Report on the 2016 NSS/SFF/ASD August Home District Blitz

By Dale Skran, National Blitz Coordinator

Left to Right: Randy Gigante (SFF), Miriam Winder Kelly (NSS), Rep. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (MD-2), Joe Gillen (NSS)
Left to Right: Randy Gigante (SFF), Miriam Winder Kelly (NSS), Rep. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (MD-2), Joe Gillen (NSS)

Sponsors: The August 2016 Home District Blitz was jointly sponsored by the National Space Society (NSS), Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), and the Alliance for Space Development (ASD).


  • The Blitz team in Maryland obtained a picture of the team with Rep. Ruppersberger (above).
  • There was a fierce battle between Illinois and Florida for blitz leadership, but Florida finished with five total visits, topping Illinois with three. Overall, a total of 20 visits were conducted spread over ten different states.
  • The Senate Authorization sub-committee solicited input privately from ASD. ASD responded with a letter of comment jointly signed by NSS, SFF, and SEDS. This may be the first time that this has occurred, and it is certainly the first time in recent memory. It represents a real breakthrough for NSS in terms of DC influence.
  • 25% of the members of the Senate Authorization Committee were visited.
  • The combination of March Storm and the August Blitz appears to have had a significant effect on the Senate Authorization process, with the current version of the Senate “NASA Transition Act of 2016,” which was marked up by the Committee on 9/21/16, reflecting strong ISS “gapless” language and weaker but still significant support for space settlement.

Budget: No NSS, SFF, or ASD money was spent on the Blitz.  All activities were of a volunteer nature.

Themes/Objectives:  The two major themes of the 2016 Home District Blitz were:

  1. Moving into legislation calling for a gapless transition from the ISS to future commercial LEO stations (ASD developed draft text).
  2. Moving forward H.R.4752 (Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act) in both the House and the Senate.

Peter Garretson: What the New President Needs to Know about Space

NSS Director Peter Garretson has just published a significant article on what the new President likely won’t be hearing about space, but should be. Here are some excerpts:

It is no secret that the last National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 spectacularly missed space. The question is — will this next Global Trends, due in December 2016, miss it again?
“The Moon could serve as a new and tremendous supplier of energy and resources for human beings,” said Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China’s Moon-exploration program. “This is crucial to sustainable development of human beings on Earth. … Whoever first conquers the Moon will benefit first.”
Our long-term goal is to explore, land and settle [the Moon],” chimed in Wu Weiren, China’s chief designer for Moon missions. More recently, Lt Gen. Zhang Yulin — deputy chief of the Chinese military’s armament-development department, suggested that “China would next begin to exploit Earth-Moon space for industrial development. The goal would be the construction of space-based solar power satellites that would beam energy back to Earth.”
“Thus, the state has decided that power coming from outside of the Earth, such as solar power and development of other space energy resources, is to be China’s future direction,” wrote Gao Ji, Hou Xinbin and Wang Li from the China Academy of Space Technology.
The lack of cognizance by policymakers constitutes grounds for strategic surprise. “China had built up a solid industrial foundation, acquired sufficient technology and had enough money to carry out the most ambitious space project in history,” wrote Wang Xiji, designer of China’s first carrier rocket. “Once completed, the solar station, with a capacity of 100 megawatts, would span at least one square kilometer, dwarfing the International Space Station and becoming the biggest man-made object in space.”
In the absence of anything resembling a space development or space industrialization policy, U.S. companies are going abroad and interesting new actors are appearing on the scenes. Luxemburg courts U.S.-based space mining companies, Dubai woos U.S.-based space solar power companies.
Specifically, NIC Global Trends scenarios need to specifically address lunar and asteroid mining, space solar power, and space settlement. These are important topics to explore because there is both a range of serious actors working in this space and because these could have vast societal consequences.
In the United States, these underlying societal attitudes are manifesting themselves in the exploits of self-financing industrialists such as Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla, Paypal), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin, Amazon), Paul Allen (Vulcan Aerospace, Microsoft) and Robert Bigelow. Musk is building rockets and a space-based internet not for their own sakes, but to finance taking millions of people to build a city on Mars and become a multi-planet civilization. “In terms of the first [manned] flight to Mars, we are hoping to do that around 2025,” Musk said. Bezos openly talks about a vision of “millions of people living and working in space” and moving heavy industry and energy to space in order to save Earth.
All of this reflects a shift in societal attitude rejecting space exploration for space exploration sake, or for the sake of “showing off” in favor of viewing space exploration as an activity we do toward some larger end — species survival, space settlement, space industrialization, space resources. Changing ends will result in different outcomes.
Small programmatic decisions by this president-elect will or will not position U.S. companies to be at the forefront of a new commercial age of space. These near term decisions may decide the speed at which an end-to-end space transportation and supply chain are built to incorporate the solar system into our economic sphere of influence, including promoting or hindering the development of commercial fully-reusable launch vehicles — a lead the United States should consolidate.

Read the whole article.


Astronaut Eileen Collins Gives Prime Time Address to Republican Convention

Eileen Collins was the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission and the first astronaut to address a 2016 political convention. Her 4-minute address is above, pointing out that “nations that lead on the frontier lead in the world.”

Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica, blogged:

Here’s what Collins really missed on Wednesday night…. Probably the most exciting spaceflight development of the last decade or so has been the successful pursuit of reusable rockets by SpaceX and Blue Origin. This low-cost rocketry is what will ultimately make America greater in space…. The reality is that the best way to “lead on the frontier” in the 21st century is not through flags and footprints, but rather by sending people into space to stay, in a sustainable way, with the eventual aim of making space profitable.

Disclaimer: The National Space Society does not endorse any political party or candidate. In her speech, Eileen Collins also did not endorse any political party or candidate.

2016 August Home District Blitz

You are cordially invited to join the 2016 Annual ASD/NSS/SFF August Home District Blitz congressional action event. This event supports the 2016 Alliance for Space Development (ASD) annual campaign. You can expect topics being pushed to include items like support for the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act (H.R. 4752), a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and supporting a gapless transition from the ISS to commercial space stations. During the blitz, local groups will arrange to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the August recess. Signup is via Please sign up immediately and follow the directions on the NSS legislative page at to set up an appointment with your Representative and Senators.

ASD includes groups like the Space Frontier Foundation, the National Space Society, 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

The National Space Society Pays Tribute to the Space Policy Leadership of Former FAA Leader Patricia Grace Smith

NASA bio
NASA bio

The National Space Society celebrates the life and contributions of a visionary champion of the commercial space industry and human space settlement, the Honorable Patricia Grace Smith. Ms. Smith unexpectedly passed away on June 5th, after quietly fighting pancreatic cancer over the last year.

“The commercial space industry owes a huge debt to Patti Grace Smith whose years of determined and well-reasoned advocacy combined with her natural charm and grace won over many converts in government and fostered the birth of a new industry. There might not be a commercial space flight industry were it not for Patti’s leadership,” said Bruce Pittman, Senior Operating Officer of the National Space Society.

Ms. Smith served her country for almost three decades, including eleven years as the Associate Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She was appointed to this office shortly after it became part of the FAA and was instrumental in creating policies and guiding the FAA’s regulatory efforts in a manner that was supportive of the emerging commercial space flight industry

After retiring from the FAA in 2008, Ms. Smith became an important consultant to the commercial space industry and was the chair of the commercial space committee of the NASA Advisory Council until 2014. She was also the vice-chair of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies and a Member-at-Large of the Board of Directors of the Space Foundation.

NSS is following the path opened by Patti Smith in one of our initiatives called the Space Exploration, Development and Settlement Act of 2016. This bill, just introduced in Congress, will change the NASA charter to enable NASA to do more. To help with this effort, citizens can take action here.

Patti’s family has asked that donations be made in her name to:

American Cancer Society
800-227-2345 action 2
PO Box 22718
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123-1718

Petition: USA Must Lead the Transition to Space-Based Energy

Your signature on this petition will have a very real and positive impact on the United States of America and on all future generations of humankind worldwide.

Sign this petition and send the following urgent message to the United States Congress, to the President of the United States, and to future congresses and administrations:

Pass and support legislation to ensure national energy security and to protect the worldwide environment by establishing congressionally chartered public-private corporations for space-based energy, space mining, and spacefaring logistics. These corporations shall provide the United States, its allies, and trading partners with sustainable and carbon emission free space-based energy.

The United States of America faces a looming national energy security threat due to its dependence on a finite supply of fossil fuels.

Humankind worldwide faces an environmental security threat due to its dependence on fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned.

Sustainable, carbon emission free energy from space-based solar power (SBSP) is the solution. Simply put–and challenging to accomplish–SBSP consists of orbiting solar power satellites continuously harvesting the sun’s intense energy in space. The energy is beamed wirelessly to rectifying antennas on the Earth, and then transmitted to existing electrical power grids. Unlike terrestrial renewable energy sources, space-based solar power is nearly infinitely scalable. It is also continuous, so it can supply the planet’s baseload energy requirements.

For more information see the NSS Space Solar Power Library (

National Space Society Applauds SpaceX First Stage Drone Ship Landing and Successful Launch of CRS8/BEAM to the ISS

With a successful launch on April 8 at 4:43 PM EST, 2016 SpaceX achieved several dramatic milestones on their first supply run to the International Space Station (ISS) following the loss of a Falcon 9 in June of 2015. For the first time ever, the first stage of a rocket both returned intact to Earth and landed on a drone ship at sea. This new capability will enable lower-cost access to space by saving the fuel otherwise needed to fly the first stage back to the launch site, which SpaceX has previously demonstrated.

Falcon barge landing

In addition to this remarkable achievement, the Falcon 9 lofted the Cargo Resupply Services 8 mission (CRS-8) to the ISS. This is the 10th flight of the Dragon spacecraft. Once the Dragon docks at the ISS, for only the second time ever there will be six spacecraft attached to the ISS (Dragon CRS-8, Cygnus CRS OA-6, two Progress, and two Soyuz lifeboats). The Dragon contains a variety of experiments, including a cargo of live rats which will be used to test drugs that may combat the weakening of bones in space and on Earth.

In addition to pressurized cargo in the Dragon, an unpressurized “trunk” houses the 1,413 kilogram Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), an inflatable module that will be attached to the ISS for two years to test this new technology. The module, once inflated, will be 13.2 feet by 10.6 feet, and will provide a total volume of 564 cubic feet.

“In this mission it is hard to know what to be the most excited about,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX continues to break new ground in lowering the cost of going into space, and the drone ship landing is key to maximizing the amount that can be lifted into space by a first stage that is flying back to Earth. BEAM will pave the way for more affordable future commercial and deep space stations.”

Recently Blue Origin re-used its sub-orbital New Shepard booster on a flight to the Karman line (the edge of space) for the third time and returned the rocket to its launch site for further re-use. “Competition like that seen between Blue Origin and SpaceX is the key to rapid progress in space,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President. “NSS has strongly supported competition in both the NASA Commercial Re-supply Services program and the Commercial Crew program. Today’s drone ship landing is a direct result of the competitive, commercial nature of these efforts, and NSS advocates extending these types of programs into cis-lunar space.”

Lowering the cost of access to space is key to NSS’s vision of our future in space (see and today’s events have brought that future materially closer.

National Space Society Political Action Alert

1. Contact your congressperson to co-sponsor H.R.4752 (SEDS Act)

2. March Storm Home District Blitz extended to support H.R. 4752 (SEDS Act)

By Dale Skran, Chair, NSS Policy Committee

On Wednesday March 16, 2016, Representative Dana Rohrabacher introduced the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act of 2016 (H.R. 4752). This date is the 90th anniversary of the launch of the first liquid fueled rocket in 1926 by Robert Goddard.  NSS, working with our partners in the Alliance for Space Development, has been pushing for the SEDS Act starting in January 2015. The introduction of the Bill is an important milestone for NSS and for our future in space.

Now is the time to move things to the next level. Call, write, or email your Representative and urge him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 4752. The message is simple – this is a great Bill, it adds nothing to the budget, and it will give NASA an inspiring and important long term goal. Urge your Representative to contact Tony DeTora, Representative Rohrabacher’s space staffer, to sign on.

With this auspicious event, we have decided to extend the March Storm Home District Blitz in support of H.R. 4752. We have just completed a very successful Washington DC based March Storm event held March 13- 17. This year’s topics are:

  1. Support full-funding for Commercial Crew program
  2. Establish an Ultra-Low Cost Access to Space Prize (see DRAFT BILL).
  3. Pass the Commercial Space Industrialization Act
    • Ensure a low-risk gapless transition from ISS to private space stations in LEO, with NASA serving as an early customer (see DRAFT BILL).
    • Require commercial-style acquisition and development of lunar and asteroid resources to be used in support of future lunar bases and voyages to Mars.
  4. Make space development and settlement part of NASA’s official mission (SEDS Act)

Using the same materials as the DC March Storm, local groups arranged to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the March 21-25 recess (or soon thereafter), just like the NSS/SFF 2015 August Home District Blitz. This activity is being extended to support H.R. 4752.


The Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act of 2016

The Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act of 2016 (H.R. 4752) has been introduced by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher “to require the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to investigate and promote the exploration and development of space leading to human settlements beyond Earth, and for other purposes.”

The National Space Society urges you to call or write your Congressional Representative today and request that he or she co-sponsor H.R. 4752 (the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act of 2016). You should specifically ask that the space staffer for your Representative should contact Tony DeTora in Congressman Rohrabacher’s office to become a co-sponsor.

This bill states: “The Congress declares that expanding permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that enables human settlement and a thriving space economy will enhance the general welfare of the United States and requires the Administration to encourage and support the development of permanent space settlements.”

It also provides a definition: “The term ‘space settlement’ means any community of humans living beyond Earth’s atmosphere that is able to economically sustain its population through a neutral or positive balance of trade of goods and services, and is able to expand its habitable real estate as need and desire of the community may warrant and international law permits.”

The full text of the bill can be found here:

Space Solar Power Being Considered at High Level

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates the “Space Solar Power D3” team on making it to the winners circle in a Department of Defense (DOD) competition to find promising new technology ideas that could simultaneously advance diplomacy, development and defense. Space Solar Power (SSP) is among only six winners out of 500 entries for the DOD’s first innovation challenge for the D3 (Diplomacy, Development, Defense) Summit. The SSP team proposal is titled “Carbon-Free Energy for Global Resilience and International Goodwill.” Their team has won the opportunity to present to the highest-level gathering of the three departments that are primarily responsible for U.S. foreign policy.

Winning proposal briefings will be made Wednesday, March 2 to representatives of the Secretary of Defense, the Vice Joint Chief of Staff, DOD senior leaders, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. Department of State. The presentation will happen at the State Department and a live stream can be found at

Space Solar Power gathers energy from sunlight in space and transmits it wirelessly to Earth. SSP can solve our energy and greenhouse gas emissions problems and provide large quantities of energy to each and every person on Earth with very little environmental impact. This will be the first time that space solar power is briefed at such a high level.

The space solar power D3 team includes members of the Air Force’s Air University, the Naval Research Lab, Northrop Grumman, NASA, the Join Staff Logistics and Energy division, DARPA, the Army, and the Space Development Steering Committee. NSS wishes them the best of luck in their presentation on March 2.

D3 team member Col. M. V. “Coyote” Smith, a professor at Air University’s School of Advanced Air and Space Power Studies, states: “When you think about what could advance U.S. diplomacy, development, and defense objectives simultaneously, what could be better than creating a source of global, constant green energy? Energy is going to be a $21 Trillion industry. Imagine if American industry was supplying green energy to the billions of people in the developing world. The studies suggest that could mean five million new high tech jobs in satellite manufacture and launch. The world of 2050 might require as much as 55 terawatts of energy. The Space-Based Solar Power resource is huge, many times the global requirement, with about 330 terawatts waiting to be tapped in Geostationary orbit alone.”

Smith continued: “A government-led demo would be the first step to retire the technical risk with commercial companies following quickly. The demo itself would have a strategic effect on our aerospace industry–generating about $5 Billion for satellite design and manufacture and another $5 Billion for the launch industry. We estimate the demo alone would generate approximately 171,000 new jobs.”

Smith added: “We’re not the only one in the game. In fact, at the moment, we’re behind in what we believe is the only space race that really matters. The Chinese have an increasingly robust program. So do the Japanese. Europe, too. But not the U.S. The Chinese proponents have it right that this is the most ambitious space project in history, and that Space-Based Solar Power will trigger a new industrial revolution and determine who will be the global leader. Space-Based Solar Power is not a competition in which we can afford to come in second.”

“Space Solar Power may be the answer to both the energy crisis and climate change,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “We have worked for many years to place SSP on the national and international agendas, including working with India’s former President Dr. APJ Kalam to begin a US-India collaboration. NSS is fighting for a prosperous hopeful future for all of humanity.”

In December, NSS leaders Mark Hopkins, Dr. Feng Hsu who is chairman of the NSS Space Solar Power Committee, and Dr. Don Flournoy who runs the International SunSat Design Competition that brings forward the best new ideas in SSP, traveled to China. There they met with Chinese leaders and their renewable energy and space solar power experts to establish a new initiative, the International Consortium for Space Solar Power Research and Development. NSS is also working with Space Canada to support the International SunSat Design Competition.

“We at NSS firmly believe,” says Dr. Feng Hsu, “that SSP is a viable and potentially permanent solution to address many humanity’s top challenges regarding environmental, economic or even global geopolitical issues.” He added, “SSP certainly deserves attention by the world community at the highest level. The time for a full-scale SSP demonstration and R&D program has been long overdue since the 1979 NASA-Department of Energy studies, and the time has now finally arrived for the U.S. government and the space and energy industries to take concerted actions in support of SSP.”  Feng concludes, “I have no doubt that if we in the U.S. continue to ignore the great idea of harnessing the Sun’s energy in a massive and unparalleled scale from space, we will risk being left further behind by the next technological and industrial revolution to be brought about by cheap, clean and abundant energy from space!” “National Security demands that America fund SSP research,” said Hopkins. NSS has created the world’s largest online library on SSP at