Texas Home District Blitz Keeps Rolling

By Dale Skran, Chair, NSS Policy Committee

On October 30, 2017, a team of five NSS members met with local staff for Representative Babin (R-36), the Chair of the Space Subcommittee of the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee. Babin is one of the most important leaders in the space area in the House, and NSS rolled out a large team, including including Chapter President Eric Bowen, NSS Secretary Anita Gale, and David Cheuvront, a member of the Policy Committee. The meeting lasted two hours, which may be a record, and was very constructive. The “Make-up” Texas Home District Blitz will continue to target key Texas Representatives in the weeks ahead.


Photo: Clear Lake Area NSS members and constituents of Mr. Brian Babin (Texas R-36) who met with his space policy advisor Ms. Jeannie Kranz on October 30th. From left: Peter Brandt; Ms. Kranz; David Cheuvront; Anita Gale; Jim Akkerman. Credit: Eric Bowen, NSS Member.

National Space Society Governor Scott Pace Named to National Space Council as Executive Secretary

Scott PaceThe National Space Society (NSS) congratulates NSS Board of Governors member Dr. Scott Pace on his selection as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council on July 13th, 2017. Pace is the Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University. Towards the beginning of Dr. Pace’s long and storied career, he was the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the Policy Committee. Among his many contributions, he testified before the Congressional Space Committee.

“NSS looks forward to working with Dr. Pace in his new role as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council,” said Dale Skran, the current NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “Scott again joins the ranks of former NSS leaders such as Lori Garver and George Whitesides in holding a vital space-related government post. NSS is proud to have supported their careers as they developed as space leaders.”

The National Space Council will play an important role in the Executive Branch by coordinating space activities between NASA, Air Force and other agencies. NSS wishes Scott well in his new role in the Executive Branch. Meanwhile, NSS is active in advocating for space settlement in the Legislative Branch. This summer, NSS members around the country will visit Congress as they participate in the annual August Home District Blitz organized by the NSS-supported Alliance for Space Development. NSS members will be advocating for low-cost access to space, a robust cis-lunar economy, and funding for a space-based near-Earth asteroid detection telescope. Persons interested in participating can found out more information at tinyurl.com/2017AugustBlitzSignup.

“I am truly honored and a humbled by the President’s decision and I look forward to working for Vice President Pence in service to the nation,” said Scott Pace.

Dr. Pace served from 2005-2008 as the Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA. Before this, he was the Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lori Garver, NSS Executive Director 1989-1998, served as Deputy Administrator of NASA 2009-2013, and is currently the General Manager of the Airline Pilots Association. George Whitesides, NSS Executive Director 2004-2008, served as the Chief of Staff at NASA and is currently the CEO of Virgin Galactic.

“I think Scott’s background combining technology and policy as well as his experience with NASA and national security space is exactly the skill set needed for his new position,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to see the course that the National Space Council charts for America’s future in space.”

Mark Hopkins, the Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “During his younger days, Scott Pace was a major force in NSS for two decades. I have known him since the beginning of his involvement. He is a brilliant, tireless worker totally dedicated to humanity’s future in space. America is lucky to have him on the National Space Council.”

National Space Society Conducts Successful Annual Conference in St. Louis

ISDC2017

The International Space Development Conference® (ISDC® 2017) gathered people from all around the world to St. Louis, MO, to connect and share the latest breakthroughs in space development. ISDC 2017 is over, but the effect of the conference will continue for months to come.

ISDC2017With over 800 attendees, and an unprecedented number of international and youth participants, our message will have an important and meaningful impact on the space advocacy community and beyond. Our message focuses on how we can impact the future with people living and working in thriving communities beyond Earth, and using the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.

There were a number of major figures from the space community present, including many that our members have come to know well through the pages of Ad Astra and the NSS newsletters. Notable among our keynote speakers were Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration Operations Directorate; Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency; Natalie Batalha, Kepler Mission Scientist; Dr. Linda Godwin, retired NASA Astronaut and University of Missouri-Columbia Physics Professor; and Andy Aldrin, Director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute.

It is interesting to note that Time magazine named Natlie Batalha, NASA’s Kepler project scientist searching for other worlds, to the Time 100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people on Earth.

The rostrum also hosted two Lieutenant Generals with stellar spaceflight credentials: Tom Stafford, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and Steven Kwast, Commander and President, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Their messages may have come from a military perspective, but spoke of a future beneficial to all involved.

Stafford delivered a rousing talk on his perspectives as an astronaut and his take on our future in the final frontier. Stafford was emphatic about what our country can do when challenged. During the space race, Launch Complex 39, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Saturn V Moon rocket, Apollo Command Module, and Lunar Module were all created from whole cloth in less than six years. These machines, and the people who designed and built them, enabled the greatest journeys of exploration in human history. Stafford advocated strongly for the maintenance of American supremacy in space.

General Stafford Panel Discussion at ISDC 2017
General Stafford Panel Discussion at ISDC 2017

The second blue-suiter, General Steven Kwast, provided similarly inspirational testimony about the imperative for our nation to maintain the high ground—not for war, but to maintain peace. Kwast’s moving speech inspired attendees to look towards maintaining a leadership position in the protection of our precious planet, currently challenged not just politically but environmentally as well. His speech was a voice of restraint and stability in an age of great uncertainty. Representing the old and new guard of Air Force leadership, both men are emblematic of the continued strong and enlightened command of the United States Air Force and its continuing quest to ensure the peaceful exploration and utilization of space for the betterment of all humanity.

ISDC2017.3

One of the most rewarding activities was the networking between adult attendees and the pre-university students participating in the the NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest. Worldwide student teams came to ISDC 2017 to showcase their concepts for orbital space settlements and they brought visionary ideas on how future populations might live and work in space. Attendees were able to engage with the students at their poster presentations and many were impressed with the students’ understanding of the challenges and the innovative ideas they had in order to conquer space settlement.

ISDC2017

Many of the students also brought models, several made using 3D printing, to highlight their concepts. Teams from China, India, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria and more shared their enthusiasm for space and the enthusiasm was contagious.

We at NSS feel that ISDC 2017 and the passion of our attendees will make a difference to achieving space development and settlement. NSS extends a huge thank you to everyone who helped make ISDC 2017 a success! Everyone had a fabulous time, met new friends, and learned new things.
NSS is pleased to announce that our exciting ISDC programming will not end with the conclusion of ISDC 2017 as the National Space Society is looking forward to the Space Settlement Summit to take place in Los Angeles, October 24-28. At this invitation-only summit, NSS will bring together space leaders to discuss living and working in space in a thriving space economy.

High School Students Take on Challenge to Design World’s First Science-Fiction Inspired Spacecraft

Enterprise In Space and SpaceWorks Partner to
Provide the Opportunity with ASTRO Program

SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. hosted a summer program specifically geared for high school students, challenging them to design the NSS Enterprise spacecraft envisioned by Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS). The students had access to numerous resources, including the expertise of SpaceWorks and EIS staff. After completion of their project, the team presented their proposed design, budget, and methods of atmospheric re-entry to SpaceWorks, EIS, teachers, and parents.

The SpaceWorks program is called ASTRO, or Aerospace Summer Training & Research Opportunity, a project-oriented experience during which participants work in teams to solve an aerospace engineering design problem. This wasTeam 8, consisting of six students, and their session started in early June.

ASTRO Team 8 with Their 3D Printed Version of NSS Enterprise
ASTRO Team 8 with Their 3D Printed Version of NSS Enterprise

“ASTRO has been a wonderful way for SpaceWorks to see first-hand the potential that high school students in our community have to offer. We thoroughly enjoy working with the students and look forward each summer to the amazing ideas they come up with. Partnering with EIS for ASTRO this year has been a great experience for both us and the Team 8 students. Team 8 has been inspired by the work of EIS and they are genuinely honored to be part of the NSS Enterprise design process,” says Ashley Russ, Director of the ASTRO Program for SpaceWorks.

It was a tough challenge! The NSS Enterprise must be designed to carry a minimum of 100 student experiments, survive its launch into space aboard a rocket or space plane and its return to Earth. It must also be able to communicate results of some experiments from space as well as protect those experiments whose results can only be obtained once returned safely to Earth. Avionics, communications, structures, and all the engineering disciplines had to be considered.

Adding the liberal arts into the mix, some Team 8 members prepared artistic designs that can be used for promotion by the EIS team. EIS values the Arts portion of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education.

Bill Miller, the CEO of Deep Space Industries, another EIS partner, stopped by SpaceWorks to lend his expertise to help students to understand some of the NSS Enterprise systems. He discussed DSI’s Comet water-based thruster for possible use in orbital maneuvering of the NSS Enterprise. About the students, Bill said, “I was incredibly impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm of these students. They are entering the space industry at perhaps the most exciting time in our history, and will have the opportunity to make a significant difference in how humans move beyond the confines of our fragile planet.”

ASTRO Team 8
ASTRO Team 8

“We are all thrilled that SpaceWorks has selected Enterprise In Space for the ASTRO program. It’s great to see the students take on the challenge and to see the interest and excitement they have shown in going into aerospace careers,” said Shawn Case, EIS founder. “May they succeed in their future endeavors and become the aerospace engineers and astronauts that take us to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. I would also like to express my gratitude to SpaceWorks for all of the kind assistance they have donated to the Enterprise In Space program.”

SpaceWorks Enterprises has been a member of the EIS team since 2015 and looks forward to what the future will bring for the EIS orbiter. “I am pleased to have the SpaceWorks ASTRO program among our partners and sponsors. EIS fundraising is underway and if you are interested in helping NSS/EIS carry out our mission of educating the workforce of tomorrow, we’d love to add you to our team,” says Alice Hoffman, NSS President and EIS Program Manager.

Make Your Views on Space Heard

The National Space Society (NSS) cordially invites your participation in the 2017 Annual Alliance for Space Development (ASD) August Home District Blitz congressional action event. During the blitz, local groups will arrange to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the August recess to increase awareness about space related issues. Briefing materials will be provided on topics such as Ultra Low Cost Access to Space initiatives, legislation to enable Cislunar commercialization, making space settlement part of the mission of NASA, and support for planetary defense. The August Home District Blitz is free and open to all; invite your space-interested friends.

Signup is via a form at tinyurl.com/2017AugustBlitzSignup. After submitting the form you will receive an email with further instructions.  Please direct any questions to August Blitz Chair Amador Salinas at asalinas@allianceforspacedevelopment.org or NSS Policy Chair Dale Skran at dale.skran@nss.org. You can find information on past August Blitzes at nss.org/legislative.

See draft talking points for the 2017 August Blitz. Final talking points for printing should be available by mid-July.

National Space Society and Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers Celebrate the Team’s First Place Victory in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge

The National Space Society (NSS) is very pleased to announce that the team it has been actively supporting in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers has placed first and won one of the three Cube Quest Challenge flight slots on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) scheduled for launch in 2019. The team is led by Dr. Mason Peck and their spacecraft are planned for lunar orbit.

“We at NSS are very excited that the Cislunar Explorers team will be given an opportunity for the first-time in-space demonstration of electrolyzed water propulsion and an autonomous optical space navigation technology,” said Dr. Dean Larson, NSS Director and volunteer member of the team. “These groundbreaking technologies will prove to be very important in opening and settling space and are to be made available open-source to the space community,” he said.

NASA's Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, Steve Jurczyk, Benjamin Fried of team CU-E3, Kyle Doyle of team Cislunar Explorers, Wesley Faler of Team Miles, and NASA's Ames Research Center Director, Eugene Tu. Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart
NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, Steve Jurczyk, Benjamin Fried of team CU-E3, Kyle Doyle of team Cislunar Explorers, Wesley Faler of Team Miles, and NASA’s Ames Research Center Director, Eugene Tu. Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart

“We’re thrilled to be selected for launch on SLS,” said Dr. Mason Peck.”This spacecraft represents a step toward democratizing space exploration. NASA’s support here marks an important difference between the agency’s contemporary approach to human space and what we saw during the Apollo era: NASA is embracing collaboration, inviting perspectives and technical solutions from all across the nation–private companies or universities exploring on their own terms. We’re all in it together,” he said.

In addition to the rides, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded $20,000 each in prize money, to the winning teams of citizen solvers competing in the fourth and final ground-test round of the agency’s Cube Quest Challenge.

As part of their involvement in the team, NSS has designed an integrated test and evaluation plan and software verification guidance that will be used to help ensure correct functioning of spacecraft systems. NSS has also coordinated a space act agreement with NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and is helping to coordinate an agreement with the Goohilly Earth Station in Cornwall, England to verify our spacecraft will have achieved lunar orbit.

NSS Director and Team Member Dean Larson holds the Cislunar Explorers Spacecraft in the Cornell University Clean Room
NSS Director and Team Member Dean Larson holds the Cislunar Explorers Spacecraft in the Cornell University Clean Room

The unique aspects of the spacecraft are summarized on the team website as: “The Cislunar Explorers spacecraft leverage simple physics and symbiosis between several subsystems. The concept is a single rectangular 6U structure that splits into two L-shaped spinning spacecraft with a spring loaded separation mechanism. Each Explorer has a tank of water in the bottom of the “L,” off-center from the spin axis. That water is electrolyzed, using power generated from solar panels, into a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas–excellent rocket propellant. The spacecraft spin helps separate the combustible gas from the inert water like a centrifuge.” See the Cislunar Explorers website for more details about the spacecraft. (http://cislunarexplorers.wordpress.com)

According to NASA, once deployed from SLS, the CubeSats will vie for a share of a $5 million prize in the first-ever competition in cislunar and deep space. The three Cube Quest Challenge teams launching on SLS are:

  • Cislunar Explorers, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • CU-E3, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado
  • Team Miles, Fluid & Reason, LLC, Tampa, Florida

“We are delighted in the profound achievements of these teams,” said Steve Jurczyk, STMD associate administrator. “Each team has pushed the boundaries of technology and innovation. Now, it’s time to take this competition into space – and may the best CubeSat win.”

Also from NASA: “The final phase of the Cube Quest Challenge comprises two segments: the Deep Space Derby and the Lunar Derby. In the Deep Space Derby, teams must demonstrate communications capabilities from a range of at least four million kilometers from Earth – more than 10 times the distance to the Moon – while the Lunar Derby requires teams to achieve a lunar orbit where they will compete for near-Earth communications and longevity achievements. Prizes will be awarded for orbiting the Moon, communicating the fastest and farthest, and surviving the longest.

The Cube Quest Challenge offers a total of $5 million, NASA’s largest-ever competition prize purse, to teams that meet the challenge objectives of designing, building and delivering flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the Moon.”

NSS will provide updates as the project completes its milestones towards flight. Congratulations to our Cislunar Explorers!

Reference links:

NSS project page:
http://www.nss.org/about/projects/cislunarexplorers.html

Cislunar Explorers
https://cislunarexplorers.wordpress.com

Reference photos:

Spacecraft Design. Left: Launch Configuration. Right: Two Redundant Spacecraft Separating
Spacecraft Design. Left: Launch Configuration. Right: Two Redundant Spacecraft Separating

Better than new: SpaceX’s reused Dragon launch another milestone in private space development

Member of the NSS Policy Committee David Cheuvront, a retired NASA engineer and risk-analysis expert, was interviewed at the ISDC by Downlink.co (unrelated to the NSS publication Ad Astra Downlink) about the first Dragon re-use on the CRS-11 launch by SpaceX.

“As their program evolved, I saw that [SpaceX] was doing a lot of the same things that our Next Generation Launch Technology program wanted to do but we were never allowed to, like having extra design margins on the structure, or having [greater] engine-out capabilities than we could have,” Cheuvront told The Downlink. “The big one was basically taking a crew-configured vehicle and launching cargo with it several times. Instead of trying to do some dedicated tests on it, as few tests as you could convince yourself was reasonable — to gain the confidence to put a crew in it, or maybe just put a crew in it the first time — instead, they were kind of steadily working up to it, demonstrating it with cargo so that if you lost it, it wasn’t human life.”

See full story on The Downlink.

A Stellar ISDC, with Six Silver Stars

By Rod Pyle

The 2017 International Space Development Conference is over, but the effect of the conference will continue for months to come. With over 800 attendees, and an unprecedented number of international and youth participants, our message will have an important and meaningful impact on the space advocacy community and beyond.

There were a number of major figures from the space community present, including many you have come to know well through the pages of Ad Astra and the NSS newsletters. Notable among them were Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration Operations Directorate, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency, and Andy Aldrin, Director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute. The rostrum also hosted two Lieutenant Generals with stellar spaceflight credentials: Tom Stafford, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and Steven Kwast, Commander and President, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Their messages may have come from a military perspective, but they spoke of a future beneficial to all involved.

Stafford delivered a rousing talk on his perspectives as an astronaut and his take on our future in the final frontier. A veteran of two Gemini flights, he first flew on Gemini 6 with Wally Schirra, and then aboard Gemini 9 with Gene Cernan. He then flew on Apollo 10 with Cernan, experiencing the first lunar emergency when their Lunar Module spun out of control during a low-altitude test flight over the lunar surface:  When he jettisoned the descent stage of the lunar module, the ascent stage went into a spin, coming dangerously close to the surface before he recovered control through his deft piloting skills. His final spaceflight was aboard the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the final flight of the Apollo program, which lasted nine days. Shortly after arriving in orbit, his Apollo Command Module docked with a Soviet Soyuz capsule, and for 44 hours the two crews shared food and the camaraderie of brothers in space during the height of the cold war.

Stafford was emphatic about what our country can do when challenged. During the space race, Launch Complex 39, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Saturn V Moon rocket, Apollo Command Module, and Lunar Module were all created from whole cloth in less than six years. These machines, and the people who designed and built them, enabled the greatest journeys of exploration in human history. Stafford advocated strongly for the maintenance of American supremacy in space.

The second blue-suiter, General Steven Kwast, provided similarly inspirational testimony about the imperative for our nation to maintain the high ground—not for war, but to maintain peace. Kwast’s moving speech inspired attendees to look towards maintaining a leadership position in the protection of our precious planet, currently challenged not just politically but environmentally as well. His speech was a voice of restraint and stability in an age of great uncertainty.

Representing the old and new guard of Air Force leadership, both men are emblematic of the continued strong and enlightened command of the United States Air Force and its continuing quest to ensure the peaceful exploration and utilization of space for the betterment of all humanity.

March Storm 2017: NSS Winds Blow into DC

2017 March Storm

March 12-16, 2017
By Dale L. Skran, NSS Executive Vice President

March Storm is the primary Washington, D.C., legislative blitz for the Alliance for Space Development (ASD) and its two founding member organizations, the National Space Society (NSS) and the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF). During the month of March, a group of unpaid volunteers met in Washington, D.C. to advocate for policies and legislation that support the development and settlement of space. The advocates focused on the ASD’s agenda for the year, and met with as many congressional offices, committee staffers, and other relevant agencies as possible in a four-day period.

March Storm 2017 took place from Sunday, March 12 through Thursday, March 16. On Sunday March 12, volunteers participated in an intensive training session from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., where they were introduced to ASD, SFF, and NSS leadership, briefed on the ASD agenda and talking points, coached on conducting meetings with legislators, and engaged in role play scenarios.  Over 90 meetings supported by 30 participants were held March 13-16, 2017, but all meetings the morning of Tuesday, March 14 were canceled due to a snowstorm.

The ASD 2017 campaign has the following goals:

  1. Establish an Ultra Low Cost Access to Space (ULCATS) program based on public-private partnership
  2. Ensure a gapless transition from ISS to private space stations in LEO, with NASA assisting with development and serving as an early customer
  3. Enable the development of a robust cislunar economy based on commercial purchase of:
    A. Transportation services for crew and cargo
    B. Fuel and consumables derived from lunar and asteroid resources
    C. Goods manufactured in space
  4. Make space development and settlement part of NASA’s official mission

The primary area of focus for March Storm is meetings with congressional offices. Teams of volunteers—typically between two and five people—hold meetings with as many offices as can be managed over the space of four days to advocate for the ASD agenda. Most of these meetings are with a congressional staffer, preferably one focused on space, science, and/or technology. In some instances, a meeting with the actual legislator can occur. Notably, meetings were held with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) this year, who is the primary sponsor of the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act (SEDS), and with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

2017 March Storm
L to R: Paul Corda, Angelica Gould, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

March Storm attempts to meet with the staffers specifically assigned to committees of relevance to the ASD agenda. Meetings were held with majority staffers for the following committees:

  • Senate Committee on Appropriations – Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
  • House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (Authorization) -Subcommittee on Space
  • Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Authorization) – Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness

The area of focus this year was the House Subcommittee on Space. A group of March Storm advocates met with the four majority staffers for the committee. The meeting was also joined by Dr. Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at The George Washington University and member of the NSS Board of Governors, and lasted nearly two hours.

2017 March Storm
Meeting with majority staffers from the House Subcommittee on Space. Photo Credit: Richard Dowling.

Prior to March Storm, NSS distributed petitions supporting the annual ASD campaign to its membership. They were asked to sign and date the petition, and then mail it back to NSS headquarters to be distributed to the representatives and senators for each member. These petitions were sorted and grouped at NSS headquarters, and then distributed during March Storm. Petitions addressed to representatives and senators with whom there were scheduled meetings were delivered at the same time. Petitions for those who were not scheduled were delivered in brief drop-offs, some of which resulted in impromptu meetings with staffers. This activity was a great success during the 2017 March Storm, with very close to 100 percent petition delivery, and a large number of business cards for space staffers were collected.

Paul Corda (left) and Dale Skran (right) following a meeting with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
Paul Corda (left) and Dale Skran (right) following a meeting with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

Space Exploration Alliance Blitz in Washington

NSS members supported the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) DC Blitz (Feb. 26-28) this year. A major theme of this year’s blitz was to pass the NASA Transition Act of 2017, something NSS has been contributing to over the last year. The picture shows “Team 11” of the SEA Blitz meeting with Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, 2nd district. Left to right are Bill Gardiner (NSS), Timothy Wilkes (Planetary Society), Rep. Sanford, Joi Spraggins (Society of Black Engineers), and Dale Skran (NSS Executive VP).

SEA Blitz