The Cassini and Huygens Teams Win the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Awards for Science and Engineering

The NASA and European Space Agency Cassini and Huygens Teams are the winners of the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Awards for Science and Engineering. Saturn has been revealed to science in great detail at last by the Cassini-Huygens mission. The mission saw the Cassini spacecraft meander through the moons and rings of Saturn for thirteen years, while the Huygens probe made a daring descent through the hazy atmosphere of Titan to soft land on the ice-covered ocean world in January 2005.

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from the mission teams. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Awards to each team’s representatives at our annual conference, the 2018 International Space Development Conference (the 37th ISDC) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

Saturn is our solar system’s most iconic-looking planet with its vast system of spectacular rings and numerous unique moons. It was shrouded in mystery throughout our history until it was first unveiled by NASA’s Pioneer and Voyager fly-bys.

As the Cassini-Huygens mission has been carried out by two teams over a very long period of time, NSS is pleased to be able to present awards to representatives of both the Cassini Team and the Huygens Team. This award recognizes the massive amount of work carried out by the two teams to propose, design, launch and operate the Cassini and Huygens missions and to receive and analyze the data over many years.

Cassini-Huygens at Saturn and Titan. Illustration: ESA.

About the Mission

The Cassini-Huygens mission was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana – ASI). NASA developed the Cassini Saturn orbiter, ESA developed the Huygens Titan Probe, and ASI, in addition to its contribution to Huygens through ESA, supplied major components to Cassini, including its high gain antenna and parts of several orbiter instruments.The dual-spacecraft mission was launched on Oct 15, 1997, over 20 years ago, and is regarded as one of the most significant space missions in history.

The Cassini spacecraft, with its array of cameras, spectrometers, and in-situ instruments, returned an enormous amount of data and images from Saturn and its surroundings. It thoroughly mapped many of the moons of Saturn. Most notably, Cassini discovered a plume of water vapor and icy particles venting into space from a subsurface ocean within the moon Enceladus. This finding has helped pivot the search for life beyond Earth toward the underground oceans inside a variety of outer solar system objects. The Huygens probe directly studied the atmosphere of Titan during its descent. Its images revealed a rugged landscape with branching drainage channels and possible dry lake bottoms, along with the first images taken from the surface of a world in the outer solar system on January 14, 2005.

Multiple flybys of Titan by Cassini itself have helped to create a global map of the only other world in our solar system with active (methane) rain storms affecting a solid water ice surface. The Cassini spacecraft’s mission ended with an intentional plunge into Saturn on September 15, 2017, one-month short of its 20th launch anniversary.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Test Flight Brings National Space Society’s Vision of a Return to the Moon and a Spacefaring Civilization Closer

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates SpaceX on the first flight of the Falcon Heavy (FH). At 3:45 pm EST yesterday, the most powerful U.S. liquid-fueled rocket to fly since the Saturn V roared off Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 5.5-million pounds of thrust.

NSS believes that the first flight of the FH is an important step toward achieving Milestone 2: Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit in the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap (http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html).

“The FH will enable concept studies like the Evolvable Lunar Architecture (see http://www.nss.org/docs/EvolvableLunarArchitecture.pdf) to become a reality, allowing the U.S.A. to return to the Moon within the current NASA budget while maintaining a balanced space program, including a gapless transition to future low Earth orbit commercial space stations and robotic exploration of the solar system,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “NSS members look forward to seeing NASA join the U.S. military in making use of the commercially competitive FH, now the most capable rocket currently flying.”

The two Falcon Heavy side boosters return to launch site. Credit: SpaceX.

Minutes into the flight the two side boosters separated from the center core and flew back to the launch site, landing nearly simultaneously. The center core of the first stage was lost while attempting to land on a downrange drone ship. The second stage ignited twice to loft to orbit a “mass simulator” consisting of Elon Musk’s red Tesla roadster driven by “Starman,” a mannequin wearing a SpaceX spacesuit.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster en route past Mars; actual image from hood camera in orbit. Credit: SpaceX.

Later in the evening a final burn blasted the Tesla and its driver on a path toward Mars and the asteroid belt. In addition to being really cool, this mission profile demonstrates the ability of the FH to launch large satellites directly to geosynchronous orbit after significant coasting periods. During the coast interval SpaceX released live video via the Internet of the Tesla circling the Earth.

“SpaceX achieved a lot of firsts with yesterday’s astounding flight,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “The FH was successfully boosted off the pad with 27 engines firing simultaneously, a new record for the U.S.A.,” he said. Additionally, Skran observed that the return to launch site of two side boosters has never been done before. But most importantly, the FH opens an era of lower launch costs that will enable a wide range of new endeavors in space, including an affordable return to the Moon.

“The reduction in launch costs that will be achieved with the FH was not just unrealized ten years ago, it was actually characterized as impossible by leading aerospace engineers,” said noted Space Solar Power expert and member of the NSS Board of Directors John Mankins. “The targeted prices that SpaceX promises with the FH — below $1,000 per pound — will be a breakthrough moment in the realization of ambitious future space business sectors such as Space Solar Power,” he said.

Congratulations to all at SpaceX who work every day to make us a multi-planetary species and creating a spacefaring civilization.

Sean Hargreaves, Star Trek Movie Concept Designer, Wins National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Award for Art

The National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for Art will be presented to Star Trek® motion picture concept designer Sean Hargreaves. This award honors the work he has done in the motion picture industry, especially for design work on the huge space city and Star Fleet base “Yorktown” shown in the 2016 movie Star Trek Beyond. NSS has a vision of space and planetary settlement as part of our real future in space and the Yorktown city depicts an orbital space habitat beautifully.

Starbase Yorktown. Credit: Sean Hargreaves

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from our awardees and attend their award ceremonies. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Award to Sean at our annual conference, the 2018 International Space Development Conference (the 37th ISDC) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

About Sean Hargreaves

Sean received a BA in Science from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 1989 and since 1992 has been working on a wide variety of films such as science fiction, horror, action/adventure and thrillers. He has also worked in wide variety of roles, including storyboard artist, matte painter, illustrator, costume design, assistant art director, concept artist, concept design, production design, etc. Some of the films he has worked on like The 5th Element have involved very visually complex scenes with lots of motion and perspective. This work requires a constant balancing act between what can be imagined, what looks realistic, and what is practical to show on the screen.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

National Space Society to Present Space Pioneer Award to NASA Astronaut Dr. Kathryn Sullivan

NASA astronaut Dr. Kathryn Sullivan is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Award for Non-Legislative Government Service. This award honors the work she did as an astronaut and oceanographer. She flew on the space shuttle three times, including the 1990 mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, and more recently served as Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from the awardees and attend their award ceremonies. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Award to Dr. Sullivan at our annual conference, the 2018 International Space Development Conference (the 37th ISDC) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

About Dr. Sulllivan 

Dr. Sullivan received a Doctorate in Geology from Dalhousie University in 1978. She has participated in oceanographic expeditions in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Her achievements include fifteen years of service as a shuttle astronaut and three very significant flights from 1984 to 1992. On her inaugural mission, she performed the first EVA by an American female astronaut. On the second flight, she delivered the Hubble Space Telescope safely to orbit. On her third mission, she was the payload commander for the very first SpaceLab Mission to Planet Earth. She also served as Director for Ohio State University’s Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy. From 2011 until 2017, she served in a variety of senior positions at NOAA, including Chief Scientist, Deputy Administrator, and Administrator. The space program has always looked both outward and inward, and the work on Earth observation and analysis continues to be a major part of the of both NASA and NOAA programs. She is currently working on a book about the Hubble Space Telescope and the maintenance and repair team that made Hubble servicing possible.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

March Storm 2018 Registration is now open!

By Dale Skran, NSS Executive VP and Chair of NSS Policy Committee

NSS, the Alliance for Space Development, and the Space Frontier Foundation are sponsoring March Storm 2018, the premier citizen space related Washington visit event, March 11-15. Participants are asked to commit to a minimum of 2 days of Congressional visits. Training will prepare you to meet with Congresspersons and staffers even if you have no prior experience.

Please sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/march-storm-2018-tickets-41513120862.

March Storm 2018 will be advancing the 2018 Alliance for Space Development objectives:

  • Establish an Ultra Low Cost Access to Space (ULCATS) program based on public-private partnership and streamlined governmental policy and regulations (see DRAFT BILL).
  • Ensure a gapless transition from ISS to private space stations in LEO, with NASA assisting with development and serving as an early customer (see DRAFT BILL)
  • Enable cis-lunar development through a series of programs, such as:
    1. A public-private partnership to develop and demonstrate a re-usable lander based in cis-lunar space.
    2. Setting a price that NASA will pay for commodities (water,etc.) at locations in cis-lunar space.
    3. Purchasing data gathered by private companies on lunar resources (water, etc.).

This year we have decided to request participants pay a $40 registration fee, and we are using Eventbite, a popular and reliable service, to collect the fees. PLEASE NOTE – students are free on display of a student ID card during the training session. Also, if you are unable to pay the $40, scholarships are available. Eventbrite will walk you through the process. Please send any questions to dale.skran@nss.org.

Become an NSS Space Ambassador

You are invited to participate with the National Space Society in the greatest adventure of human history and our manifest destiny to settle the solar system.

Be recognized as a credible speaker about space exploration topics by qualifying for a Candidate or Certified Space Ambassador badge. Improve your presentation skills with the guidance and support of the members of the Space Ambassadors Subcommittee, all of whom were finalists in Phase One of the program. The structure of Phase Two is based on experience gained during Phase One.

You are free to speak on any subject related to space exploration, development, or settlement, so let your own interests and areas of knowledge guide you. Sharing your information and enthusiasm are important for educating and inspiring others to support space programs. You might be the inspiration for a student to pursue a STEM career.

More detailed information and the Phase Two application form are online now at www.spaceambassadors.com/new. Come join us—be part of the NSS inspirational team to create a future for humans working and living in space!

National Space Society Endorses Presidential Space Policy Directive 1: Back to the Moon to Stay

On December 11, 2017, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 (SPD1), which called for the United States to “lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization” while working with “commercial and international partners.”

“The National Space Society [NSS] worked to inform the new Administration regarding its views on space policy options over the last year, and is pleased to see that two of the Society’s recommendations have been adopted,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “A few months ago the National Space Council was set up, led by Vice-President Pence, with NSS Board of Governors member and former NSS Executive Vice President Dr. Scott Pace as the Executive Secretary. The just adopted SPD1 calls for the U.S. to return to the Moon. Both of these key objectives have long-standing NSS support, and were recommended to the new Administration at a workshop organized by NSS and hosted by the venture capital firm DFJ.” The output of that workshop can be found at http://www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS-DFJ-Workshop-Recommendations-Nov-2016.pdf.

“NSS has long called for a commercially based return to the Moon that focuses on the utilization of local lunar resources,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to working with NASA, Congress, and the Administration to enable a human return to the Moon, this time to stay. A return to the Moon leading to a permanent settlement on the Moon is a key step in the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement (http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart4.html). Milestones 10 through 13 in the Roadmap relate to Space Policy Directive 1, and Milestone #10, “Robotic Confirmation of Lunar Resources” should be a top priority for NASA under this new directive.”

Mark Hopkins, the Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “NSS is pleased that Space Policy Directive 1 calls for a return to the Moon with international and commercial partners. NSS, via its United Nations representation and network of international chapters, has been working for decades to ensure that the development and settlement of space involves the entire human race. NSS will be urging NASA to build on the public-private partnerships which currently support the International Space Station, to bring them outward into cis-lunar space, leading eventually to a wide range of self-sustaining enterprises on and around the Moon.”

The National Space Society (NSS) calls attention to Jerry Hendrix and Adam Routh of the Center for New American Security (CNAS) for their October 23rd essay: “A Space Policy for the Trump Administration” (https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/a-space-policy-for-the-trump-administration).

The CNAS authors favor expansion and freeing of the commercial space sector to fully harness the resources and wealth of solar system, noting that “the pursuit of space-based economic opportunities, and a desire to colonize celestial bodies have been among the main motivators in recent decades.” This is very consistent with National Space Society’s Statement of Philosophy and Space Settlement Roadmap.

Hendrix and Routh continue: “The United States’ broader space efforts should encourage the development of the commercial space sector by enabling the civil space sector to blaze a pioneering trail. Reestablishing a U.S. presence on the Moon in the form of raw materials mining, and then developing an orbital manufacturing ‘shipyard’ in lunar orbit to produce reusable trans-planetary ships for transport and colonization, should be the first steps for much-needed assurances. There are ample resources on the Moon, and the lower gravity of the Earth’s satellite would make it cheaper to lift construction materials into orbit.”

National Space Society Congratulates SpaceX and NASA on the Return to Flight Status of SLC-40 and the Launch of CRS-13

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates SpaceX and NASA on the successful launch of Commercial Resupply Services 13 (CRS-13) Falcon 9/Dragon to the International Space Station from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 10:36 AM EST.

SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing at Landing Zone-1 after boosting CRS-13 toward the ISS. Credit: NASA.

Friday’s flight is SpaceX’s 17th this year, the fourth usage of a “flight proven” first stage, and the 14th first stage landing during 2017. These numbers put SpaceX in a leading position among launch providers world-wide. For example, in 2017 so far, the United Launch Alliance has lofted eight rockets and Arianespace nine. SpaceX by itself leads all Chinese launches (16) and falls just short of Russia (19).

This flight is also notable for many “firsts”:

  • 1st launch from SLC-40 since it was damaged in the Amos incident last year.
  • 1st time NASA allowed the use of a “flight proven” first stage as part of the CRS program (the first stage flown was initially used to launch CRS-11 on June 3, 2017).
  • 1st time a “flight-proven” first stage and a re-used Dragon capsule have flown together (the Dragon was initially used on CRS-6 in April and May, 2016).

“NSS members are especially excited about Made in Space’s optical fiber manufacturing facility Dragon is carrying to the ISS,” said Dale Skran, the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “If successful in demonstrating the superiority of ZBLAN* fiber made in space, this trial run may produce the first products manufactured in space and sold on the Earth, opening a new era of orbital commerce. Research indicates that ZBLAN fiber pulled in microgravity may not crystallize as much, giving it better optical qualities that allow for more data to be sent over longer cable runs without repeaters, saving money and increasing security.”

NSS believes that in-space manufacturing as envisioned by Made in Space and NASA will be an important step toward achieving Milestone 7: Applications of Space Technology on and for Earth in the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap (http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart3.html).

“SpaceX has capped the year with a really impressive achievement,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to the results of the fiber ZBLAN fiber cable manufacturing tests, and continuing usage of ‘flight-proven’ first stages by NASA and commercial customers. The return to operational status of SLC-40 opens the way for the first flight of the Falcon Heavy from Launch Complex 39A next month.”

CubeSat Structures Competition Opens Space Design to Students of the World

The CubeSat Structures Competition invites students from around the world to help advance the state-of-the-art of new space technology by designing new CubeSat structures. Winning designs will be evaluated for use in carrying future student experiments to space aboard SARGE rockets built by the launch vehicle company EXOS Aerospace.

Enterprise In Space, an international initiative of the National Space Society, along with EXOS, 3D Hubs, and Sketchfab are initiating a worldwide search to find the perfect CubeSat Structure. What are CubeSat structures? Experiments that fly in space need a structure to hold them. These structures can be of many shapes and sizes depending on the type of rocket that will take them to space.

Two challenge categories are available to entrants. They can propose a 3D printed design, or they can design with regular fabrication techniques. In both categories, semifinalists will be given the opportunity to build the structure and send it to EXOS Aerospace for evaluation. The Grand Prize winner in each category will have their design flown in space.

Students can enter now for a chance to be a part of NewSpace history via the competition website, http://www.enterpriseinspace.org/cubesats/.

New Shepard Flight Brings Sub-Orbital Tourism Closer

UPDATE: On December 19th Blue Origin announced that the December 12th flight of New Shepard was done under a new operational license from the FAA, and as a result revenue was booked on a New Shepard flight for the first time.  Blue stated that the cargo manifest for 2018 was mostly full, and that the first crewed test flight could be expected toward the end of 2018, with paying customers in late 2019.  This is a BIG DEAL.  For the first time, a company seeking to make a business out of sub-orbital tourism is taking in revenue, and the pathway to fully operational status seems clear.  More information can be found at:  http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-a-year-away-from-crewed-new-shepard-flights/.

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Blue Origin on the seventh New Shepard flight December 12, 2017. After reaching over 98 kilometers in height, both the booster and the capsule were successfully recovered. The upgraded capsule, targeted for crewed flights in 2018, features the largest windows ever flown in space – 2.4 feet by 3.6 feet – and carried 12 commercial, research, and educational payloads, along with a dummy “Mannequin Skywalker.” This is the first of an expected series of tests of an upgraded version of the New Shepard expected to lead to sub-orbital tourist flights in the near future. The New Shepard booster is powered by the re-usable liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen BE-3 engine.

New Shepard capsule after successful landing showing large windows with “Mannequin Skywalker” visible. Credit: Blue Origin

“Blue Origin plans to use the technology from New Shepard to build its ‘Blue Moon’ lander,” said Dale Skran, the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “This is a great example of pioneering private-sector technology that as part of a public-private partnership could support a USA return to the Moon as called for in Space Policy Directive 1.” On December 11, 2017, President Trump signed “Space Policy Directive 1,” which called for the United States to “lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization” while working with “commercial and international partners.”

New Shepard booster just after landing. Credit: Blue Origin

NSS believes that sub-orbital tourism of the sort envisioned by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic will be an important step toward achieving Milestone 2: Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit in the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap (http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html).

“Blue Origin has established an impressive string of successful launches of the same New Shepard vehicle, and it’s great to see a next generation New Shepard take to the skies,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to seeing crews fly on New Shepard, leading to commercial tourist flights.”