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.

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.

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).

National Space Society Hails a New Age of Reusable Rockets

The National Space Society (NSS) declares that in consideration of the achievements by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Boeing over the past few years, it is now obvious that a revolution in spacecraft technology, operations, and economics is occurring. There is every prospect that privately owned re-usable spacecraft operating under service contracts will greatly lower the cost of reaching space.

NSS calls on Congress, the Administration, and NASA to immediately begin a review of all current NASA and other spaceflight related programs to consider how the usage of commercially available launch vehicles and spacecraft that are largely reusable can lower costs and/or increase operational capability. Suggestions to guide this review can be found in the NSS position paper “Now is the Time: A Paradigm Shift in Access to Space” (also available via: tinyurl.com/AccessToSpace).

Falcon-SES launchThe SpaceX Falcon 9 made history on March 30, 2017, at 6:27 EST by lofting the SES 10 communications satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit using a “flight-proven” first stage. The first stage flown was initially used to launch a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on April 8, 2016, as part of the Commercial Resupply Services program. After returning safely from space and landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), the flight proven first stage was returned to dry land, refurbished, tested, and sent back to Florida to support the re-launch on March 30th, after which it again landed successfully on OCISLY. In another historic first SpaceX attempted F9 fairing recovery using parachutes. The fairing is the enclosure for the rocket’s payload.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, “This is ultimately going to be a huge revolution in spaceflight. It’s sort of the difference between (throwing away airplanes) after every flight vs. where you could reuse them multiple times. It’s been 15 years. It’s a long time…a lot of difficult steps along the way…incredibly proud of the SpaceX team for being able to achieve this incredible milestone in the history of space. (It’s) a great day not just for SpaceX but the space industry as a whole and proving that something can be done that many people said was impossible.”

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of SpaceX’s achievement,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX today, for the first time, demonstrated the successful re-use of an orbital first stage. Companies can only take risks on new technology with the support of customers like SES that have the courage to do new things in space. NSS congratulates SpaceX and SES on a resounding success that heralds the dawn of a new age in space, and thanks NASA for its on-going support of SpaceX’s technology development program with Space Act Agreements and service contracts.”

“Once first stage re-use is firmly established,” added Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, Mark Hopkins, “the economics of access to space will enter a new era. The re-use of first stages is a step towards Milestone 2 of the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement which is Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit.”

The roadmap can be found at: www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html. A great way to learn more about the connection between launch technology and the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap is to attend the NSS International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) (isdc2017.nss.org) in St. Louis, Missouri, May 25-29, 2017.

ISDC

The ISDC’s Space Transportation track will examine all facets of space transportation from the new generation of commercial launch vehicles that through technical innovation and reusability are lowering the cost of space access to in-space transfer vehicles and deep space interplanetary propulsion systems. Many examples of reusable first stages (flyback and vertical descent boosters), reusable capsules, air launch systems, laser launch, suborbital tourism vehicles, and heavy lift boosters will be included in this track as will cis-lunar transportation elements necessary to enable cis-lunar operations and lunar exploration, and architectures that enable Mars exploration.

“The re-use of a Falcon 9 first stage paves the way for the initial flight of the Falcon Heavy later this year, and is a key step toward a commercial return to the Moon,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman.

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

National Space Society Presidential Policy Workshop Leaders Urge Incoming Administration to Lead Lunar Base Construction

On Saturday, October 8th, the National Space Society (NSS) organized a workshop directed at recommending a space policy to the new Administration. Eleven thought leaders from government, industry, and academia gathered in a fruitful collaboration to produce a set of five recommendations.

Steve Jurvetson, a partner at the well-known Silicon Valley Sand Hill Road venture capital firm DFJ hosted the meeting at the DFJ offices. NSS has submitted the resulting white paper to the Trump Transition Team. The paper can be viewed at http://www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS-DFJ-Workshop-Recommendations-Nov-2016.pdf.

“NSS is proud to support this important workshop,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “We had a very extensive collaboration bringing together space entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and space activists to develop space policy recommendations for the new Administration.”

As a result of this workshop, the National Space Society calls upon the Trump Administration to:

  1. Re-establish a National Space Council.
  2. Establish a thriving space economy as a goal of NASA and implement this goal via public-private partnerships, including the purchase in-space of fuel mined from the lunar surface/asteroids, and the use of commercial services to supply future space projects on and near the Moon.
  3. Lead in the construction of a public/private lunar resource extraction base that includes international participation.
  4. Set up a space commodities futures trading exchange to jump start the use of space resources.
  5. NASA should conduct break-through R&D targeted at projects such as self-sustaining habitats in space, propellant production and storage (at the Moon, at small bodies, and at Mars), in situ manufacturing (Moon, small bodies, Mars), reusable large-scale solar electric or nuclear propulsion systems, space solar power (SSP), and others.
“The space paradigm is changing at an accelerating pace,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the Executive Committee of NSS. “The dramatic progress in commercial space calls for new thinking about why and how we explore, develop and eventually settle space,” he said.

Hold these dates! March 12-16, 2017 for March Storm

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 is an early “heads up” to hold those dates. Sunday March 12 will be an all-day training event, followed by up to four days of Congressional visits.  Blitzers are asked to commit to a minimum of 2 days of Congressional visits, but those days can be picked from among March 13-16.

March Storm 2017 will support the Alliance for Space Development 2017 objectives, which will be available January 1st, 2017. However, it is very likely that at least two of the objectives will be supporting a gapless transition from the ISS to future commercial LEO stations, and continuing to to press for the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act (H.R. 4752) to make space development and settlement a permanent part of the NASA mission.