National Space Society Reports on Annual Conference

The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) announced the conclusion of its 32nd International Space Development Conference (ISDC), which was held May 23-27, 2013 in San Diego, California.

Despite the slowdown in federal spending and travel restriction on government leaders and other personnel, the conference was among the biggest held by NSS. Over 800 participants from around the world, including approximately 400 students, took part in a wide range of field trips, discussions, and presentations.

Key focus areas included use of and protection against asteroids, living in space, breakthrough science and space technologies, emerging uses of space to improve life on Earth, and opportunities for lunar and Martian exploration. Attendees also focused on space and education. Discussions about space business and policy rounded out the agenda.

The conference was host to the world’s premier international forum on use of satellites to collect and beam energy to Earth, to provide clean, continuous electricity. This concept has been thoroughly studied for many years as an answer to the Earth’s long-term energy needs.

There was also an innovative set of presentations on the topic of how transhumanism can impact space settlement in the long term, by altering human beings to better survive and thrive in the space environment.

NSS took this occasion to formally release its latest Roadmap for Space Settlement and Development, a document that puts practically all space-related activities in context and explains how humanity can overcome the major expected barriers to growing our civilization into space.

A number of revolutionary developments were announced at the conference, including startling recent advances in growing stem cells in space and how they can be used.

A highlight of the Conference was a presentation by Dr. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, that proposed a multinational research program for a Livable World, with a focus on producing electricity in space from sunlight and beaming it back to Earth.  His speech is available here.

Another key element was a discussion by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin of innovative approaches to lunar and Martian human exploration and development, including new insights into concepts for interplanetary space travel.

A focus on the next generation was the reason the conference hosted the winners of a major international student design competition.  Student teams from many nations presented their designs for future space settlements and an international student space art contest. The students reveled in meeting their heroes and role models in the space community.

Achievements in space activity were recognized by the presentation of NSS Space Pioneer awards to Dr. Mae Jemison, Hon. Dana Rohrabacher, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Development team, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Team, and the Mars Science laboratory (Curiosity) Descent and Landing Team. Dr. Kalam received the Society’s prestigious  Werhner von Braun Memorial Award.

Clearly, the ISDC again proved itself to be unique among the world’s space conferences.

The Society plans to hold the 33rd ISDC in Los Angeles from May 23-27, 2014.

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