Texas Home District Blitz Keeps Rolling

By Dale Skran, Chair, NSS Policy Committee

On October 30, 2017, a team of five NSS members met with local staff for Representative Babin (R-36), the Chair of the Space Subcommittee of the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee. Babin is one of the most important leaders in the space area in the House, and NSS rolled out a large team, including including Chapter President Eric Bowen, NSS Secretary Anita Gale, and David Cheuvront, a member of the Policy Committee. The meeting lasted two hours, which may be a record, and was very constructive. The “Make-up” Texas Home District Blitz will continue to target key Texas Representatives in the weeks ahead.


Photo: Clear Lake Area NSS members and constituents of Mr. Brian Babin (Texas R-36) who met with his space policy advisor Ms. Jeannie Kranz on October 30th. From left: Peter Brandt; Ms. Kranz; David Cheuvront; Anita Gale; Jim Akkerman. Credit: Eric Bowen, NSS Member.

End of Year 2017 Space Development Preview

By Dale Skran
NSS Executive Vice President

The last two months of 2017 are shaping up as a very exciting time for space development. On October 30, SpaceX plans to launch Koreasat-5A from SLC-39A in Florida, followed by the unexpected secret Zuma satellite on November 15th, also from SLC-39A.  These will, if both successful be the 16th and 17th launches in 2017 by SpaceX, which is on-track to being the world’s largest space launch company in 2017. As one comparison, ULA launched six Atlas Vs and three Deltas, for a total of nine launches for 2017.

However, we are just getting started. On December 12th SpaceX is scheduled to launch CRS-13 to the ISS. This flight is important for at least three reasons. First, NASA has agreed that it will be the first NASA launch to use a “flight proven” F9 first stage. Second, the cargo will include Made in Space’s machine for manufacturing ZBLAN optical fiber in space, a step on the path to profitable space manufacturing. And third, the launch will take place from SLC-40, the first such launch since that pad was destroyed in the Amos 6 incident last year. With SLC-40 back to launching F9s, SLC-39A will be enhanced to support launches of the Falcon Heavy and Crew Dragons.

On December 22, Iridium NEXT Flight 4 will rocket into space from V-4E in Vandenberg using the fourth flight-proven F9 first stage to fly in 2017. Rounding out the SpaceX news, the Falcon Heavy is expected to fly by end of year 2017. If this occurs, it will bring the total of flights of “flight-proven” F9 first stages to six, as the two side boosters of the initial FH flight are both “flight proven.”

In other exciting news, Blue Origin recently announced the first successful firing of the Lox/Methane BE-4 engine targeted for both Vulcan and New Glenn, and in the next month or so Rocket Lab is on course for their second Electron test flight, which has a good chance of making orbit.

The next two months have the potential to be one of the most exciting periods in terms of space development related achievements ever. Ad Astra.

Two NASA Contests for Students Grades 8-12

1. Drop Tower Challenge: Microgravity Expulsion from Water

Teams of grade 9-12 students are challenged to design and build objects that sink in water in normal gravity, but will be expelled as far as possible out of the water during free fall in NASA’s 2.2 Second Drop Tower. Proposals are due by November 10, 2017 and can be submitted any time before that deadline.

More information:

http://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/education-outreach/expulsion/

2. CELERE: Capillary Effects on Liquids Exploratory Research Experiments

The design challenge is a joint educational program of NASA and Portland State University (PSU) enabling students to participate in microgravity research on capillary action related to that conducted on the International Space Station (ISS). Students create their own experiments using Computer-Aided Design (CAD). Experiment proposals, which each consist of a single CAD drawing and short entry form, are e-mailed to NASA. The test cells are then manufactured by PSU using the drawings and a computer-controlled laser cutter. The design challenge is for students in grades 8-12, who may participate as individuals or in teams of any size. Proposals must be submitted by March 1, 2018.

More information:

http://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/education-outreach/celere/how-to-apply/

The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini

saturn-system-cover-webNASA is offering a free e-book as the Cassini mission comes to a dramatic end with a fatal plunge into Saturn on Sept. 15, 2017.

Over a period of 13 years, Cassini has captured about 450,000 spectacular images within the Saturn system, providing new views of the “lord of the rings” and a plethora of iconic images. To honor the art and science of Cassini, this book was developed collaboratively by a team from NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). While these images represent the tip of the iceberg—each telling a story about Saturn and its mysterious moons—NASA’s hope is that the mission will inspire future artists and explorers. The sheer beauty of these images is surpassed only by the science and discoveries they represent.

You can get the free e-book here:

National Space Society Congratulates Representative Jim Bridenstine on His Nomination to be NASA Administrator

BridenstineThe National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-1) on his nomination to be the next NASA Administrator.

“NSS looks forward to working with Representative Bridenstine in his new role as the NASA Administrator,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “Representative Bridenstine over his years in Congress worked with NSS to advance America’s space program. He has introduced the American Space Renaissance Act, which has been a powerful tool for advancing new ideas to improve America’s position in space.”

Representative Bridenstine brings to his new job both political and aeronautical experience. A three-term member of Congress, Bridenstine served as a naval aviator from 1998-2007, and in the naval reserve from 2010-2015, mainly flying the E-2C Hawkeye. Additionally, Bridenstine was the Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. Bridenstine has degrees from Rice University (triple major in Economics, Psychology, and Business), and an MBA from Cornell.

“Representative Bridenstine is one of a growing group in Congress that fully appreciates the importance of space commerce and space resources to the human future,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to working with Jim Bridenstine to lead America back to the Moon and to develop a thriving economy in space.”

Mark Hopkins, Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “Some may be concerned that Representative Bridenstine is not an engineer or scientist. We should all recall that one of the greatest NASA administrators, Jim Webb, was a lawyer. America is lucky to have Jim Bridenstine as NASA Administrator.”

Be a Citizen Scientist: Measure the darkness of a total solar eclipsed sky!

If you are on or near the centerline of the path of totality during the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, you are able to participate in an activity to observe and record the faintest stars visible as a means of measuring how dark the daytime sky gets. By locating and observing the constellation Ursa Major (e.g, the Big Dipper) midway during the solar eclipse and comparing it to stellar charts, your “measurement” and submission of that measurement to the online database will document darkness levels of a daytime sky during a total solar eclipse. Your measurement will help scientific research.

For information on how to take your measurement, see the Globe at Night website. Globe at Night is a program of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) 2017 Space Elevator Conference

This annual event will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington from Friday, August 25th through Sunday, August 27th.

Come experience learning, brainstorming, and international collaboration in an atmosphere of history, invention, and discovery! A Family Science Fest day will be held in conjunction with the conference.

The theme of this year’s conference is the “Space Elevator Simulations.” Papers will be presented on this and other space-elevator related topics. There will be a miniworkshop on Space Elevator Simulations (which is also the 2017 ISEC Study topic), a mini-workshop on the Next Space Elevator Research Projects, as well as the everpopular Shotgun Science Session where conference attendees can present their ideas.

Space Elevator

ISEC is proud to announce that the keynote speaker at the technical conference this year is Dr. David Raitt. Dr. Raitt will present a talk on history and how it leads to the future. Dr. Raitt served as Senior Technology Transfer Officer for the European Space Agency’s R&D division and is editor of the book recently published by ISEC on the history of space elevators.

The Space Elevator is one of the most magnificent engineering projects ever conceived. It promises abundant access to space and a multitude of benefits for humanity. Come to the conference and hear presentations and join discussions with people who are working to make space elevators a reality!

The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 26th will also be held at the Museum of Flight. This event is open to the public (no registration required) and is included in the museum admission price. The Family Science Fest includes Space Elevator 101 and 201 presentations, a youth robotics competition, exhibits from science organizations and clubs, and much more.

More details of the conference program and the Family Science Fest events are posted at http://spaceelevatorconference.org, including information on registration for the technical conference. Registration for the technical conference closes August 17th.

The International Space Elevator Consortium (an affiliate of the National Space Society) is composed of individuals and organizations from around the world who share a vision of a world with inexpensive, safe, routine, and efficient access to space for the benefit of all mankind. The ISEC Mission is to promote the development, construction and operation of a Space Elevator (SE) Infrastructure as a revolutionary and efficient way to space for all humanity. To learn more about ISEC, please visit their website at http://www.isec.org.

National Space Society Governor Scott Pace Named to National Space Council as Executive Secretary

Scott PaceThe National Space Society (NSS) congratulates NSS Board of Governors member Dr. Scott Pace on his selection as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council on July 13th, 2017. Pace is the Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University. Towards the beginning of Dr. Pace’s long and storied career, he was the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the Policy Committee. Among his many contributions, he testified before the Congressional Space Committee.

“NSS looks forward to working with Dr. Pace in his new role as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council,” said Dale Skran, the current NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “Scott again joins the ranks of former NSS leaders such as Lori Garver and George Whitesides in holding a vital space-related government post. NSS is proud to have supported their careers as they developed as space leaders.”

The National Space Council will play an important role in the Executive Branch by coordinating space activities between NASA, Air Force and other agencies. NSS wishes Scott well in his new role in the Executive Branch. Meanwhile, NSS is active in advocating for space settlement in the Legislative Branch. This summer, NSS members around the country will visit Congress as they participate in the annual August Home District Blitz organized by the NSS-supported Alliance for Space Development. NSS members will be advocating for low-cost access to space, a robust cis-lunar economy, and funding for a space-based near-Earth asteroid detection telescope. Persons interested in participating can found out more information at tinyurl.com/2017AugustBlitzSignup.

“I am truly honored and a humbled by the President’s decision and I look forward to working for Vice President Pence in service to the nation,” said Scott Pace.

Dr. Pace served from 2005-2008 as the Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA. Before this, he was the Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lori Garver, NSS Executive Director 1989-1998, served as Deputy Administrator of NASA 2009-2013, and is currently the General Manager of the Airline Pilots Association. George Whitesides, NSS Executive Director 2004-2008, served as the Chief of Staff at NASA and is currently the CEO of Virgin Galactic.

“I think Scott’s background combining technology and policy as well as his experience with NASA and national security space is exactly the skill set needed for his new position,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to see the course that the National Space Council charts for America’s future in space.”

Mark Hopkins, the Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “During his younger days, Scott Pace was a major force in NSS for two decades. I have known him since the beginning of his involvement. He is a brilliant, tireless worker totally dedicated to humanity’s future in space. America is lucky to have him on the National Space Council.”