Water-Propelled Spacecraft Prepares for Takeoff: The Cislunar Explorer Kickstarter

The National Space Society is part of the NASA CubeQuest Challenge’s Cislunar Explorers team, whose goal is to demonstrate the first-time use of electrolyzed water as propellant and demonstrate a new optical navigation capability. All designs, software, techniques, even the lessons we learn will be posted on the internet, open-source for anybody to use.

This project not only demonstrates technologies critical to opening space to everybody, it is providing the knowledge to do it too. For more information, see the NSS Cislunar Explorers Project webpage.

If you’d like to be a part of this exciting project by donating, see the Cislunar Explorer Kickstarter page. If our team wins an in-space prize ($1.5 million is slated for the teams attaining lunar orbit), NSS will get a share of the prize equal to the donations that come through NSS. In effect, your donation will get twice the bang for the buck! In order for this to happen, we need one additional step so we can track how much in donations come through NSS (the Kickstarter site won’t track that). Just send an email to dean.larson@nss.org stating the amount of your pledge. No other information is required.

The National Space Society Congratulates Boeing on 100 Years of Aerospace Excellence

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates the Boeing Company on reaching its 100th anniversary, and doing so while continuing to be the world leader in the aerospace business.

Boeing

NSS acknowledges and greatly appreciates the tremendous role that Boeing and its heritage companies McDonnell Douglas, North American Aviation, Hughes, Jeppesen, and Stearman has played in the development of all U.S. human spacecraft that have ever flown: from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo to the Space Shuttle and now the International Space Station.

Thanks to Boeing, humanity is now truly living and working in space.

But today – 50 years into the Space Age – the number of people living in space is still less than 10. The NSS vision is to see thousands and eventually millions of people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and harvesting the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.

NSS was therefore very happy to view the recent Boeing “You Just Wait” commercial (above), and to hear the words of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who said Friday, “In another 100 years, we might make daily trips to space, fly across the globe in less than an hour, or receive unlimited clean power from solar satellites.” As the largest and oldest non-profit advocate for civil and commercial human spaceflight and space solar power, NSS believes that Boeing is up to the challenge and that all of these achievements will come to pass, and well before its 200th anniversary.

NSS applauds the dedication and hard work that Boeing is putting into the construction and support of the International Space Station, the amazing operational success of the reusable X-37B space plane, the return of American astronauts to space via the CST-100 Starliner, and its portion of the NASA Space Launch System. NSS wishes all of Boeing the best of success on these and other endeavors.

Over the 42 year history of NSS, numerous Boeing employees have volunteered to serve as NSS Directors, Officers, and other leaders. They have brought with them Boeing Company core values of dedication and high ethical and work standards. This has had a positive impact on the evolution of NSS extending even to its guiding principles of human rights, ethics, and pragmatism.

NSS looks forward to continuing its working relationship with Boeing during the next 100 years. From all of us to all of Boeing: Happy 100th and Ad Astra!

National Space Society Urges Presidential Signing of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

On November 10, 2015, the Senate passed H.R. 2262, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA). The House responded on November 16, 2015 by passing the final version as well. NSS congratulates both the Senate and House leadership for their hard work in hammering out a compromise between the previously passed House and Senate versions. “The CSLCA is a large and important pro-space bill that contains some vitally important steps toward space development and settlement,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “NSS has been campaigning for the extension of the International Space Station, and NSS is delighted to see that the CSLCA formally extends the ISS to 2024.”

Other provisions in the CSLCA extend the so-called “learning period” for commercial human space flight by seven years, allowing the nascent space tourism industry to get a running start before full-on FAA regulations are put in place. Additionally, commercial space operators are allowed to both operate experimental and operational spacecraft at the same time, which was previously prohibited by law. “NSS has been working hard for both of these changes over the last year,” said Mark Hopkins, Chair of the NSS Executive Committee. “NSS believes that space tourism, including sub-orbital tourism, is one of the best routes to creating a low-cost road to the high frontier of space.”

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 (www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart6.html). “The establishment of the right to mine asteroids and profit from the results is an event of historic importance,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President.

The CSLCA contains a large number of additional provisions, each important in some fashion to advancing the development of space resources. “Of particular interest are the provisions encouraging U.S. leadership in space commerce, including remote sensing,” said Stan Rosen, a member of the NSS Policy Committee. “When combined with initiatives related to space traffic management, orbital debris and others, they make the CSLCA the most important space legislation in many years.”

One hurdle remains for the CSLCA – signing by President Obama. “This legislation is critical for our future in space. NSS urges that the President sign the CSLCA,” said Dale Skran.

Voting Is Open For The Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest

NSS Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest Vote
Enterprise In Space Project

Voting is open for the public to select their favorite entry in the National Space Society (NSS) Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest. The purpose of the Enterprise In Space (EIS) project is to build and return to Earth a satellite that will carry approximately 100 student experiments to low-Earth-orbit. Upon its return to Earth the satellite will go on a tour of museums world-wide before becoming a permanent exhibit at a museum to be named.

The public vote represents the first round in the selection process. The results of this vote will be a key consideration in the final round of judging which involves a panel of seven judges. These judges will formally select the Grand Prize, First Prize, and Second Prize winners. In addition to the results of the public vote, the judges will consider design feasibility as well as submission adherence to contest guidelines.

Voting ends at midnight UTC on December 21.

Vote now in the Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest.

Update: Close of voting has been extended from midnight UTC Fri. Dec 19 to midnight UTC Sun. Dec 21 to give people the opportunity to vote over the weekend.

Students from India win Space Settlement Design Contest

The Grand Prize for the 2011 NASA/NSS Space Settlement Contest went to a  team of seven high school students from Punjab, India, for their double-torus space settlement design called Hyperion. The winning design was selected from 355 submissions from 14 countries.

The Hyperion Space Settlement has a diameter of 1.8 kilometers and would provide a safe and pleasant living and working environment for 18,000 full time residents and an additional population (not to exceed 2,000) of business and official visitors, guests of residents, and vacationers. The settlement would be constructed primarily from lunar materials and be located at the Earth-Moon L4 libration point.

Hyperion Space Settlement
Hyperion Space Settlement

The complete Hyperion design is available for download as a 96-page, 11 MB PDF file.

The winning student team consists of Gaurav Kumar, Deepak Talwar, Harman Jot Singh Walia, Mahiyal B. Singh, Kaenat Seth, Ishaan Mehta, and Navdeep Singh Makkar. They write: “We would like to express thanks to NSS/NASA for this amazing platform that they have created which brings out the best in every individual. It has really helped us chase our dream and bring something we had only imagined to a global stage where it will be judged by the best. We feel elated to be a part of this lifetime experience and that is why we are really grateful to NSS/NASA from the very bottom of our hearts.”

Thoughts on the proposed NASA 2011 Budget . . .

“The National Space Society (NSS) commends NASA and the Executive Branch for proposing to increase spending for science, technology, and sustainable economic development in space; however, we believe the President’s 2011 budget request would leave the job only partly done.”

We need to support a space program (human and robotic) that goes beyond low-Earth orbit. 

We need a space program that will bring the inner solar system into our economic sphere and extend human presence throughout the solar system in accordance with U.S. national space policy, by adopting a long-term vision including power and materials from space.

The confluence of interests necessary to establish and maintain a national Space Policy is forged from a potent blend of promise, political interest, and economic wisdom … the promise of new real wealth — in terms of knowledge, resources, and technology;  the political interest of the body politic, and those that serve it; and last, but not least, the economic wisdom to choose goals and missions sufficiently compelling that they can and will endure across multiple administrations.

The proposed NASA 2011 Budget is pregnant with opportunity, laying forth a cornucopia of constructive endeavors in a reasoned programmatic framework while at the same time seeking to strike a balance between proposed funding and the programs to be carried forward. 

That said, technology development without requirements, without a set of missions that it is intended to enable, runs the risk of irrelevance if not being deemed a squandering of resources.

The challenge before us is to establish policy that sustains the confluence of interests necessary to achieve the future we wish to see come to pass … people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.

We need to support and expect a bright future in space, and the private sector cannot do it all alone.

Our space endeavors, government and commercial, provide strategic capabilities that define us as a nation and help maintain our leadership in the peaceful exploration and development of space.  

We need a comprehensive space program worthy of a nation willing to lead on the space frontier.  

Accordingly, whatever restructuring of NASA’s future is sustained and funded by this Congress, and those that come later, should be held to the standard of goals and destinations that foster the expansion of human activities and civilization into space beyond low Earth orbit. 

Ad Astra!

– Gary P. Barnhard

Dennis Wingo on Augustine Commission

Beyond Augustine by Dennis Wingo in On Orbit

There are many ideas that have been scoffed at or sidelined, like In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) that could be brought back into the mix. Ion propulsion space tugs are also much closer to reality than what most people think. Advanced computers and electronics could be introduced into space as well. There is no reason for not flying state of the art computers, software, and advanced analysis capability. This reluctance to use the advances in computers in space that we take for granted on the ground is a major impediment to lowering the operational costs of space exploration.

Dennis makes great points in this article that, if we are slowing down our post Shuttle/Station Program we can use the time to figure out how to go beyond LEO cheaper and better, even if it is slower.

From Olduvai Gorge to the Sea of Tranquility

[Olduvai+Gorge+to+the+Sea+of+Tranquillity+(1).jpg]

By far the two most remarkable photographs of the twentieth century are the ones shown above. For they encapsulate the whole evolutionary and cultural history of humanity and its possible destiny.

In 1978, paleontogist Mary Leaky and her team discovered the earliest hominid footprints (dated to be three and a half million years old) preserved in the volcanic ash at Laetoli, forty-five kilometers south of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. They belong to one of our proto human ancestors – Australopithecus afarensis. The picture above shows one of these fossil footprints next to the boot print left by Neil Armstrong in the volcanic soil of Mare Tranquilitatis (the Sea of Tranquility).

It is very symbolic of the giant evolutionary leap forward we have taken as a species. From Olduvai Gorge to the Sea of Tranquility, we humans have traveled very far.

Exploration has always been vital to the survival of our species and an integral component of our evolutional heritage and survival imperative. The lure and call of distant lands and new horizons is rooted in our very genes.

The descendents of Australopithecus afarensis – Homo Erectus eventually migrated out of Africa some two million years ago and were to disperse throughout the old World. This was the first of four major waves of human migration from Africa culminating in the last major migration some sixty thousand years ago of fully modern humans (Homo sapiens, sapiens).

Since April 2005 through the efforts of Dr. Spencer Welles and the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project we have begun to map out the migratory story of the human Diaspora out of Africa out onto a wider global stage. This evolutionary step and the migrations that preceded it were vital to humanity’s long term survival in the face of the vicissitudes of a changing global climate.

Eventually the descendents of this last major migration would spread out from the Old Worlds of Europe and Asia into the New Worlds of the Americas and Australia.

It was during this phase of the human story that we became a planetary species. Eventually we discovered agriculture, built the first cities, developed culture and writing and became the pioneers of a totally new domain of evolution.

We are the pioneers of a whole new form of evolution which is distinctly non-biological. This new realm of evolution is Cultural Evolution. It is this new dominion of evolution that has made us the most dominant life form on this planet and has set us on a trajectory that will one day take us out amongst the stars.

In this epoch of human history we face many dangers both old and new. The past has shown us that many species have been wiped off the evolutionary stage because of catastrophic climatic shifts, super-volcanism and asteroidal bombardment. Our species is no different. Some seventy-five thousand years ago our species barely survived a long volcanic winter triggered by the supereruption of Lake Toba on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. And, at least one ancient culture – the Clovis people of North America, may have met their demise as a result of the celestial equivalent of a 9/11 event. Some thirteen thousand years ago a comet exploded over North America, wiping out the mega fauna of that continent, and the people who hunted them, off the face of the Earth.

Today we still face the threats of climate change (both natural and anthropogenic), resource depletion and the products of our own technological folly: environmental degradation, resource depletion, total nuclear warfare, and biological terrorism. Our intelligence and the fact that we were disperse globally helped ensure our survival as a species.

Yet, our species is curious, brave and shows much promise. We are graced with a towering intellect that stands poised on its next evolutionary leap that may one day take us beyond the Sea of Tranquility and ensure our long term survival.

Neil Armstrong’s one small step for [a] man was the culmination of the greatest scientific, technological and cultural advance in human history. It was indeed a giant leap for mankind. It proved, beyond any question of doubt, that humankind had taken the first evolutionary stride in becoming a multi-planetary species. The time has now come to venture further out on this vast new ocean of space and to chart humanity’s Diaspora out amongst the stars.

We must return to the Moon, this time to stay. We must learn to utilize the vast untapped energy and mineral treasures of the Moon and the Near Earth Asteroids. We must eventually settle the entire solar system from the planet Mars and out to the edge of the solar system. One day our species will continue its migration out into the Milky Way Galaxy. But, this is very far from being our assured manifest destiny. The choice is entirely ours to make. Humans have labeled their species “Homo sapiens, sapiens” – wise, wise man. The time has now come to use our double measure of wisdom to climb out of planetary cradle and take our evolutionary destiny into our own hands and transform ourselves from Homo sapiens, into Homo Stellaris and find our home among the stars.

Only then can we ensure the long term survival and immortality of humanity.

Exvironmentalism

Dr. John Bossard has come up with this new term.

“Exvironmentalism”. The word environment comes from the word “environ”. Your “environs” would be the places in you immediate region around you. It comes from the old French word which literally means “to turn in a circle inwards” (en- in, viron- a circle or circuit, virer- to turn). So the environment is the firmament in which you circle around in, inwards. Thus, the word exviron would connote “to turn in a circle outwards”. The exvironment would thus be the firmament that we would circle out into.

We can use the definitions to reframe our considerations, to open up the notions life-expansion and life preservation, and to use the best of the ideas of environmentalism and the transition of mankind off the planet and out into the cosmos. We can positively combine these ideas, these philosophies, to make something better than the sum of the parts. This then, is the essence of Exvironmentalism: the synergy of the space movement, the environmental movement, and perhaps many others, to productively encourage, identify, and promote the expansion of life outwards from the planet Earth, and into the Cosmos.- from Plasma Wind’s Contribution to the Space Settlement Blog Day

Exvironmentalism is just what we need to pursue. Expanding the biosphere beyond Earth. While using space resources to allow the preservation of Earth’s biosphere. Space and environmentalism are not in conflict.

In fact the only way in the long term to protect Earth’s enivronment is to gain acess to resources off of Earth. If our desendants are limited to Earth eventually they will use every posible resource avalible in order to survive regardless of how many species it drives into extintion, or how few trees there are left standing. A closed system is finite and all non renewable resources will eventually run out as well as all renewable resources which do not renew fast enough. If given a choice between survival and environmental protection most people will pick survival every time. If we do not gain access to space resources we will be putting our descendants in that position.

Space Solar Power is a perfect example of Exvironmentalism. Space solar power is clean, carbon free, baseload power. If made from lunar resources it will have virtually no effect on earth’s environment.
Terrestrial solar on the other hand can damage sensitive desert environments, wind can kill raptors, neither provides base load power. This not even considering the effect of the smart grid running new power lines through sensitive areas to take renewable power to existing cities.  Or the fact that for the cost of the Smart Grid we could be delivering Space Solar Power right out side of the major cities.

We need to think in terms of Exvironmentalism and combine space development and evironmental protection. Earth is the only planet which we know can support life it is precious, we must protect it.  Humans are the product of millions of years of evolution, we have a rare gift intelligence we must use our intelligence to protect our less intelligent cousins from the dangers of the universe as well as from our own greed and thoughtlessness.

Post Script -Right after I finished writing this post I found an article which shows the alternative to expanding the resource base. The Radical Population Control And Eugenics Agenda Of The Global Elite

Who is Karen Shea?

I am, Karen Cramer Shea.  I have been around the Space Movement in many different capacites for my entire life.  The first party I helped host, at two months of age, was Dr. Joseph P. Allen’s going away party when he was leaving the Nuclear Physics Lab at the University of Washington to join the Astronaut corps. (Dr. Allen was the one who played Atlas with a satellite when the robotic arm on the shuttle failed on one of its first missions.) As a small child my best friend’s father was a Lunar Geologist. After the end of Apollo I drifted away for a while.

When I regained my interest in space the ISDC in Toronto was one of the first conferences I attended.  I later helped found the Seattle NSS chapter; got my Masters Degree in Space Policy from the George Washington University; tracked all the rocket launches and Satellites for the FAA; attended International Space University Summer Session in Cleveland; and Help TGV Rockets Develop their Business Plan.

Now, I am editor of the NSS Blog.  I look forward to reading your comments.

Ad Luna,

Karen Shea