"What's Next in Space?" Video Contest

The Coalition for Space Exploration wants to hear from the American public about what they envision for the future of space exploration. The Coalition is launching a contest based on a simple question, “What’s Next?” Participants are encouraged to share their ideas for the future direction of America’s space program in a video. The creator of the winning video entry wins an iPad2.

The Coalition wants citizens to speak out about what they feel should be next for space exploration with a 1- to 2-minute video entry. Entries must be submitted by Oct. 17. From there, the public will vote on the best videos. The top five videos will become semi-finalists and a panel of judges from the Coalition will crown the winner.

Link: Competition rules and video submission.

National Space Society Announces "NSS in Second Life" Machinima Contest Winner

The National Space Society announces that the winning video in the 2010 NSS in Second Life Machinima Contest is “Dreamer’s Journey” by Rocksea Renegade. Second Life is an online 3D virtual world where participants can interact as avatars. Machinima is an art form consisting of computer animation of such virtual worlds. Entries were required to have an outer space theme, with 50% of the video taking place in the National Space Society Second Life simulation. Musician Craig Lyons graciously permitted his music to be used in the videos.

Anyone may view the winning video plus the 10 other videos entered into this contest on the NSS website. Participation in NSS in Second Life requires registration and installation of free viewing software.

Buzz Aldrin "Dances to the Stars"

The National Space Society wishes Apollo 11 astronaut, and NSS Governor, Buzz Aldrin, great success in his latest adventure. As the next installment in his tireless efforts to raise public awareness of and support for the future of our nation’s space program, Buzz is trading in his moonwalking shoes for dancing shoes. By participating in the new season of Dancing with the Stars, Buzz (and the National Space Society along with him) will have a national audience, and a national stage from which to speak.

“My primary motivation for joining the show is to help bring NASA and the U.S. human spaceflight program to the front of popular consciousness. Until there’s a spectacular success or failure, the space program is not on everyone’s lips,” Aldrin says. “Dancing with the Stars has an audience of millions of followers and it would be great if those viewers became supporters of our space program. I’m hoping that all of my old friends and colleagues in the space community can tune in and cast their vote for the octogenarian on the dance floor!”

As long as Buzz remains a contestant on the show, he will be able to engage every American household in the debate about the importance of space exploration, development, and settlement to our nation’s future. Please support Buzz in his efforts to pump up public support for a new direction outward for America’s human space program.

Space Artist Robert McCall Passes Away

The National Space Society is greatly saddened by the news that renowned space artist and long time advocate for human space exploration and settlement, Robert McCall, passed away February 26 at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital Osborne in his home town of Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 90 years old.

Robert McCall served for many years on the National Space Society Board of Governors. One can see the influence McCall had by going to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, where his vast mural depicting man’s conquest of the Moon covers an entire wall on the Museum’s main floor, as well as in old movie posters for 2001: A Space Odyssey, and in a two-decade-long series of postage stamps depicting space themes. An art school graduate from Columbus, Ohio, with a lifelong fascination of things that fly, McCall has illustrated the reality and the dreams of the space age since it all began in the 1950s.

McCall's Expanding the Frontiers of Flight commemorates NASA Langley Research Center contributions to aeronautics and space.
McCall's "Expanding the Frontiers of Flight" commemorates NASA Langley Research Center contributions to aeronautics and space.

Famous for his large murals, Robert was the creator of the Tour of the Universe Mural at the Challenger Space Center in Peoria, Arizona. The mural is six-stories high, encircling the entire interior rotunda of the main floor of the building. Utilizing 27,000 square feet of canvas, this phenomenal piece of artistry took six months to complete and is believed to be the largest mural in Arizona.

Our thoughts are with Louise, his wife of 50 years, his family and friends and all of those who appreciated the man who has shown us what the future would be like if we just believe and work hard enough to achieve our space goals. The Phoenix Chapter of the National Space Society was especially honored to have had Robert join them as an integral part of their Yuri’s Day 2008 celebration at the Peoria Challenger Space Center.

For more on the art of Robert McCall, see mccallstudios.com.

McCalls art graced this cover of the L5 News for January 1980.
McCall's art graced this cover of the L5 News for January 1980.

Malta and the Moon


The moon is our closest celestial body and by far the brightest object in the night sky. It has fascinated man since antiquity.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebrates the four hundred year anniversary since Galileo turned his telescope towards the night sky. He was the first to observe our moon in detail and some of the maps have been preserved.
The year 2009 is also the fiftieth anniversary of the first unmanned lunar landing and also the fortieth anniversary of the first manned landing.

Malta is an archipelago of small islands in the Mediterranean with a population of just over four hundred thousand people. It has a rich history and is home to the oldest free standing stone structures in the world. It is claimed that these temples, which are thousands of years old, were aligned to the solstice and so there has been a strong astronomical tradition in Malta since antiquity.

The IYA 2009 Malta committee has been very busy organising several astronomy events and it has also put an emphasis on the moon and its exploration by robotic and manned spacecraft. This included the issue of a stamp set commemorating Galileo, Apollo 11 and Lassell’s famous telescope in Malta. A highlight of the activities was a very successful visit to Malta by the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot, the geologist Senator Harrison Schmitt. There have been several talks, seminars, exhibitions and observing sessions.
During the early meetings of the committee the chairman Dr Gordon Caruana Dingli proposed that Malta should co-ordinate an international project for the IYA 2009. Mr Leonard Ellul Mercer, who is a keen astrophotographer, had long wished to produce an astronomy image involving various countries and after discussions with Dr Alex Gatt, Gordon proposed forming an image of the moon composed of images taken by countries all over the world. Leonard then divided an image of the moon into numbered segments and all IYA 2009 single points of contact with an email address were invited to take part. The response was overwhelming with 40 countries submitting images from all five continents, one country for every year that has passed since Apollo 11 landed on the moon!  We have also included an image from the European Union’s Smart-1 spacecraft. Most of the images were taken during the May or June full moons of 2009 but some were older and Italy’s was a four hundred year old sketch by Galileo Galilei. These images were painstakingly processed and pasted as a collage on the background of an image of a full moon imaged by Leonard. This took up many hours of Leonard’s time especially after he decided to produce an audiovisual production of the project. The music of the animated feature is specifically composed and played for the project by Lynn Faure.

The project commemorates the Russian Luna 2 which was the first unmanned spacecraft to land on the moon. We also commemorate the Apollo project which reached Kennedy’s goal with the first manned lunar landing on 20th July 1969 followed by another five landings. Other countries that have launched spacecraft to the moon are Japan, Europe, China and India. These probes are also featured in the image.

The font used in the project is Futura which was used on the plaque that was fixed to the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle, this read:


This was the inspiration for our project “THE MOON FOR ALL MANKIND”

Leonard Ellul-Mercer
Gordon Caruana Dingli

International Year of Astronomy 2009 Malta Committee

Space Art, NASA, and NSS

Many people have cited science fiction as instilling in them an interest in space exploration. For me it wasn’t just science fiction but also space art, not to mention the space program itself. The vision of artists like Chesley Bonestell allowed me to imagine myself standing on the surface of other worlds – heady stuff for a kid.

Very early on NASA realized the power of art to capture the historic nature of our first steps out of the cradle. Art not just to illustrate yet to be built hardware but art to capture the emotional aspect of space exploration. NASA created the NASA Art Program in 1962 and gave artists unprecedented access to the astronauts and facilities so that those artists could share their impressions with the world.

NASA/ART: 50 Years of Exploration is a new book that features a broad sampling of the art produced by the NASA Art Program. I recently wrote a review of that book and provided a number of links to related space art resources.
Read the NASA/ART: 50 Years of Exploration book review

In 2006-2007 I managed the NSS’ first ever space art contest and production of the 2008 Space Settlement Calendar. For me the project was a true pleasure in that we were able to facilitate the creation of some great space art. You should check out the 2008 NSS Space Settlement Calendar Art Contest Gallery. The contest was repeated in 2007-2008 for the production of a calendar for 2009. If you don’t have a calendar for 2009 yet and you are a lover of space art, I highly recommend the NSS Space Settlement 2009 Wall Calendar which is currently on sale at a discounted price. Of course the proceeds go to support the National Space Society’s programs and projects like the International Space Development Conference.

For more space art, check out the NSS Photograph and Art Gallery Index

Ad Astra, Jim