National Space Society Congratulates SpaceX on First Successful GEO Transfer Mission

The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) on the successful launch of the SES-8 telecommunications satellite. It was launched Tuesday, December 3, 2013 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:41 PM Eastern Time.

The SES-8 is a GEOStar-2 satellite built by Orbital Sciences. The hybrid Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft weighs 3,138 kg (6,918 lbs) and will provide communications coverage of the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions.

This is the first mission to geo-synchronous orbit for SpaceX, and the second flight of the Falcon 9 v1.1. The upgraded version of the Falcon 9 has 60% more thrust than the Falcon 9 v1.0, and can loft payloads of up to 4,950 kg (10,690 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit.

Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President, said, “This milestone injects a new US competitor into the international commercial satcom launch market, and is an important step toward lowering the cost of access to space, which in turn will help drive space development and settlement.”

This flight of the Falcon v1.1 represents a major step forward commercially for SpaceX, and also demonstrates progress toward the certification of the Falcon 9 for Department of Defense payloads. Critical to geostationary transfer missions, for the first time the upgraded Falcon 9 second stage re-ignited for a 5-minutes 20-seconds burn to put the SES-8 into the correct orbit. SES is the world’s second largest telecommunications satellite company, fielding 54 geostationary satellites.

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 Remembers Long-Time Member Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl, a long-time member and supporter of the National Space Society (NSS) and one of the great science fiction authors of the late 20th century, died Monday, September 2, 2013. He was 93.

Karen Mermel, Vice President for Development at NSS stated, “Fred often spoke at NSS chapter events and represented NSS on panels, including one with astronaut Jim Lovell to discuss the benefits of space exploration. Fred was a personal friend and a staunch NSS supporter who wholeheartedly believed in our goals and mission.”

Pohl was known as a dark humorist and satirist in novels such asThe Space Merchants (1953) and Gladiator-at-Law (1955). Both were written with frequent collaborator C. M. Kornbluth.

His long career included writing novels and short stories, editing, and being a literary agent for science fiction writers. He won three Hugo awards, was named a grand master of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1992, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1998.

Born November 26, 1919, in New York City, Pohl was an early science fiction fan who served as editor of Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories in 1939-43; in the 1970s, he edited the magazines Galaxy and If.

1977’s Gateway was one of Pohl’s many books that explored human space exploration after overpopulation and the depletion of Earth’s resources; the Times called it an “adventurous, extrapolative, and insightful novel.” As far back as the 1950s, Pohl edited science fiction anthologies, something he continued to do throughout his life to bring attention to other writers’ work. He published a memoir, The Way the Future Was, in the late 1970s, and continued the story in the 21st century online with The Way the Future Blogs.

Elizabeth Ann Hull (Betty), Fred’s wife, says she’ll be planning a memorial for Fred in the next six months or so. That way all friends and fans will be able to attend.

Frederik Pohl, Courtesy Fred Fox Studios, Ltd.
Frederik Pohl, Courtesy Fred Fox Studios, Ltd.

Space Settlements Represent Hope for Humankind

The National Space Society (NSS) offers a comparison of its vision for space settlement to that promoted by many dystopian science fiction movies of today.  NSS has supported the concept of rotating space settlements in orbit or deep space since the epochal publication by Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill of his seminal article on space colonies in Physics Today (1974).

Since those days, concepts of democracy and egalitarian societies have been integral to our vision. A goal of NSS is the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization with people living and working in space. We believe in democracy to build and operate space settlements, whether in space, on the Moon, on Mars, or even on planets around other stars.

A large part of the space movement today is founded on improving life on Earth by creating an ability to operate in space. This includes the ability to divert threatening asteroids, detect solar outbursts that could destroy our electrical grid, and build solar power collection/transmission satellites that could produce huge amounts of carbon free energy in space for use on Earth, enriching all of humankind. In fact, an early justification for building space settlements was to house the labor force needed to build the solar power satellites that would provide a global solar power source to all nations, helping to prevent the ecological and economic collapse and chaos depicted in many dystopian movies of today. NSS believes that we are making the future every day and that we want to build a hopeful future.

NSS is happy that space settlements are beginning to appear in popular culture such as the recent motion picture Elysium.  NSS applauds the cinematic skill that resulted in the depiction of the physical appearance and operation of a rotating orbital space settlement. While NSS accepts that a conflict is fairly fundamental to a good story, we would like movie viewers to keep in mind that the tyrannical government depicted in the movie does not represent the path of humans in space envisioned by the NSS and its thousands of members.

National Space Society Salutes Lori Garver’s Service at NASA

The National Space Society (NSS) would like to congratulate Lori Garver for the tremendous contributions she has made to NASA and America’s space program during her four years as Deputy NASA Administrator.

“She was a staunch supporter of commercial space and using public/private partnerships to leverage private investment using fewer taxpayer dollars,” stated Mark Hopkins, chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “Lori’s calm leadership and grace under pressure will be missed by all of us in the space community and we wish her all the best in the next phase of her career.”

Lori was the Executive Director of NSS for nine years until she left for her first tour with NASA in 1998.  She was a key player in the building of the new organization that came into existence after the merger of National Space Institute and the L5 Society in 1987.

Space Solar Power: Key to a Livable Planet Earth

The National Space Society (NSS) today announces a new space solar power international initiative. NSS endorses this initiative and will work to forge an international organization involving America, India and other nations to develop space solar power. This has the potential of solving humanity’s energy needs and greatly mitigating climate change.

The following is a joint statement of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Former President of the Republic of India and Mr. Mark Hopkins, Executive Committee Chairman, National Space Society.


Space Solar Power: Key to a Livable Planet Earth
Joint Statement of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Former President of the Republic of India
and
Mr. Mark Hopkins
Chairman of the Executive Committee, National Space Society
June 1, 2013

We, Dr. Kalam and Mr. Hopkins, have long shared humanity’s dream of all nations living together in prosperity and peace and moving forwards through global collaboration in space to meet the challenges that now face our Planet Earth. We are conscious that all nations have to strive to make our planet livable again, after centuries of devastation of its environment and ecosystems and rapid depletion of its precious mineral resources, including fossil fuels and fresh water.

Over these last three years many of our colleagues, in NSS and in India, have come together and made progress towards this international collaborative mission by sustained dialogue with mutual respect, understanding, and trust. It is essentially this process that has helped us to decide that the time has arrived for us to together attempt to give a direction and momentum to this movement to realize space solar power and its enabling technologies through international collaboration that can help rebuild our environmentally vulnerable planet.

Today, we begin working together in a well organized and well supported manner to realize such a 21st Century global collaboration; and together help to lay the structural foundation for an international collaboration to develop and deploy space solar power systems. We are aware that coalitions and collaborations work best if there is a shared mission and common goals, and effective leadership. We need to build strong, trusting relationships across nations through a participatory process with the active involvement of member nations and their institutions and organizations. We will work to develop an effective mission governance process and hope to evolve, jointly and together in international teams, clear operating procedures regarding decision-making, communications, and accountability. We shall be working together to develop a shared vision, to build strong relationships within the leadership team, and to rotate leadership roles.

Kalam and Hopkins discuss joint statement at the 2013 International Space Development Conference (ISDC).

Such a shared vision shall include specific mechanisms such as the Global Space Knowledge Platform, the International Virtual Laboratory, and the International Advisory Committee that Dr. Kalam has elaborated through discussion papers with Mr. Hopkins and his Address to the 2013 National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2013). We hope our international collaborative mission will act as a catalyst for a livable planet which will promote prosperity and peaceful relations within and between nations.

We shall start our team building and mission structuring phase with core members from nations who we know are already networking and who are contributing to the dream of harvesting energy from space, including the US, India, Japan, and UK. We shall also invite, as observers, representatives in relevant domains of public policy, science and technology and management systems from other space faring nations like Russia, China, and other European nations. We shall engage in open and frequent communication with people who share our values and goals in governments and societies which are important to the success of this venture. We will help accomplish this through collaborative practices that are the true hallmark of effective global cooperation for a livable planet Earth. We shall have a clear plan of action to market the idea of a livable planet Earth through space solar power to G8 or G20 nations within a year.

Towards this end, we agree to start working together by jointly identifying the core members and observer members in the joint working mechanisms that Dr. Kalam has proposed. This shall be the direction of what we must accomplish in the coming months. We shall build upon the trusting relationships we have established and consolidated these last three years between NSS, Dr. Kalam, and others in India. We shall now strive to expand this relationship in an organized and well-structured manner towards an international collaborative mission to realize space solar power for all humanity.


For more information concerning the plan, see Dr. Kalam’s June 2, 2013  address to the leaders of the Indian aerospace community and “Global Space Solar Plan Unveiled,” Aviation Week, June 3, 2013.

About Dr. Abdul Kalam: Despite coming from a poor background, which required him to work at an early age to supplement his parents’ income, Dr. Kalam obtained degrees in Physics and Aeronautical Engineering. He was project director of India’s first indigenous satellite launch vehicle. Dr. Kalam was subsequently responsible for the evolution of ISRO’s (India’s equivalent of NASA) launch vehicle program. From 1992 to 1999, he was the Scientific Adviser to Defense Minister of India and Secretary, Department of Defense Research & Development. Dr. Kalam was President of India from 2002 to 2007. He is known for his work with students. His 79th birthday was recognized as “World Student’s Day” by the United Nations. According to a 2010 Readers Digest poll, he is one of the two most trusted men in India. Dr. Kalam has received numerous prestigious awards including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, and the 2013 Wernher von Braun Memorial award from the National Space Society. He currently serves as the Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Technology, the leading institution for producing new engineers and scientists for India’s space program. Read more about Dr. Kalam at his website.

National Space Society Reports on Annual Conference

The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) announced the conclusion of its 32nd International Space Development Conference (ISDC), which was held May 23-27, 2013 in San Diego, California.

Despite the slowdown in federal spending and travel restriction on government leaders and other personnel, the conference was among the biggest held by NSS. Over 800 participants from around the world, including approximately 400 students, took part in a wide range of field trips, discussions, and presentations.

Key focus areas included use of and protection against asteroids, living in space, breakthrough science and space technologies, emerging uses of space to improve life on Earth, and opportunities for lunar and Martian exploration. Attendees also focused on space and education. Discussions about space business and policy rounded out the agenda.

The conference was host to the world’s premier international forum on use of satellites to collect and beam energy to Earth, to provide clean, continuous electricity. This concept has been thoroughly studied for many years as an answer to the Earth’s long-term energy needs.

There was also an innovative set of presentations on the topic of how transhumanism can impact space settlement in the long term, by altering human beings to better survive and thrive in the space environment.

NSS took this occasion to formally release its latest Roadmap for Space Settlement and Development, a document that puts practically all space-related activities in context and explains how humanity can overcome the major expected barriers to growing our civilization into space.

A number of revolutionary developments were announced at the conference, including startling recent advances in growing stem cells in space and how they can be used.

A highlight of the Conference was a presentation by Dr. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, that proposed a multinational research program for a Livable World, with a focus on producing electricity in space from sunlight and beaming it back to Earth.  His speech is available here.

Another key element was a discussion by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin of innovative approaches to lunar and Martian human exploration and development, including new insights into concepts for interplanetary space travel.

A focus on the next generation was the reason the conference hosted the winners of a major international student design competition.  Student teams from many nations presented their designs for future space settlements and an international student space art contest. The students reveled in meeting their heroes and role models in the space community.

Achievements in space activity were recognized by the presentation of NSS Space Pioneer awards to Dr. Mae Jemison, Hon. Dana Rohrabacher, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Development team, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Team, and the Mars Science laboratory (Curiosity) Descent and Landing Team. Dr. Kalam received the Society’s prestigious  Werhner von Braun Memorial Award.

Clearly, the ISDC again proved itself to be unique among the world’s space conferences.

The Society plans to hold the 33rd ISDC in Los Angeles from May 23-27, 2014.

Dr. Abdul Kalam to Receive Von Braun Award at ISDC 2013

The National Space Society’s prestigious Wernher von Braun Memorial Award will be presented to Dr. Abdul Kalam on Friday, May 24 at the 2013 International Space Development Conference (ISDC). Held at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine Hotel in San Diego, CA, the ISDC will run from May 23-27, 2013.

Dr. Kalam will receive the award and be the Keynote speaker during Friday’s Gala and Governors Dinner, speaking on the subject SPACE SOLAR POWER: KEY TO A LIVEABLE PLANET EARTH. The National Space Society is honoring Dr. Kalam for his long-time work in and support of India’s space program, and his support for space development. Dr. Kalam’s life’s work parallels that of Dr. Wernher von Braun in many ways. India first developed rockets for military use, but Kalam, like von Braun, has been in the forefront of “turning missiles into space launch vehicles.” Gala tickets to hear Dr. Kalam’s keynote are available through the ISDC website.

India is now one of the world leaders in space research. In particular, NSS appreciates Dr. Kalam’s steadfast support for space based solar power, which is attracting attention as a potential major global energy and electricity source. An entire track at ISDC 2013 will highlight space solar power developments and initiatives.

About Dr. Abdul Kalam: Dr. Kalam was born in 1931 and raised in Rameswaram in the state of Tamil Nadu. He studied physics at St. Joseph’s College in Tiruchirappalli, and aerospace engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology (India’s MIT), in Chennai. Before his term as President, he worked as an aerospace engineer with India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and the Indian Space Research Organization. In his book, India 2020, Dr. Kalam advocated plans to foster India’s growth into a developed nation by 2020. He has also been involved in development of a coronary stent and a rugged tablet PC for use in rural areas.

After his term as 11th President of India (2002-2007), he continued to promote practical initiatives in space and on the ground. His work with students is especially important to India’s future. His support of both the Indian space program and specific space policies and agendas in the global sense, such as re-usable and advanced space launch systems, is rational, practical, and helps advance mankind’s unlimited future in space. Read more about Dr. Kalam at his web site.

About the Wernher von Braun Memorial Award: This award is given in odd-numbered years to recognize excellence in management of and leadership for a space-related project where the project is significant and successful and the manager has the loyalty of a strong team that he or she has created. The award was originally proposed in 1992 by National Space Society Awards Committee member Frederick I. Ordway III, a close associate of and co-author with Wernher von Braun. More information about the von Braun Award and past recipients can be found on the NSS Awards page.

Over 20 Exhibitors to Present at International Space Development Conference

Space advocacy organizations, educational institutions and companies from around the world are among the 22 groups which will be presenting as exhibitors at this year’s International Space Development Conference. The 2013 ISDC, the annual conference of the National Space Society and a premier event for space leaders and enthusiasts, will be held from May 23 – 27 at the La Jolla Hyatt Regency in San Diego, California.

The list of registered exhibitors includes:

  • International Space University, a graduate-level institution which has provided education and training to future leaders of the emerging global space community since 1987
  • Janet’s Planet, an Emmy-award-winning children’s educational television show airing on more than 140 public television stations nationwide
  • Space Micro, a San Diego-based company which provides radiation-hardened space electronics products to NASA, the US Air Force, and other space groups
  • Yuri’s Night, a global non-profit which celebrates humanity’s past, present and future in space each April at hundreds of parties and events around the world
  • Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), a student-run organization with over 30 chapters that uses education and outreach to promote space exploration
  • Nanosatisfi, a Bay Area space startup which offers convenient, affordable, on-demand access to space via shared satellites

“We’re very excited that such a diverse set of organizations will be presenting to the world at this year’s ISDC,” said ISDC Exhibits Coordinator Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto. “We’ve completely filled up our exhibitor hall, and we’re looking forward to seeing everybody in San Diego later this month.”

Registration for the International Space Development Conference, which includes astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and former President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as confirmed speakers, is available at isdc.nss.org/2013/register.shtml.

National Space Society Adds to Its Leadership Team

The National Space Society announces the selection of four new additions to its leadership team:  Dr. Stanley G. Rosen to the newly created position of Vice Chairman of the Society’s Board of Directors, Bruce Pittman as Senior Vice President and Senior Operating Officer, Dr. Paul Werbos as Executive Vice President and Chair of the Policy Committee, and Craig Andrew Max IV as Assistant Secretary.

In announcing the appointments, Kirby Ikin, Chairman of the Board, welcomed the experience these officers will bring to the Society, stating “The appointments will enable NSS to operate more efficiently and be better able to carry out its mission of providing grass roots support for space exploration, space settlement, and utilization of space resources down on Earth.”

Dr. Rosen, whose special role will be to coordinate the efforts of NSS senior leaders, is currently a Professor at the Department of Defense’s Defense Acquisition University.  Formerly be was a consultant with Toffler Associates, Director of Strategic Development and Integration for Boeing Satellite Systems, and Strategic Planning Director for the Hughes Defense Systems and Hughes Space and Communications organizations.  His previous work included scientific, engineering, program management, and strategy and policy development positions with the U.S. Air Force, and time on the staff of the Committee on Science and Astronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Bruce Pittman currently serves as Director of Flight Projects and Chief System Engineer at the Space Portal at NASA Ames Research Center.  In 2011, NASA awarded him the Exceptional Public Service Medal for “exceptional leadership in pioneering the development of commercial space for public benefit.”  He was a founder and member of the startup team in a number of early growth companies including Space Hab, Kistler Aerospace, New Focus, Product Factory, Prometheus II Ltd., and Industrial Sound and Motion.  He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Space Investment Summit Coalition.

Dr. Werbos is the Program Director in the Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research & Innovation at the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Since 1988, he has also led research in a variety of other NSF areas, including fuel cell and electric vehicles, emerging technologies, cyber systems, and the sustainability part of NSF Interdisciplinary Research.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) and the International Neural Network Society (INNS).  He is a winner of the IEEE’s Neural Networks Pioneer Award and of the INNS’s 2011 Hebb Award.  He is also serving on boards of NSS, Millennium Project, Lifeboat Foundation, and IEEE Energy Policy Committee.

Craig Max is an attorney with the law firm of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C., with offices in Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Woodbridge,Virginia.  Specializing in tax planning, including working with nonprofits, he also is a Certified Public Accountant and Board-certified as a Trust and Estate Practitioner by the International Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.  He has been designated a Fellow of the American Academy of Financial Management and named a Top Attorney by Northern Virginia magazine; a SmartCPA and a LegalElite by SmartCEO magazine; and a SmartCPA and a Legal Elite by Virginia Business magazine.  He is the author of numerous legal and accounting publications and holds an appointment as an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland.

Fuller biographies of these and other NSS officers may be found on the NSS website at www.nss.org/about/leadership.html.