Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Rover and Science Team Wins the National Space Society’s von Braun Award

The Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Rover and Science Team is the winner of the National Space Society’s Wernher von Braun Memorial Award. This award will be presented at the National Space Society’s 2015 International Space Development Conference (http://isdc.nss.org/2015/). This will be the 34th ISDC and will be held in Toronto, Canada, at the Hyatt Regency Toronto (downtown). The conference will run from May 20-24, 2015.

About the von Braun Award

Von Braun AwardThe von Braun award is given in odd-numbered years to recognize excellence in management of and leadership for a space-related project where the project is significant and successful and the manager has the loyalty of a strong team. The award was originally proposed in 1992 by National Space Society Awards Committee member Frederick I. Ordway III, a close associate of and co-author with Wernher von Braun. More information about the von Braun Award and past recipients can be found on the NSS awards page.

About the MSL Curiosity Rover Team

The von Braun Award recognizes the team’s success in conducting over two years of highly significant science operations including drillings at multiple sites in Gale crater. Results so far include discovery of two different ancient aqueous environments on Mars. One of these was found in sedimentary rock, made up of fine-grained mudstone containing clay and sulfate minerals. This was near an ancient stream bed, which contained water-worn rocks and may have flowed about a foot deep. The chemically-mild environment at this site could have supported ancient microbial life on Mars. The rover has also found low but variable levels of atmospheric methane, which contributes to the understanding of the Mars atmosphere. In addition, measurements of background radiation taken by the rover contribute to management of hazards for future human explorers. With the rover currently operating at science sites near the base of Mt. Sharp, the mission promises many more important results.

Curiosity Team

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Lori Garver Wins the National Space Society’s Non-Legislative Government Service Space Pioneer Award

The National Space Society announces that former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is the winner of its 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the non-legislative Government Service category. This award will be presented at the National Space Society’s 2015 International Space Development Conference (http://isdc.nss.org/2015/). This will be the 34th ISDC and will be held in Toronto, Canada, at the Hyatt Regency Toronto (downtown). The conference will run from May 20-24, 2015.

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 left, 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 Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988.

About Lori Garver

Lori GarverLori has served two terms of service with NASA, the first from 1996-2001 when she served as Associate Administrator of the Office of Policy and Plans. In 2008-2009, she served as the head of the Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for NASA. She became the Deputy Administrator of NASA in July, 2009. During her term as Deputy Administrator, she steadfastly supported the areas of launch privatization and new technology development that will allow more effective human space operations both in low Earth orbit and beyond. Since her departure from NASA in September, 2013, she has remained outspoken in her support for launch privatization, and about how space can be used for the benefit of and the economic expansion of mankind. She is currently the General Manager of the Airline Pilots Association, International.

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Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest Winner Announced

Enterprise in Space Orbiter
Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest Winner

The results are in and the three winners of the NSS Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest have been announced. Of the three winning entries, it is the Grand Prize winning entry that will be used as the design for the NSS Enterprise Orbiter – a donor-funded project that will carry some 100 student experiments to space for approximately one week and return them to Earth. It is important to note that donations are not only funding the construction and launch of the orbiter but will also cover the flight costs of the student experiments. You can learn more by reading the Enterprise In Space project description and you can help to make this unique project a success by making a donation.

The Grand Prize entry in the contest was submitted by Stanley Von Medvey, a concept artist currently living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. The First Prize winning entry was submitted by Steven Pestana, a college senior at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona. The Second Prize winning entry was submitted by John Cortes, a first-year graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering.

"The Enterprise in Space team and I want to thank all the people who sent in their wonderful and imaginative science fiction inspired ship designs from all over the world," said EIS Founder Shawn Case. The winning designs and the press release announcing the winning entries can be seen at www.enterpriseinspace.org/winner/.

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The International Space Station as a Research Hub

From Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee:

One of the major foci of the NSS Policy Committee has been and continues to be supporting the International Space Station and the associated critical Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) programs.  One reason both are so important to the ISS lies in the incredible value of the ability to both move new experiments to the ISS on a regular basis, and to return experimental results when they are ready.  It should be noted that the Russian Soyuz is a very tight fit for the three astronauts, and it has virtually no return-to-Earth cargo capacity.  Thus, without the CRS SpaceX Dragon, there would be no way to return experiments to Earth. NASA has produced the interesting half-hour video below that reviews science and technology efforts on the ISS during 2014.

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“We Are Going to Mars”

Boeing version:


Trailer for “Journey to Space” IMAX 3D film opening February 2015.

SpaceX version:


Animation of Falcon Heavy launch with booster return.

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February Legislative Blitz and March Storm

Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2015 Legislative Blitz

The National Space Society will be participating in the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2015 Legislative Blitz. During the SEA Blitz teams of up to four space advocates from various organizations visit Congressional offices in Washington, DC. NSS encourages all members to sign up for and participate in the SEA Blitz as described at www.spaceexplorationalliance.org/blitz. When registering for the SEA Blitz we request that you answer the last question by saying that you will represent NSS.

We are currently planning on holding a special dinner training session for NSS members only on the evening of Sunday, February 22nd, following the SEA training session. Dale Skran, Deputy Chair of the NSS Policy Committee will be coordinating NSS members. Please send him a short email message at dale.skran@nss.org indicating you plan to participate in the Blitz and whether you will be attending the Sunday evening NSS-only session.

SEA includes groups ranging from NSS and Explore Mars to AIAA, the Moon Society, the Mars Society, the Planetary Society, the National Society of Black Engineers, SEDS, and Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation. The major goal of the SEA Blitz from an NSS perspective will be to provide as much support for the NASA budget as possible during these difficult budgetary times. Now is the time to stand up for space and be counted.

I look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC. February 22-24, 2015.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

March Storm

If February in Washington DC is too cold for you, consider joining the March Storm Congressional action event organized by the Space Frontier Foundation March 15-19. The March Storm focuses more narrowly on space development than the SEA Blitz. You can expect topics being pushed to include a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and increased funding for commercial research on the ISS. The basic commitment is to a training session on Sunday, March 15, and to one day on the Hill on March 16th. Supporters with more time can join additional Congressional visits on March 17/18/19. If you are interested, register at joshuajenkins.wix.com/marchstorm2015 with an email to dale.skran@nss.org.

I plan on joining the MARCH STORM March 15-16th, and look forward to seeing you there.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

NSS August Home District Blitz

If you live too far from Washington to participate in the SEA 2015 Blitz or the March Storm Blitz, NSS organizes a “home district” Blitz later in the year during August when Congress is in recess and members of Congress are most probably in their home districts. This Blitz supports an agenda that is fully determined by NSS. If you are interested in participating in the home district visits please send an email to dale.skran@nss.org. This email should contain your contact information. Please indicate in the email if you are willing to act as a local visit organizer in addition to joining a visit trip. We need at least one local organizer in each state, and especially encourage multiple volunteers for larger states such as California and Texas.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

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National Space Society Applauds Milestone on the Road to Space Settlement: First Precision Return of a Falcon 9 First Stage to an Ocean Platform

The recent launch of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 5 (CRS-5) on January 10th represents a major step towards space settlement, according to the National Space Society (NSS). The Dragon capsule berthed with the International Space Station (ISS) at 5:54 am EST Monday, January 12th. This is the seventh flight of the Dragon, and the fifth of 12 contracted flights to the ISS by SpaceX.

CRS-5 marked a major step forward for SpaceX’s efforts to develop reusable rocket technology. Such technology is called for in Milestone 2 of the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap, titled “Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit” based on, among other things, “re-usable vehicles.” For the first time ever, SpaceX attempted to land a returning first stage on an ocean-going platform. The stage impacted the platform “hard” according to Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO. The ocean platform measures 300-ft by 170-ft, and achieving this level of precision on first stage return represents a significant milestone toward a reusable launcher. CRS-5 also utilized for the first time hydraulic grid fins to control the descent. Musk stated that the “grid fins worked extremely well…but ran out of hydraulic fluid right before landing.” The next Falcon 9 flight will increase the amount of hydraulic fluid by 50%, raising the chance of a successful landing that will lead to ultimate re-use of the first stage and a significant drop in the cost of flying to space.

NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman said: “We congratulate SpaceX on this significant step toward a fully re-usable first stage, and look forward to even greater success as SpaceX continues to test its re-usable vehicle technology during 2015.”

The Dragon cargo includes the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) experiment in the unpressurized Trunk section of the Dragon. CATS, a laser based imaging system, will be connected to the Japanese section of the ISS, Kibo, and will be used to study atmospheric particulates. The ability of the Dragon (and the Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus, once it returns to flight) to routinely take new experiments to the ISS, and for the Dragon to return experimental results, is critical to enabling the ISS to be used for scientific and commercial research. Over 1,662 kg (3,664 lb) of cargo is targeted for return to Earth via this Dragon capsule.

New scientific breakthroughs often result when science is done in unexplored extreme environments such as the microgravity found in space. Among the scientific experiments on CRS-5 are a study of cell regeneration in flatworms in microgravity and a study of fruit fly immune systems in space. Other CRS-5 payloads include a pair of Planet Labs commercial Earth imaging Flock -1d’ satellites that will replace some of the satellites lost when the Orbital Sciences Antares failed in October 2014.

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Indian Space Research Organization Mars Orbiter Programme Team Wins National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

The National Space Society takes great pleasure in announcing that its 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category has been won by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Programme Team. This award will be presented to an ISRO representative during the National Space Society’s 2015 International Space Development Conference, the 34th ISDC, to be held in Toronto, Canada, at the Hyatt Regency Toronto (downtown). The Conference will run from May 20-24, 2015.

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 left, 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 Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988.

About ISRO Mars Orbiter Programme Team and the Mars Orbiter Mission

ISRO MarsThe mission was launched on Nov 5, 2013 and went into Mars orbit on Sept 24, 2014. This mission has achieved two significant mission firsts. (1) An Indian spacecraft has gone into orbit around Mars on the very first try (on Sept 24, 2014). No other country has ever done this. (2) The spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit with a high apoapsis, and has a high resolution camera which is taking full-disk color imagery of Mars. Very few full disk images have ever been taken in the past, mostly on approach to the planet, as most imaging is done looking straight down in mapping mode. These images will aid planetary scientists. The Mars Orbiter programme team located in Bangalore, India, is headed by Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai.

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NASA Commercial LEO Workshop

On December 10-11, 2014, NASA held a workshop on the commercialization of low Earth orbit.  The goal of the workshop was to start a dialog about creating a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO over the next decade, enabled by human spaceflight.  Historically, NASA has been both the primary supplier and consumer of human spaceflight capabilities and services in LEO.  However, NASA has begun to change this historical model by purchasing cargo transportation services commercially and is facilitating the development of commercial crew transportation and rescue capabilities.  By the end of 2017, NASA plans to purchase both crew and cargo delivery services to the ISS from commercial suppliers.  By the 2020’s, near the planned end of the life of the ISS, NASA’s intention is to transition LEO from being government-led to significantly more private sector involvement (both supply and demand side).  In this scenario, both research requirements and investigations are private sector need driven, and the supply-side transportation and microgravity capabilities are private sector provided.

To date, NASA has worked on establishing a private sector transportation capability for both cargo and crew.  Also, NASA, through CASIS and other efforts, has offered the ISS as venue for the private sector to explore the benefits of space-based research for terrestrial companies.  In the future, it will be critical for a commercial market for microgravity capabilities be developed by the private sector.  Creating this marketplace will require the efforts of both government and industry.  Through the information and ideas gathered and developed during this workshop, NASA intends to formulate a new strategy – including new initiatives and projects – designed to encourage the emergence of this commercial marketplace to the maximum extent possible.

Topics covered included enabling policy statements and incentives; enabling mission goals; promising commercial markets in LEO; commercial operation of ISS systems; promising microgravity R&D investment areas of high probable return to the nation; barriers to commercialization of LEO.

Some key questions that were discussed included:

  • What regulation changes and investment incentives would encourage commercial research and application activities in LEO?
  • What kind of intellectual property rights protections are required to engage private capital for research on ISS?
  • What are the most promising near-term market opportunities in LEO and how can they better be enabled using the ISS?  What are the most promising long-term applications of LEO that the ISS program can enable?
  • Is there a business case outside the government for multiple LEO platforms that are specialized for individual markets  (tourism, micro-gravity research/production, free-flying human tended Earth observing platform, etc.)?
  • What can the government do to encourage LEO supply providers to seek non-NASA customers for their services or capabilities?
  • Is there an overlap between LEO commercial platform capabilities and NASA’s exploration goals?

A summary of the workshop will be posted by NASA in January along with possible future activities.

Presentations:

NASA – Sam Scimemi, Director, International Space Station

FAA – Dr. George Nield, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation

CASIS – Greg Johnson, Executive Director

Industry Perspectives:

Carlos Grodsinsky, ZIN Technologies

James Muncy, PoliSpace

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Voting Is Open For The Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest

NSS Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest Vote
Enterprise In Space Project

Voting is open for the public to select their favorite entry in the National Space Society (NSS) Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest. The purpose of the Enterprise In Space (EIS) project is to build and return to Earth a satellite that will carry approximately 100 student experiments to low-Earth-orbit. Upon its return to Earth the satellite will go on a tour of museums world-wide before becoming a permanent exhibit at a museum to be named.

The public vote represents the first round in the selection process. The results of this vote will be a key consideration in the final round of judging which involves a panel of seven judges. These judges will formally select the Grand Prize, First Prize, and Second Prize winners. In addition to the results of the public vote, the judges will consider design feasibility as well as submission adherence to contest guidelines.

Voting ends at midnight UTC on December 21.

Vote now in the Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest.

Update: Close of voting has been extended from midnight UTC Fri. Dec 19 to midnight UTC Sun. Dec 21 to give people the opportunity to vote over the weekend.

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