International SunSat Design Competition

International SunSat Design CompetitionSunSat Design is an international competition intended to accelerate the conceptualization, manufacture, launch and operation of the next-generation satellites that will collect energy in space and deliver it to Earth as a non-polluting source of electrical power.

The purpose of the SunSat Design initiative is to move space solar power out of the research labs and onto the public agenda. This is being done by virtual story-telling and networking on a global basis, explaining what space solar power is and how and why it will become the ultimate renewable energy resource for Planet Earth.

The strategy is to link global scientific communities with university-based (and other) digital media labs for the purposes of advancing knowledge of space-based solar power satellites (SunSats) and illustrating their many Earth-energy applications.

Winning designs are 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.

Registration for the competition is now open, and team enrollments will be taken until January 31, 2015. Deadline for submission of completed designs and supporting documentation is March 27, 2015. Winners will be announced and their “Creative Visualizations” will be shown and celebrated in May 2015 at ISDC-Toronto.

See the International SunSat Design Competition website for more information.

The winners of the 2014 competition were announced at the ISDC-Los Angeles in May 2014, with six teams honored. Three of these were given cash prizes. The first-place award was $10,000 and there were two second-place awards of $5,000 presented at ISDC-Los Angeles. The three top designs have been published in the Online Journal of Space Communication:

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 the Ohio University GRID Lab.

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

3rd Space Solar Power International Student and Young Professional Design Competition

The Space Generation Advisory Council is pleased to announce its partnership with the International Astronautical Federation’s Space Power Committee (SPC) to organize and run the 3rd Space Solar Power International Student and Young Professional Design Competition.

The competition aims to challenge entrants to submit a technical paper for a new and innovative technical concept for Space Solar Power (SSP). SSP, in its typical implementation and for the purposes of this competition, is the idea of transmitting power harvested from the sun in space down to Earth.

The winning entrant will be given up to USD 2000 to cover travel costs to Toronto, Canada, to present their paper at the 2014 Space Generation Congress (SGC) and to present a poster at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC).


ISDC Workshop: Enabling the Space Economy

By Candice Nunez, NSS ISDC Reporter, courtesy QGITS

Rich Philips is one of the Track Co-Chairs of the Space Enterprise Track at the ISDC National Space Society conference coming up just around the corner in Los Angeles May 14-18. Rich is founder of Phillips & Company a global communications firm serving both emerging and established leaders in the markets that are changing our world such as the commercial space market, homeland security, mobile computing, education, healthcare and energy. In 2007 Rich launched his space practice at Phillips & Company and has been working with companies in the space economy for many years now. The Space Enterprise track will address business plans, projects, and concepts that have reasonable potential within 10 years to become profitable and offer a competitive return to investors. QGITS (an online publication for STEM students) had the opportunity to chat with Rich and hear more about what he had to say about the emerging new space economy.

QGITS: What are some of the topics that will be discussed on the Space Enterprise track?

Rich Phillips: It’s very important that we recognize the space economy is real, it’s here today and we will be focusing on opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs to grow and to be financially successful. We will see opportunities within the next 10 years that will have a return on investment. So we are looking at very near term, we put together a two day program that will explore opportunities for growth and success in a very near term space economy. We are also going to do something very unique on the 2nd day. We are going to break out as a group to conduct workshops designed to identify the requirements for a space economy to exist. Markets exists because of certain forces: legal, policy, economic, & technology. In order for a market to exist it needs to be sustainable on its own. It can’t be funded entirely by government it can’t be funded by any one mission, a true space economy needs to be multi-mission, multi- product and multi-service. So what conditions are necessary for a market to exist? We are going to explore that question and produce an answer amongst the leaders in the room. It’s a unique opportunity I think to bring together leaders in space entrepreneurship on the investment financial services side of space to really tackle these core issues. Once we defined what the requirements are we can begin working to make sure those requirements exist in order to continue to grow the space economy and achieve what we want for this country and the world.

In photo: Rich Phillips (front left) with his team with one of the Get Curious campaign “rocks.” Phillips & Company coordinated with Explore Mars and other firms vested in the advancement of space exploration, including NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, AeroJet and National Geographic.

QGITS: One of the innovative companies Phillips & Company is working with is Mars World Enterprises. How is the new emerging space economy becoming an opportunity for businesses like Mars World?

Richard Phillips: I believe that space is a platform for experiences, applications and services. And I believe that in this economy, people buy experiences they just don’t buy products and services. I think the Mars World concept is designed to create an immersive experience for those here on earth to be part of something very special that will transform the way we think about space and ultimately I think Mars World has a very good chance of redefining the way that entertainment and theme entertainment is produced.

QGITS: Is there anything else you would like to express about the space economy?

Rich Phillips: I believe that exploration is critical to prosperity and human progress and ultimately the space economy is an opportunity for us to really be truly ourselves as human beings. Human beings were destined to explore. I don’t think there is anything different between the first people who discovered the semi conductor, the first people who had the innovation to build that first computer or to really create the first internet application and those that are now looking at space and saying what can we do there. That’s exciting to me not just because of the destination but because of the platform for human expression and human prosperity.

ISDC Keynote address will focus on Space Solar Power

SPACE Canada (Solar Power Alternative for Clean Energy), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of solar energy from space, is sponsoring a dinner at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2014), the yearly conference of the National Space Society (NSS).

The dinner will be held on Saturday, May 17 from 7:00-9:30 p.m. PT in the Grand Ballroom at the site of ISDC 2014, the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, 6101 West Century Boulevard.  The theme of Saturday evening’s event is “A Space Renaissance Celebration.”

In keeping with SPACE Canada’s mandate to support, encourage and facilitate international dialogue on solar energy from space, John Mankins, President of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC, will deliver the evening’s keynote presentation, “The Case for Space Solar Power.”

Mankins, widely acknowledged as the world’s leading expert on Space Solar Power (SSP), had a 25-year career at NASA.  During that time, he led an $800 million per year R&D program and, for many years, was in charge of NASA’s studies on SSP.

Following Mankins to further discuss SSP will be Mark Hopkins, CEO of the National Space Society and former Rand Corporation Economist.  Hopkins and Dr. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, are working together to establish an international organization to build SSP.

Space Solar Power uses satellites in space to collect the sun’s energy, which is beamed to receivers on the ground and then fed into the power grid like energy produced by conventional power plants.

Mankins and Hopkins will explain how the first economically viable SSP satellite could be built in less than 20 years, followed in rapid succession by additional profitable satellites.  The resulting electricity could be sold at prices below those of competing alternatives such as coal or nuclear.  This premise is based on studies completed recently by such prestigious organizations as the International Academy of Astronautics.

“The sun produces 10 trillion times the amount of energy currently consumed by humanity,” said Hopkins.  “By harvesting a tiny fraction of this energy via SSP, the energy crises would be over.  Humanity would have all of the energy it needs for the foreseeable future.  Further, this energy is renewable and extremely green, producing almost no carbon dioxide and thus greatly mitigating the problem of climate change.  The Earth’s resources are limited.  A successful Space Solar Power program would smash these limits, leading to a prosperous and hopeful future.”

Online registration is currently open for ISDC 2014 with a variety of options, from single day registration passes to full conference registration with meals.  Discounts are provided for youth, full-time students, seniors, and members of NASA Federal Credit Union and the National Space Society and its affiliates.  Visit for complete registration details and discount requirements.  For registration assistance, call 408-736-2363.  For information on NASA Federal Credit Union, visit

ISDC featured on “The Space Show”

The upcoming May 14-18 International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles was the subject of a recent discussion on The Space Show and the entire internet radio show is now available as a downloadable MP3 file.

Featured on this edition of The Space Show were Dr. Nicola Sarzi-Amade, Vice President of Business Development of Scorpius Space Launch Company, member of the Space Systems Technical Committee of the AIAA, and Chairman Elect and Membership Co-Chair for the AIAA Los Angeles – Las Vegas Section, and John Spencer, member of the Board of Directors of the National Space Society and President and founder of the Space Tourism Society.

Buzz Aldrin, Elon Musk Lead List of Luminaries at International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles

May 14-18 Event is Open to the Public with Paid Registration

Los Angeles, California (April 29, 2014) – The 33rd Annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2014) kicks off on Wednesday,  May 14, for five days of presentations, panels, exhibits, lunches and dinners celebrating this year’s theme, “A Space Renaissance.”

ISDC is the yearly conference of the National Space Society (NSS), a nonprofit organization that has hosted the gathering since 1982.  This year’s venue is the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, 6101 West Century Boulevard, conveniently located near Los Angeles International Airport.

Among the notable VIPs at ISDC 2014 is the Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, who will open Thursday morning’s plenary session, and Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who will accept the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award during Friday evening’s Governor’s Dinner.

Apollo 11 astronaut and author Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, will speak at a noontime luncheon on Saturday.  A total of six astronauts will be attending the conference.

“I’ve participated in the ISDC since the very first one in 1982, and it remains the preeminent meeting of its kind anywhere in the country,” said Aldrin.  “I am looking forward to speaking at the conference again this year and I encourage anyone with an interest in space exploration and innovation to join me at ISDC 2014.”

Throughout the event, a stellar cast of experts and dignitaries, including astronauts, scientists, engineers, educators, aerospace industry leaders, and government officials will share their knowledge and opinions on contemporary space exploration topics.  Exhibitors from many leading companies will also be on hand to showcase the latest space-related products, projects and technologies.

Additional distinguished speakers include Geoff Notkin, meteorite expert and star of TV’s Meteorite Men; former NASA Astronaut Rick Searfoss, Director of Flight Test Operations and Chief Test Pilot for XCOR Aerospace; Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX; Taber McCallum, Cofounder of Paragon Space Development Corporation; and over 200 additional presenters and panelists.  Three members of the Mercury MESSENGER team will also be participating.

ISDC covers a number of broad topic areas organized into Program Tracks and sub-tracks.  One track garnering considerable interest is Space and Media, focusing on the effects of media on the public’s perception of space exploration.  Conference attendees will hear from some of the creative minds behind movies like Gravity, Oblivion, and Star Trek: Into Darkness, and the current hit television series COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey.  Other major tracks include Space Experience, Living in Space, NASA/Exploration, Mars, and Space Solar Power.

“ISDC 2014 is shaping up to be an amazing conference with an extraordinary group of talented speakers and panelists,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the Executive Committee for the National Space Society.  “Some event seating is limited, so anyone interested in registering should act quickly.”

Online registration is currently open with a variety of options, from single day registration passes to full conference registration with meals.  Discounts are provided for youth, full-time students, seniors, and members of the National Space Society and its affiliates.

Visit  for complete registration details and discount requirements.  For registration assistance, call 408-736-2363.  For information on exhibiting or participating, call 949-727-1211.

Register for ISDC 2014 Now! Prices Go Up April 1


International Space Development Conference 2014
Registration goes up April 1. Now is the time to Register for what promises to be a truly extraordinary Conference.  Our Living in Space Track includes presentations from a variety of different disciplines ranging from philosophy to exotic propulsion systems.  This year, topics that have already been scheduled include:  a synopsis of the latest research work conducted by the MarsCrew134 at MDRS, ISS Resource Utilization, Black Hole propulsion systems, and asteroid mining.

Location: Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Los Angeles

Special Highlight: Friday Night Banquet – May 16
Featured Speaker: Elon Musk

NSS takes great pleasure in announcing that its 2014 Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award has been won by acclaimed space entrepreneur Elon Musk.  Musk is the Chief Designer and CEO of SpaceX.  In the last decade, SpaceX, under the leadership of Elon Musk, has been moving directly toward accomplishing goals that many of us in NSS think are of utmost importance.  One of these goals is forcing a drastic reduction in launch costs by doing the very hard task, which no one else in the world has been willing and able to tackle:  creating a family of commercially successful and reusable rocket boosters and reusable spacecraft.


Participate in the International SunSat Competition – Over $40,000 in Prizes Will Be Awarded!

The National Space Society in affiliation with Ohio University is pleased to announce that the International SunSat Design Competition is now registering competitive teams.  This two-year project is designed to link global scientific communities with university-based (and other) digital media labs for the purposes of advancing knowledge of space-based solar power satellites (SunSats) and illustrating their many Earth-energy applications.

International SunSat Competition

If you are a space scientist, engineer, academic, business or digital media professional with an idea for moving space solar power closer to implementation, consider forming a team to join in this effort. And please forward this message to others.

In the first cycle of this competition, two First Place prizes of $10,000 and three Second Place prizes of $5,000 are expected to be awarded at the May 2014 International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles. For registered teams successfully completing the Feb. 2014 "significant progress point," an additional $1,000 incentive can be earned, and $1,000 travel assistance will be awarded to winners.

Winning entries of 2014 and 2015 will be published in the Space Journal as Issue No.18: Top SSP Designs.

To learn more, check  the SunSat Visualization Guidebook and look at the SunSat Design Competition website.

To see where the idea of a SSP Design Competition came from, take a look at SpaceJournal Issue No.16: Solar Power Satellites.

To see how Ohio University’s Game Research in Immersive Design (GRID) Lab, with the help of Georgia Institute of Technology, University of North Dakota and others in academia, has experimented with making the advanced science and technology concepts of SSP more accessible to the public, view SpaceJournal Issue No.17: Creative Visualization of Space Solar Power.

This competition is managed by Ohio University, the host institution for the Online Journal of Space Communication, but guided and juried by members of the National Space Society and the Society of Satellite Professionals International.

NSS Partners with Explore Mars for 2013 Humans to Mars (H2M) Summit

We are pleased to announce that NSS is a partner organization for the Humans to Mars Summit (H2M). Co-sponsored by Explore Mars and the Space Policy Institute of George Washington University, H2M will be held on May 6-8, 2013 at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, DC.  H2M is a comprehensive Mars exploration conference to address the major technical, scientific, and policy related challenges that need to be overcome to send humans to Mars by 2030.

“Mars beckons and we intend to answer the call.  NSS is excited to partner with Explore Mars and the H2M Summit to advance the human experience to the red planet,” said Paul Damphousse, NSS Executive Director.

Stated Chris Carberry, Executive Director of Explore Mars, “Our goal is to have one of the most authoritative and diverse Mars exploration conferences ever held.  We will involve key players from NASA, industry (including both established aerospace leaders as well as newer commercial space entities), the science community, and non-traditional players.”

Topics include: robotic and human pre-cursor missions; launch systems; Mars transit challenges; human factors; entry, descent and landing; in situ resource utilization; space suit design; surface power; science goals; and many other topics. H2M will also discuss space policy, as well as ways to stimulate private sector participation in Mars exploration.

Tentative speakers include:

Dr. Doug McCuistion (NASA: Director, Mars Exploration Program)
Dr. James Garvin (NASA: Chief Scientist, Goddard Space Flight Center)
Andrew Chaikin (Author/Historian)
Dr. David Beaty (NASA JPL: Chief Scientist, Mars Exploration Directorate)
Michael Raftery (Boeing: ISS Deputy Program Manager)
Joe Cassady (Aerojet: Executive Director, Advanced Programs Engineering)
Dr. Chris McKay (NASA Ames: Planetary Scientist)
And many others…

To take advantage of the special $95.00 “Pre-Launch” registration today and save money before the registration fee increases after September 12, 2012, register here.