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 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.

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 www.spaceexplorationalliance.org/blitz.

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 dale.skran@nss.org 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 www.allianceforspacedevelopment.org.

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 www.marchstorm.com. 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 www.marchstorm.com. Since I am organizing this effort, you will hear from me with more details after you sign up.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin talks to “Face the Nation” about Mars this Sunday September 6th

In CBS’ first interview with the Apollo 11 astronauts on Face the Nation in 1969 (5-minute segment shown below), Buzz Aldrin discussed future goals for space exploration. Aldrin will be back on Face the Nation this Sunday September 6, 46 years later, to talk about his vision for Mars. Check local listings for times.

NSS/SFF August 2015 Home District Legislative Blitz – Sign Up Now!

The National Space Society (NSS) is organizing jointly with the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) a “home district” blitz during August when Congress is in recess and members of Congress are most probably in their home districts. The themes for the blitz include supporting Commercial Crew, advocating for a gapless transition from the ISS to commercial space stations, supporting the “Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act” (SEDS Act) and protecting the Earth against asteroids and comets. Three of these four items are in support of the 2015 Campaign of the Alliance for Space Development.

Signup to the August Blitz this year is via google forms. Signup is open to anyone who wants to join, as this is a joint NSS/SFF activity. In other words, you do not need to be an NSS or SFF member to participate. However, you MUST fill out the google form. Please distribute this link to the google form to anyone you know who you think might be interested. Send email to dale.skran@nss.org with any questions.

The materials for the August Blitz are now available. They include:

It is planned to set up Contact team leaders on August 1st. The exact date of Congressional recess is still unclear, but is at least one or two weeks in the future from July 29, 2015.

You should read the first three bulleted items above as soon as you can. Please send any questions to dale.skran@nss.org and answers will be circulated to all participants. Please circulate the Blitz FAQ to anyone who may be interested in signing up. Remind them to fill out the google form if they have not yet done so.

Thanks to all who are helping,

Dale Skran
Chair, NSS Policy Committee
Chair, NSS/SFF August Home District Blitz