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.

New NASA report on “Emerging Space” emphasizes private-public cooperation

When NASA was founded, only a government program could undertake a voyage from the Earth to the Moon. This may not be true in the future.

Thus begins a new NASA report, “Emerging Space” that emphasizes private-public cooperation in creating a “new economic ecosystem in space”. The 42-page, 44-megabyte report is available for free download in PDF format.

Emerging Space

Below are paragraphs from the first and last pages:

The next era of space exploration will see governments pushing technological development and the American private sector using these technologies as they expand their economic activities to new worlds. NASA’s next objectives for exploration—visits to asteroids and Mars—are more complex than any previous space mission attempted. They will happen in the context of relatively smaller NASA budgets and an expanding commercial space economy. Teaming with private sector partners to develop keystone markets like low Earth orbit (LEO) transportation and technological capabilities like asteroid mining will help NASA achieve its mission goals, help the space economy evolve to embrace new ambitions, and provide large economic returns to the taxpayer through the stimulation and growth of new businesses and 21st century American jobs.

Fifty years after the creation of NASA, our goal is no longer just to reach a destination. Our goal is to develop the capabilities that will allow the American people to explore, pioneer, and expand our economic sphere into the solar system. To do this we will build on our long-standing relationships with American industry by embracing new and diverse forms of partnerships. Private-sector leadership in space exploration was the normal state of affairs in America before the foundation of NASA. Today, we have recognized the advantages of that earlier model in terms of private-sector energy and initiative, combined it with NASA’s legacy of technical expertise and programmatic accomplishment, and have helped give rise to the birth of a ‘Second Space Age’. The space economy of the future will come about through the combined efforts of government, private industry, scientists, students and citizens, each playing their own unique and essential role. Together, we will create a new economic ecosystem in space that will hasten our journey into the cosmos.

National Space Society Praises Inclusion of Competition in NASA’s Commercial Crew Decision

The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) has been a consistent supporter of competition in NASA’s Commercial Crew program to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). NSS today congratulates the winners of the Commercial Crew competition, Boeing and SpaceX. NSS also thanks NASA for its diligent efforts to maintain real competition in the Commercial Crew program.

The selection of Boeing and SpaceX represents a major milestone toward ending US dependence on the Russian Soyuz to put American Astronauts into space. NSS urges that Congress fully fund this program with full competition at the amounts requested by NASA so that both companies can move forward with dispatch. Further, the continued operation of the International Space Station needs to be funded by Congress to 2024 as requested by the Administration and as far beyond that as practical to enable the full exploitation of the opportunities for commercial research offered by the ISS. A key element of any effort to create more return from the ISS will be the ability of both the Boeing and SpaceX craft to carry up to seven astronauts, potentially allowing the ISS to support a permanent crew of up to 14.

Commercial Crew
Image courtesy NASA

NSS believes that the selection of two Commercial Crew providers is also an essential first step toward the non-governmental development of the resources of Low Earth Orbit (LEO). We look forward to both Boeing and SpaceX supporting Bigelow private space stations in the near future. It is also the hope of NSS that Sierra Nevada will find non-NASA funds to continue the development of its Dream Chaser lifting body.

NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos summed up the situation: “This is a great moment for Boeing, SpaceX, and NASA. The door to the American future in space is opening wider, and we need to ensure that Commercial Crew is fully funded to keep it that way.”

National Space Society August 2014 Home District Blitz Report

By Dale L. Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee

During the month of August 2014, NSS volunteer Blitz teams visited 24 Representatives and Senators from states with a population totaling over 60 million and with a total of 76 representatives.

The August Blitz ran strong in California, boosted by the Space Society of Silicon Valley with help from the Sacramento L5 Society (led by Joe and Donna Bland) and new blitzers Brandon Larson, Doug Plata and Eric Opdahl. Teams participated in meetings with key leaders whose districts/states were blitzed: Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), House Ways & Means Committee Member Mike Thompson (CA-05), House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) and Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13).

The blitzed districts included those of three members of the House Space Sub-Committee: Ami Bera (CA-07), Julia Brownley (CA-26) and Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48).  In addition to this, blitz teams struck at the offices of key members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, including Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Scott Peters (CA-52). The Space Society of Silicon Valley made a practice of attempting to both talk to the Representative in the local district and the space staffers in the DC offices, noting “The hot topics were space commercialization, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, economic development, spaceport locality development, space research and STEM education. Space has a lot of support!”

Other key local coordinators include the Denver Space Society (Jim Barnard, President) and Karen Mermel (Illinois). Jim Barnard led the team that talked to Representative Mike Coffman (CO-6). Representative Coffman has most recently been in the public eye as one of three signers of an open letter to NASA Administrator Bolden calling attention to supposed “anomalies” in SpaceX operations.

The Oklahoma team led by NSS member Steve Swift met with Representative James Lankford (OK-5), who is running for a Senate seat with an excellent chance of winning. This is the kind of long-lead work that ultimately creates influence on Capitol Hill.

Dale Skran, NSS August Home District Blitz Coordinator, said “This was a great first effort and we learned a lot.  There was excellent web support from Fred Becker and David-Brandt Erichsen.  Larry Ahearn worked hard to get the word out to the chapters.  We’ll build on this effort and do more next year.”