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.

National Space Society Statement on NASA FY2014 Budget

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


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.


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.

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


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.

NSS Response to State Department Request for Public Comment on ITAR

As part of the President’s Export Control Reform effort, the Department of State proposes to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to revise Category XV (Spacecraft Systems and Related Articles) of the U.S. Munitions List (USML) to describe more precisely the articles warranting control on the USML. The definition of “defense service” is to be revised to, among other changes, specifically include the furnishing of assistance for certain spacecraft related activities.

Below is the response from the National Space Society expressing concerns that the regulations as proposed could have a major negative impact on development and use of commercial suborbital and orbital manned space vehicles, satellite and spacecraft servicing and refueling, and space solar power.


NSS Response to State Department
NOPR DOS_FRDOC_0001-2421
on International Traffic in Arms:
Revision of U.S. Munitions List Category XV
and Definition of Defense Service

General Comments

The National Space Society (NSS) hereby urges the State Department to make changes in the proposed new Munitions List, so as to more completely fulfill the guidance from Congress and the Administration, accounting for guidance from PL 112-239 (section 1261), from the National Export Initiative and from bipartisan guidance on the importance of energy and environment issues in defining current threats to national security (see Climate Change, National Security, and the Quadrennial Defense Review; The Climate and Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities for Transatlantic Security; and Climate Change and National Security).

These policies clearly call for strong encouragement of exports of goods and services from US companies, not only in established markets but in new and potential markets, in all cases where such goods and service would (A) not be used as weapons by other nations; and (B) not support the development of weapons by other nations, except when such goods and services are already available for present or future delivery on the open market. Special efforts should be made to encourage such exports, and dispel any ambiguity about their legality, when these exports help address major issues of energy and environment, which are part of the national security consideration. Criteria (A) and (B) will be  referred to in the specific recommendations below.

NSS urges special attention to editing the Munitions List (and section 120.9) so as to maximize five new markets for US companies with especially large potential: (1) the provision of space launch services, for all benign civilian purposes;  (2) the effort to develop affordable, safe electricity to be beamed from space to Earth, as proposed in the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative building on extensive prior work supported by the US government (see National Academy of Sciences: Laying the Foundation for Space Solar Power and NASA-NSF-EPRI Joint Investigation of Enabling Technologies for SSP) and by international collaborations including the US (see International Academy of Astronautics: The First International Assessment of Space Solar Power); (3) all forms of support (including refueling) for civilian manned space activities, such as space tourism and other activities by humans in space habitats, similar to the International Space Station (ISS), whenever these habitats are operated by transparent companies or organization, public or private, domestic or international and have little potential to be used as weapons; (4) open international efforts to develop geoengineering technology, which many leading scientists view as necessary insurance to cope with the worst case risks of climate change, regardless of the causes of climate change; and (5) vast increase in international communication, related both to internet technology and advanced potential improvements in space-based communication technology.

The authoritative citations above dispel many popular misconceptions about space solar power in particular.

NSS and the scientific societies we work with also see an urgent need to reform the treatment of information in general under ITAR, in order to account for changes in the global community and reflect the full spirit of National Security Directive NSDD 189.

Specific Comments on Category XV – paragraph (a)

a(4): Please change a(4) to “Provide space-based logistics, assembly or servicing of any spacecraft designated as a munition under the USML.”

Comment: prohibiting support such as refueling to peaceful international habitats, similar to the ISS, whether public or private,  is not consistent with the guidelines NSS has provided above.  More precisely, in those cases where the spacecraft itself is not a munition, support for it is not either (criterion A). Another decisive consideration: space launch capability to carry fuel to space is not something available only from the US (criterion B); for example, the capacity to refuel satellites in orbit is now being developed by a Canadian company, MacDonald Dettweiler. Treating such technology as a munition in the US would simply exclude US companies from this emerging market, without any benefit to national security. The absence of US companies servicing this market would encourage other nations to develop technologies for engaging with other satellites which would do more harm than good for US national security.

a(11): Please change a(11) to: “Man-rated rocket-powered spacecraft with enough propulsion capability and re-entry shielding to be directed to selected locations on Earth at will, or habitats designed to carry contain weapons such as missile bays or directed energy weapons. Launch services provided by companies organized in the US will be treated as defense services only when the cargo to be transported would itself be prohibited for export under ITAR; the international operations of such launch service companies shall be restricted only to the extent that international cargo service airlines are.”

Comment: Without this change, if all man-rated habitats were treated as weapons, ITAR would restrict the International Space Station, private space hotels, or other habitats like the ISS (criterion A) even though they do not have the capability to deliver weapons to great distances.  In general, it would restrict all support to expand the human presence in space, which is not only an important export opportunity but an important hope for the future of humanity.  Likewise, suppose a British company decides to send a safe and peaceful expedition to Mars, using propulsion which could not be targeted to points on Earth any more than the falling SkyLab could. US national security does not require that US companies be excluded from the opportunity to support that effort.

Additional comment: All these recommendations have been discussed widely in NSS and its advisory committees, which include experts in national security. One of the problems here is that the US is on course to having “100% of nothing” in the area of reusable launch. US companies do have key technologies now, which they will protect anyway as part of intellectual property (IP) policy, but many of the most crucial technologies are being lost due to lack of investment. There is at least some hope (as in the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative) that well-controlled new US ventures, selling to civilian world markets, could restore these capabilities to the US. The risk to national security is very limited, under this proposed wording, but without new investment the risk of our losing the technology is very great indeed. US national security will be much better off with “50% of something” rather than “100% of nothing.”  Commercial launch service markets outside the US are currently dominated by foreign competitors (criterion B).

Specific Comments on Category XV – paragraph (e)

e(1): Please change “Antennas” to “Antennas for receiving RF information.”

Comment: This is one of our strongest concerns, because the present language would completely exclude large space structure technology that is crucial to emerging civil space applications such as advanced communication satellites and space solar power using the safest low-frequency beaming of power to Earth (at frequencies under 50 GHz). Such technology is being developed in several countries for civil use.

If it is impossible to distinguish between an antenna intended for receiving information, versus a transmission antenna, some NSS members would suggest it is better to scrap this clause altogether, because other nations already can supply this market (criterion B); however, in specific cases where a US company applies for an export license, it should be able to get clarity on who is buying the antenna, for what purpose, if it is a legitimate power satellite or civilian communication satellite.

e(2): Please change “.35” meters to “1.5 meters,” and, before the semicolon, insert: “,not to include lightweight plastic or inflatable mirrors suitable for focusing light from the sun for civilian applications.”

Comment: The US remote sensing industry reports that mirrors of larger aperture are already being sold by our competitors on the world market (criterion B). Restricting antenna size was once a  way to avoid helping other nations build large aperture radars. However, for radar applications, use of an array of smaller apertures now provides more capability for the same price; thus this restriction is no longer so effective as it once was.

The change in bold is especially important, to remove all aperture restrictions for the specific cases where a large aperture is specifically part of a design to provide energy, remote sensing or broadband communication. It is also crucial to the hope of developing geoengineering capabilities (ability to quickly reverse the worst impacts of global warming in case we discover  that this is urgent, as predicted by many scientists such as James Hansen).

It may be important to open the door to developing these capabilities now, while there is time; they are essentially a form of relatively low cost insurance against the worst case risks we are facing.  Likewise, in the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative, leading scientists in India have expressed great interest in forms of space solar power relying on lightweight mirrors, and in the maturation of technology needed to make the price tag affordable.

e(3): Please insert the words “receiving” before the word “array.”  Also insert: “at frequencies above 50 GHz” after “900nm.”

Comment: In the recent International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) report cited above (The First International Assessment of Space Solar Power), it is proposed to use phased array technology at safe frequencies (under 50 GHz) for transmitting electric power to Earth. Japan already has that technology (criterion B), but it would be good for US companies to be able to compete. Of course, the wavelength of 50GHz RF vastly exceeds 900 nm. As the IAA report shows, phased array technology allows focusing and splitting RF power, to send it to markets of greatest need and value which will be especially important in the initial deployment of SSP technology. Many who use the term “focal plane array” assume that such arrays are used as receivers only, by definition; however, the clarification is needed because, from a physical point of view, focal plane arrays do include phased arrays (see Wikipedia article on Focal Plane Arrays) which are fundamental to the IAA design for space solar power.

e(5): Before the final semicolon, please insert: “, except  for use on habitats or other satellites operated by international consortia whose designs are openly available and validated well enough to verify that  they cannot be used as weapons.”

Comment: The technology to stabilize large space structures such as large communications or solar power satellites should not be a concern as such technology cannot be used as weapons.  The provision of wider internet access and

nonnuclear sources of 24-hour electricity to other nations would be of great positive value to US national security

e(7): Please change ” (e.g. lasers or RF) systems” to “systems (e.g. lasers or systems to transmit RF at frequencies above 50GHz) which can be used as a weapon.

Comment: It is most important to our community that no one exclude solar power satellites operating at geosynchronous orbit from transmitting useful energy in the form of RF in frequencies somewhere in the range between 2 and 50 GHz, from antennas inherently unable to focus that energy enough to provide a weapon (due to size, distance and frequency).

e(10): Please insert “or retrograde feedback signals from Earth” after Ground Location Points.

Comment: It is important, when beaming useful energy to Earth, that it goes to the right place.  Retrograde feedback signals are an important tool in reaching the required accuracy.  Weapons would be unlikely to use that technique, since it requires that the people being attacked help the attacker.

Specific Comments on the General Section (120)

Please add a new subsection: Notwithstanding any other provisions in this section, there shall be no restriction on the free transmittal of technical data, papers or talks unless such release of information entails either: (1) knowing release of classified information that was either known or should have been known to be classified; or (2) release of intellectual property (IP) by those not authorized to release such IP,  as determined by the owner of the IP.

Comment: These proposed change to the ITAR draft have been thoroughly reviewed in multiple committees of the National Space Society, and in other communities we work with. The outpouring of support for this “free speech” provision was great, even among those very familiar with technical national security issues and committed to the superiority of US industry. For example, there was feeling that we already have two highly refined systems for determining what is sensitive information and what is not, and we do not need a third fuzzier and more subjective system.  Some of us considered whether there should be a third exception, for true

nuclear technology information, where we wish ITAR could have cracked down on certain folks trying to promote risky nuclear technologies around the world; however, on balance, a public discussion of what is truly dangerous and what is not in the nuclear area might itself constitute an ill-advised release of information at this time; on balance, we feel that adding a third category would hurt more than it helps.

Additional comment: The new guidance from Congress and the White House clearly calls for major changes in ITAR.  But in defense of the old system, many would say: (1) if a cake can explode and be used as a weapon, it is important to control the recipe itself, and not just the cake; (2) in specific cases, when international technical communications are needed, arrangements can be negotiated.

The problem here has to do with a presumption of secrecy versus a presumption of free speech, in specific cases which have yet to be negotiated. There is an analogy here to the criminal code, where in the US there is a presumption of innocence and guilt has to be proven.  The sheer volume and complexity of  international technology discussions  worldwide (e.g. via the internet) has become so great that it would simply not be practical to require the time and expense of negotiations, especially for the normal kinds of discussions which occur  within scientific societies, between universities, and at conferences.  It is far more efficient if  “bad recipes” (information on how to make weapons not available outside the US) are specifically labeled as such, through the security classification scheme, with ongoing clarity, rather than require ambiguous case-by-case prosecution, which can put a serious damper on engineers and scientists working in the US.  The damage to the US of relying so heavily on a “third system” for classifying information (beyond security classification and IP) is now much greater than the benefits.

Also please add a subsection: All results and published papers from research funded by the National Science Foundation or from 6.1 or 6.2 research funding shall automatically count as fundamental research and public domain for purposes of ITAR.

Comment: We have discussed these recommendations with colleagues in IEEE, the world’s largest society of engineers (including research engineers).  They agree that  White House officials in both political parties have supported their recommendations in their 2002 letter to OSTP but that there is an ever more urgent need for ITAR regulations to dispel a pernicious ambiguity which currently inhibits US research and weakens it much more than it weakens any potential adversaries.   They tell us that heads of OSTP from Reagan’s time to Holdren have reaffirmed their support for this principle as stated in National Security Directive NSDD 189.

Space Solar Power (SSP) Workshop November 8-9, 2013

Michigan Technological University, in collaboration with professionals from NASA, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the Space Solar Power Institute, will host a Space Solar Power (SSP) workshop to clarify the challenges facing SSP implementation. Michigan Tech’s Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics departments have been actively conducting SSP research. The workshop is being offered to academics, industry professionals, and members of professional associations related to renewable energy to focus on SSP’s challenges and opportunities.

Motivation: Thirty seven states and many countries have initiated Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and other initiatives to adopt improved energy alternatives, such as ground-based solar, bio-fuel, and wind. SSP satellites, however, appear to be the most attractive of these; large-scale, baseload, low CO2 emissions, near zero fuel and water use, among other key advantages.

SSP would be large-scale solar energy collection in space and its wireless transmission to Earth for use by the customers of existing major power grids. SSP development would take advantage of many advanced technologies and promote further advances; including wireless power transmission, microwave circuits, space transportation, new communication paradigms, light and smart space-based structures, telerobotic construction and operations, photovoltaics and electric propulsion.

The International Academy of Astronautics’ SSP study advocated for the “coordination among various countries and between industry and government agencies.” Japan’s large SSP project and consortium is being emulated in China, Russia and elsewhere. This workshop intends to provide a forum for all relevant stakeholders, including energy developers and power industry representatives.

Workshop Highlights: The two-day workshop will be held on November 8-9, 2013 in conjunction with the IEEE WiSEE 2013 Conference held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, MD. Presentations and keynotes will be selected from researchers, program managers, industry representatives, and academics, interspersed with topical working group discussions. The workshop aims to compare different SSP technologies, promoting discussion of these technologies, and to develop prize competition concepts resulting in significant advances in SSP systems and technologies. Participants will discuss how the efforts of existing national and international bodies might be complemented or enhanced. These working group discussions will be summarized and action items disseminated at the end of workshop.

More information.

Videos from the 2013 International Space Development Conference

Thanks to our friends at MoonandbackMedia, some of the presentations from the 2013 NSS International Space Development Conference in San Diego are now online.

ISDC 2013 Opening Opening Ceremony. 16 minutes.

Jeff Greason Bas Landsdorp. 29 minutes. Opening Keynote Address. Bas Lansdorp is Co-Founder and CEO of Mars One.

Stephen D. Covey Asteroid Panel: Threats or Resources? 50 minutes. Moderated by Stephen D. Covey.

Martin Elvis Dr. Martin Elvis: Asteroid Characterization for Planetary Defense. 39 minutes.

Bob Richards Bob Richards. 46 minutes. Thursday Luncheon Speaker. Dr. Richards is Co-Founder and CEO of Moon Express.

Ohio University - Space Solar Power Ohio University – Space Solar Power. 14 minutes. Creative Visualizations of Space Solar Power.

Dana Rohrabacher Dana Rohrabacher. 46 minutes. Congressman Rohrabacher (CA) is Vice Chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Chris Lewicki and David Gump Asteroid Mining Prospects. 50 minutes. Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, and David Gump, CEO, Deep Space Industries.

Mark Sonter Mark Sonter: Asteroid Mining. 55 minutes. Director of Mining and Processing, Deep Space Industries.

Howard Bloom Howard Bloom. 47 minutes. Saturday Luncheon Presentation: Gardening the Solar System, Greening the Galaxy.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. 73 minutes. Saturday Night Gala. Space Solar Power: Key to a Livable Planet Earth.

Mae Jemison Dr. Mae Jemison, physician astronaut. 61 minutes. Saturday Keynote Plenary Speaker.

Tom and Tina Sjogren Tom and Tina Sjogren: To Mars in Alpine Style. 49 minutes.

Robert Zubrin Robert Zubrin: Mars in Our Time. 52 minutes. Robert Zubrin is founder and president of the Mars Society.

Buzz Aldrin Buzz Aldrin. 85 minutes. Saturday Luncheon Speaker. A Unified Space Vision: Mission to Mars.

Maria Zuber Maria Zuber. 91 minutes. Principal Investigator of the lunar GRAIL mission. Saturday Banquet includes tribute to Women in Space and NSS Chapter Awards.

Robert Kerr Robert Kerr. 52 minutes. Director of the Arecibo Observatory.

Space Solar Power: Key to a Livable Planet Earth

The National Space Society (NSS) today announces a new space solar power international initiative. NSS endorses this initiative and will work to forge an international organization involving America, India and other nations to develop space solar power. This has the potential of solving humanity’s energy needs and greatly mitigating climate change.

The following is a joint statement of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Former President of the Republic of India and Mr. Mark Hopkins, Executive Committee Chairman, National Space Society.

Space Solar Power: Key to a Livable Planet Earth
Joint Statement of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Former President of the Republic of India
Mr. Mark Hopkins
Chairman of the Executive Committee, National Space Society
June 1, 2013

We, Dr. Kalam and Mr. Hopkins, have long shared humanity’s dream of all nations living together in prosperity and peace and moving forwards through global collaboration in space to meet the challenges that now face our Planet Earth. We are conscious that all nations have to strive to make our planet livable again, after centuries of devastation of its environment and ecosystems and rapid depletion of its precious mineral resources, including fossil fuels and fresh water.

Over these last three years many of our colleagues, in NSS and in India, have come together and made progress towards this international collaborative mission by sustained dialogue with mutual respect, understanding, and trust. It is essentially this process that has helped us to decide that the time has arrived for us to together attempt to give a direction and momentum to this movement to realize space solar power and its enabling technologies through international collaboration that can help rebuild our environmentally vulnerable planet.

Today, we begin working together in a well organized and well supported manner to realize such a 21st Century global collaboration; and together help to lay the structural foundation for an international collaboration to develop and deploy space solar power systems. We are aware that coalitions and collaborations work best if there is a shared mission and common goals, and effective leadership. We need to build strong, trusting relationships across nations through a participatory process with the active involvement of member nations and their institutions and organizations. We will work to develop an effective mission governance process and hope to evolve, jointly and together in international teams, clear operating procedures regarding decision-making, communications, and accountability. We shall be working together to develop a shared vision, to build strong relationships within the leadership team, and to rotate leadership roles.

Kalam and Hopkins discuss joint statement at the 2013 International Space Development Conference (ISDC).

Such a shared vision shall include specific mechanisms such as the Global Space Knowledge Platform, the International Virtual Laboratory, and the International Advisory Committee that Dr. Kalam has elaborated through discussion papers with Mr. Hopkins and his Address to the 2013 National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2013). We hope our international collaborative mission will act as a catalyst for a livable planet which will promote prosperity and peaceful relations within and between nations.

We shall start our team building and mission structuring phase with core members from nations who we know are already networking and who are contributing to the dream of harvesting energy from space, including the US, India, Japan, and UK. We shall also invite, as observers, representatives in relevant domains of public policy, science and technology and management systems from other space faring nations like Russia, China, and other European nations. We shall engage in open and frequent communication with people who share our values and goals in governments and societies which are important to the success of this venture. We will help accomplish this through collaborative practices that are the true hallmark of effective global cooperation for a livable planet Earth. We shall have a clear plan of action to market the idea of a livable planet Earth through space solar power to G8 or G20 nations within a year.

Towards this end, we agree to start working together by jointly identifying the core members and observer members in the joint working mechanisms that Dr. Kalam has proposed. This shall be the direction of what we must accomplish in the coming months. We shall build upon the trusting relationships we have established and consolidated these last three years between NSS, Dr. Kalam, and others in India. We shall now strive to expand this relationship in an organized and well-structured manner towards an international collaborative mission to realize space solar power for all humanity.

For more information concerning the plan, see Dr. Kalam’s June 2, 2013  address to the leaders of the Indian aerospace community and “Global Space Solar Plan Unveiled,” Aviation Week, June 3, 2013.

About Dr. Abdul Kalam: Despite coming from a poor background, which required him to work at an early age to supplement his parents’ income, Dr. Kalam obtained degrees in Physics and Aeronautical Engineering. He was project director of India’s first indigenous satellite launch vehicle. Dr. Kalam was subsequently responsible for the evolution of ISRO’s (India’s equivalent of NASA) launch vehicle program. From 1992 to 1999, he was the Scientific Adviser to Defense Minister of India and Secretary, Department of Defense Research & Development. Dr. Kalam was President of India from 2002 to 2007. He is known for his work with students. His 79th birthday was recognized as “World Student’s Day” by the United Nations. According to a 2010 Readers Digest poll, he is one of the two most trusted men in India. Dr. Kalam has received numerous prestigious awards including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, and the 2013 Wernher von Braun Memorial award from the National Space Society. He currently serves as the Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Technology, the leading institution for producing new engineers and scientists for India’s space program. Read more about Dr. Kalam at his website.

Announcement of Opportunity to Submit Input to Study on Human Spaceflight

Deadline is July 9

The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences is currently conducting a congressionally-requested study to examine the goals, core capabilities, and direction of human space flight. This study, which is being carried out by the NRC’s Committee on Human Spaceflight, will provide findings and recommendations to guide the U.S. human spaceflight enterprise in a sustainable manner. The Committee on Human Spaceflight recognizes the importance of reaching out to the communities interested in human exploration and is using several approaches to solicit input regarding the motivations, goals, and the possible evolution of human spaceflight. One important source of input is this call for short papers from communities around the world with an interest in human spaceflight.

The Committee on Human Spaceflight invites interested individuals and groups to submit input papers describing their own ideas on the role of human spaceflight and their vision for a suggested future. In developing their papers, respondents are asked to carefully consider the following broad questions.

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

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

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

In discussing the above questions, respondents are asked to describe the reasoning that supports their arguments and, to the extent possible, include or cite any evidence that supports their views. In considering #1 above, submitters may consider private as well as government space programs.

This request for input papers is open to any and all interested individuals and groups. For more information on the committee and the goals of the study, please see the statement of task at

Formatting and Length Requirements

To facilitate document management, the Committee asks that submitters abide by the following formatting guidelines:

• Input papers should not be more than 4 pages in length. Papers can include web links to other documents among the references.

• Use a 10 or 12-pt font with 1-inch margins on all sides of the document.

• Use Microsoft Word (.doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). No other formats will be accepted.

• Authors are responsible for obtaining any permissions necessary to use, or for the NRC to reproduce, copyrighted material.

• Position papers must be less than 50 MB in size. For file management purposes, please compress your figures if this does not detract from the clarity of your white paper. You should feel free to include hyperlinks to high resolution versions.

• A cover page can be included (beyond the 4-page limit) that shows the title of the white paper, a short abstract, the primary author’s name, phone number, institution, and email address, and a list of co-authors with their respective institutions.

Utilization of the Papers

All submitted papers will be reviewed by the Committee on Human Spaceflight. Note that, because participants will be self-selected, these input papers will not be used to judge the prevalence of attitudes or opinions within various communities. However, they will help ensure that the committee hears about important issues from interested parties. The submitted papers will also be available for public viewing at All input papers will be considered non-proprietary for distribution with attribution.

Submission Instructions

Please submit your white paper by navigating to Clicking on the appropriate link there which will take you to a page where you can upload your input paper as instructed. You must agree to the copyright consent form on that page before uploading your document. Doing so will ensure that your paper will be reviewed by the committee and that your contribution will be made publicly available.

Submissions must be made through by no later than July 9, 2013. All submitted white papers will be made public.

National Space Society Reports on Annual Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kalam Address at ISDC: Space Solar Power – Key to a Liveable Planet Earth

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, aerospace engineer and former President of India, presented the keynote address at the NSS International Space Development Conference on May 24 in San Diego on the subject Space Solar Power: Key to a Liveable Planet Earth.  The complete address is now available on the NSS website.

Kalam stated: “Considering the magnitude of the looming energy and environmental problems, a strong view has emerged that the situation faced by India warrants consideration of all energy options, including the concept of SSP. ISRO [Indian Space Research Organization] has recently carried out some preliminary concept studies on SSP and examined three SSP configurations. ISRO has also welcomed an International Preliminary Feasibility Study and are aware that this would call for strong and long-term cooperation between institutions in every nation blended into an International R&D programme for SSP.”

Kalam listed the following advantages of SSP:

1. Immensely Scalable. SSP can scale to provide the energy needs of the entire human civilization at well enhanced standards of living. Most other near-term renewable options are strictly limited in scalability.

2. A single kilometre-wide band of geosynchronous Earth orbit experiences enough solar flux in one year to nearly equal the amount of energy contained within all known recoverable conventional oil reserves on Earth today.

3. It is safe and globally available, and can be safely shared with all countries on this planet without proliferation concerns.

4. It is steady & assured, for SSP is a continuous, rather than intermittent, power source. It is not subject to the weather, the seasons, or the day-night cycle.

5. It needs no fundamental breakthroughs in either physics or engineering.

Kalam called for international cooperation in developing space solar power, stating “we shall embark on a path-breaking international mission for space solar power within the ambit of a global vision for space industrialization leading on to a new era of peace, prosperity and abundance for all mankind.”