National Space Society Congratulates Representative Jim Bridenstine on his Approval as NASA Administrator

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-1) on his confirmation by the Senate to be the next NASA Administrator.

“NSS looks forward to working with Administrator Bridenstine to further the development and settlement of space,” said Dale Skran, the current NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “This has been a long and difficult approval process, but with today’s Senate vote NASA can move forward, ending a long period of leadership drift.”

Representative Bridenstine brings to his new job both political and aerospace experience. A three term member of Congress, Bridenstine served as a naval aviator from 1998-2007, and in the Naval Reserve 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 Administrator Bridenstine to lead America back to the Moon and to develop a thriving economy in space.”

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

Tour of the Moon in 4K

Check out this great new 5-minute video in 4K showing lunar highlights thanks to data provided by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As attention is being turned back to the Moon, this video is a great reminder of how much remains to be understood.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4619

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/David Ladd. Music Provided By Killer Tracks: “Never Looking Back” by Frederick Wiedmann and “Flying over Turmoil” by Benjamin Krause & Scott Goodman.

National Space Society Honors JPL’s Voyager Team: “Humans have never before reached so far”

For 40 years, two small spacecraft launched in 1977 have sped past the planets in our solar system and beyond, carrying humanity’s messages etched on gold disks. Their journey into the depths of interstellar space will continue indefinitely.

To honor this unprecedented achievement, the National Space Society (NSS) has announced that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team that designed, built and operated the Voyager spacecraft has been named the 2018 recipient of NSS’ Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering.

 

NSS Senior Operating Officer Bruce Pittman said, “The two Voyager spacecraft, launched over 40 years ago, sent back amazing pictures of the outer solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and the Saturnian moon Titan, bringing the majestic beauty of the outer solar system to people around the world.” Pittman continued, “The fact that the Voyager spacecraft are still operational and sending back useful data is a great testament to the talent of the hundreds of scientists and engineers who worked so hard to make this incredible mission possible.” This National Space Society award recognizes the JPL team for their amazing scientific and engineering achievements.

The prestigious award will be presented to Dr. Michael Watkins, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at the Society’s 37th annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC®), to be held at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel from May 24-27, 2018. NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from Dr. Watkins and attend his award ceremony.

For more information, see: isdc2018.nss.org

Past recipients of the Space Pioneer Award include: Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

The National Space Society was formed by a merger of the National Space Institute, founded in 1974 by NASA’s Wernher von Braun, father of the Saturn V rocket, and the L5 Society, founded in 1975, inspired by the pioneering work of Princeton physicist Gerard K. O’Neill.

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.”

NASA at Saturn: Cassini’s Grand Finale

The final chapter in a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery, Cassini’s Grand Finale, ending September 15, is in many ways like a brand new mission. Twenty-two times, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will dive through the unexplored space between Saturn and its rings. What we learn from these ultra-close passes over the planet could be some of the most exciting revelations ever returned by the long-lived spacecraft. This animated video tells the story of Cassini’s final, daring assignment and looks back at what the mission has accomplished.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about Cassini’s Grand Finale, please visit https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale.

Become a NASA HERA Test Subject

NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Test Subject Screening is recruiting volunteers for a long duration mission to simulate flight operations and confinement. Subjects will spend the mission in confined habitation in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) facility at JSC. Researchers will collect blood, urine, and saliva; study personal behaviors; and evaluate team cohesion, cognition, and communication.

HERA

This opportunity is for healthy, non-smoking volunteers ages 35 to 55 years old. Volunteers must pass a JSC physical and psychological assessment to qualify and fit the following requirements:

  • Take no medications
  • Have no dietary restrictions
  • Have a BMI of 29 or less
  • Be 74 inches or less in height
  • Have no history of sleepwalking
  • Possess highly technical skills and a Master of Science degree in science, technology, engineering, or math discipline, or equivalent years of experience.

Volunteers will be compensated. If interested in becoming a test subject, submit CV to jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or contact Test Subject Screening at 281-212-1492.

National Space Society Congratulates NASA, ULA, and Lockheed Martin on the Successful Launch of OSIRIS-REx

With the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 411 on September 8 at 7:05 PM EST, 2016 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, NASA’s mission to travel to a near Earth asteroid and return a sample got underway. NSS congratulates the team who made this happen. OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer.

“OSIRIS-REx has NSS members really excited,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President. “The craft will provide a complete map of the chemistry and mineralogy of a carbon based asteroid. Such asteroids will be critical for both the economic development and settlement of space. The TAGSAM sample collection device may provide a foundation for the development of future asteroid mining robots. Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx principal investigator, and his team at the University of Arizona have put together a really impressive mission.”

The probe is the third in NASA’s “New Frontiers” program of medium-sized exploration missions, and cost about $800 million in addition to launch and operations costs. The Lockheed Martin built spacecraft will journey to Bennu, a Near-Earth asteroid, arriving in August 2018. After two years of study, an innovative sample collection device, TAGSAM, will use jets of nitrogen gas to assist in collecting a minimum of 60 grams of samples.

OSIRIS-REx
OSIRIS-REx will leave Bennu in March 2021, and arrive back at Earth two and a half years later. The sample return canister is targeted toward a parachute landing at the Utah Test and Training Range on September 24, 2023. Although the primary mission objective is to return to Earth a pristine sample of a carbon rich asteroid for analysis, other objectives focus on resource identification, planetary security, and regolith exploration. Other “New Frontiers” missions include Juno, which is currently orbiting Jupiter, and New Horizons, which flew past Pluto in July 2015 and is now heading toward another object in the Kuiper Belt, with an expected arrival in January 2019.

Additionally, OSIRIS-REx will measure the effect of sunlight on the orbit of the asteroid, allowing the risk of an asteroid hitting the Earth to be better understood. “NSS advocates increased U.S. spending on protecting Earth from passing asteroids and comets,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “OSIRIS-REx is a major step toward achieving the goals set forward in the NSS position paper on Planetary Defense.

Development of asteroid resources is fundamental to NSS’ vision of our future in space (see our Roadmap to Space Settlement Milestone 18 “Exploration, Utilization, and Settlement of Asteroids”) and yesterday’s events have brought that future materially closer.

The National Space Society Applauds Alan Stern Winning the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal

The National Space Society congratulates Dr. Alan Stern on winning the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. This award is the highest honor that NASA can bestow. NSS has also awarded one of our highest honors to Dr. Stern, the NSS Wernher von Braun Award, which he received at our International Space Development Conference last May in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dr. Stern was Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. “Leading New Horizons has been the greatest honor of my lifetime, but it’s important to recognize so many others who also contributed to the success of this mission,” said Stern. “I dedicate this award to the 2,500 men and women who worked so hard to build, launch, and fly New Horizons across the solar system to explore Pluto and its system of moons.”

Portrait of Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls.
Portrait of Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls.