Alliance Focused on Space Development, not the Destination

Al Globus, a member of the NSS Board of Directors as well as an NSS representative on the Alliance for Space Development Board of Directors, had the following letter published in Space News on April 13:

A recent op-ed by Paul Brower, “Why the U.S. Gave Up on the Moon” [Commentary, March 30, page 19], criticizes the Alliance for Space Development for not specifically advocating lunar settlement this year. Note that the Alliance is firmly focused on the development that must precede a successful settlement effort regardless of the location — the Moon, Mars, free space or asteroids. To this end, the Alliance’s 2015 goals are:

  • Incorporation of space development and settlement into the NASA Space Act.
  • Initiatives to improve launch, including a CATS (Cheap Access to Space) prize.
  • Full support of the commercial crew program.
  • Gapless transition from the International Space Station to private stations with NASA support.

By development we mean commercial, private, eventually self-sustaining industrialization of space. Successful development includes comsats and remote sensing, but neither of these involves life support. By settlement we mean places for people to live out their lives and raise their children. We’re not talking about flags and footprint missions or bases to do science. There’s nothing wrong with these activities, but they are not the focus of the alliance. We’re not looking to visit; we’re going into space to stay. This requires a strong, self-sustaining industrial infrastructure that is not dependent on the political winds of the moment, but rather on concrete benefits to large numbers of customers.

Note that the Alliance’s initial (2015) goals place a heavy emphasis on low-cost Earth-to-space transportation and innovative ways to develop it. To settle the Moon, or anywhere else, requires much lower launch costs than we have today. It is by far the most important single step for all space settlement and development, and is extremely important for all other space activities.

We need to transform how we do spaceflight — not just new rockets or spaceships, but more robust methods, economic models, value extraction and compelling justifications. That is why the Alliance is starting with these goals. We have proven that we can plant a flag with a heroic effort, but we can’t stay without affordable day-to-day logistical support and industrial capabilities in space. That is one of the goals of the gapless transition from the ISS to commercial space stations.

Every goal the Alliance supports is essential for settling the Moon, free space, Mars, asteroids and other solar system bodies. We each have our favorite location for the first space settlement (mine is free space), and the Alliance supports them all. The alliance does, and will, support a permanent return to the Moon, as well as to the other destinations, provided that we found these goals on clear and convincing answers to “why” and “how.”

In conclusion, as my colleague, Alliance board member Aaron Oesterle, wrote in an op-ed on March 14 [“We Need To Expand the Conversation About Space,” Commentary, page 19], the key isn’t which destination; the key is developing a self-sustaining, expanding private commercial and industrial capacity in space.

We are making progress…

NSS Executive Vice President Dale Skran writes:

In the current April 20-26 print issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, one of the top three business magazines in the country (along with Fortune and Forbes), the lead editorial is about when to get into the asteroid market. You can read it yourself at:

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-08/get-yourself-some-moon-rocks

The article is respectful and constructive, offering a serious proposal on how to handle asteroid mining rights. It reminds me quite a bit of the sort of articles you might see in the L5 News during the late 70s and early 80s.

National Space Society Calls SpaceX Launch Success a Step Toward Future Space Stations

The Falcon 9 launch by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 14th highlights the importance of the ISS in furthering space development and settlement. For example, Commercial Resupply Services 6 (CRS-6) lofted the Planetary Resources test spacecraft, the Arkyd 3, which will be launched from the ISS, and marks a significant step on a long road to mining the asteroids. However, the ISS is scheduled for destruction in 2024. If that time comes with no replacement, America’s and humanity’s hard-won foothold in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) will be lost.

The National Space Society (NSS) has released policy recommendations to extend and expand this foothold in space. The full paper is available at:

www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS_Position_Paper_Next_Generation_Space_Stations_2015.pdf.

NSS does not suggest that the ISS be replaced by a single, large, government owned and operated facility. Instead, NSS proposes a program structured much like the successful Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) which led to the current CRS program and Commercial Crew (CCDev) programs where NASA helps develop multiple, privately owned, commercially operated space stations and then becomes an anchor tenant. The US ISS National Laboratory could continue to operate using these new space stations.

Additionally, NSS urges that NASA continue the existing CRS cargo and crew transportation arrangements for both up and down access to the new stations. Current international ISS partners and potential future partners would be invited to join the effort based on new partnership agreements, thus ensuring the continued international flavor of humanity’s LEO outposts.

Without adequate planning now, the end of the ISS program will result in the loss of a host of valuable capabilities and activities that promote commerce, science, space operations, and space settlement. Both Russia and China have said they will build stations of their own in the relatively near future. It seems self-evident that the USA will suffer a considerable blow in terms of prestige when the Russians and Chinese can offer stays on their LEO space stations to other nations while the U.S. offers nothing comparable.

NSS Executive Vice-President Dale Skran said, “We congratulate SpaceX on another successful launch demonstrating the efficacy of the COTS approach to developing significant space capabilities at low cost and urge NASA to adopt a similar approach to ensure a gapless transition beyond the ISS.”

NSS POLITICAL ACTION NETWORK ALERT: The Space Exploration, Development and Settlement Act of 2015

From Dale Skran, Chair, NSS Policy Committee

We need your help! The Space Exploration, Development and Settlement (SEDS) Act is about to be introduced in Congress. The purpose of the SEDS Act is to authorize and instruct NASA to pursue permanent human settlements in outer space as well as the development of space in general.  We need you to call your member of Congress (to be clear – your Representative, not your Senators) by April 17th and ask him or her to be an original co-sponsor of the Space Exploration, Development and Settlement (SEDS) Act.  Representative Dana Rohrabacher’s office will introduce the bill.

If this is your first PAN alert, or if you are uncertain who your Representative is, please look at this instruction guide: http://www.nss.org/legislative/congress.htm.

As an advocate for space, you know that NASA needs a big goal that can excite the public imagination and give clear direction to the human space flight program. The Space Exploration, Development and Settlement Act will make human settlement of space a long-term goal of the United States. By setting such a bold goal, Congress will assure U.S. predominance in outer space for decades, reinvigorate STEM education, catalyze massive economic growth, and energize public support for the space program.  The bill does not advocate for a specific destination, launch vehicle or contractual arrangement, nor does it calls for the expenditure of additional funds. It is a short, simple bill and is intended to give NASA clear guidance: get humans into space, this time to stay.

Please contact your member of Congress today and ask them to co-sponsor the Space Exploration, Development and Settlement Act.

Once you’ve contacted your Member of Congress please let us know so we can follow up with them.  You can do so by emailing dale.skran@nss.org.  You can also email any questions you may have at the same address.

[Copy of the Act in PDF]

Who Ya Gonna Call? The Oklahoma Space Alliance

From Dale Skran, Chair, NSS Policy Committee:

NSS members often associate Congressional visits with events like the SEA Blitz, the March Storm, and the August Home District Blitz. Even so, the great majority of these visits are with staff, not the Senators/Congress members themselves.

Hence, it was with considerable surprise when the office of Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK District 1) called Steve Swift, the President of the local NSS Chapter (the Oklahoma Space Alliance) requesting a briefing on space matters. Bridentstine is on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and is Chair of the Subcommittee on Environment.

Steve and members of the Oklahoma Space Alliance ended up talking with the Congressman himself for 1-½ hours on February 18, 2015!  To prepare for this important meeting, the chapter prepared a four-page document of talking points. Although this document is localized to the situation in Oklahoma, it is a good model for any NSS Chapter to follow. Please join me in congratulating Steve and the Oklahoma Space Alliance on this significant achievement!!!

March Storm now a joint SFF/NSS project – Join Up!

March Storm

By Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

Please consider joining the MARCH STORM Congressional action event organized by the Space Frontier Foundation and the National Space Society March 15-19. The MARCH STORM focuses on space development and settlement via a specific and practical set of requested actions. You can expect topics to include a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, establishing settlement and development of space as an official purpose of NASA, full funding for Commercial Crew, and increased funding for commercial research on the ISS. The basic commitment is to a training session on Sunday, March 15, and to at least one day on the Hill – March 16, 17, 18, or 19 to accommodate different schedules. Supporters with more time can sign up for multiple days. If you are interested, register ASAP at www.marchstorm.com. I plan on joining the MARCH STORM and look forward to seeing you there.

National Space Society and Space Frontier Foundation announce the formation of the Alliance for Space Development

The National Space Society (NSS) and the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) will announce the formation of the jointly managed Alliance for Space Development (ASD) at a media event on 25 February in Washington DC. ASD (allianceforspacedevelopment.org) is dedicated to influencing space policy toward the goals of space development and settlement. At press time the LifeBoat Foundation, the Mars Society, the Mars Foundation, the Space Development Steering Committee, the Space Tourism Society, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, Students on Capitol Hill, Tea Party in Space, and the Texas Space Alliance have also joined ASD. Charles Miller, Executive Coordinator of ASD, said “We’re delighted at the support ASD, and the focused, coordinated, year-long strategy it represents, has received in the space community.”

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R) and Representative Chaka Fattah (D) will co-host the press conference in the House Space Subcommittee hearing room in the Rayburn office building. Chair of the NSS Executive Committee Mark Hopkins said: “NSS is proud to be a founding member of ASD. We see space as a place not just to visit but to stay. The time is right to galvanize the space community toward a greater focus on space development and settlement.” SFF President James Pura said: “The Space Frontier Foundation sees the new Alliance as an important way to advance the central issue for the next era of space—the development and settlement of space as a growing contributor to human prosperity and well being.”

ASD is organized around three key goals: (1) making the development and settlement of space clearly defined parts of why we are sending humans into space, (2) reducing the cost of access to space, and (3) stimulating and accelerating the growth of space industries.

In 2015, ASD objectives include (1) incorporation of space development and settlement into the NASA Space Act, (2) a four-point plan to reduce the cost of access to space, (3) full support of the Commercial Crew program as requested by the Administration, and (4) increasing the utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) while ensuring a gapless transition to private space stations with NASA helping with development and acting as an anchor tenant.

The ASD 2015 legislative strategy is a unified action plan that incorporates previously uncoordinated projects and activities, such as the March Storm (www.marchstorm.com), the August Home District Blitz (www.nss.org/legislative) and other activities of ASD member organizations.

The International Space Station as a Research Hub

From Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee:

One of the major foci of the NSS Policy Committee has been and continues to be supporting the International Space Station and the associated critical Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) programs.  One reason both are so important to the ISS lies in the incredible value of the ability to both move new experiments to the ISS on a regular basis, and to return experimental results when they are ready.  It should be noted that the Russian Soyuz is a very tight fit for the three astronauts, and it has virtually no return-to-Earth cargo capacity.  Thus, without the CRS SpaceX Dragon, there would be no way to return experiments to Earth. NASA has produced the interesting half-hour video below that reviews science and technology efforts on the ISS during 2014.

February Legislative Blitz and March Storm

Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2015 Legislative Blitz

The National Space Society will be participating in the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2015 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. When registering for the SEA Blitz we request that you answer the last question by saying that you will represent NSS.

We are currently planning on holding a special dinner training session for NSS members only on the evening of Sunday, February 22nd, following the SEA training session. Dale Skran, Deputy 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-only session.

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 will be 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 22-24, 2015.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

March Storm

If February in Washington DC is too cold for you, consider joining the March Storm Congressional action event organized by the Space Frontier Foundation March 15-19. The March Storm focuses more narrowly on space development than the SEA Blitz. You can expect topics being pushed to include a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and increased funding for commercial research on the ISS. The basic commitment is to a training session on Sunday, March 15, and to one day on the Hill on March 16th. Supporters with more time can join additional Congressional visits on March 17/18/19. If you are interested, register at joshuajenkins.wix.com/marchstorm2015 with an email to dale.skran@nss.org.

I plan on joining the MARCH STORM March 15-16th, and look forward to seeing you there.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

NSS August Home District Blitz

If you live too far from Washington to participate in the SEA 2015 Blitz or the March Storm Blitz, NSS organizes a “home district” Blitz later in the year during August when Congress is in recess and members of Congress are most probably in their home districts. This Blitz supports an agenda that is fully determined by NSS. If you are interested in participating in the home district visits please send an email to dale.skran@nss.org. This email should contain your contact information. Please indicate in the email if you are willing to act as a local visit organizer in addition to joining a visit trip. We need at least one local organizer in each state, and especially encourage multiple volunteers for larger states such as California and Texas.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

NSS at the Atlantic Council

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair of the NSS Policy Committee,  and Scott Pace, NSS Board of Governors, spoke at “The Final Frontier: Renewing America’s Space Program,” an Atlantic Council event held September16, 2014 at the Newseum in Washington DC.  Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., the Chairman of the Atlantic Council, opened the meeting.  The first major speech was by Jill Tarter, former Director of the Center for SETI Research, SETI Institute, and the model for the Jodie Foster character in the movie CONTACT.  Along with a call for the search for extraterrestrial life, Tarter supported two major NSS themes: asteroid mining and protecting the Earth from cosmic impacts (see the NSS position paper on this topic).

Scott Pace, Director of the Center for International Science and Technology Policy and Director, Space Policy Institute, The George Washington University, participated in the first panel, moderated by Jeff Foust of Space News (a video of the full 2-hour panel is available on YouTube).  The title of this panel was “Sustaining NASA Human Space Exploration” and much of the discussion was in response to the recent National Research Council report on Human Spaceflight.  Many of the other panel members had been part of the NRC committee that produced the Human Spaceflight report.  A notable panel member was Hannah Kerner, Board Chair of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), and also of Planet Labs, who made the case for space settlement as the primary horizon goal for humans in space as opposed to the “footprints on Mars” position taken by the NRC report.

Dale Skran supported the second panel, titled “Pathways to Collaboration,” moderated by Damon Wilson of the Atlantic Council (video of the full 90-minute panel is also available on YouTube).  Other participants included Jeff Feige (Space Frontier Foundation and CEO of Orbital Outfitters), John M. Olson (VP Space Systems, Sierra Nevada Corporation), and William Pomerantz (VP Special Projects, Virgin Galactic).  The discussion focused on human space flight cooperation with commercial entities and international groups.  A Storify summary of both panels can be found on the Atlantic Council website.

Atlantic Council panel
Dale Skran (center), Deputy Chair of the NSS Policy Committee, participates in Atlantic Council panel.