ISDC Space and Media Track: Ted Schilowitz

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

Innovator and futurist Ted Schilowitz is founding team member & first employee of Red Camera Co and consultant for digital cinema technology company Barco and 20th Century Fox. Ted is speaking at the Space and Media Track at the ISDC National Space Conference along with a list of scheduled speakers in segments encompassing movies & television, social media, art & books, games, simulations, news, filming in space, classroom, and music. QGITS  (an online publication for STEM students) was excited to hear what Ted Schilowitz had to say about his Friday talk “The Future Is Immersion.”

QGITS: How did you earn the title futurist-consigliere?

Ted Schilowitz: It comes from the radical nature of my career, I’m one of the founding members and 1st employee of a movie camera company called Red Digital Cinema. Red has become very much a force in the motion picture world and it’s been a main stream tool for making movies. When I started, it was just me and Jim Jannard putting it all together and then it blew up into something significant. My title early on was “Leader of the Rebellion.” That was kind of an interesting moniker to establish in what we were doing by being very radical and very disruptive in a space that was right for disruption. Years later once the rebellion was well in hand, I had to change the business card title and it just said “insert title here” that just drove the press crazy. I retired from Red about 9 months ago, it was a very short lived retirement because one of my friends who is one of the studio heads at Fox, who used the Red camera quite a bit, essentially asked me to help look around the next corner of technology and all the things it means from a storytelling stand point. We had to come up with a title that would reflect that and not be some sort of business title. So the studio said that I was here to look at the future so we should call you “futurist” and you’re here to be our “consigliere” to the future and advise us. Since I was bold enough to stand up in meetings, have the courage and say what I think, that’s why the studio wanted me there, so they put on my business card “futurist-consigliere” which of course gives everybody a little chuckle, it’s nothing more than that, it’s just funny.

QGITS: Your Friday presentation talk at the ISDC conference is on “The Future is Immersion.” Can you talk a little bit about that?

Ted Schilowitz: I am talking about the learning and the exploration of forms, functions and how it relates to the field of motion pictures entertainment and what that means and how it’s changing. Also what’s important and what’s around the next corner. I am involved in a number of these efforts and what I believed is the next generation of cinema which is a project called “Escape” which I am doing with a company called Barco, the worldwide leader in cinema projection. We have created an experience extending the vision of cinema around you. I have another fun and interesting title at Barco called “CinemaVangelist.” I also have a very high interest in virtual reality which is an extension of this visual experience to have a personalized vision of the future with a headset on you. So my talk covers pieces and parts of that and an understanding of form, function and a future.

QGITS: What were your thoughts when asked to be a part of the ISDC Conference Space & Media Track added this year?

Ted Schilotwitz: I’m thrilled to be a part of it, I am a huge space fan. I grew up in central Florida so I am a child of the space generation and have been enamored with it since I was a little kid. I track this stuff, I know a lot about it, I love the excitement and the exploration of it. I was thrilled when asked to be a part of the conference in some fashion to talk about my vision of the future and how it relates to entertainment and storytelling. I love to meet all the other people that are speaking and talking. They have wonderful things to say and stories that get me all excited about space all over again.

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ISDC NASA Lunar Exploration Sub-Track: Dave Dunlop

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

Dave Dunlop is the presenting and managing Track Chair of the Lunar Sub-Track during the NASA Exploration session. Dave has been part of the International Committee of the National Space Society in partner with other organizations that share the same vision of a future in which the free enterprise human economy expands to include settlements on the Moon and elsewhere. QGITS  (an online publication for STEM students) had the pleasure in speaking with Dave Dunlop about the panelists presenting on the Lunar Sub-Track.

QGITS: Last year’s lunar track was about lunar lava tube exploration on the Moon, will there be any talks about them again this year?

Dave DunlopDave Dunlop: This year we are having a number of presentations involving the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. We are getting updates about the Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) competition and their recent Milestone awards to several teams from Dr. Andrew Barton, Chief Technology Officer of the GLXP. He will be presenting at the Lunar Track, Friday May 16th, in the afternoon. Google Lunar XPRIZE teams that are also presenting at ISDC conference are: Moon Express, Penn State Lunar Lions, and Team Synergy Moon.

Although we devoted an entire day of our two day lunar track last year to lava tubes this year we have a more diverse range of topics and presentations. Last year we talked about lava tubes on the Moon but there are also a number pits on the Mars shield volcanos that would seem to be evidence of underlying lava tubes there as well. Astrobotic is another GLXP team that is planning a future lunar lava tube mission. This continues to be a hot topic for exploration. To get something into the lunar lava tube is something that has never been tried before – it’s quite challenging. I hope they can pull that off.

QGITS: What will you be speaking about at this year’s Lunar Sub-Track 2014?

Dave Dunlop: I am giving a talk on the International Lunar Geophysical Campaign. We are trying to do is to stimulate international interest in sending more small affordable science missions to the Moon. At present only three countries have managed to soft land on the Moon. If you look at a number of missions that are being planned over the next 10 years, there’s quite a few. What I have counted amount about 24 missions in development right now. Mostly those come from major spacefaring powers like China, India, Japan, Canada and Russia. If you look at these missions, there only 8 countries out of the major G-20 economies. Why aren’t there more lunar missions coming from G-20 countries? Our campaign is trying to encourage the number of these affordable Lunar CubeSat scale missions and more nations to be engaged.

We hope for example that some of the GLXP teams that have not had the ability to raise enough capital or adequate time to meet the GLXP deadline can repurpose their efforts and subsequently find both national as well as private sponsors for lunar science missions. NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual network has a number of international nodes and I understand that some additional nations are also joining that network. Perhaps there can be some collaborative project that these initiatives can mutually develop. We could see a new paradigm of small scale affordable science missions undertaken by more countries than ever before as a result.

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ISDC Film Screening: “I Want to Be an Astronaut” – David Ruck

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

David J. Ruck is a photographer, filmmaker and educator, currently based in Maryland where he and his producing partner, Anne Menotti, are working on several documentaries and projects. David specializes in emotive imaging – creating film, video, and photographic projects that inspire an emotional reaction from audiences. David is founder of Rubangfilms he produces cutting edge science, exploration, history, and space-related documentary films. His latest production, “I want to be an Astronaut”, was premiered aboard the International Space Station and has been widely covered in the national media advocating for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) programs. David will be screening his film this summer at the National Academy of Sciences Building’s historic amphitheater to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the American Astronautical Society, in Washington, DC his film will also be featured at this year’s ISDC National Space Society conference in Los Angeles on Sunday May 18. QGITS (an online publication for STEM students) was thrilled to talk with David Ruck about his film documentary “I want to be an Astronaut” and the importance of having a space program.

QGITS: What inspired you to become a filmmaker and storyteller that highlights important issues like space?

David RuckDavid Ruck: I have been making films for about 14 years, I have never made anything like this one before but I was really inspired by hearing Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the Bill Maher show talking about NASA’s budget and how we spent more money bailing out the banks in 2008/2009 than we had in the 50 years in the space program. While I was not paying attention to space at the time, however; I knew that NASA was a source of inspiration for young people that wanted to be astronauts.  A contextual example of why you need to learn science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). So are we paving the way to be a nation that’s setting the bar high for our the future, serving the ultimate American dream, if you will, this idea of wanting to be an astronaut? If we don’t have a space program even capable of getting humans into space then have we completely lost that dream? I really wanted to know what the consequences of that would be on the everyday person. Through this journey identifying this young man, who not only wanted to be an astronaut since he was 3 but at 17 he really had a full body vision of wanting to remove humanity beyond earth for political, economic, social and cultural reasons. I found this kid who had this vision of why this important and I received more than what I bargained for and that’s when I felt what he was really up against because nothing inspires kids more like a vibrant space program. If we don’t have that then we are forfeiting not just our future in space but our economic future. I think the space program is a source of national pride an example of what the government can do when it’s doing its best and why the average citizen should be interested in space.

View the official trailer of “I want to be an Astronaut” documentary below – The dream of one boy. The fate of one nation. Our future in space.

QGITS: What was it like documenting someone like 17 year old Blair?

David Ruck: Meeting Blair and following his First Robotics team, really gave me hope. Teams at 15 and 16 years old build robots to help solve common problems.  I just didn’t even know these things were possible for them to do at this age or to even be working on – I think that’s a testament to the First Robotics program and other programs like it.  I saw the potential of our future and if these kids were given exciting opportunities down the road, then that just gave me a lot of hope. It also really frustrated me when I see that, in spite of the fact, there are clearly qualified individuals out there ready and willing to commit themselves for these challenges, yet we haven’t committed ourselves as a nation to making this a huge priority. That’s why I made this film and that’s why I have gone from being someone who wasn’t paying attention to space, into someone who now understands and appreciates the young people who want to pursue these things and what they are going to be offering us in the future. We need to pave the way for them to be successful.

QGITS: Anything else you would like to add?

David Ruck: Ultimately the goal of this film is to emphasize the importance of the space program, what the space program has done for us, furthermore; what it could do for us as a nation and in the future if we decide to make space exploration a priority.

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ISDC NASA Space Exploration Track: Carl Schueler

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

Carl Schueler is a Satellite remote sensing system architect, EO sensor systems engineer and applications scientist, study and proposal lead. He received degrees in Physics & Astronomy at Louisiana State University, followed by two years at Hughes Aircraft Company teaching F-14 radar, Maverick missile theory and field repair. He earned a Ph.D. in Electrical & Computer Engineering at UC Santa Barbara in 1980 under a Howard Hughes Doctoral Fellowship. He is currently President at Schueler Consulting with clients that include LexerdTek, MEI Technologies, Orbital Sciences, and Cornell Technical Services. Carl is the Main Track Chair kicking off the first day of introductions for the NASA Exploration Track for the ISDC 2014 National Space Society conference May 14-18. QGITS (an online publication for STEM students) had the pleasure of talking to Carl about the NASA 4-day track.

QGITS: The Nasa Exploration Track at the ISDC conference is a four day event that will cover four subtracks: 1) Asteroids; 2) Emerging Science & Technology; 3) Lunar; and 4) Space Exploration. Which track will you be speaking on?

Carl SchuelerCarl Schueler: We have a really packed schedule, well over 30 invited speakers plus 4 students to present during the track in which I had the pleasure working with 5 Co-Chairs for the subtracks. The Asteroid sub-track is being managed by Dan Kwon from Orbital Sciences Corporation and the Lunar sub-track by David Dunlop. Saturday we have an all day science and technology sub-track by Samantha Infeld and Bill Gardiner and finally Sunday morning we have space exploration managed by Matt Ondler. My job was really made pretty easy and I am not giving a presentation. I introduce the 1st speaker of the track Thursday morning and turning the rest to the sub-track leads; the work I have done has been stage manager/background. I’m just really pleased to be able to have done that relatively small contribution to the effort and be a part of it. I think it’s a really exciting track. We’ve got people from NASA of course, JPL, NASA Headquarters, Johnson Space Center, the Associate Director of JPL talking about their space exploration program, and several talks on the NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission. We have a talk on DAWN, a mission launched in 2007 exploring a couple of the larger asteroids in the belt, and presentations on extraction of materials from the asteroids, similar for lunar, and prospects for getting to the Moon again, talks on space manufacturing, discussions on propulsion techniques and lots of other great topics. (View full agenda of scheduled speakers.)

QGITS: What type of projects have you worked on?

Carl Schueler: This conference is sort of like the movie “Back to the Future” for me as I started out after I got my degree in Physics & Astronomy as an Astronomy Professor and Planetarium Director back in the early 70’s. Then got redirected into Engineering at Hughes Aircraft Company and remote sensing from space which involves looking down from earth orbit rather than out to space. I had to turn my back on space and look back at earth, spent 35 years doing development of earth remote sensing missions for NASA, that was great. I had a really good time with it, but this conference is an opportunity to get back to what I was doing many years in the past and find out what’s going on in space these days after having spent 35 years looking at earth from space.

QGITS: What are you most excited about the NASA Exploration Track?

Carl Schueler: I am just really pleased that we have been able to assemble a cast of excellent speakers every single day. This track I think is educational, entertaining, and inspirational: all three! The conference overall is great and there are terrific speakers across the board so I am just really excited to be part of the entire effort and glad that I could participate.

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ISDC Space Solar Power Track: Gary Barnhard

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

Gary BarnhardGary Barnhard is a robotic space systems engineer whose professional work includes a wide range of robotic, space, and computer systems engineering projects. Gary has received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1982 combining Aerospace Engineering, Materials Science, with graduate work in science policy, solar physics, and artificial intelligence. He was awarded a grant to participate in NASA’s Graduate Student Researchers Program under the auspices of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and the UMCP Aerospace Engineering Department. Some of his work included supporting the development of the Space Station User Information System Requirements. Over the last 34 years he has been extensively involved in the space advocacy community.

QGITS (an online publication for STEM students) had the opportunity to chat with Gary Barnhard who is speaking on the panel at this year’s ISDC National Space Society Conference May 14-18 on the Space Solar Power track.

QGITS: You have an extensive background in space related educational programs and working with different organizations in the space field, how did you get started in the space advocacy community?

Gary Barnhard: For me I had an interesting habit of hanging out in the Nasa headquarters library back in junior high school and early high school and one day the librarian there who I was good friends with came up to me and said you know Gary there is something you need to read and she handed me a copy of the publication “Physics Today” and it had an article by this interesting Physicist in it from Princeton named Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill dealing with the issue of “Was the surface of the planet really the best home for an expanding technological civilization?” (Physics Today, September 1974). I had wanted to be an Astronaut since I became aware watching the Gemini launches go up in space. Unfortunately, despite memorizing the eye chart, it was clear I could never pass a real vision test. What Dr. O’Neill offered was the vision of a positive future that I could help with, helping to provide for space development and build large space structures and space stations. That’s how I went on to.. what turned out to be a career in robotics space systems engineering.

QGITS: Can you tell us about the projects you have worked on?

Gary Barnhard: I started off as part of the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) which was a satellite doing solar observations in the early 80’s. I provided real time images of the sun in hydrogen alpha to the control room as part of the cooperative research in physics & astronomy agreement between University of Maryland and NASA Goddard. I went on from there as a NASA grantee in NASA graduate researchers program where I was working on the applications of knowledge based systems to the domain of spacecraft systems engineering. I had the opportunity to be a part of the Space Station Program Mission Requirements Working Group in the original efforts to breathe life into the space station program and from there I ended up on the contractors side of the fence working with Goddard Space Station Office.

QGITS: What are you addressing on the panel for the Space Solar Power Track (SSP)?

Gary Barnhard: There are five sessions: 1 – Overview Perspectives; 2 – SSP Concepts, research and technology development; 3 – Supporting Infrastructure; 4 – Fostering international cooperation – focusing the government/industry/NGO mix; and, 5 – SSP Industry Day. One of the more unique sessions is “space solar power industry day” which is intended to draw out where help is needed ..once a upon a time NASA used to have these events called “industry days” where technical people working a program would explain where the problems are and where we need help. The idea being to view the contractor community as resource to help solve the tough problem a program faces. Today space solar power is tough systems engineering problem but is one of the few options that we can potentially bring to the table that can scale to not only make a dramatic contribution to the energy to the United States but to the world.

QGITS:  Lastly, why do people attend the ISDC conference?

Gary Barnhard: We need to be about the question of not just thinking about the future we like to see come to pass but what are we doing to make it real? The National Space Society is effectively the big tent space advocacy organization with the goal trying to provide a path to engagement in space for anyone that has an interest. Regardless of whether it is just a vicarious interest, those who wish to be advocates for helping make things happen, and/or those who actually who want to be involved in building things and making it happen directly. The ISDC pulls together a diverse community of individuals across all disciplines and perspectives.

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ISDC Space Experience Track: John Spencer, Space Architect

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

John Spencer is a Space Architect & Designer, founder and president of the Space Tourism Society (STS), and author of the first book on space tourism published in the U.S. titled Space Tourism: Do You Want to Go? (2004) in which he pioneers the application of yachting and cruise ship industry models to space tourism. He has been quoted in more than 150 TV shows, documentaries, radio shows, and articles in magazines and newspapers on Space Tourism. He is considered a leading expert in creation and design of real space facilities and space ship interiors for NASA and private space enterprise, as well as space and future-themed simulation attractions, resorts, camps and media for the general public. He is the founder and chief designer of the Space Experience Design Studio (SED).

QGITS (an online publication for STEM students) had the chance to talk with John Spencer, Entrepreneur, Visionary and Space Architect Pioneer who is on the Board of Directors for the National Space Society and is speaking on the panel at this year’s ISDC 2014 National Space Society “Space Experience” track.

Orbital Super Space Yacht “Destiny”: Current project John Spencer has been working on for the past decade.

QGITS: What inspired you to become a Space Architect rather than designing shopping malls, for example?

John Spencer: I am actually designing a Mars Space themed shopping mall at the moment but that’s a different story. I was thirteen years old when the Apollo 11 first landed on the moon, I was very impressionable in those years and of course the tv show “Star Trek” was also a big a impression on me and the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” with all the cool design, so I always loved finding stuff in architecture, science and space. In the late 70’s when I was working on my Masters in Architecture, I combined those two into a brand new field – Space Architecture. How do you really design these habitable spaces for people? There was very few people, just two other guys at that time in the late 70’s pioneering space architecture, there are more people today but it has been really quite an adventure, it’s what I really call the exploring the design frontier, it’s very exciting for a career.

QGITS: You have worked on innovative designs of real space facilities and space ship interiors such as the International Space Station, Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, SpaceHab Module and more, how does that feel to know that you have worked on these impactful projects?

John Spencer: It’s really very satisfying because everyone one of those was a big challenge and part of the challenges particularly in the early days was from the Aerospace industry “Why are you here?” in other words, why is there an Architect Designer even in the room because that was different from an engineering stand point and it was a struggle to show the validity and the value of design; there was a lot of challenges but it made it more satisfying to succeed and to know that deep in my heart that this was important stuff and over time it would become more important as more and more people go to these extreme and isolated environments whether it was for science or adventure tourism and the comforts and safety were very important to them.

QGITS: At the ISDC conference, what are some of the things people will hear you talk about on the panel “Space Experience” track?

John Spencer: I like talking about what I call the “Big Picture”, and that is a wide definition of Space Experience; I have been involved in all of these different mediums. There are 3 key areas: (1) There’s real space, someone who actually goes to space (2) there’s Earth space..space experiences where you visit places like the Kennedy Space Center, Space Museum or one of our space experienced simulation projects and (3) there’s movies, TV, media, virtual worlds and games.  If you ever imagine a triangle, with 3 parts..so all three of those are different types of space experiences, now over a lifetime people become more affluent in life having ever increasingly realistic space experiences from reading a book to going to space museum to taking a zero gravity flight to suborbital flight to eventually a real space flight. That’s what I will be talking about is giving the big picture and then showing some of my visionary things, concept of the rover race around the entire moon and some other things but also showing a little bit of context of the history of envisioning space experiences from Jules Verne the great science fiction writer to Walt Disney and futuristic space stations and so forth and so what I want people to walk away with whatever field I am in I can have a career in the space field whether I am hair dresser, chef, architect, a designer we have to look at all of those areas to create space experiences and to a wider audience of space.

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ISDC Space and Media Track: Buzz Hayes, Sony 3D expert

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

Buzz Hays is one of the leading experts in Stereoscopic 3D film production and post-production in the motion picture and television industry. His producing experience led to his key role as the 3D expert for Sony Corporation worldwide, from film production to live-broadcast events to consumer and professional electronics design consulting. His expertise and guidance was integral to the rollout of Sony 3DTV in 2010, and his contributions in camera design for 3D has led to successful products in the marketplace both for professionals and consumers. He founded the award-winning Sony 3D Technology Center based at Sony Pictures in Culver City, CA. He is now the Owner and Studio Chief of the True Image Company, a 3D and advanced imaging production and consulting company.

QGITS (an online publication for STEM students) had the distinct pleasure to chat with Buzz Hays and ask him more about stereoscopic 3D technology and the ISDC.

QGITS: What were your thoughts when you were asked to speak at the ISDC?

Buzz Hays: I was thrilled. I actually spoke at the SETIcon conference two years ago and that was a really great experience hanging out with astrophysicists and astronauts. I thought this would be a nice adjunct to that. In much of the work I do, I end up working with scientists. I think if I didn’t pursue this career path, I definitely would have become a scientist. In the work I do for stereoscopic 3D in films, I work with neurobiologists and neuroscientists, partially just to understand what is going on in the brain when we fuse 3D images in the visual cortex, and how we perceive those images on an emotional and physiological level. I also work with these scientists to learn how we can improve the process of stereoscopic image creation, in addition to furthering the use of the S3D medium into the medical, scientific and navigation fields.

Photo Credit: FilmNewEurope.com; Buzz Hays at the International 3D Society’s 2012 Technology Awards.

QGITS: How exciting is it to be working with visual effect technologies and to be part of the film industry?

Buzz Hays: It is incredibly exciting! Filmmakers have a great opportunity to transport you into a new time and place, and bring audiences into compelling situations where they are completely immersed in the story. In visual effects, there has been a lot of refinement of the techniques over the years, but often it has gotten to the point where you almost don’t believe things you see anymore. It’s so fantastic, that it’s hard to get a grasp of it all sometimes because the storytelling is lost in the visuals. However, when it comes to great 3D films like Gravity, where the filmmakers take the use of visuals very seriously, they work very hard to integrate the visuals into the story, and therefore they successfully recreate the experience of what it would be like to be in space. I worked at Lucasfilm for many years in the post-Star Wars era, and I learned that even though writers made up the science in the storytelling, it still had to be plausible, even if the technology they devised in the script hadn’t been developed yet. It’s really fun to look forward and create these situations that may some day come true, but for now we are taking from people’s imagination so that audiences can experience new and exciting places in the universe.

QGITS: What can people take away from your talk at the ISDC?

Buzz Hays: I think people coming to the conference really appreciate the marriage between art and science, so I am hosting a panel about immersive technology from the perspective of both science and art. The panel will include top filmmaking professionals working in 3D who create these worlds artificially for entertainment, and also I’ll have a JPL engineer on the panel who designs systems to connect us directly to space. We will discuss how immersive technologies provide a virtual gateway to space.

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ISDC Space and Media Track: Julie Miller

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

Julie Miller is a talented strategic communications pro in entertainment & technology and Associate Producer of the Space & Media track for this year’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2014 happening May 14-18 in Los Angeles. Julie’s background: she was Director of Communications & Marketing at Academy Award-winning digital production studio Digital Domain. The company is known for creating visual effects for feature films, advertising and games. There she oversaw communications, publicity and marketing for the company’s work on movies like “Iron Man 3,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” the ‘hologram’ Tupac Shakur at Coachella and more. QGITS had the chance to meet and chat with Julie about the upcoming ISDC 2014. Here’s what she had to say:

QGITS: What do you think of having a Space & Media Track, at this year’s ISDC conference 2014?

Julie Miller: I think it’s great and so important, relevant and timely. The media, whether it’s through entertainment or advertising – that’s a way we all discover views of space. Games, films and TV shows, and of course, the news, all show us different visions of what space looks like. This a great conference track that shows where these visions of space come from and how the public perceptions get shaped. I think it’s really interesting.

Julie Miller (right) at the California Science Center with some team members of the ISDC conference 2014. Next to Julie in photo is Derek Cederbaum, Associate Producer, Space & Media track/ISDC, William Harris VP of Marketing, California Science Center Foundation, and David Knight. Film Producer of “Journey of Endeavour”.

QGITS: How did you get involved in the space tech industry?

Julie Miller: It’s really interesting because my involvement is very new. I come from a background in digital production, marketing for technology and creative companies. Space travel, space battles and things like aliens are common themes in visual effects productions, for the obvious reasons. Filmmakers don’t get out into space much.. Digital Domain created some of the memorable space visuals for movies like “Apollo 13,” “Oblivion,” a couple of “Star Trek” movies, and “Ender’s Game.” It’s fascinating to learn the processes and research that visual effects companies undertake to achieve what you see on screen. I have made lots of contacts in the media industry and just recently got connected to  Conference Producer David Knight, actually through a journalist at the Hollywood Reporter who called me to help place some speakers. I’m totally sucked in now and really loving working on this event.

QGITS:  What are you excited about this year’s ISDC conference?

Julie Miller: I am just becoming aware of how big, important and prominent it is, and it’s exciting to be part of fostering the awareness and excitement about space.  With commercial space companies making their marks and the show “Cosmos” being such a big event, it feels like the space movement is reaching critical mass in the public domain and I am looking forward to being a part of that cross over bridge of the media and perceptions it makes. In addition to getting a behind-the-scenes look at some of the big movies and shows that create a picture of space, I’m most excited about getting exposure to topics I know very little about — like space-based solar power, the new business models of the space industry, and of course, maybe getting the chance to hear Buzz Aldrin or Elon Musk speak.

QGITS:  Anything else you would like to talk about?

Julie Miller:  I guess one more point worth mentioning is how the visual effects industry relates to STEM and STEAM. It’s a really exciting field to get into and it’s everything that STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering arts and math. That’s visual effects – all of those things combined. I have met amazing, brilliant, talented artists who solve crazy difficult problems by combining technology with art.

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ISDC Space and Media Track: David Knight, Film Producer, “Journey of Endeavour”

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

For the first time, ISDC includes a track called Space & Media: the purpose of the track is to illuminate how media, in all of its forms, influences the public perception of space exploration, and in particular, manned spaceflight. The new track includes presenters drawn from film, television, news, social media, simulations, games and even music,  including Oscar-winning Visual Effects Artist Ben Grossman from the movie “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” Buzz Hays who until recently was Senior Vice President of 3D Production at Sony Pictures, and many others. Click here to view the track’s session schedule, which runs for the full four days of the conference.

NSS asked STEM supporter and documentary filmmaker David Knight to chair Space & Media: David is an entrepreneur primarily involved in computing and space technology. Most recently he became a film producer, heading a multi-year effort to document the final phases of the Space Shuttle program, culminating with the journey of Endeavour to Los Angeles. David is now building a technology company involving microsatellites and UAVs, and continues to invest in high-tech and entertainment related startups. He is among the original members of the XPRIZE, which saw SpaceShipOne achieve the first private spaceflight, and plans to fly on Virgin Galactic. With a background in applied physics, David is committed to bringing science education to youth of all ages. He is a Trustee of the California Science Center Foundation and various other STEM-focused non-profits.

David states: “With ISDC taking place this year in the world center of media, it was logical to highlight the people and activities that shape people’s perception of what we’re doing, and what we could be doing, in space. The stunning popularity of films like Gravity, Star Trek and others, coupled with private spaceflight companies such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, and the new generation of immersive technologies that can ‘take us there’ right from our living rooms, are building an excitement that hasn’t been there since the Apollo program.”

In fact, as David Knight points out, it was Walt Disney himself who worked with the Kennedy administration to build a series of promotional films that not only influenced the public via television airings, but were utilized in depicting the possibilities and advances that a moonshot program would bring, to Congress in order to obtain funding. “Often with each new technological wave comes a range of opportunities which we are all going to benefit from,” Knight said. “Ranging from personal spaceflights to individualized medications to ultra-rapid transcontinental travel, we’re only at the beginning of where this next wave will take us.”

Take a look and watch this incredible ‘mini-film’ documentary produced by David Knight chronicling Endeavour’s final journey three-day voyage to the California Science Center Museum with a cheering crowd of over 1.5 million who lined the route.

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Commercial Crew Needs Competition

The following Op-Ed article appears in the May 12 issue of SpaceNews.

By Paul Werbos, Dale Skran | May. 12, 2014

The SpaceNews editorial “A Feckless Blame Game on ISS Crew Access” [April 14, page 18] defends NASA’s Commercial Crew Program against disingenuous attacks by its congressional opponents. We support many of the points made in the editorial, especially the assertion that the failure of Congress to fully fund Commercial Crew as requested by the White House is the major reason for delays in the date Americans can start flying on American rockets to the international space station. However, we take issue with the suggestion that a down-select to a single Commercial Crew provider is desirable.

We strongly recommend that the following considerations guide the Commercial Crew Program:

  • A minimum of two complete, technologically independent commercial crew systems should be brought to operational status. Commercial Crew can only be fully successful with real competition between multiple U.S.-based service providers.
  • The value of Commercial Crew lies not just in providing the means of transporting astronauts to the ISS without relying on Russian spacecraft, but also in significantly strengthening the U.S. commercial orbital access industry.

There has long been a strain of criticism in Congress that calls for an immediate down-select in Commercial Crew to a single contractor in the name of saving money and moving forward more rapidly. Traditionally, NASA has run “competitive” procurement processes in which a number of proposals are considered, and then one is chosen to be developed into a flight article. This approach, although a reasonable one for experimental or some operational vehicles, is not the best approach for building a new industry.

The traditional NASA approach has the effect of the system or service ultimately being supplied by a single “monopoly” vehicle from a single vendor, and provides no competition that would work to lower costs over time. Commercial Crew, like the Commercial Resupply Services program, is intended to create a situation in which NASA has multiple, independent methods of transportation to and from the ISS. Two fully independent U.S.-based providers combined with occasional use of the Russian Soyuz would be the minimum system to put real competitive pressures on all vendors.

A highly desirable characteristic of a fully successful Commercial Crew Program is the operational availability of two technologically and financially independent solutions. For example, selecting the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser/Atlas 5 and the Boeing CST-100/Atlas 5 introduces a single point of failure, the Atlas 5. It would be equally risky to select as the two solutions the Dream Chaser/Falcon 9 and the SpaceX Dragon/Falcon 9 for the same reason.

In the approved 2014 budget, language exists holding back $171 million of the allocated Commercial Crew funding until the NASA administrator certifies an independent cost-benefit analysis of the program. It should be noted that this level of scrutiny — an independent cost-benefit analysis — is not being applied to other NASA programs such as the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule.

It is possible to alter the outcome of a cost-benefit analysis via careful selection of underlying assumptions. In the case of a cost-benefit analysis of Commercial Crew, key areas to consider are the operational lifetime of the ISS, the probability that the ISS will be followed by a similar base in low Earth orbit, and the crew size of the ISS.

The Obama administration is proposing an ISS extension for an additional four years, meaning that the anticipated Commercial Crew operations would be extended to 2024. It is very likely, and indeed highly desirable, that the life of the ISS will be extended well beyond this date. NASA has certified that an extension to 2028, an additional four years beyond that just proposed, is possible without major efforts.

The Chinese have announced that their large China Space Station will become operational in the 2020-2024 time frame, and they are currently seeking international partners. It is difficult to imagine that the United States will at just that moment deorbit the ISS, abandoning space research in low Earth orbit to the Chinese.

Thus all analysis of Commercial Crew value should be based on the realistic assumption that: the ISS lifetime is significantly extended beyond 2020; the ISS is replaced with a follow-on U.S./international/commercial station; and/or Commercial Crew vehicles will continue to be used to transport crew to low Earth orbit in support of other future NASA projects, such as assembly of a Mars ship from multiple launches. In all of these scenarios, low-cost, specialized and reliable transport of crew to low Earth orbit will be of continuing value to NASA.

The current size of the ISS crew is limited to six, since only two Soyuz “lifeboats” can dock to the ISS at the same time, and each Soyuz can carry only three astronauts. The introduction of Commercial Crew vehicles that can carry up to seven astronauts allows for expansion of the ISS capabilities to support a crew of up to 14.

Even the use of a single Commercial Crew vehicle would allow for an expansion from six to seven, something that would significantly increase the scientific return from the ISS. The ISS can accommodate one additional long-term crew member with minimal effort.

The ISS also can accommodate multiweek “surges” of additional crew members, as was demonstrated during the shuttle program. Thus, Commercial Crew vehicles could expand the output of the ISS by periodically allowing teams of, for example, five scientists accompanied by two crew members, to live on the ISS for weeks at a time. It is expected that expansion to a permanent crew of 14 might require additional facilities to be added to the ISS. Finally, it should be noted that the number of astronauts on the Commercial Crew vehicles significantly affects the cost per seat. Arbitrary limits of, for example, four astronauts per vehicle artificially increase the cost per seat by a large factor.

The Commercial Crew Program offers the potential to build the foundation for a true private crewed orbital access industry. In the past, the U.S. government has supported the development of new industries in various ways, ranging from federal airmail contracts supporting early aviation to current nanotechnology research centers. The crewed orbital access industry involves not just space tourism but also satellite repair and refueling, industrial research and private commercial space stations. Commercial Crew is a key enabler of this new industry, and can significantly contribute to strengthening the larger U.S. space access industry, which has vast potential for the creation of large numbers of well-paying American jobs.

Strong industries must have competition. A major advantage of the nature of the Commercial Crew Program is that the competitive environment keeps costs low and forces each competitor to seek other markets for its solution. But the development of alternative markets is also related to the timely success of the Commercial Crew

Program. Companies such as Bigelow Aerospace have flown multiple orbital test vehicles to demonstrate some of the technologies that they are planning to deploy to create inflatable private space stations. At one point, delays in the readiness of Commercial Crew vehicles led Bigelow to lay off a substantial portion of its workforce to conserve capital. Although Bigelow has since won a contract to attach an inflatable module to the ISS, its commercial space station plans remain in a holding pattern until the Commercial Crew Program moves to operational status.

We strongly endorse the $848 million 2015 NASA budget request for Commercial Crew, along with the $250 million supplemental request. At a time when the availability of the Russian-supplied Soyuz is being increasingly questioned, we need to move Commercial Crew to the top of NASA’s priority list.

Dr. Paul Werbos is executive vice president and chairman of the National Space Society’s Policy Committee, and Dale Skran is deputy chairman of the committee. For a longer version of this article see the NSS Position Paper: The NASA Commercial Crew Program.

Posted in Commercial Spaceflight, National Space Society, Space Policy | Leave a comment