimie Carlson designed 3D-printable modules that enable rapid prototyping of microfluidic experiments aboard the ISS.
Through the “Print The Future” competition, EIS-along with Kepler Space Institute, Made In Space (MIS), Sketchfab, 3D Hubs, and Prairie Nanotechnology offered university teams a chance to 3D print a NewSpace experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). University teams were invited to create designs that push the bounds of 3D printing in microgravity to serve humanity in expanding its presence among the stars.
In this competition, winners were chosen based on the scientific and engineering merit, commercial potential, and originality of the designs. “With our 3D-printable microfluidic modules, researchers can easily design custom microfluidic circuits to conduct experiments for disease diagnosis, chemical analysis, protein crystallization, and more, capitalizing on the microgravity on station,” said Adam Zachar. “This process allows researchers to bypass the cost of fabricating and transporting conventional microfluidics to orbit,” he said.
Zachar added, “The most valuable economic advantages to 3D printing microfluidics on the ISS are the immense time and cost savings to researchers. Currently, sending a microfluidic experiment up to the ISS can cost as much as $27,000 for the launch and up to 12 months of wait time. 3D printing could significantly reduce these costs and delays by allowing researchers to fabricate their experiments on station, bypassing the launch completely.”
Team ProtoFluidics will work with MIS to 3D print their project on Earth as a test before printing aboard the ISS. The project will be 3D printed on the ISS before the end of the year. The project will be returned to Earth, where the winner will be able to leverage Prairie Nanotechnology’s advanced research equipment to study the results.
One member of the grand prize team will also receive the 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.
The first place runner up was Team H2’s H2 Capsule. University of Pennsylvania Masters students Hyung Jin Yoo and Haimin Yie created a capsule that early Mars Explorers can use to store objects and media to convey their stories and personalities to future generations, as a means of confronting and accepting death as a possible outcome of their mission.
The second place runner up was Team Bengal Tigers’ Multi-Purpose Wrench. North Carolina State University PhD student Hasan Latif and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Masters students Habibur Rahman, Ankhy Sultana, Shourav Ahmed and Tavila Sharmin designed a 3D printable tool that reduces the need for multiple different tools required for loosening and tightening various sizes of nuts, bolts and screws.
All finalist teams presented their experiments at the ISDC®. All finalist entries are on display on the popular 3D modeling community Sketchfab. To learn more about the competition, visit the contest page at enterpriseinspace.org/print-the-future. EIS thanks all who have participated in our competition this year.
The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates SpaceX on the successful June 3 launch of a re-used Dragon capsule from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as part of the Commercial Resupply Services 11 (CRS-11) mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). This was the 100th launch from LC 39A. The SpaceX Falcon 9 made history on June 3, 2017 at 5:07 p.m. EDT by lofting a “flight proven” Dragon capsule toward the ISS. SpaceX successfully returned the Falcon 9 first stage to the launch site for later re-use.
This was the first time a private company has flown a re-used orbital craft. The most significant re-used orbital spacecraft prior to the Dragon were the now retired Space Shuttle and the currently operating Air Force/Boeing X-37B space plane, but both were government owned. The Dragon capsule that rocketed through the Florida skies today previously flew as part of the CRS-4 mission in September 2014.
NSS also congratulates ViaSat on another milestone, which occurred on June 1: the successful Ariane 5 launch of communication satellite ViaSat-2 (manufactured by Boeing), launched with Eutelsat 172B from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. “ViaSat-2 is going to be the highest-capacity satellite ever launched, with about 300 gigabits (per second) of total capacity, which is more than double what we had on ViaSat-1, which was launched less than six years ago, and more than 40 times the capacity of WildBlue 1, which was launched by Arianespace about 10 years ago,” said David Abrahamian, director of space systems at ViaSat. “So that shows you just how fast the technology is moving.”
“Both SpaceX and ViaSat are taking significant steps forward in the developing space economy,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX has previously demonstrated re-use of a flight proven first stage and attempted to recover fairings. NSS thanks NASA for its on-going support of SpaceX’s technology development program with Space Act Agreements and service contracts.”
The re-use of the Falcon 9 first stage and the Dragon capsule supports Milestone 2: Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit of the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement which can be found at: http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html. The launch of ViaSat 2 supports Milestone 7: Applications of Space Technology on and for Earth.
The Dragon capsule carried over 2,708 kgs (5,970 lbs) of cargo to the ISS. Included in the cargo manifest is the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) that will study the physics of neutron stars. NICER will also demonstrate the use of pulsars as natural beacons to enable spacecraft navigation into deep space. Upon completion of its mission the Dragon will return to Earth loaded with the results of scientific experiments done on the ISS.
“The re-use of a Dragon capsule is yet another example of how SpaceX uses cargo flights to prove out new technologies that can be later used on crewed flights, and is a key step toward a commercial return to the Moon,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman.
Member of the NSS Policy Committee David Cheuvront, a retired NASA engineer and risk-analysis expert, was interviewed at the ISDC by Downlink.co (unrelated to the NSS publication Ad Astra Downlink) about the first Dragon re-use on the CRS-11 launch by SpaceX.
“As their program evolved, I saw that [SpaceX] was doing a lot of the same things that our Next Generation Launch Technology program wanted to do but we were never allowed to, like having extra design margins on the structure, or having [greater] engine-out capabilities than we could have,” Cheuvront told The Downlink. “The big one was basically taking a crew-configured vehicle and launching cargo with it several times. Instead of trying to do some dedicated tests on it, as few tests as you could convince yourself was reasonable — to gain the confidence to put a crew in it, or maybe just put a crew in it the first time — instead, they were kind of steadily working up to it, demonstrating it with cargo so that if you lost it, it wasn’t human life.”
The 2017 International Space Development Conference is over, but the effect of the conference will continue for months to come. With over 800 attendees, and an unprecedented number of international and youth participants, our message will have an important and meaningful impact on the space advocacy community and beyond.
There were a number of major figures from the space community present, including many you have come to know well through the pages of Ad Astra and the NSS newsletters. Notable among them were Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration Operations Directorate, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency, and Andy Aldrin, Director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute. The rostrum also hosted two Lieutenant Generals with stellar spaceflight credentials: Tom Stafford, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and Steven Kwast, Commander and President, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Their messages may have come from a military perspective, but they spoke of a future beneficial to all involved.
Stafford delivered a rousing talk on his perspectives as an astronaut and his take on our future in the final frontier. A veteran of two Gemini flights, he first flew on Gemini 6 with Wally Schirra, and then aboard Gemini 9 with Gene Cernan. He then flew on Apollo 10 with Cernan, experiencing the first lunar emergency when their Lunar Module spun out of control during a low-altitude test flight over the lunar surface: When he jettisoned the descent stage of the lunar module, the ascent stage went into a spin, coming dangerously close to the surface before he recovered control through his deft piloting skills. His final spaceflight was aboard the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the final flight of the Apollo program, which lasted nine days. Shortly after arriving in orbit, his Apollo Command Module docked with a Soviet Soyuz capsule, and for 44 hours the two crews shared food and the camaraderie of brothers in space during the height of the cold war.
Stafford was emphatic about what our country can do when challenged. During the space race, Launch Complex 39, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Saturn V Moon rocket, Apollo Command Module, and Lunar Module were all created from whole cloth in less than six years. These machines, and the people who designed and built them, enabled the greatest journeys of exploration in human history. Stafford advocated strongly for the maintenance of American supremacy in space.
The second blue-suiter, General Steven Kwast, provided similarly inspirational testimony about the imperative for our nation to maintain the high ground—not for war, but to maintain peace. Kwast’s moving speech inspired attendees to look towards maintaining a leadership position in the protection of our precious planet, currently challenged not just politically but environmentally as well. His speech was a voice of restraint and stability in an age of great uncertainty.
Representing the old and new guard of Air Force leadership, both men are emblematic of the continued strong and enlightened command of the United States Air Force and its continuing quest to ensure the peaceful exploration and utilization of space for the betterment of all humanity.
Every year, the National Space Society (NSS) works with the NASA Ames Research Center to conduct a student competition in which teams from around the world design future orbital space settlements that will house thousands of people. This year the contest received more than 1,500 submissions from an estimated 6,000 students. The Grand Prize for the 2017 Space Settlement Contest went to a small team of two students (grade 10), Shashwat Goel and Ankita Phulia from New Delhi, India. Their winning design was called Anastasi. These students were mentored by student mentor Aditya Sengupta and teacher Anil Kumar Verma of Delhi Public School R.K. Puram.
One of two grand prize students along with hundreds of other contest-winning students and teachers from the United States and countries across the globe will converge in St. Louis this month for the National Space Society’s 36th annual International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) to celebrate and engage people in the goal of space settlement. They will present their projects to conference attendees. The event is set for May 24-29, 2017 at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel.
“The students attending the ISDC are so passionate and excited to be there to share their ideas and projects. There is so much to learn from them, their cultures, and creative insights,” said Lynne F. Zielinski, NSS vice president of public affairs and chair of NSS’ education and outreach committee. “We are always dazzled by their insightful and futuristic designs. Their enthusiasm is infectious and gives us all hope that we will soon be living and working in space ourselves. These students are the ones to take us there.”
About the Winning Project
Anastasi is an underwater settlement, a low cost simulation of artificial habitats in outer space. It will provide insights on the conditions of early orbital space settlements as well as serve as a training facility for the early inhabitants of these. Anastasi will be a profitable venture proving the commercial viability of colonizing unexplored territories. It will be located in the Dead Sea and will have immense benefits for the region as it aims to desalinate enclosed areas of the sea and introduce marine life that could not survive earlier.
Students’ Experience with the Competition
Winning students Aditya Sengupta and Ankita Phulia had this to say: “Our school (Delhi Public School R.K.Puram, India) has a club called the Aerospace Society (Aeross) that has been participating in the NASA Ames Contest since 2013. That’s how we got to know about the contest. We were very nervous about sending an unconventional entry which was not an ‘orbital settlement in space’ and it was unbelievable when we got to know that we had won the grand prize. Winning the prize has strengthened our belief in our work and we will further improve the concept as we hope that it becomes a reality one day and serves as an important step in the path to space colonization.”
Teacher In-charge Mr. Anil Kumar Verma on the Competition
“The NASA Ames Contest has not only developed an interest towards aerospace, it has motivated students to come up with creative concepts and has helped build a temperament towards research at an early age,” said Teacher-In-Charge Anil Kumar Verma. “It provides the students a great platform to gain knowledge and getting their work recognized by NASA encourages them to work hard,” he said.
Student Mentor Aditya Sengupta on the Competition
“This has been my third year in the competition and it feels great that a team I mentored has won the Grand Prize,” said Aditya Sengupta, the student mentor for the project. “I came up with the idea of how the oceans were quite similar to space and proposed this to Shashwat and Ankita as a side-research project. It was initially not intended to be submitted to the NASA Ames Contest but because the research came out quite well, they decided to submit it to Ames even though it was a ‘Space Settlement Design Competition.’ It was very exciting to see the students working so hard on a very abstract and challenging concept as both were well-versed with Space Settlement Design but Underwater Settlement Design forced them to step out of their comfort zone,” he said.
We examine the radiation shielding requirements for protecting the inhabitants of orbital space settlements. Following an extensive analysis of the literature, we recommend a limit of 20 mSv/yr for the general population and 6.6 mGy/yr for pregnant women based on the most relevant standards, existing data and background radiation on Earth. In a surprising result, radiation measurements on the International Space Station (ISS) and our calculations using OLTARIS, NASA’s online radiation computational tool, indicate that space settlements in Equatorial Low Earth Orbit (ELEO) below about 500 km are likely to meet this standard with little or no dedicated radiation shielding. This reduces the mass of typical orbital space settlement designs by 95% or more, suggesting that the easiest place to build the first space settlements is in ELEO due to proximity to Earth and relatively low system mass.
It is important to note that there are significant uncertainties in our understanding of the human effects of the continuous low-level high-energy particle radiation characteristic of space in general and ELEO in particular that need to be resolved. Thus, our conclusions should be considered preliminary.
As a demonstration of EIS’ NewSpace education program, the experiments draw from the different areas of the educational spectrum, middle school education and postgraduate research. In partnership with EIS’ higher education-focused Enterprise Centers for Excellence program, the Center for Applied Space Technology (CAST) has designed a biological microgravity experiment for postgraduate research into space medicine. Using a Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) 100, featuring nine petri dishes, CAST believes its experiment will have both terrestrial applications and uses during long-duration space flight.
Within the broader EIS Academy, EIS worked with Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy to design an entry-level experiment that introduces middle school students to lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education. These include experiments related to such things as using the heat of space to melt crayons into space art and determining the effects of the space environment on maple tree seeds that will be grown back on Earth when returned from space.
To house the experiments, Goodin’s class had to quickly produce a 3D-printed container that met the criteria of EXOS’ SARGE launch vehicle. The class was able to rapidly 3D print the special-made cube housing using the school’s Ultimaker 3D printer before putting the container through a drop test to ensure that it would survive the spacecraft’s journey into suborbital space. This team of 24 students operated at a space race pace. From concept to payload delivery took the team less than two months. The experiment will be launched in late May.
“Reusable rocket technology makes it possible to cut the launch waiting period for a payload dramatically, while also reducing costs,” said EXOS Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer John Quinn. “This lowers the barriers for the types of NewSpace education experiments made possible by EIS.”
The results of the biological experiment will be published online in the Enterprise Center for Excellence for Regenerative Medicine for Long Duration Space Flight, where university through postgraduate students in the EIS Academy will have access to the material to advance their education. Additionally, EXOS will work with EIS to create an educational K-12 curriculum for the EIS Academy (www.eisacademy.org), as the two partners further develop a long-term relationship.
Both experiments will be launched into space as payloads aboard EXOS’ next suborbital rocket launch, slated for late May at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Upon the successful completion of the launch, EXOS will present on its results at the upcoming International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in St. Louis, MO, May 25-29, 2017. As a capstone event, EXOS will also hand-deliver the space-flown experiment package to the students.
Experiments designed by Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy, along with the 3D-printed capsule in which they will be stored. Experiments include: crayons that will melt to form space art, popcorn that will pop in the heat of space and sticky notes, to determine if the space environment reduces their adhesion.
Students from Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy, along with the 3D-printed capsule and their experiments.
SPACE Canada and the National Space Society (NSS), working with the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Power Committee, the Global Space Solar Power Working Group (GSSP-WG) of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), have organized a new annual faculty-advised, student-conducted international research and engineering research/paper competition on the topic of Space Solar Power.
“Space solar power is the concept of harvesting solar energy in space, 24-7 and delivering it safely and economically via wireless power transmission to markets on Earth. This exciting new student competition will encourage the involvement of young engineers and scientists in this important field of energy and space research,” said John Mankins, NSS Director and coordinator of the international SSP student Competition.
The purpose of this new annual competition is to engender new, meaningful and credible student research projects in the broad field of Space Solar Power, and to support the presentation of the best of the various projects by students in an international forum. “The projects proposed and the breadth of students participating is tremendously gratifying,” said George Dietrich, President of SPACE Canada and sponsor of the competition.
During 2017, the first year of this new competition, 16 projects were proposed from 5 different countries (including China, the US, Japan, the Netherlands, and India) and involving some 14 academic institutions, 8 faculty advisors and 49 graduate and undergraduate students. From the submitted proposals, 7 have been selected as semi-finalists and have been invited to present (with support from SPACE Canada) at the upcoming NSS International Space Development Conference®, ISDC® 2017 (May 25-29) in St. Louis, Missouri USA during the Space Solar Power Track. NSS invites the public to attend this conference to view the presentations and see who wins.
The semi-finalist teams include students from the following institutions: Dalian University of Technology (China), Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), Hampton University (USA), Harbin Institute of Technology (China), Hosei University (Japan), Indiana University (USA), Kitawato University (Japan), Princeton University (USA), Purdue University / Indianapolis (USA), Shizuoka University (Japan), The Graduate University of Advanced Studies (Japan), Tokai University (Japan), Tokyo University of Science (Japan), University of Colorado / Boulder (USA), and the University of Maryland (Baltimore County and College Park Campuses, USA).
Following their presentations at the ISDC 2017® Conference, winning teams will be invited (with travel support) to present technical papers summarizing their research at the Space Power Symposium at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2017) during 25-29 September in Adelaide, Australia.
SPACE Canada is dedicated to promoting, supporting and encouraging international dialogue on space-based solar power through research, education and commercialization.