NSS Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest

NSS Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest
NSS Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest

The NASA Space Shuttle Enterprise never made it to orbit. While that was the original intent, subsequent redesigns undertaken during the Enterprise testing phase made this impractical.

Most tragically, another Enterprise – Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise, crashed in the Mojave Desert on October 31, 2014 – a crash in which co-pilot Michael Alsbury lost his life. VSS Enterprise had undertaken more than thirty successful test flights and was the first of five planned suborbital spacecraft to be used to send tourists and experiments on suborbital trips to space.

Unfortunately the news media focus on the space tourism aspect of companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace while largely ignoring the fact that these spacecraft will be important platforms for conducting a wide variety of experiments in a microgravity environment.

But suborbital is not orbital. With luck and public support the first Enterprise to orbit the Earth will be the NSS Enterprise Orbiter which will carry approximately 100 competitively selected student experiments into low Earth orbit and after a week’s time return them safely to Earth.

Before the Enterprise can be built it must be designed. And this is where you can help. One feature of this program is that the Enterprise in Space team is calling on artists, engineers, science fiction fans, students, designers, space activists, and dreamers to come up with their own concept of what the NSS Enterprise Orbiter should look like. And unlike the overwhelming majority of art, graphics, and design contests that require entrants to pay a submission fee, entry in the Enterprise in Space Design Contest is free!

If designing spacecraft isn’t for you then you can support the Enterprise in Space project by:

As the newly appointed manager for the EIS Orbiter Design Contest I offer the following basic tips for those entering the contest.

My first tip is to do it. Not only are there some great prizes for the contest winner but the winner will have a place in the history of private/personal space exploration.

My second tip is that you don’t have to be a master of 3D or CAD software. I’ll remind you that such software is a very recent invention. It’s the design that counts and that can be illustrated using nothing more complex than paper, pencil, and ruler.

Third is to follow the rules. An important rule is to not design a spacecraft that looks like a spacecraft that is associated with a spacecraft from TV or film. It must be your own original design.

Fourth is to be mindful that the spacecraft you design will be housing somewhere around one hundred student experiments. That means avoiding a design that minimizes internal volume. Once manufactured, your orbiter will physically have as its maximum dimensions 8 feet by 8 feet by 6 feet so be mindful of the factors 8 x 8 x 6 in designing your craft.

So now is the time to either fire up your favorite graphics software or grab your drafting supplies and get to designing a spacecraft that is truly unique. The submission deadline is fast approaching so don’t delay. But first make sure you fully understand the contest by reading the Enterprise In Space Design Contest Rules.

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone entering the contest the best of luck and I look forward to seeing the designs you create.

Ad Astra, Jim Plaxco; Manager, Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest

National Space Society Officer and Director Lynne Zielinski Receives Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award

Lynne F. Zielinski, National Space Society (NSS) officer and director has been selected by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Space Foundation as recipient of the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award.  This prestigious award will be presented on Monday, May 19th, 2014 at the 30th Space Symposium Opening Ceremony at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.

Lynne Zielinski (center) with NASA astronauts Mark Polansky and Sandra Magnus, Ph.D., at Space Foundation World Headquarters in Colorado Springs.

Lynne F. Zielinski, a retired physics, astronomy and space science teacher from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Ill., was selected for the award for her work with the Glenbrook Aerospace Development Get-away Experiment Team (GADGET) program, which she founded 22 years ago. The program enables students to design and conduct microgravity experiments, initiate and direct aerospace and engineering research, develop spaceflight hardware and design space settlements. The GADGET program flew active experiments on six space shuttle flights, nine NASA Nike-Orion sub-orbital rockets, three Zero-G airplane flights and four high altitude balloon missions.

Read news articles about Zielinski in the Chicago Tribune here and the suburban-Chicago Daily Herald here.

Shepard Award
The Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award shows Alan hitting a golf ball on the Moon.

The Alan Shepard Award is given annually in recognition of creative and innovative use of technology by K-12 educators or district-level education personnel.  Alan Shepard, one of the nation’s original seven Mercury astronauts, was the first American to fly in space, one of only 12 humans who have walked on the Moon and a former AMF board member. The award named after him recognizes excellence, quality and innovation in the development and application of technology in the classroom or to the professional development of teachers. More information about the award is available here.

Zielinski has been a member of NSS’s Board of Directors and Chairman of the Education and Outreach Committee since 2006. She also serves on the NSS Executive Committee as Vice President of Public Affairs. She annually organizes the activities that attract hundreds of students to the NSS International Space Development Conference for the NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Competition.  The 2014 ISDC will be held from May 14-18 in Los Angeles.

The Sky is NOT the Limit!

“We are especially proud that Zielinski is being honored for her over 22 years of noteworthy accomplishments with the GADGET program, bringing science and math to life for thousands of students and teachers through space and technology,” said Mark Hopkins, NSS Executive Committee Chairman.  “Lynne’s involvement in our space settlement design contest has been vital to the success of NSS.  We are pleased that the Astronaut Memorial Foundation has chosen to honor such a deserving and forward-thinking educator with the Alan Shepard Award,” he added.

Her 32-year career as a physics, astronomy, and space science teacher at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois has been highlighted with numerous accomplishments, including participation in the Teacher In Space program.  For Zielinski’s full biography, please click here.

About the Astronaut Memorial Foundation:  AMF, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, honors and memorializes astronauts who have sacrificed their lives for the nation and the space program by sponsoring the national Space Mirror Memorial and by implementing innovative educational technology programs. AMF partners with NASA to provide technology training to educators throughout the nation with emphasis on space-related technology. In addition, at The Center for Space Education, AMF offers space-related educational opportunities for individuals to improve the quality of the workforce in the space industry. 

About the Space Foundation:  Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, all in support of its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity.”

Student Moon Mission Challenge

The National Space Society (NSS) and educational nonprofit Innovate Our World (IOW) have agreed to collaborate on the Moon Mission Challenge (MMC), specifically to recruit more teams and to have NSS host the MMC capstone event at the NSS International Space Development Conferences starting in 2015.

The Moon Mission Challenge inspires middle and high school student teams, no matter their location, to learn about the Moon through an interactive, game-like learning environment available from Immersive 3D called the Cyber STEM Academy. They work as teams to conceptually design a payload based on lunar robotic rover mission information from one of several Google Lunar X Prize teams including Astrobotic Technology, Penn State Lunar Lion, and Team JURBAN. Students work with these and other experts to develop their concepts and finalist teams will sell their payload ideas to a panel of expert judges at the MMC capstone event. Students not only learn about the Moon and exploration history, but gain an introduction to systems engineering, project management, and communications, all skills needed for college and career.

“We’re very excited to work with the National Space Society to help us build this challenge so we can inspire students toward careers in aerospace and other STEM fields,” said Ron McCandless, IOW Director. “Older generations were inspired to do great things by the Apollo program. Challenges like the Moon Mission Challenge can have the same effect by giving kids a chance to work with leading experts who are planning cutting edge missions to the Moon.”

The Challenge starts in January 2014. More information.

National Space Society Officer and Director to Receive Prestigious National Space Educator Award

Lynne F. Zielinski, National Space Society (NSS) officer and director has been selected by the National Space Club as the 2013 recipient of the National Space Educator Award. This prestigious award will be presented this Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at the 56th annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Since 1982, the award has been given annually to secondary school teachers who mentor students in the field of space, science, and technology. Recipients are also given a $1,500 grant and a plaque for their respective school.

“Lynne Zielinski is the first two-time winner in the thirty year history of the National Space Club National Space Educator Award. After being selected in 1988 for exemplary work motivating students to do research by planning and flying experiments on the Space Shuttle, she did not rest on her laurels,” said National Space Club Award Chairman Kerry Joels.

“She spent the next quarter century expanding her students’ opportunities to participate in space science research, encouraged dozens to pursue science and engineering degrees, and expanded community awareness of space science. Her career is an impressive and exceptional model for a space educator,” he added.

Zielinski has been a member of NSS’s Board of Directors and Chairman of the Education and Outreach Committee since 2006. She also serves on the NSS Executive Committee as Vice President of Public Affairs. She annually organizes the activities that attract hundreds of students to the NSS International Space Development Conference for the NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Competition.

“We are pleased to join the National Space Club in honoring such a deserving and forward-thinking educator with the National Space Educator Award,” said Mark Hopkins, NSS Executive Committee Chairman. “We are especially proud that Zielinski was selected for her over 30 years of noteworthy accomplishments in bringing science and math to life for thousands of students and teachers through space and technology.”

Her 32-year career as a physics, astronomy, and space science teacher at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois has been highlighted with numerous accomplishments, including participation in the Teacher In Space program. For Zielinski’s full biography, please visit www.nss.org/about/bios/zielinski.html.

Past recipients of the award include Teacher in Space educator astronaut Barbara Morgan and Challenger Center founding chair Dr. June Scobee Rogers.

NSS Announces Partnership with New Mexico Museum of Space History to Preserve the History of Space Advocacy

Las Cruces, New Mexico – October 17, 2012 – The National Space Society (NSS) and the New Mexico Museum of Space History (NMMSH) announced a new partnership on Wednesday for the establishment of a permanent home for historic records chronicling the development of the space activist community and the U.S. space industry.

This alliance is the result of four years of discussions and negotiations about the disposition of the Society’s archives (which go back as far as the mid-1970’s when Wernher von Braun founded the National Space Institute, a predecessor of NSS) and will officially enable the Museum to begin accepting materials from the Society.

Dale Amon, Chairman of NSS’s Archives Committee and a member of the NSS Board of Directors, announced the new partnership at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS). Amon stated, “If we do not save our history, it will be rewritten by others. It is up to us, the founders of the Space Movement and dedicated advocates of the space industry, to make sure there is an unambiguous record of how the future came to be and the huge role we played in it.”

“It is a rare privilege to have our Museum chosen to conserve and protect the National Space Society Collection. Current and future historians will find that this Collection provides an uncommon insight into the hearts and minds of the activists who founded what is known today as the commercial space industry,” said Chris Orwoll, Executive Director of NMMSH. “The Museum’s partnership with the National Space Society will ensure that this Collection, reflecting decades of dedication to opening space for all, will be preserved to provide understanding and education for future generations.”

Image: Dale Amon, NSS Archivist, and Kathy Harper, NMMSH Marketing & Public Relations in front of the Lynx I Spaceplane mock-up at the 2012 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight conference in Las Cruces. Click image for larger version (2500 pixels).

Amon and Orwoll also expressed their appreciation to ISPCS organizer Pat Hynes for her foresight in creating an event that fosters communication between different organizations and promotes partnerships throughout the space community.

New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the first commercial spaceport in history, is a major outcome of decades of work by space advocates at NSS and other like-minded citizens. The Museum project will not only detail that past effort, but document and preserve the evolution of space travel in the exciting years to come.

About the New Mexico Museum of Space History: The NMMSH is charged with collecting, researching, and preserving objects (artifacts and specimens) and documents related to its mission which is, in part, to educate its visitors from around the world, in the history, science, and technology of space. The museum’s Collections Management Program ensures proper accountability of the objects entrusted to its care, for the sake of posterity, and for the benefit of its constituents and clientele. This is accomplished through sound documentation; meticulous record keeping; collections-oriented research; artifact preservation/conservation; and strict compliance with the NMMSH Collections Management Plan policies/procedures and American Association of Museums (AAM) standards and guidelines. Located in Alamogordo, New Mexico, at the base of the Sacramento Mountains, the Museum is a tribute to the brave men and women who for centuries strove to conquer space. The Museum is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

Uwingu – New Startup to Fund Space Exploration, Research, and Education

Uwingu LLC, a space-themed start up is seeking crowd-sourced funding to launch an ongoing series of public engagement projects. Uwingu’s mission is to use those proceeds to generate funding for space exploration, research, and education efforts around the world.

Uwingu LLC (pronounced “oo-wing-oo” and which means “sky” in Swahili) consists of astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program executives, and educators. Included in the company’s portfolio of space heavyweights are space historian and author Andy Chaikin, space educator Dr. Emily CoBabe-Ammann, citizen science leader Dr. Pamela Gay, author and museum science director Dr. David Grinspoon, planet hunter Dr. Geoff Marcy, planetary scientist and aerospace executive Dr. Teresa Segura, planetary scientist and former NASA science boss Dr. Alan Stern, and planetary scientist and CEO of the Planetary Science Institute, Dr. Mark Sykes.

“Uwingu will employ novel software applications to game-ify space, with the profits going toward research and education,” says Gay. “Our projects will be fun to use, and the proceeds from their use will make a real difference in how space exploration, research, and education is funded.”

Adds CoBabe-Aummann, “Uwingu’s influence on space education is going to be both broad and deep, with applications we think will be very popular in classrooms around the world, and proceeds going to promote space education both at home and abroad.”

“Our ambitions at Uwingu are high,” states founder Sykes. “Simply put, we want to use commercial sales to generate a new funding stream for space research, space education, and even space exploration. Nothing like this has ever been done.”

Uwingu’s launch project is already built, but its being kept under wraps to generate excitement and suspense. The company is seeking the public’s support to raise funds for Internet and other business costs it will incur in early operations. “We’ve already put the equivalent of over $1M in software development into our first project through donated hours by our team,” says co-founder Stern, “and we’ve each contributed funds as well, but to build up the nest egg of capital we need to launch our web site, we are asking people who believe in our mission to help.”

Uwingu’s crowd funding campaign to raise these funds can be found at: www.indiegogo.com/projects/180221.

International SunSat Design Competition

The SunSat Design Competition is an international contest intended to accelerate the design, manufacture, launch and operation of the next-generation satellites that will collect energy in space and deliver it to earth as electricity.

Registration:  May 2012 – January 6, 2013

Design Submission Deadline:  March 30, 2013

Registration will begin at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference in Washington DC in May 2012. Winners will be announced and their “Creative Visualizations” will be shown at ISDC-2013.

The purpose of this Design Project is to more closely link digital media labs around the world to the satellite and space community as a way to accelerate the way forward in development and implementation of universal access to space-based solar power.

Winning designs will be high-impact digital art, supported by credible science, engineering and business plans, that best promote media understanding and public acceptance of a path forward in using space satellites to deliver energy on-demand to any and all places on Earth.

The SunSat Competition is an initiative of the Online Journal of Space Communication in partnership with the Society of Satellite Professionals International, the National Space Society, and Ohio University Game Research and Immersive Design Laboratory (GRID Lab).

For more information and online registration, go to sunsat.gridlab.ohio.edu. Winning entries from the 2013 competition will be published in the Online Journal of Space Communication. To view sample designs prepared by the Ohio University GRID Lab see Issue No.17 of the Space Journal. A second contest will be held 2013-2014.

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award

The Spirit of Innovation Challenge invites high school teams to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to develop commercially viable, technology-based products in one of three categories: Aerospace Exploration, Clean Energy, and Health and Nutrition. The Challenge is hosted by the Pete Conrad Foundation. The National Space Society is a co-sponsor.

This year’s competition offers a once-in-a-decade opportunity for select teams to travel to Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 with the U.S. Department of State to participate with an international audience for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. They will also attend a U.S. workshop in May to meet their global peers in advance of the trip to Rio.

The top fifteen teams, five from each category, will travel to the annual Innovation Summit at NASA-Ames Research Center in California from March 29-31, 2012.

“The hallmark of America’s culture is innovation and entrepreneurship; it’s how we got to the Moon and how companies like Apple, Facebook and Google were formed,” said Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation. “Our Challenge transcends ‘fact memorization’ and gives students a real means of changing the world. Making that sort of monumental impact is what inspires these students to tackle the big challenges … exploring the universe, discovering cures for disease and preserving our planet.”

It’s free and easy to register. Student teams simply answer four questions about their innovative concept by Nov. 29, 2011. See www.conradawards.org for more information.

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space Competitions

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) has announced two competitions.

The first, the 2011 High-Powered Rocketry Competition is under way. The goal is to design, construct, and launch a high-powered rocket carrying a 4 kilogram payload to a height of 10,000 feet, as measured by a standard altimeter. The competition end date is October 9th, 2011. The winning chapter will be announced at SpaceVision 2011. More information.

The second is the Business Plan Competition. For students who have a Business Plan for a space product or system that will further the opening of the space frontier, they can enter the NewSpace Student Business Plan Competition. A team can be made of up to to five undergraduate or graduate students (of any major). The 5 team finalists will compete at SpaceVision 2011 and pitch their plan to investors like such as Tom Olson and NewSpace Startup Companies such as Altius Space Machines CEO Jon Goff and many other names in the space industry. Deadline to file an intent to compete is September 30. More information

NSS Kicks-off Space Ambassador Program; Top Ambassador Will Get Ride on SpaceShipTwo

On May 7th, 2011, the National Space Society’s Space Ambassador program began its year-long mission. The top ambassador will be assigned a research trip to space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

The program, which was over two years in development, is the first of its kind. The mission of the Space Ambassador program is to communicate the benefits of space exploration to our daily lives and to inspire and educate young people and the public to pursue careers in science, engineering, and mathematics. We wish to inspire a new generation of leaders to take an active role in helping to create the future they wish to see come to pass.

Space ambassadors will achieve the program goals by scheduling and conducting speeches and presentations where they see fit, particularly in schools and universities. These presentations are conducted by volunteers who share the dreams and goals necessary to expand commercial space and space exploration endeavors of the future.

To date there are approximately 5,000 registered Space Ambassadors worldwide. Almost every country on Planet Earth is represented in this program. At the end of the program run, the top Space Ambassadors will be announced at the 2012 International Space Development conference in Washington D.C. and their award missions will be assigned.

The top ambassador will be assigned a research trip to space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and report back to the Society and its members. Other ambassadors will be assigned space training and research with ZeroG Corporation, NASTAR center and Aurora Aerospace, among others.

It is envisioned the program will reach out to over one million students around the globe during the course of the program and inspire future space industry leaders, giving its audiences valuable information regarding commercial space development and exploration progress. This will enable students to make educated decisions regarding their future education goals.

More informaton about the NSS Space Ambassador Program can be found at: