The Gravity of the National Space Society’s Vision

Thorne award
NSS Executive Committee Chairman Mark Hopkins Presents Space Pioneer Award to Dr. Kip Thorne

We, the members of the National Space Society, believe exploring the unknown is one of the things that drives our vision of “people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.” The recent discovery of gravitational waves by NSS Space Pioneer award recipient Dr. Kip Thorne is another giant leap forward.

We are very proud and honored to congratulate the amazing achievement of our NSS member Dr. Kip Thorne for his leading involvement in the creation of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) project. LIGO’s recent world-changing detection of the existence of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein a century ago in his General Relativity Theory is opening new eyes on the cosmos and the doors that will bring humanity closer to the NSS vision!

Regarding the grand NSS vision, Dr. Thorne remarked, “I think that it’s clear that it is attainable to colonize the solar system. Getting beyond the solar system is going to be exceedingly difficult. We are going to either require a lot of brute force over a period of several centuries or else a brilliant idea that none of us has grasped yet. The first thing is the solar system, but we have not been moving at anything like the pace that we could or we should.”

Thorne at ISDC

Dr. Thorne was honored at the National Space Society’s 2015 International Space Development Conference® (ISDC) in Toronto, Canada for his work with the movie Interstellar and spoke not only to the conference participants, but also to more than 400 Space Settlement Design Contest winning students from around the world.

Thorn at ISDC
At the Toronto ISDC, Dr. Thorne visited with the students, viewing their Space Settlement Design Contest poster presentations, and posing for group photos with the winners. Here is Dr. Thorne with a winning team from Romania.

The ISDC, which brings together and engages students, scientists, business leaders, space industry stakeholders, families, policy makers and people from all walks of life, is held annually at different locations. This year it will be held at the surprisingly inexpensive location of San Juan, Puerto Rico! By attending ISDC Puerto Rico, you’ll be able to meet a whole new batch of winning space settlement students, the latest Space Pioneer Award winners like Pluto New Horizon’s Alan Stern, NASA center director Elen Ochoa, and Blue Origin’s president Rob Meyerson.

Here’s a quick look of what the ISDC 2016 holds for its attendees:

When asked during an interview at the ISDC how pleased Dr. Thorne was to see that this type of conference, exists, he replied, “Well I think it’s very wonderful, particularly getting the young people involved around the world and being an inspiration for them. It’s very important for the future of science and the future of space.”

About the Gravity Wave Discovery

On February 11, 2016, a team of four physicists using LIGO announced that they had heard and recorded in September 2015 the gravitational wave motion of two black holes colliding 1.3 billion light-years away. The announcement team included Kip Thorne, David Reitze, Gabriela González, and Rainer Weiss.

Gravity waves

This is the first time scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime, called gravitational waves, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. Dr. Thorne’s work has dealt with the prediction of gravity-wave strengths and their temporal signatures as observed on Earth. Dr. Thorne cofounded the LIGO Project in 1984 to discern and measure any fluctuations between two or more ‘static’ points on Earth. Such fluctuations would be evidence of gravitational waves. The specter of gravitational waves will show us the universe in a brand new light.

“With this discovery, we humans are embarking on a marvelous new quest: the quest to explore the warped side of the universe — objects and phenomena that are made from warped spacetime. Colliding black holes and gravitational waves are our first beautiful examples,” says Dr. Thorne.

NSS congratulates Professor Kip Thorne and the entire LIGO team for the confirmed detection of Gravitational Waves and his support of the National Space Society, it’s ISDCs, and projects like Enterprise In Space!

NSS Pays Tribute to Late NSS Governor Dr. Marvin Minsky, A Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence

Marvin MinskyThe National Space Society pays tribute to Dr. Marvin Minsky, a pioneer of artificial intelligence, who served as a long-time member of the NSS Board of Governors, and was involved in the original merger of the L5 Society and the National Space Institute to create the National Space Society.  Dr. Minsky was very involved in early NSS activities and was part of many NSS space policy projects such as the 1981 “Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy.” He attended Board of Governors meetings and participated in NSS’s annual International Space Development Conference®. He died on January 14 in Boston from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 88 years old.

Marvin was also the thesis advisor for current NSS Governor K. Eric Drexler, a pioneer in the field of nanotechnology and an early activist who helped start NSS.

Hugh Downs, Chair of the NSS Board of Governors, said, “Marvin Minsky was a bright light in the arena of accelerating knowledge in modern physics. Where many of us plodded along to keep up with these changes, he seemed to always manage to be even with them. He will be sorely missed by those who worked with him and knew him well.”

Marvin Minsky was Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research led to both theoretical and practical advances in artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, neural networks, the theory of Turing Machines and recursive functions. He made other contributions in the domains of graphics, symbolic mathematical computation, knowledge representation, computational semantics, machine perception, and both symbolic and connectionist learning. He was also involved with advanced technologies for exploring space.

In October 2015, the MIT Media Lab presented Marvin with a gift in honor of his lifetime commitment to MIT students. “What a beautiful thing. What does it do?” he asked, when studying the world’s first 3D-printed clear glass object. View the presentation here:

The report from the Citizens Advisory Council, in which Marvin participated, was titled Space: The Crucial Frontier and includes this preamble:

“Space is potentially our most valuable national resource. A properly developed space program can go far toward restoring national pride while developing significant and possibly decisive military and economic advantages. In exploring space we will rediscover frontiers and more than frontiers; we can rediscover progress. The exploitation of space will have far reaching historical significance. The statesmen who lead mankind permanently to space will be remembered when Isabella the Great and Columbus are long forgotten.” (

Today, NSS is vigorously promoting our expansion into space.  We are engaging with the international community via collaborations, tracks at our annual International Space Development Conference, and articles in Ad Astra and in major international publications. NSS volunteers today maintain the Space Settlement Nexus ( in carrying forward Marvin Minsky’s vision.

International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2016

The National Space Society invites you to come to ISDC 2016, where you’ll be immersed in bleeding-edge technologies and bold business models, rub shoulders with astronauts, and meet those able to help accelerate your own efforts to reach beyond borders…and beyond Earth.

The International Space Development Conference (ISDC) is the preeminent gathering place for people all around the world who seek to accelerate our pursuits beyond Earth. The conference brings together aerospace-industry leaders and startups, space exploration pioneers, academic thought leaders, and space supporters young and old – all united by a common goal to explore and develop space for the benefit of humankind.

With a theme of “Space Beyond Borders,” ISDC 2016 will be held in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. International attendees will engage with a young, bilingual, educated, local workforce eager to increase its engagement in global space development efforts. Our theme also celebrates the increasingly collaborative, multidisciplinary, and interconnected nature of space development in the twenty-first century. Furthermore, “Space Beyond Borders” presents current space programs, cutting-edge aerospace technology and innovative projects and features astronauts and other pioneers.


New Horizons Team Wins the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

Ten years ago today, a bold mission launched on humankind’s first journey to Pluto. The New Horizons Team, which conducted the stunningly successful mission to and flyby of Pluto, is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering. The team is led by the Southwest Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. This award will be presented at the National Space Society’s 2016 International Space Development Conference® ( It will be accepted by Dr. Alan Stern, the Team’s Principal Investigator and two other member of the mission team, Mission Systems Engineer Chris Hersman, and Deputy Project Scientist Dr. Leslie Young, on May 20, 2016. This will be the 35th ISDC and will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel. The conference will run from May 18-22, 2016.

Pluto senset
Pluto sunset

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 left, 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 Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988.

About the New Horizons Team and its Mission to Pluto

This Award recognizes the team’s success in conducting a mission that has lasted now over a decade, starting with the launch on Jan 19, 2006. Humanity went from seeing just a tiny dot of light to seeing a complex, geologically active world in just a few days during the flyby on July 14, 2015. Maintaining the spacecraft as it continues to send back more images is still a critically important task. Displaying a wide range of terrains, Pluto has been revealed to have multiple active processes on its surface, with huge ice mountains possibly floating in a probably deep sea of soft, deformable nitrogen ice. There may be liquid nitrogen deeper beneath the surface. The ice has formed large arctic polygon-like convection cells covering wide areas of icy plains, which are very young and totally free of impact craters. In some areas, nitrogen glaciers flow out of the mountains into the icy plains. Real water ice volcanoes may also have finally been found. Pluto’s thin but compact atmosphere sports amazingly high haze layers and the rate of atmosphere loss is much lower than expected. Many other types of spectacularly patterned terrains are still unexplained, and as more images are returned from the spacecraft, Pluto and Charon’s very different forms of “geology” will continue to be a major scientific topic for years to come. This mission has generated the largest public interest of any NASA mission in recent years, has completed NASA’s 50 year long quest to reconnoiter all of the planets known at the start of the Space Age, and represents the furthest exploration of a world by humanity.

About the NSS Video New Horizons

On July 14th, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons mission made its closest approach to the Pluto system, completing the first reconnaissance of the Solar System, begun over 50 years ago by NASA.

Interviews of NSS Chairman Mark Hopkins

Mark HopkinsMark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee, was interviewed on The Space Show on January 4 on the subject of space settlement in general and interstellar space settlement in particular. You can download the 90-minute program here:

You can hear other interviews of Mark conducted by Dr. Karl Hricko on the show “Contours” on member-supported public radio station WNTI operated by Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ.:

Mark was also on a special edition of The Space Show in March 2007:

National Space Society Partners with Voices From L5: A Space Settlement Podcast

The National Space Society is proud to announce its partnership with Voices From L5. This exciting new podcast will open new discussions on space settlement, focusing on the humanities and social sciences, and educate the public on the science of space settlement. Space settlement is the concept of humankind moving our economy into space, with people living and working in space.

Voices from L5
NSS vice president for Public Affairs Lynne Zielinski said, “We are thrilled to strengthen our online community and outreach by branching into the vibrant world of podcasts, and we are very excited to be working with Voices From L5. This podcast project will explore topics such as law, art, politics and sociology to generate excitement among a whole new generation of space settlement enthusiasts.”

Voices From L5 was founded in early 2015 and has already reached hundreds of new science fans by making space settlement topics accessible and interesting for non-experts.

To learn more about Voices From L5 visit:

For previous podcasts visit:

Made In Space Teams with Enterprise In Space to 3D Print First Space-Bound Airframe

Enterprise In Space (EIS), an international project of the non-profit National Space Society, is excited to announce a partnership with Made In Space, Inc. to extensively use 3D printed components in a spacecraft to be launched into Earth orbit. This educational spacecraft will be the first real spacecraft bearing the “Enterprise” name. Once in orbit, the NSS Enterprise will not only be the first 3D printed airframe in space, but it will also carry more than 100 passive and active student experiments into space and back to Earth.

After selecting the design concept for the spacecraft through the Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest, EIS is now preparing to bring the winning design, created by video game artist Stanley Von Medvey, to reality. Made In Space and the EIS engineering team, along with the EIS aerospace partners SpaceWorks Enterprise Inc., Deep Space Industries, Terminal Velocity Aerospace and The Global Aerospace Corporation will work toward constructing the eight-foot-long, 1,000-pound satellite. Made In Space co-founder and chief engineer Michael Snyder has also joined the EIS Board of Advisors, where he will lend his expertise to the engineering of the NSS Enterprise and overseeing the educational Enterprise Center for Excellence on Aerospace Additive Manufacturing based on the project.

Made In Space
Alice Hoffman, Mike Snyder and Lynne Zielinski with EIS 3D Printed Model

Once complete, the NSS Enterprise will be the first 3D printed airframe bound for space, where it will likely achieve other firsts. The spacecraft will house space-focused projects from students at all educational levels hailing from all over the world. NSS Enterprise will communicate with the students about the status of their experiments using natural language via ‘Ali,’ a cloud-based artificial intelligence platform designed by Value Spring Technology, Inc. “Ali will be the voice and mind of the NSS Enterprise, communicating with her virtual crew just as the computer aboard the Star Trek ships did, in natural language, through the student teams’ own internet terminals,” said EIS Program Manager Alice Hoffman. “Through the EIS project, we hope to demonstrate that Ali can become a personal tutor and mentor to every student, allowing them to see the vision of a brighter future and providing them with the education to fully participate,” she said.

The Enterprise In Space vehicle itself is an incredible technical challenge that will push the barriers of additive manufacturing and spacecraft design. The fully integrated vehicle will be unique and truly groundbreaking for the type of mission that is being undertaken. “Made In Space is excited to be a part of this great effort to engage with students from across the world through real experiments that will be flown in space on the NSS Enterprise spacecraft,” said Made In Space Co-Founder and Chief Engineer Michael Snyder.

“The EIS team is thrilled to be partnering with Made In Space,” said Shawn Case, Enterprise In Space founder and chairman of the Board of Advisors. “It’s a great fit, as we all work together to support and foster education. We share the same goal of enabling humanity’s future in space. As Carl Sagan once said, ‘Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works,'” he said.

While EIS has secured $27.5 million in “in-kind” donations for the project, the organization will rely partially on public donations for the construction and launch of the orbiter. In addition to supporting student education, individuals who contribute will become virtual crew members by having their names sent into space and returned to Earth for display at a major museum. Larger donations from corporations, individuals, and foundations will be rewarded with branding rights for the spacecraft and the tutoring AI that will also be the voice and mind of the NSS Enterprise.

The next phase of the design process is for the engineering development and specifications to be made from Von Medvey’s design. Then construction on the vehicle can officially begin. EIS will also host international challenges to begin selecting K-12 and university experiments to be installed aboard the spacecraft. People may follow the progress of this historic EIS project – from winning entry, through engineering design, to construction and flight – at

National Space Society 35th annual International Space Development Conference ISDC2016

The Puerto Rico National Space Society Chapter (NSS-PR) invites you to the National Space Society 35th annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC): “Space Beyond Borders” to be held at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino from Wednesday, May 18th to Sunday, May 22nd, 2016.

ISDC 2016: “Space Beyond Borders” presents current space programs, cutting-edge aerospace technology and innovative projects and features astronauts and other space pioneers. It brings together aerospace industry leaders, engineers, startups, space exploration pioneers, academic thought leaders, and space supporters young and old – all united by a common goal to explore and develop space for the benefit of humankind. ISDC will host tracks on different topics pertaining to Planetary Defense, Energy, Space Access, Space Resources, Deep Space Exploration, Commercial Space, Space Settlement besides others. Special speakers include Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Director at Johnson Space Center Ellen Ochoa, and serial astropreneur Rick Tumlinson among many others.

You will have the opportunity to tour the world’s largest radio telescope, the Arecibo Observatory and embark in the exploration of the Camuy Caves carved out by the third largest underground river in the world.

ISDC 2016 will host receptions every day. On Friday, May 20 join Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of the New Horizons Mission to Pluto at the Governor’s Dinner and on Saturday, May 21 join Dr. Ling Ming, Vice President of the China Academy of Space Technology at the Gala Dinner.

We invite you to visit our website for more information and registration:

Help Support Space with the 2016 February Blitz and March Storm

By Dale Skran, Chair, NSS Policy Committee

February 21-23, 2016 SEA Blitz

NSS will be participating in the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2016 legislative Blitz.  During the SEA Blitz teams of up to four space advocates from various organizations visit Congressional offices in Washington, DC. NSS encourages all members to sign up for and participate in the SEA Blitz as described at

We are currently planning on holding a special dinner for NSS members only on the evening of Sunday, February 21st, following the SEA training session. Dale Skran, Chair of the NSS Policy Committee will be coordinating NSS members. Please send him a short email message at indicating you plan to participate in the Blitz and whether you will be attending the Sunday evening NSS dinner.

Also, when registering for the SEA Blitz we request that you answer the last question by saying that you will represent NSS. SEA includes groups ranging from NSS and Explore Mars to AIAA, the Moon Society, the Mars Society, the Planetary Society, the National Society of Black Engineers, SEDS, and Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation.  The major goal of the SEA Blitz from an NSS perspective is to provide as much support for the NASA budget as possible during these difficult budgetary times. Now is the time to stand up for space and be counted. I look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC, February 21-23, 2016.

March 13-17, 2016 SFF/NSS/ASD March Storm   

If February in Washington DC is too cold for you, consider joining the MARCH STORM Congressional action event sponsored by the Space Frontier Foundation, NSS, and the Alliance for Space Development (ASD) from March 13-17, 2016. ASD includes groups like the Space Frontier Foundation, NSS, the Lifeboat Foundation, The Mars Foundation, The Mars Society, the Space Development Foundation, the Space Development Steering Committee, the Space Tourism Society, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, Students on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party in Space, and the Texas Space Alliance. You can find out more about ASD at

MARCH STORM is more focused on commerce and development than the SEA Blitz, and is an integrated part of a year-long legislative campaign managed by ASD that is designed for maximum legislative effectiveness. You can expect topics being pushed to include items like a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and supporting a gapless transition from the ISS to commercial space stations.  The basic commitment is to a training session on Sunday, March 13, and to one day on the Hill on March 14th. Supporters with more time can join additional Congressional visits on March 15/16/17. If you are interested, register at I plan on joining the MARCH STORM, and look forward to seeing you there.

March 21-25, 2016 SFF/NSS/ASD 2016 March Storm Home District Blitz

This year we are also organizing the 2016 March Storm Home District Blitz for those who can’t make it to DC. Using the same materials as the DC March Storm, local groups will arrange to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the March 21-25 recess, just like the NSS/SFF 2015 August Home District Blitz. Signup is via Since I am organizing this effort, you will hear from me with more details after you sign up.

National Space Society Welcomes Janet Ivey as New NSS Governor

Janet Ivey of Janet’s Planet is NOW IN ORBIT as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society

Janet IveyJanet Ivey, a 12-time Emmy and 5-time Gracie Award winning educational TV host and founder of Janet’s Planet, seen on more than 140 PBS stations across the USA and on multiple online sites like BatteryPop, Club Jelly Telly, HighBrow, Ameba TV, and YouTube was recently named to the National Space Society’s Board of Governors.

The National Space Society Board of Governors is composed of outstanding individuals in the fields of science, engineering, the arts, government, the press, business, law, medicine, and other professions and occupations, and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the society or its goals. The appointment was made official at the May 2015 National Space Society Board of Directors meeting in Toronto at the International Space Development Conference.

Janet is thrilled to be among such an elite group of space enthusiasts and pioneers. Among Janet’s duties of promoting the National Space Society and its goals, a primary initiative will be to be a spokesperson for the NSS Enterprise in Space (EIS) project, along with Geoff Notkin of Meteorite Men fame.

The mission of Enterprise In Space is to build, launch, operate, and later return to Earth an orbiter containing student experiments as a tribute to the many great visionaries of science and science fiction. EIS goals include:

  • Demonstrate and pioneer new technologies
  • Inspire and encourage space enterprise
  • Develop educational curricula for students contributing to related future endeavors in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education
  • The Enterprise In Space mission will cover everything from 3D printing in space, to laser-based communications, to improvements in heat shields and thermal protection systems.

Janet Ivey is committed to enriching the lives of children via education and TV and online programming. She is a Buzz Aldrin ShareScience Ambassador, and has won a STEMFLORIDA award for Janet’s Planet.

Janet presents two live shows, Tour of the Solar System and Exploring Microgravity. These shows are 21st century theater that encourage scientific literacy via the use of humor, theatrical antics, visual illusions, enticing graphic elements, and experiential opportunities to join Janet on stage so that students are fully engaged in the experience.

The mission for Janet and Janet’s Planet is to encourage young people to stand in their magnificence and to inspire future generations to use their innate intelligence and creativity to create a better future via science and space exploration. Janet Ivey is a tireless advocate for children and has mentored countless young people all over the world. Janet’s mission has and always will be to enrich the lives of children via art and science, multi-media education, and intelligent, informative AWE (Art, Wonder, and Experiential) infused programming that focuses on space exploration.

For more information about Janet’s Planet visit and, or contact Janet Ivey at or 615-415-9785.

Facebook: Janet’s Planet
Twitter: Janet’s Planet
YouTube: JanetsPlanetOfficial
Instagram: JanetsPlanetOfficial

And to learn more about the National Space Society or to become a member visit

To learn more and participate in the NSS Enterprise In Space visit