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
Or
PO Box 22718
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123-1718
Or
Cancer.org

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 (nss.org/ssp).

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 www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap) 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.

Resources:

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: nss.org/sedsact

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 http://video.state.gov/live.

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 nss.org/ssp.

We Are Winning: Obama and NSS Space Policy

From NSS Executive Vice President Dale Skran:

NSS Chair of the Executive Committee Mark Hopkins frequently speaks and writes on the general topic that “We are winning.” A great example can be found in a recent interview with President Obama in Popular Science Magazine:

Popular Science: You’ve also advocated the development of a private space industry to work alongside and complement government efforts. What is your vision for space exploration and commercialization? Who does what?

Barack Obama: I’ve laid out a vision for space exploration where our astronauts travel out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay. To build a sustainable human presence in space, we’ll need a thriving private-sector space economy. I see the expanding space industry as an addition to, not a replacement for, the extraordinary work of NASA. With industry taking over tasks like ferrying cargo and crew to the International Space Station, NASA can focus even more intensely on the most challenging exploration missions, like landing astronauts on Mars or learning more about Earth and the rest of our solar system.

As we set our sights toward other planets, we can also create good jobs here on this one. American companies have begun to reclaim the lucrative market for launching commercial satellites. That’s just one example of the way that a growing space economy can help American workers succeed.

President Obama’s answer is not that different from ideas found in NSS position papers or text that appears on the NSS website (www.nss.org). The tagline “Not just to visit, but to stay” appears prominently on the Alliance for Space Development (ASD) website which is a joint project of NSS and the Space Frontier Foundation. When the President of the United States is echoing our ideas as his own, I think we can once again say – “We are winning!”

Luxembourg to launch framework to support the future use of space resources

The Luxembourg Government has announced a series of measures to position Luxembourg as a European hub in the exploration and use of space resources. Amongst the key steps undertaken will be the development of a legal and regulatory framework confirming certainty about the future ownership of minerals extracted in space from Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) such as asteroids.

Luxembourg is the first European country to announce its intention to set out a formal legal framework which ensures that private operators working in space can be confident about their rights to the resources they extract, i.e. rare minerals from asteroids. Such a legal framework will be worked out in full consideration of international law. Luxembourg is eager to engage with other countries on this matter within a multilateral framework.

Luxembourg will also invest in relevant R&D projects and consider direct capital investment in companies active in this field.

The SpaceResources.lu initiative will nurture an exciting and entirely new space industry. This industry will offer unprecedented access to mineral resources to be used essentially in Earth-orbit and beyond. The aim is to stimulate economic growth on Earth and offer new horizons in space exploration.

Luxembourg already has a strong track record in related sectors, with satellite operator SES, established in Luxembourg 30 years ago and now a major global player in its field.

The budget allocated to SpaceResources.lu will be part of the national space budget that will be defined in the frame of the preparation of the Luxembourg contribution to the next multiannual budget of the European Space Agency to be decided in December 2016. The government will decide on new means for a wide range of new activities and initiatives, including this one.

Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Étienne Schneider, announced the spaceresources.lu initiative today:”Our aim is to open access to a wealth of previously unexplored mineral resources on lifeless rocks hurling through space, without damaging natural habitats. We will support the long-term economic development of new, innovative activities in the space and satellite industries as a key high-tech sector for Luxembourg. At first, our aim is to carry out research in this area, which at a later stage can lead to more concrete activities in space.”

Jean-Jacques Dordain, the former Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) and advisor to Luxembourg Government on SpaceResources.lu, said:”This initiative is a clear demonstration that Europeans are innovative and able to take risks when the stakes are high. While futuristic, the project is based on solid grounds, i.e. technical prowess that already exists in Europe and around the world.”

Simon P. Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation said:”Humanity is on the verge of expansion into the solar system – and then beyond. Using the resources we find there is essential – not only for our expansion into space but also to ensure continued prosperity here on Earth.”

Rick Tumlinson, Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Deep Space Industries stated:”By opening up the resources of space, Luxembourg will help take the pressure off the Earth.”

Chris Lewicki, President and CEO of Planetary Resources stated:”We commend the Government of Luxembourg in leading the world by establishing this new resource industry, thereby enabling the economic development of near-Earth asteroid resources. Planetary Resources looks forward to working with Luxembourg.”

Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO of SES stated:”We welcome Luxembourg’s visionary initiative to take, once again, a pioneering step in space technology and further leverage our shared knowledge and experience. We look forward to contributing with our unique capabilities to these future activities.”

Yves Elsen, Chairperson of the Luxembourg Space Cluster stated:”Over the past three decades, Luxembourg has built up extensive know-how in world-class space related activities. Luxembourg can write history once again by further sustaining the attractiveness of the country for a host of next generation space activities.”

Source: spaceresources.lu

National Space Society Applauds Selection of Dream Chaser, Dragon 2, and Cygnus for ISS Cargo Services

NSS congratulates Orbital ATK (Cygnus), Sierra Nevada (Dream Chaser), and SpaceX (Dragon 2) for being selected to provide cargo services to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Service 2 (CRS-2) contract. Orbital ATK and SpaceX, the CRS-1 cargo providers, are joined for the first time by the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser winged orbital vehicle. The CRS contract covers the delivery of supplies to the ISS, disposal of ISS waste, and the return of scientific samples from the ISS. The new contract provides a minimum of six missions to each of the three winners during the period 2019-2024. A NASA spokesperson said, “NASA’s service contracts to resupply the space station have changed the way the agency does business in low-Earth orbit. With these contracts, NASA continues to advance commercial spaceflight and the American jobs it creates.”

Dream Chaser cargo vehicle
Dream Chaser cargo vehicle docked at ISS. Image credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

“This announcement represents a major forward advance for NASA and the CRS program,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “Both Orbital ATK and SpaceX added significant new capabilities over the first contract. In the new contract, the up-sized Cygnus with new solar panels will be used, and the Dragon 2 offers options for both berthing and docking, along with a rapid return to Earth capacity via propulsive landing. However, the selection of Sierra Nevada and the Dream Chaser means that for the first time since the retirement of the Space Shuttle reusable winged vehicles will be returning from space and landing at Kennedy Space Center.”

The Dream Chaser can deliver up to 5,500 kg of pressurized and unpressurized supplies to the ISS. A runway landing supports low-g force return of fragile samples and equipment, and folding wings allow for the usage of a variety of launch vehicles, although the initial target is the Atlas V. In an area of improvement over the Space Shuttle, the Dream Chaser uses all non-toxic propellants. Finally, the system includes a “trailer” that can be used to dispose of ISS waste.

“NSS congratulates NASA on adding a third CRS provider,” said Mark Hopkins, Chair of the NSS Executive Committee. “The CRS-2 program now has triple redundancy in both orbital components and launch vehicles. NSS members look forward to the Dream Chaser’s first return from space.”

National Space Society Applauds Presidential Signing of Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

On November 25, 2015, President Obama signed the landmark Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA). NSS congratulates President Obama and the Senate and House leadership for their hard work in hammering out a compromise between the previously passed House and Senate versions.

“It is hard to over-emphasize the importance of the CSLCA,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “There are a lot of excellent provisions in this legislation, and we want to thank House Majority Leader McCarthy for guiding the final version to the President’s desk.”

Perhaps the most historically significant part of the CSLCA calls for the establishment of a legal right for U.S. citizens to mine asteroids in a fashion consistent with international law, including the Outer Space Treaty. Milestone 18 of the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap calls for the exploration, utilization, and settlement of the asteroids. “NSS looks forward to the CSLCA enabling a new age of asteroid mining led by companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, making the vast resources of space available for the benefit of humanity,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President.

NSS has been working hard to support this legislation. NSS is a founding member of the Alliance for Space Development (ASD). The 2015 ASD objectives can be found at www.allianceforspacedevelopment.org. They include extending the learning period for commercial suborbital spaceflight and changing regulations to allow space tourism companies to conduct both experimental and operational flights under the same permit. Both of these items, which NSS believes are key to lowering the cost of access to space via supporting the growth of a vibrant space tourism industry, were included in the CSLCA just signed by the President. Another ASD objective for 2015 called for “increasing the utilization of the International Space Station,” something that has been accomplished in part by the CSLCA’s extension of ISS operations to 2024.

Throughout 2015, ASD member organizations, including NSS, worked to forward the above goals. The SFF (Space Frontier Foundation)/NSS March Storm Congressional Blitz focused attention on extending the “learning period.” In May, both NSS and SFF submitted public letters supporting the precursor legislation to the CSLCA (see for example our Open Letter to House in support of the SPACE Act of 2015). Next, the NSS/SFF August Home District Congressional Blitz pushed the case for ISS utilization. Finally, ASD submitted a private letter of comment to the House/Senate conference committee.