Coming to Huntsville in May: NSS 2011 International Space Development Conference

The 30th International Space Development Conference (ISDC), the annual gathering of the National Space Society (NSS), is coming to the Von Braun Center in Huntsville May 18-22, 2011. NSS and its local chapter, the Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5), are looking forward to hosting entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, politicians, and private citizens who are interested in creating a spacefaring civilization “From the Ground Up,” which is the theme of the conference.

ISDC 2011 on The Space Show: ISDC 2011 Chair, Bart Leahy, and Business Track Chair, Cliff McMurray, were on The Space Show with David Livingston on March 22. They talked about ISDC 2011, space advocacy, space policy, and space networking. Click here to listen.

With all the changes and uncertainties in the space business, it would be nice to get some perspective, as well as some idea of what the future might hold. ISDC does just that. ISDC will cover the broad spectrum of space topics, including the current and future states of space policy, the proposed Space Launch System, the future of the International Space Station, military space activities, Earth and planetary sciences, and the Google Lunar X Prize. Other sessions will discuss space-based solar power, biotechnology, breakthrough science and technology, space settlement and colonization, living in space, education, advocacy, and outreach, economy and business, and space history…but that’s not all.

To address these challenging topics, our programming will feature panels and talks by professionals from across the industry, from NASA to commercial space to military space to the halls of Congress to the science community. Among these speakers will be international, national, and local experts, including:

  • Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator
  • David Neyland, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Office (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office
  • George Nield, Associate Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation
  • Dennis Stone, Manager, Program Integration, Commercial Crew and Cargo Program, NASA
  • John Logsdon, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University
  • Phil McAlister, Acting Director, Commercial Human Spaceflight, NASA HQ
  • Buzz Aldrin, Former Apollo 11 Astronaut, Author, and Founder, ShareSpace Foundation
  • Michael Griffin, UA Huntsville Eminent Scholar and former NASA Administrator
  • George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic
  • Michael Simpson, President, International Space University
  • Ken Money, President, National Space Society and former Canadian astronaut
  • Klaus Dannenberg, Deputy Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Simon ‘Pete’ Worden, Director, NASA Ames Research Center
  • Robert Zubrin, Founder and President, Mars Society
  • Les Johnson, Deputy Manager, Advanced Concepts Office, NASA MSFC, and Author
  • Tim Pickens, Chief Propulsion Engineer and Commercial Space Advisor, Dynetics, and Team lead, Rocket City Space Pioneers
  • Deborah Barnhart, CEO, U.S. Space & Rocket Center

In addition to these luminaries, NSS will be presenting the Wernher Von Braun Award ( to Japanese Hayabusa team for their work in developing a spacecraft to bring samples of asteroid material back to Earth. The award is given every other year and recognizes excellence in management of, and leadership for, a space-related project. Previous winners of the award include Burt Rutan, Steven W. Squyres, Donna Shirley, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., George Mueller, Max Hunter, and Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger. This year, we are privileged to have Curt Von Braun, an executive at Raytheon and nephew of Wernher von Braun, presenting the award on behalf of NSS.

This year’s ambitious agenda also will feature a trade show for civil, military, academic, and non-profit groups interested in space activities; a job fair hosted by Huntsville Space Professionals and Next Step in Space; and a book fair showcasing the latest in space-themed authors. All of these activities will be hosted in the VBC East Hall, while technical programming will occupy most of the North Hall.

Prior to ISDC proper, which begins on May 19, on May 18 the National Space Society will host the Space Investment Summit, an invitation-only event that educates space-minded entrepreneurs on the ins and outs of securing investors and doing business. Huntsville entrepreneur, “rocket man,” and Google Lunar X Prize team leader Tim Pickens will be the keynote speaker for this event.

Other opportunities for registered conference attendees include tours of Marshall Space Flight Center, the United Launch Alliance plant in Decatur, and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and discounts at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp.

For more information on exhibiting or sponsoring, attending, or volunteering for ISDC 2011, visit the web site is Come learn how to make a spacefaring civilization grow “from the ground up!”

Japan and Support of the International Space Station

Previously, we looked at the Europeans Space Agency (ESA) and their ATV program, which is preparing to send their resupply spacecraft, Johannes Kepler, to the International Space Station on 15 February.

Now, we look at the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the recently completed launch and capture of the Kounotori spacecraft.

HTV-2 "Kounotori"
Image Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The external exposed cargo includes a Flex Hose Rotary Coupler and Cargo Transport Container. These spare parts will be transferred to External Logistics Carrier 4 after it is installed during the Discovery STS-133 mission.

The pressurized cargo space is carrying 2,928 kilograms of supplies and equipment:

  • 630 kilograms of crew provisions
  • 1,626 kilograms of research equipment and supplies
  • 609 kilograms) of station hardware
  • 49 kilograms of computers and supplies
  • 14 kilograms of spacewalking equipment and supplies

Among the new research equipment will be the Japanese Kobairo gradient heating furnace for generating high-quality crystals from melting materials, an Amine Swingbed technology demonstration that will look at ways to revitalize the air on space vehicles, and the International Space Station Agricultural Camera, which will take frequent images, in visible and infrared light, of vegetated areas on the Earth.

Canadarm2 Captures HTV2
Image Credit: NASA

Hatch Open
Removing cargo through the hatch on HTV2
Image Credit: JAXA

Mike Snead's Presentation on Future Energy Needs and Availability

Here is Mike Snead’s Presentation from the Space Solar Power Track at the ISDC.  It is a great analysis of future energy needs and availability.

Energy, SSP, and Jumpstarting America’s Spacefaring Future (52 charts; 13 Meg; PowerPoint 2003 format) This is the presentation given at the National Space Society International Space Development Conference 2009 in Orlando, FL. Speaker notes are included. (Copyright (c) 2009 Spacefaring Institute LLC. See title page notes for permitted uses.)

For more information about Mike Snead’s ideas see Spacefaring Institute LLC.

A Commentary on the Future of the American Space Program: I Get Who, What, Where & When but Why?

A commentary on the future of the american space program

by Ian Murphy

I wasn’t around for Mercury or Gemini.  I wasn’t around to see the end of the Apollo.  I wasn’t around to see the first Shuttle flight.  I’ve never witnessed the “profound” emotional effect the American space program had on the people of this country.

I was born in 1978 and that makes me Generations X or Y, I’m not sure.  I’m still waiting for some egghead sociologist/intellectual to definitively pigeon hole me so a marketing company can properly apply me to a demographic group.  Like so many born in the 70’s or early 80’s, my first recollection space travel was when I was 7 years old and my 2nd grade class was ushered into a crowded elementary school gymnasium and placed in front of the schools only television, which lived a top one of those tall A/V carts so classes could share, to watch the first teacher launch towards space.  We all know what happened: She never got there and space travel became an unnerving childhood memory for what is now the most prolific generation to ever to walk the earth.

It’s been 40 years since the end of the Apollo and 23 years since that tragic event and once again we are all wondering where do we go from here.  The Bush administration mandated the Vision for Space Exploration in 2005, which stated that by 2020 we would go back to the Moon, then on to Mars and beyond.

Imagine you need to describe our progression in human spaceflight to a 2nd grader today:

“Well Junior, first we built a rocket and launched it into space.  Then we put an animal in the rocket and launched it into space.  Then we launched a rocket with a person in it into space and they went around the Earth once before coming home.  Then we put a few people in a rocket, launched them into space and they traveled around the world several times before coming home.  Then we launched a few people into space, they flew to the Moon, went around it a few times and then came home.  Then we launched a few people into space, they flew to the Moon, landed on the moon and then came home.  Then we built a new spaceship with wings so it could carry more people and do more things.  We used this new spaceship to build a house in space.  Then we made the house bigger and bigger until more people could live in it.  Now that the house is built, we are going to build a rocket just like the one we used to have that will launch a few people into space so they can fly to the Moon, land on the Moon and then come home.”

Notice the confused look on the face of the child when they say, “you already said that last part.”

I’m not a child but I get just as confused when I hear this same story told to me using bigger words and then justified with convoluted reasoning.  Maybe it’s because I come from the X PRIZE school of thought so eloquently framed by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis when he states “It is the purpose of NASA to push the limits of what humans can do in space and it is the duty of the private sector to industrialize in their wake.”

Is the current strategy pushing any limits?

I’m not a rocket scientist, NASA program manager or ‘big 3′ corporate executive.  I am not an accomplished professor of aerospace studies nor did I receive a degree in the field.  But I’m also no dummy and when I speak to Apollo astronauts I wonder why none of them has told me that going back to Earth’s Moon makes sense.  In the words of an Apollo astronaut I spoke to last week, “why are we bankrupting ourselves by building an extraneous lunar colony on the Moon for indulgent astronauts when we can instead go to Mars’ Moon, Phobos, with similar technology?”

I have high hopes for the Augustine Commission.  The Book of Laws is an amazing read and it would be difficult to find a more qualified person to head such a panel than Norm Augustine but after the members of the commission were announced, I have to wonder out loud why a “blue ribbon” panel put together to decide whether going back to the Moon is a good idea does not include one person that has either been to the Moon or worked on any previous lunar mission.

There is nothing wrong with changing our collective national mission in space.  The American people will not give up and neither Lockheed, Boeing, Aerojet nor ATK will go the way of GM.  I sincerely hope the members of the Augustine Commission put aside their preconceived notions and business relationships and try and think less like a know-it-all rocket scientist or politician and more like an insightful 2nd grader.

Ian Murphy was the head of communications for the X PRIZE Foundation from 2001-06 and is responsible for publicizing the winning Ansari X PRIZE flights of SpaceShipOne, as well as, the X PRIZE Cup and the Archon X PRIZE of Genomics.  He has consulted for SpaceX, Zero-G Corp, Personal Spaceflight Federation, Army Times Publishing Company, Lockheed Martin, Rocket Racing and Anousheh Ansari’s flight to the ISS.  He is a contributor to SpaceTaskForce, Chairman of the National Space Society’s public affairs committee and a public relations and marketing consultant based out of Cape Canaveral, FL.

ISDC Thank You's

I would like to thank Ian Murphy from blogging from the ISDC and all is PR work for the ISDC.

I would like to thank Gary Barnhard hosting and having the Hospitality Suite in his room and getting some of my favorite drink. I hope I didn’t keep you up too late.

I would like to Thank Tim Bailey the entire organizing committee for throwing such a great ISDC.

I would like to thank Josh Powers and Ed Burns for leading a hand with organizing when they were needed.

I would like to thank everyone who showed there apprienation of my efforts on the blog, the social networking comittee and other work on behalf of the NSS.

Ad Astra,

Karen Shea

Space Solar Power Track at the ISDC

The Space Solar power track at the ISDC took place on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning with John Mankins receiving an award and making a Space Solar Power presentation on Saturday Night.  The presentations made clear the situation that the Space Solar Power community is facing.  Feng Hsu and Mike Snead showed that by the end of the century power demand will far exceed supply, as conventional sources dwindle and renewables can not expand to fill the gap.  There was wide agreement that we have the technology to make Space Solar Power work. The only real issues were how best to make Space Solar Power work, at what price and in which markets.

It is clear to me that since the world will desperately need power within 90 years and Space Solar Power can provide it is simply a question of when and how Space Solar Power will become a reality not if.   Since Space Solar power will become a reality we can alleviate a lot of suffering if we begin developing it now instead of waiting until power prices are soaring and black outs and brown outs are common.

Here are the issues-

Lasers or Microwaves for power transmission?
Which frequency?
Ready for development or need some government funded research?
Commercial, Government or Public -Private Partnership development?
Construction techniques?
Placement of receivers?

The steps are clear. Seek government involvement to fund experimental research and technology demonstrations as well as working the policy issues like securing a frequency and orbital slots from the ITU and developing safety standards for receiving power.  Private involvement to research markets, develop business plans and secure funding as well as develop technology.

Space Solar Power can provide clean baseload power to all.   The only question is do start now and make its development and adoption, slow and painless or wait a couple more decades so the development of space solar power will be frantic and chaotic in the face of desperate circumstances?


Karen Cramer Shea

Karen's Excellent Adventure at the ISDC

I have had a great time at the ISDC.  The Space Ambassadors Reception and Fireworks on Thursday Partying until I get kicked out of the Hospitality Suite and then waking at dawn to swim in the glorious pools. swimming 50 laps in the quiet pool, then relaxing in the 21 person hot tube alone then floating around the lazy river. Ahh what a way to start the day.

Then the real International Space Development Conference starts for the day. there has been so much wisdom put forward on the next steps for NASA and from space development.

The best place to change direction is at Apohelion.-Rusty Schweickart

When you get to a fork in the road take it – Buzz Aldrin quoting Yogi Berra

Be ambitious strive to do great things. If the goals in space are paltry why bother. – John Mankins

Concentrate on Why, not How or What- The Space Settlement Summit

Nothing attracts capital and nothing attracts talent like vision – Peter Garretson

There are students from around the world who were involved in the Space Settlement Design contests it is inspiring to see all the talented young people.

More later I need to get back to the Space Solar Power presentations.

Ad Astra,

Karen Cramer Shea

ISDC 2009 update: George Nield of FAA AST opens up Commercial Space Day

Hey space fans, Ian Murphy reporting again from ISDC 2009 through the NSS blog.

First off, sorry for not getting this out sooner.  I was shooting for 2:30 but I forgot there was a meeting of the NSS public affairs committee at 2pm and once I get talking the hours just seep away.

George Schellenger of and SpaceTaskForce got everyone pumped up with his energetic opening video featuring a visual barrage of the various commercial space efforts.

Brett Alexander, President, Personal Spaceflight Federation was the moderator for the morning sessions.

George Nield, Associate Administrator for the FAA office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) was the first speaker.  His speech was laden with a big picture positive and philosophical outlook on the state of the industry in light of all the recent controversy and absence of a clear direction that has been the norm in the headlines recently.

Confident in the industry’s progression to date, Nield started off saying that with respect to the achievements of NASA “commercial space achievements will the way and wave of the future.”

He reminded us that 50 years ago today the United States launched two passengers on the Jupiter missile. 1) a rhesus monkey named Able and the other a squirrel monkey named Baker.  He also reminded us of another historical event, the commemoration of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was celebrated by a flyover of 500 planes and the launching of 100 sky rockets.  Nield made a point to note “we used to celebrate the opening of bridges with rocket launches and now rockets have become the bridges themselves.”

His entire speech seemed to be aimed at combating the “sullen weight that has settled on the American Space Program.” He reference the “unusually pessimistic tone” symbolic of conversations centered around the retirement of the Shuttle, the supposed plateau of progress in the commercial space arena, the frustration over ITAR and the relative success of international aerospace ventures.  He wondered aloud “Have we lost our edge?”

He encouraged us all to point out to the unconvinced (by that he means everyone referenced in the above paragraph) to “not confuse the occasional bad day for the end of days,” for these people suffer from what he referenced as the Eeyor Effect (  We must maintain, “humans are possessed with an infinite plasticity” to accomplish the difficult and almost anything, especially private spaceflight, is a humanitarian imperative.

He joked that the arbitrary deadlines placed upon the industry by the general public and media must have been created on “National Wishful Thinking Day” pointing out that Sir Richard Branson, when asked about how many tests it will take to get to his first passenger flight, responded, “We will do more tests that NASA has flown missions.”

The moral of the FAA AST leader’s speech “The pace is being set by safety.

The way I see it I can’t wait to go to space but I’m not in a hurry if I am not absolutely positive that I’m coming back to earth.


Got this from Will after his speech (IM)…

28th May 2009: 

Virgin Galactic today announces the successful completion of the first phase of tests of the rocket motor that will propel space tourists, scientists and payloads into space. 

In the desert of southern California, Virgin Galactic’s key supplier Scaled Composites and its subcontractor SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) have successfully completed the first tests of the innovative rocket motor that will propel space tourists, scientists and payloads into space. The hybrid Nitrous Oxide system being used is the largest of its kind in the world and it will send Virgin’s customers up into sub-orbital space at speeds over 2500 mph (4000kmh), to heights over 65 miles (110km) above the Earths surface, before the spaceship descends back down through the atmosphere using its pioneering feathered re-entry system. 

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic said: “As Virgin Galactic gets ever closer to the start of commercial operations, we are reaching and passing many important and historic milestones. The Virgin MotherShip (VMS) Eve, the first of our amazing, all carbon composite, high altitude WhiteKnightTwo launch vehicles, is flying superbly. SpaceShipTwo, which will air launch from Eve, is largely constructed and awaiting the start of its own test flight programme later this year.” 

The rocket motor burns for a very short period of time because the spaceship is launched from VMS Eve in the upper atmosphere, rather than from ground level. This means much less fuel is required, and the fuel burn is more environmentally benign than the solid rockets used in most ground based systems. 

While the rocket motor is extremely powerful, it is also completely controllable. This system can – if necessary – be shut down at any time, allowing the spaceship to glide back down to land at a conventional runway. This is a significant feature in the overall safety of the Virgin system for human space flight.

Sir Richard continues: “Less fuel and clean fuel all add up to a space launch system which will be completely unprecedented in its low environmental impact compared with current space flight. The spaceships carbon footprint for each of its passengers and crew will be about a quarter of that for a return trip from London to New York, demonstrating again the extraordinary benefits that new technology can bring to the quest for clean transportation.” 

“We believe space is on the cusp of a new industrial revolution. Virgin Galactics mission has always been to transform the safety, cost and environmental impact of access to space. Not just for passengers, but also for a range of important scientific purposes, and to send small satellites into orbit. The worlds scientific community is united in recognising that making better use of space will be vital to mankinds ability to manage the huge future challenges of life back here on Earth.” 

The rocket motor will continue a series of exhaustive tests, and the spaceship itself will start flight testing later this year. The testing programme for the rocket, the spaceship and VMS Eve will be extensive.

To view broadcast quality footage of the tests, along with the full interview with Sir Richard Branson please visit 

To view on YouTube click here 

For any other enquiries, please contact Bite PR on or phone the

switchboard on +44 (0)20 8741 1123.

ISDC 2009 update: ISDC 2009 Registration & Afternoon Sessions of SIS6

Ian Murphy reporting from the ISDC registration room…

Registration is in full swing, the bags look great (still can’t add photos sorry) the volunteers shirt look great but either their too big or humans have begin shrinking at an unusual pace.  Registration is open until 8pm if your coming in tonight and from 7am to 7pm if your coming in tomorrow. 

A glance at tomorrow’s agenda – 

9am – Dr. George Nield – FAA AST Associate Admin

10am – Jeff Greason, XCOR President (just saw him a few minutes ago and seems to be in very good spirits despite a red eye flight)

11am – Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic President

12pm (lunch) – Elon Musk, SpaceX Founder

2pm – COTS Panel – Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA + Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX + Robert T. Richards, Orbital

3pm  – GLXP Panel – Will “Master P” Pomerantz + Bob Richards, Odyssey Moon (amongst countless other cool things) + others

5pm – Commercial Space Panel – Ken Davidian, FAA AST + others

4pm (in Augusta room) – Tim Pickens “So you want to start a space company” (no way I am missing this one.

This is just a small taste of all the great stuff at ISDC.  After the tracks during the day are over we are really hoping for good weather because after Richard Garriott (sixth private citizen to travel to the ISS, creator of the Ultima series and the greatest party thrower on the planet – – ) speaks tomorrow night at 7pm ISDC will have a new first.  FIREWORKS.  Yep, the schedule says Fireworks Show and I put Brett Silcox in a headlock until he swore it wasn’t an elaborate prank (the schedule also says “desert reception” and being that we are in Florida, where I am pretty sure there are no deserts, you can see why I was skeptical). 

Note – just got an email that says photos may not be possible.  I will find another place to post them and get a link out. 

Update from Jason Rhian in the afternoon SIS 6 sessions…

The afternoon panel was moderated by Daniel Gruenbaum of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and consisted of Jane Reifert the president of Incredible Adventures, Bernie McShea vice-president of business development for Space Florida, John Cassanto CEO of Instrumentation Technology Association and Robert Ward, president of Strategic Insights & Creative Imagination.  While the topic governed how the hospitality industry and space tourism industry should and will work hand in hand, the discussion topics also drifted to how better market the space story.

“Those inspirational moments are the things required to create aspirational goals,” Ward said.  “We need to tell the story in a less technical and more emotional way.”

Another interesting quote from Jane Reifert of Incredible Adventures: ” The easier it is to do, the easier it is to sell.” 

The last panel of the day was comprised of the following: Emerging Business Technology Practice Group Chair, Brent Britton, Vice-President of 4Frontiers Corporation and NewSpace LLC Joseph Palaia, Global Entrepreneur, Per Wimmer and SGS Deputy Chief of Operations and Northrop Grumman Chairman Roy Tharpe.  The panelists decided that the mold for how panels would be held – needed to be broken.  Britton’s introductions were laden with pop-culture references, Palaia openly disagreed with comments made by earlier panelists and Wimmer jumped off the stage to give his presentation.

“Show me a kid that doesn’t get excited about a robot,” Palaia said.  “Especially when I put the controls of that robot in their hands!”

Thanks to Jason for his work today

I got a chance to sit in on this panel too and wanted to chime in on something I overheard…

John Cassanto, CEO of Instrumentation Technology Associates had a great presentation on Secondary markets associated with space tourism.  A couple of great points that I will paraphrase

1) commercial research racks and scientific experiments are not new – there is a solid foundation of previous success

2) There is a high value secondary market for space tourism companies, especially in area like biomedical research and experiments

3) Passengers will WANT to carry their own experiments and fly other’s experiment’s if not for the good of science than maybe to supplement the cost of their own flight.  These “experimentourists” should be encouraged. (the word “experimentourist” is trademarked and cannot be used with out the express written permission of Ricky Bobby Inc…or Ian Murphy).

4) Every passenger compartment can have areas for micro gravity and zero gravity racks for experiments and payloads.

That’s all for now.  I get to go pick up Will Whitehorn from the airport at 5pm.  Wish me luck on convincing him to either rig the Space Ambassador Program so I win or just giving me a free ride in exchange for giving him a lift 😉