Florida Today runs story on NSS Chapter in Florida

by James Dean, copyright Florida Today, January 18 (reproduced with permission)

Brevard space organization resets focus, changes name

The space program is changing, and with it one of the area’s leading advocacy organizations.

This week, the Space Coast chapter of the National Space Society unveiled a new name that it says better reflects its mission and goal to grow a broader and more active membership.

The chapter’s new identity: Florida Space Development Council.

“We found that to be a more descriptive title,” said chapter president Laura Seward. “We wanted something a little more inclusive.”

The chapter — not to be confused with the National Space Club Florida Committee — aims to act as a grassroots advocacy group welcoming anyone with a general interest in space.

“We don’t only support NASA,” said Seward, a 29-year-old Rockledge resident and Florida Tech graduate who is pursuing a doctorate in planetary science at the University of Central Florida. “We want to encourage the organizations out there, private and public, that will develop space and human interactions in space.”

Every other month the chapter hosts “Space Locals,” an informal lecture or roundtable discussion featuring local experts. The events are free, and annual membership is $5.

Started in 2006, the chapter in 2009 hosted the national society’s annual International Space Development Conference in Orlando, but nearly dissolved after that.

It has rebounded to about 40 paying members.

Seward said changes in space policy and in Brevard County in recent years contributed to a desire to rebrand and reinvigorate the chapter, one of two in the state.

“I love the fact that Kennedy Space Center is diversifying and I love the fact that the area is diversifying, which is why I’m really optimistic,” she said.

Your Very Own Personal Space Program

By Michael Mackowski

There are many ways folks express their interest in the space program. Some space enthusiasts read everything they can find and often have a large book collection. Some people accumulate souvenirs and autographs. Photos, patches, and pins are popular collectibles. Scale models can be another way to bring the space program to life in your home or office.

I have been inspired by space exploration since I was a youngster. Prior to finishing school and entering a career in aerospace engineering, my participation in the space program was limited to building scale models of the vehicles that were leaving the planet. Actually, I have never stopped building models of spacecraft, even while I build them for a living as an engineer. Like engineering, I find that modeling is just another expression of one’s creativity.

Over the years I have been participating in a network of other hobbyists with similar interests. What I have found is that many of these people, while being hobbyists and craftsmen in terms of their model building, are also passionate about space. My situation is a bit unique in that space is both my hobby and career. Most people who are passionate about space have other, usually non-technical careers. So one way they can feel closer to space exploration is by building small replicas of the hardware that makes it possible.

Certainly this sort of passion is the root of many hobbies. Military history buffs build models of tanks and fighter jets. Auto racing enthusiasts build race car models. Would be sailors rig up miniature ships and sailboats. People collect or paint miniature horses because they cannot afford to own a real horse. Airplane fans who cannot afford lessons or a plane can have a shelf full of models. Frustrated astronaut candidates build Apollo lunar modules and space shuttles. It’s not the same, but for many people it may be as close as you will get. It’s your own personal space program.

Enthusiasts want a piece of the space program they can see up close, hold in their hand, and relate to three dimensionally. Books and videos and internet sites are flat and virtual. A model is real and fills space. And you built it yourself. That’s why model building is more fulfilling than just collecting or buying pre-built souvenir models. You are now a rocket scientist, only scaled down, and with simpler technology. You have combined art with technology. You feel more a part of the movement, a part of the collective that is moving out to space. Through model building, you are more than an observer. You have made a statement, that by building this miniature monument to space exploration, you are supporting it, and proclaiming it to whomever enters your hobby room or office or wherever you chose to display your work.

If you can’t be an astronaut or be an engineer in the space industry, you can have your own little private miniature space program, and thus pay homage to whatever past or future off-planet venture that inspires you.

In that way, maybe it will inspire someone else, and the movement grows by one more.

Michael Mackowski is a member of the Phoenix chapter of the National Space Society, and an engineers at Orbital Sciences Corporation in Chandler Arizona.

Tucson NSS Chapter Celebrates Earth Day

NSS Chapter News

The Tucson L5 Space Society provided an exhibit titled “Asteroids: Threat or Resource?” at the annual Earth Day celebration at the Northwest Campus of Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson, Arizona. Earth Day is April 22 but this event was held during the school week on April 18, with 68 exhibitors and several hundred college students and faculty attending.  Photo shows Chapter president Al Anzaldua (left) with Dr. Denise Meeks, Science Department Chair of PCC and organizer of the event, and a large photo collage of asteroids and comets. Seated at the table is Richard Gray. Lots of questions and energy left Al’s voice hoarse.

Tucson NSS Chapter Celebrates Yuri's Night

NSS Chapter News

The Tucson L5 Space Society Chapter of NSS hosted an exhibit table at the Yuri’s Night celebration put on by Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, which was billed as “an evening of family-oriented activities about space, science, and astronomy” and was attended by several hundred people of all ages.  The Chapter members had great fun talking to the kids and parents.

Pictured standing from left are Chapter President Al Anzaldua, Randy Taylor, and Wolf Forrest. Sitting are Ingrid Saber and Richard Gray.

Yuri’s Night, a celebration of the first human in space on April 12, 1961, included 233 events in 51 countries (the Tucson event was held April 9).  The National Space Society has over 60 Chapters.

NSS Vice President of Public Affairs Lynne Zielinsky recently visited the Tucson Chapter while attending an education conference in Tucson.