Make Your Views on Space Heard

The National Space Society (NSS) cordially invites your participation in the 2017 Annual Alliance for Space Development (ASD) 2017 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

March Storm 2017 Legislative Blitz Update

To NSS Members and anyone who supports a Citizen’s Space Agenda (a message from NSS Executive Vice President Dale Skran):

I hope you all are having a good week. I wanted to give you all an update of where things stand on recruiting for March Storm 2017.

At this time there are 17 official registrations, with around 10 others verbally committed that are yet to register. There has  been a heavy emphasis on getting more students involved this year, and that is showing in the registration numbers so far, as almost all of those currently registered are students. We are seeing excellent support from universities around the country, with some providing travel money to allow students to participate.

The more students the better, but this is a shout-out to everyone else to sign up now. The sooner we know how many are coming, the more meetings we can set up. This is a critical time for the space program and we need your voice in Washington the week of March 12th!!

Although we are requesting a sign-up fee this year, students are free with an ID, and scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the fee.

Please forward/distribute this message as widely as possible. All those who support a Citizen’s Space Agenda are welcome to participate without regard to prior membership in any space related group.

As a reminder, here is a link to the March Storm registration page:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/march-storm-2017-tickets-31103425182

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Best Regards,

Dale Skran
NSS Executive VP
Chair, NSS Policy Committee
dale.skran@nss.org

March Storm Registration is now open

The Alliance for Space Development (ASD), the National Space Society (NSS), and the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) are sponsoring the annual March Storm Washington DC Blitz March 12-16, 2017.

This year we are requesting participants pay a $35 registration fee —students can register for free (you are asked to bring your student ID to the training session), and scholarships are available if you are unable to pay the fee.

We are using Eventbite, a popular and reliable service, to collect the fees. Eventbrite will walk you through the process and inform you how to apply for a scholarship.

Please send any questions to dale.skran@nss.org.

See you in Washington March 12!

Dale Skran,
NSS Executive VP & Chair of the NSS Policy Committee

The Kepler-K2 Team Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

The NASA Kepler and K2 Team is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category. This prestigious award will be presented to team representatives Charles K.Sobeck, Project Manager, and Dr. Natalie Batalha, Project Scientist, on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). This will be the 36th ISDC® and will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel. The conference will run from May 25-29, 2017.

Kepler Mission Team

NSS proudly presents this award in recognition of the massive amount of work carried out by the whole team to propose, design, launch and operate the Kepler and K2 missions and to analyze the resulting data over many years. It also recognizes all of the many volunteers who have been poring over the Kepler data to assist in finding planets around other stars.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at right, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, and the Rosetta Mission Team.

About the Kepler-K2 Mission and Team 

After no less than five mission proposals, starting in 1992, the Kepler mission was finally approved in December of 2001 as a Discovery Class mission. Launched on March 7, 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has returned an enormous database, recording the brightness variations of more than 160,000 stars and galaxies. In addition to the primary objective of detecting and characterizing the distribution of terrestrial-size exoplanets, the mission has revolutionized the field of asteroseismology – the study of stars through their intrinsic brightness variability – ushering in a new golden age of stellar astrophysics.

As of January, 2017, Kepler and the follow-on mission K2 have confirmed 2514 actual exoplanets out of 5216 planet candidates. Kepler has made a massive contribution to the ongoing effort to obtain a large statistical sample of exoplanets so that the frequency of each type of planet can be estimated. In addition, it has helped to revolutionize our understanding of what types of exoplanets and exoplanet systems actually exist.

NASA’s Ames Research Center manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. JPL managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Join the NSS Leadership Team – Apply by February 28

The National Space Society (NSS) is an open, democratic, grassroots organization where its members are directly involved in NSS operations and thus help shape the future. You are not only the heart and soul, but the legs and arms, of NSS. Respond now to become an active part of the Space Movement via any of our various committee or officer positions. We want you to be a part of the NSS leadership team. Help make the future happen.

The NSS 2017 Leadership Search Committee is seeking volunteer candidates with the time, talent, and motivation to serve as a member, Secretary, or Chair on an NSS operating committee. Superior candidates will also be considered for an Officer position. Apply by February 28 to be considered for a committee position, or January 28 to be considered for an Officer position.

See the full announcement for details and links to committee and officer descriptions.