NSS links up with the International Space Elevator Consortium

The National Space Society and the International Space Elevator Consortium signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 15 August 2013.  This understanding between these 501(c)(3) organizations illustrates the strength of ideas and committed volunteers.  Recently NSS released “Milestones to Space Settlement: An NSS Roadmap” presenting the following vision:

The National Space Society (“NSS”) is a nonprofit educational organization whose Vision is: “People living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.”

This Vision embraces both space as a future second home for humanity and the resources of space (such as the Sun’s energy for space-based solar power, extra-terrestrial minerals for raw materials, and low-gravity for manufacturing) being used for the benefit of all of us on the Earth. These two elements of the Vision are intertwined: development of space products and services for the people of Earth will both require human presence in space and will enable and motivate expansion of our species away from the home planet.

The partnership of two visionary organizations should strengthen each other’s activities.  As the ISEC has a similar mission, the two organizations should have many common projects and ideas.

“… ISEC promotes the development, construction and operation of a space elevator as a revolutionary and efficient way to space for all humanity …”

Due to their shared interest, as shown by their mission statements and vision, the two organizations, working together, should be able to contribute even more to the widespread economic development of space and the betterment of mankind.

The International Space Elevator Consortium is the result of a coming-together of many leading figures and organizations who have worked long and hard over many years to promote the concept of a Space Elevator.  With organizational members in the United States, Europe and Japan and individual members from around the world, ISEC’s goal is nothing less than to get a Space Elevator built.

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Experimental Spaceplane Shooting for “Aircraft-Like” Operations in Orbit

New program seeks to lower satellite launch costs by developing a reusable hypersonic unmanned vehicle with costs, operation and reliability similar to traditional aircraft

Commercial, civilian and military satellites provide crucial real-time information essential to providing strategic national security advantages to the United States. The current generation of satellite launch vehicles, however, is expensive to operate, often costing hundreds of millions of dollars per flight. Moreover, U.S. launch vehicles fly only a few times each year and normally require scheduling years in advance, making it extremely difficult to deploy satellites without lengthy pre-planning. Quick, affordable and routine access to space is increasingly critical for U.S. Defense Department operations.

To help address these challenges, DARPA has established the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The program aims to develop a fully reusable unmanned vehicle that would provide aircraft-like access to space. The vehicle is envisioned to operate from a “clean pad” with a small ground crew and no need for expensive specialized infrastructure. This setup would enable routine daily operations and flights from a wide range of locations. XS-1 seeks to deploy small satellites faster and more affordably, while demonstrating technology for next-generation space and hypersonic flight for both government and commercial users.

“We want to build off of proven technologies to create a reliable, cost-effective space delivery system with one-day turnaround,” said Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager heading XS-1. “How it’s configured, how it gets up and how it gets back are pretty much all on the table—we’re looking for the most creative yet practical solutions possible.”

DARPA seeks ideas and technical proposals for how to best develop and implement the XS-1 program. The agency has scheduled an XS-1 Proposers’ Day for Monday, October 7, 2013. The agency also plans to hold 1-on-1 discussions with potential proposers on the following day, October 8, 2013. Advance registration is required; more information is available at http://www.sa-meetings.com/XS1ProposersDay. Registration closes on Tuesday, October 1,2013, at 12:00 PM EDT. For more information, please email DARPA-SN-14-01@darpa.mil.

The DARPA Special Notice describing the specific capabilities the program seeks is available at http://go.usa.gov/DNkF. A Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for XS-1 is forthcoming and will be posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

XS-1 envisions that a reusable first stage would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude.  At that point, one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into Low Earth Orbit. The reusable hypersonic aircraft would then return to earth, land and be prepared for the next flight. Modular components, durable thermal protection systems and automatic launch, flight, and recovery systems should significantly reduce logistical needs, enabling rapid turnaround between flights.

Key XS-1 technical goals include flying 10 times in 10 days, achieving speeds of Mach 10+ at least once and launching a representative payload to orbit. The program also seeks to reduce the cost of access to space for small (3,000- to 5,000-pound) payloads by at least a factor of 10, to less than $5 million per flight.

XS-1 would complement a current DARPA program already researching satellite launch systems that aim to be faster, more convenient and more affordable: Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA). ALASA seeks to propel 100-pound satellites into orbit for less than $1 million per launch using low-cost, expendable upper stages launched from conventional aircraft.

“XS-1 aims to help break the cycle of launches happening farther and farther apart and costing more and more,” Sponable said. “It would also help further our progress toward practical hypersonic aircraft technologies and increase opportunities to test new satellite technologies as well.”

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Student Moon Mission Challenge

The National Space Society (NSS) and educational nonprofit Innovate Our World (IOW) have agreed to collaborate on the Moon Mission Challenge (MMC), specifically to recruit more teams and to have NSS host the MMC capstone event at the NSS International Space Development Conferences starting in 2015.

The Moon Mission Challenge inspires middle and high school student teams, no matter their location, to learn about the Moon through an interactive, game-like learning environment available from Immersive 3D called the Cyber STEM Academy. They work as teams to conceptually design a payload based on lunar robotic rover mission information from one of several Google Lunar X Prize teams including Astrobotic Technology, Penn State Lunar Lion, and Team JURBAN. Students work with these and other experts to develop their concepts and finalist teams will sell their payload ideas to a panel of expert judges at the MMC capstone event. Students not only learn about the Moon and exploration history, but gain an introduction to systems engineering, project management, and communications, all skills needed for college and career.

“We’re very excited to work with the National Space Society to help us build this challenge so we can inspire students toward careers in aerospace and other STEM fields,” said Ron McCandless, IOW Director. “Older generations were inspired to do great things by the Apollo program. Challenges like the Moon Mission Challenge can have the same effect by giving kids a chance to work with leading experts who are planning cutting edge missions to the Moon.”

The Challenge starts in January 2014. More information.

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NSS Remembers Long-Time Member Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl, a long-time member and supporter of the National Space Society (NSS) and one of the great science fiction authors of the late 20th century, died Monday, September 2, 2013. He was 93.

Karen Mermel, Vice President for Development at NSS stated, “Fred often spoke at NSS chapter events and represented NSS on panels, including one with astronaut Jim Lovell to discuss the benefits of space exploration. Fred was a personal friend and a staunch NSS supporter who wholeheartedly believed in our goals and mission.”

Pohl was known as a dark humorist and satirist in novels such asThe Space Merchants (1953) and Gladiator-at-Law (1955). Both were written with frequent collaborator C. M. Kornbluth.

His long career included writing novels and short stories, editing, and being a literary agent for science fiction writers. He won three Hugo awards, was named a grand master of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1992, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1998.

Born November 26, 1919, in New York City, Pohl was an early science fiction fan who served as editor of Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories in 1939-43; in the 1970s, he edited the magazines Galaxy and If.

1977′s Gateway was one of Pohl’s many books that explored human space exploration after overpopulation and the depletion of Earth’s resources; the Times called it an “adventurous, extrapolative, and insightful novel.” As far back as the 1950s, Pohl edited science fiction anthologies, something he continued to do throughout his life to bring attention to other writers’ work. He published a memoir, The Way the Future Was, in the late 1970s, and continued the story in the 21st century online with The Way the Future Blogs.

Elizabeth Ann Hull (Betty), Fred’s wife, says she’ll be planning a memorial for Fred in the next six months or so. That way all friends and fans will be able to attend.

Frederik Pohl, Courtesy Fred Fox Studios, Ltd.

Frederik Pohl, Courtesy Fred Fox Studios, Ltd.

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Space Settlements Represent Hope for Humankind

The National Space Society (NSS) offers a comparison of its vision for space settlement to that promoted by many dystopian science fiction movies of today.  NSS has supported the concept of rotating space settlements in orbit or deep space since the epochal publication by Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill of his seminal article on space colonies in Physics Today (1974).

Since those days, concepts of democracy and egalitarian societies have been integral to our vision. A goal of NSS is the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization with people living and working in space. We believe in democracy to build and operate space settlements, whether in space, on the Moon, on Mars, or even on planets around other stars.

A large part of the space movement today is founded on improving life on Earth by creating an ability to operate in space. This includes the ability to divert threatening asteroids, detect solar outbursts that could destroy our electrical grid, and build solar power collection/transmission satellites that could produce huge amounts of carbon free energy in space for use on Earth, enriching all of humankind. In fact, an early justification for building space settlements was to house the labor force needed to build the solar power satellites that would provide a global solar power source to all nations, helping to prevent the ecological and economic collapse and chaos depicted in many dystopian movies of today. NSS believes that we are making the future every day and that we want to build a hopeful future.

NSS is happy that space settlements are beginning to appear in popular culture such as the recent motion picture Elysium.  NSS applauds the cinematic skill that resulted in the depiction of the physical appearance and operation of a rotating orbital space settlement. While NSS accepts that a conflict is fairly fundamental to a good story, we would like movie viewers to keep in mind that the tyrannical government depicted in the movie does not represent the path of humans in space envisioned by the NSS and its thousands of members.

Posted in Movies, National Space Society, Space Settlement | 2 Comments

SpaceX Grasshopper Successfully Completes 100m Lateral Divert Test

On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. The test demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.

Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity.

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National Space Society Salutes Lori Garver's Service at NASA

The National Space Society (NSS) would like to congratulate Lori Garver for the tremendous contributions she has made to NASA and America’s space program during her four years as Deputy NASA Administrator.

“She was a staunch supporter of commercial space and using public/private partnerships to leverage private investment using fewer taxpayer dollars,” stated Mark Hopkins, chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “Lori’s calm leadership and grace under pressure will be missed by all of us in the space community and we wish her all the best in the next phase of her career.”

Lori was the Executive Director of NSS for nine years until she left for her first tour with NASA in 1998.  She was a key player in the building of the new organization that came into existence after the merger of National Space Institute and the L5 Society in 1987.

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Boeing Unveils CST-100 Spacecraft Interior

And Space Adventures plans to sell flights on the CST-100, having recently signed a contract with Boeing to that effect. No word yet on cost and availability.

Article below by Rebecca Regan, NASA Kennedy Space Center

Two NASA astronauts conducted flight suit evaluations inside a fully outfitted test version of The Boeing Company’s CST-100 spacecraft July 22, the first time the world got a glimpse of the crew capsule’s interior.

“The astronauts always enjoy getting out and looking at the vehicles and sharing their experiences with these commercial providers,” said Kathy Lueders, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

Boeing is one of three American companies working with CCP to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective crew transportation systems during NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.

During two, four-hour sessions, astronauts Serena Aunon and Randy Bresnik put on NASA’s iconic orange launch-and-entry suits and then individually tested their maneuverability inside the capsule. Meanwhile, Boeing engineers monitored communications, equipment and ergonomics.

“These are our customers. They’re the ones who will take our spacecraft into flight, and if we’re not building it the way they want it we’re doing something wrong,” said Chris Ferguson, director of Boeing’s Crew and Mission Operations and a former NASA astronaut. “We’ll probably make one more go-around and make sure that everything is just the way they like it.”

The CST-100 test vehicle was optimized to seat five crew members, but the spacecraft could accommodate up to seven or a mix of crew and cargo. While the spacecraft may resemble Boeing’s heritage Apollo-era capsules from an exterior perspective, its interior is a reflection of modern technology. From the ambient sky blue LED lighting and tablet technology, the company ensured the CST-100 is a modern spacecraft.

“What you’re not going to find is 1,100 or 1,600 switches,” said Ferguson. “When these guys go up in this, they’re primary mission is not to fly this spacecraft, they’re primary mission is to go to the space station for six months. So we don’t want to burden them with an inordinate amount of training to fly this vehicle. We want it to be intuitive.”

Other innovative element of the CST-100 is its weld-free design, modern structures and upgraded thermal protection techniques. The company said its spun-formed shell reduces the overall mass of the spacecraft as well as the time it takes to build the crew capsule. “I’m really a looking forward to the day when we will be bringing our Expedition crew members home and I won’t need a passport or a visa to go to the landing site and greet them as they come off the vehicle,” Lueders said.

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National Space Society Statement on NASA FY2014 Budget

How to Revive Progress at NASA Within a Limited Budget: Two Pillars for Renewed Hope

Summary

Excessive attention to narrow special interests threatens to drain NASA’s activities away to something ever smaller and less valuable to humanity. The National Space Society, a broadly based public interest group, urges Congress to craft a NASA budget which puts us back on track to do the hard work in science and engineering which restores our hope that humans will one day settle space in an economically sustainable way, which maximizes its contributions to sustainability on Earth, and which lives up to the full potential of NASA as an agent of growth in productivity and in the kind of jobs which have lasting impact. We see huge opportunities to get much more out of NASA, especially by INNOVATION and LEVERAGE, the twin pillars of renewed hope.

Innovation in Space

Economists have long agreed that growth in productivity, due to innovation, research and education, is the key to economic growth in general. When budgets are reduced in cutting edge research, the loss of benefits exceeds the savings in cost. US economic growth is especially at risk today, when many industrial R&D labs have shrunk, when the 6-1 and 6-2 (basic and applied) components of defense research have suffered, and when there is a growing “gathering storm” in the US technical workforce.

But does all spending by NASA bring these kinds of benefits to the economy? No government agency spends 100% of its budget on the kinds of things which really increase productivity. The fastest growth in productivity in the US happened at the peak of Kennedy’s Apollo project, and we do not believe that this was a coincidence. Kennedy did not just focus on the narrow goal of getting to the Moon in the shortest possible time; rather, he channeled funds into new high risk technologies and infrastructure. “We go to the Moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” The new technologies were designed to let us stay on the Moon longer, in a more sustainable way, but also to create new core capabilities such as integrated circuit capabilities for the civilian economy. That was good for human hopes in space, but also for the civilian economy. Since then, whenever myopic people have tried for short-cuts, the results have been far less.

The NASA budget needs to focus on advanced innovative activities, and restructure its plans to be more innovative. We should give full support to the existing Space Technology program, as supported by a large coalition of private sector players. We should recognize that the Administration’s proposed asteroid return initiative (ARRM) has a very large component of new technology, essential to all our destinations in space, not just the asteroids. We should maintain full funding of earth science, of human and robotic technologies, and of studies of exoplanets and basic physics which could open the door to new worlds. We support full funding of COTS and the commercial crew activity, with full use of the Space Act Agreements, which will allow us to spend more of the NASA budget over the next ten years in the US rather than Russia, and avoid the need for excess haste, obsolete technology and inefficiency in developing new launch vehicles. We also support restructuring of direct launch investments so as to reinvigorate and exploit the technology for partial and full reusability, such as passive hot structures for re-entry. We need to create the kind of jobs which breed innovation, not dead-end corporate welfare.

Leverage

The greatest successes in US space policy beyond Kennedy and the space shuttle all involved leverage – the use of partnership with other nations and the private sector, to achieve a critical mass beyond the capabilities of any one player. Intelsat, Apollo-Soyuz and the International Space Station are all great examples. NSS is very much excited by the large-scale potential of the new international partnership proposed by Dr. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, to develop the technology for affordable energy from space, and the low-cost launch technology needed to make this realistic. The entire world needs access to the kind of low cost launch services which are feasible only in partnership with advanced US technology providers. NSS urges Congress to structure new investments in reusable launch and space solar power technology at NASA in such a way that they can be included as part of the Kalam initiative, subject to sufficient matching funds from abroad and appropriate protection of intellectual property (IP) to be held in US companies. The best hope for the US in space lies in opening up to the needs (and markets) of the entire world. Congress should declare its support for the general goals and plans of the Kalam initiative, and make sure that the US strengthens its partnership with India, one of the most important emerging powers in the world today.

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National Space Society (NSS) response to the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Human Spaceflight

The National Research Council Committee on Human Spaceflight invited interested individuals and groups to submit short input papers that address the role of human spaceflight and its suggested future. Below is the NSS response.

The National Space Society (NSS) is a space advocacy organization with over 8000 members throughout the United States and around the world. We have been working for over 25 years to support the expansion of our civilization into the solar system. Our vision statement presents a clear picture of our desired future in space, and highlights the importance of human spaceflight: “People living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.” Those two themes are central to NSS: using the resources of the solar system to enable peaceful commerce and settlement, while also improving life here on Earth. The knowledge that we gather in learning to live, work and thrive in space is exactly the same knowledge that is desperately required to provide long term sustainability back here on Earth. However, the technology and infrastructure required to enable the fulfillment of this vision does not yet exist. Furthermore, government funding is shrinking and the goal(s) for US human exploration has been a moving target for the last several decades.

The US stands at a turning point in our exploration and development of the space frontier. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle and with the International Space Station now fully operational the question of how we move forward in human spaceflight needs to be addressed. We believe that there are several guiding principles that should shape our human spaceflight strategy:

  1. Develop a long-term sustainable human exploration and settlement strategy that defines not only what we want to do but also why.
  2. Make the maximum use of the public/private and international partnerships.
  3. Lower the cost and increase access to space not only for human exploration but also for other commercial and scientific endeavors.
  4. Develop the capabilities and infrastructure to enable on orbit assembly, maintenance and repair of large structures and complex systems
  5. Develop the technology to make use of the resources available on the Moon, Mars and Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs)

1. What are the important benefits provided to the United States and other countries by human spaceflight endeavors?

In addition to the many subjective benefits that resulted from the success of the Apollo program there has also been a significant science and technology return from human spaceflight. Some of these benefits include data gathered by the Skylab missions, the Hubble Space Telescope, and a variety of investigations on Shuttle and the ISS, all supported by humans in space. Recent experiments on the ISS have been shown exciting results which could revolutionize medicine, biotechnology, material science and manufacturing. Aging is a particularly interesting phenomenon to study in space. Future human spaceflight programs promise equally significant results. For example, the zero gravity deconditioning that astronauts experience in microgravity in many ways resembles the signs of aging here on Earth but, unlike aging, when the astronauts return to Earth these conditions reverse. By studying these changes it may be possible to unlock the riddle of the human aging process for the benefit of all mankind.

The development of a new commercial space economy that brings the resources of the solar system into the Earth’s economic sphere was a choice that Dr. John Marberger, President George W. Bush’s science advisor, offered in his famous Goddard Memorial speech in 2006. It is a choice we support, and which depends on having a vibrant human spaceflight capability. Every imaginable resource that is valuable on this planet is available in nearly unlimited quantities in our solar system. It is a matter of developing the infrastructure and economics that are required to enable the practical retrieval of these resources. If the proper reusable space infrastructure were put in place, how long would it be before it was cheaper and more sustainable to provide these resources from space than it is to tear them from the Earth? The internet economy that the world enjoys today was the result of wise US government investment and the opening up of government-developed technology and infrastructure for commercial use. The size of this new commercial space economy could dwarf the internet economy within 1-2 decades if similar wise choices are made. Humans operations in space will be essential to realizing this potential.

The meteor blast that took place over Russia on February 15th of 2013 should have been a startling wake up call for the entire planet. This was a fairly small and relatively benign call; it could have been far worse. Without space capabilities to identify and deflect these objects it is just a matter of time until our luck runs out and the human race goes the way of the dinosaurs. No one knows when this will happen but as of 2012 NASA had identified 842 asteroids of 1 km or larger that will come close to or cross the orbit of the Earth. Any one of these could destroy our civilization in a heartbeat but with the appropriate technology these threats could be the source of unlimited resources for generations to come; the choice is ours. Prepositioned human and robotic assets in strategic space locations could make the difference between life and death. The proper role of humans in space in addressing this threat has not yet been determined, but must be explored.

The experience gained from the operation of the many robotic and tele-operated systems on the ISS and our planetary probes could enable us to construct, repair and refurbish satellites that, in turn, could radically decrease the cost of developing and operating the required space infrastructure. Development of human/robot cooperative capabilities in space would be an essential first step in enabling lunar and asteroid mining and the development and deployment of very large space structures for a range of uses including communication, remote sensing, planetary defense and, even, space solar power. As our experience has demonstrated, human space operations will be a vital technology in realizing these capabilities.

The inspirational value of human space flight must also be recognized. Just as the Apollo program inspired a generation of scientists and technologists in the 1960′s and 70′s, the current generation is also being inspired by the todays human spaceflight programs in both the government and commercial sectors. The importance of this vision lies not in short-term benefits, but in the inspiration of a new generation of dreamers and doers for the long-term sustenance of humanity.

Finally, the future and even the survival of our civilization may rest in space, and the continued development of our ability to live and work in space is an important target for our exploration. The US government should lead in developing and demonstrating these vital long term capabilities.

2. What are the greatest challenges to sustaining a U.S. government program in human spaceflight?

One of the key challenges for human space exploration in the US today is demonstrating its relevance. How does this exploration impact the lives of average Americans? Certainly the pictures of astronauts floating effortlessly in space is inspiring but at what cost? To gain long-term support for human exploration beyond LEO it will be necessary to provide a clear explanation of its value to people in their everyday lives. If all we have to offer for a rationale is glossy pictures and faded footprints then this will be a very hard case to make. Instead we need to communicate more tangible benefits such as the potential role of humans for accessing new resources, creating new industries on Earth as well as in space, and using remote sensing to help us better understand the Earth ecosystem, while developing new methods of sustainability both on Earth and in space.

With the current budget situation, the US government cannot and should not have to carry the entire financial burden. That is why it is so important to develop a reusable human/robotic space infrastructure that commercial and international partners can invest in and utilize along with NASA to help spread the cost and amortize the investment. This investment will help to build the technological and economic foundation for this new space economy. Maintaining the right level of investment to build and operate this infrastructure will be a major challenge

There are also key physiological challenges to human spaceflight. Only 16 humans have traveled outside of Earth’s protective Van Allen radiation belt with the last returning in 1972 with the longest mission lasting less than two weeks. If long term human exploration of the inner Solar System is to be possible, humans must learn to live and work in the harsh radiation environment of deep space. The question of the gravity requirements for humans over timescales of years must also be addressed.

Space Solar Power (SSP) is one possible example of how human space exploration can provide the technological foundation to help solve problems here on Earth. The technology and infrastructure for space exploration can also be used to build and SSP stations that can beam clean, cost effective energy to almost any spot on the globe 24 hours a day, and can help answer the President’s call for new green energy sources. Reusable space transportation systems that are currently being commercially developed could support not only exploration but also construction of SSP facilities. The flight rates that this would demand could drive the cost of access to space to as low as $10/lb to LEO. This would represent a true paradigm shift for space exploration, development and settlement similar to the one that occurred in commercial aviation in the last century. This would allow NASA’s current budget to support a much larger and more aggressive human exploration program. However, achieving these capabilities is a significant challengel

NASA can help develop and support transportation and sustainment capabilities just as its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), helped develop and support the commercial aviation industry in the last century. If our human exploration programs could be initiated from Earth orbit from vehicles assembled and fueled on orbit,this could provide dramatic benefits in both cost savings and in safety. NASA needs to expand on its successful programs to leverage and stimulate the commercial sector such as the COTS and the Commercial Crew programs to achieve these capabilities. Another good example is the NASA Transhab technology License to Bigelow Aerospace and the subsequent agreement to demonstrate the resulting commercial capability on the ISS. These public/private partnerships have produced reliable flight hardware at a cost that is 8-10 times less than the conventional procurement procedures that the government typically utilizes. We should leverage off of this experience and utilize these partnerships whenever they are appropriate. However, maintaining an appropriate budget for these programs will be a significant challenge.

3. What are the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA’s human spaceflight program?

Abandoning the ISS would be a major breach of faith by the U.S. The international repercussions would be significant as the U.S. would correctly be seen as an unreliable partner. The American people would rightly wonder why they spent $100 billion on a facility that was barely used, and be reluctant to pour more money into the organization that made such poor choices. Also, abandonment of human spaceflight would be perceived as a major retreat, loss of will, and sign of American weakness.

A termination of our efforts to develop human capabilities to operate in Earth orbit and to expand human space exploration beyond LEO would cede this new frontier to others to conquer and prosper from. This would be a betrayal of all the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed and the billions of dollars spent by previous generations in order to give us this unique opportunity. It would also be a betrayal of future generations who will have to live with the profound consequences of the lost opportunities that will result from such a decision.

As James Michener so eloquently stated, “My own life has been spent chronicling the rise and fall of human systems, and I am convinced that we are terribly vulnerable. . . We should be reluctant to turn back upon the frontier of this epoch. Space is indifferent to what we do; it has no feeling, no design, no interest in whether or not we grapple with it. But we cannot be indifferent to space, because the grand, slow march of intelligence has brought us, in our generation, to a point from which we can explore and understand and utilize it. To turn our back now would be to deny our history and our capability.”

Respectfully submitted,
R. Bruce Pittman
Senior Vice President and Senior Operating Officer
National Space Society

References

Crouch, G. I., “Researching the Space Tourism Market,” Presented at the annual Conference of the Travel and Tourism Research Association, June 2001.

NASA Commercial Market Assessment for Crew and Cargo Systems, April 27, 2011, Appendix B.

D. J. Rasky, R.B. Pittman, M.E. Newfield, The Reusable Launch Vehicle Challenge, AIAA 2006-7208.

J. Vernikos, The G-Connection: Harness Gravity and Reverse Aging, 2004.

International Space Station Benefits for Humanity, NP-2012-02-003-JSC, 2012.

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