New Book: Psychology of Space Exploration

A new NASA publication is now available for free download from the NSS website: Psychology of Space Exploration — Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective, edited by Douglas Vakoch. The 267-page book is NASA Special Publication SP-4411 (2011).

Publishers description:

As we stand poised on the verge of a new era of spaceflight, we must rethink every element, including the human dimension. This book explores some of the contributions of psychology to yesterday’s great space race, today’s orbiter and International Space Station missions, and tomorrow’s journeys beyond Earth’s orbit. Early missions into space were typically brief, and crews were small, often drawn from a single nation. As an intensely competitive space race has given way to international cooperation over the decades, the challenges of communicating across cultural boundaries and dealing with interpersonal conflicts have become increasingly important, requiring different coping skills and sensibilities from “the right stuff” of early astronauts.

As astronauts travel to asteroids or establish a permanent colony on the Moon, with the eventual goal of reaching Mars, the duration of expeditions will increase markedly, as will the psychosocial stresses. Away from their home planet for extended times, future spacefarers will need to be increasingly self-sufficient and autonomous while they simultaneously deal with the complexities of heterogeneous, multicultural crews. Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective provides an analysis of these and other challenges facing future space explorers while at the same time presenting new empirical research on topics ranging from simulation studies of commercial spaceflights to the psychological benefits of viewing Earth from space.

In addition to examining contemporary psychological research, each essay also explicitly addresses the history of the psychology of space exploration. Leading contributors to the field place the latest theories and empirical findings in historical context by examining changes in space missions over the past half century, as well as reviewing developments in psychological science during the same period. The essays are innovative in their approaches and conclusions, providing novel insights for behavioral researchers and historians alike.

SpaceWorks Commercial Releases Analysis of Its First Revenue Space Solar Power Satellite Concept

The latest addition to the NSS Space Solar Power Library is a new paper released by SpaceWorks Commercial entitled “Operational Demonstration of Space Solar Power (SSP): Economic Analysis of a First Revenue Satellite (FRS)” [PDF], presented at the recent 28th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science (ISTS) in Japan.

The FRS would be a mid-power (1-20 MW of delivered power) space-to-ground demonstrator of SSP. The purpose would be two-fold: prove the end-to-end technical capability and then demonstrate operations over multiple years. The system would be turned over to commercial operators for public/private service.

Space Solar Power with Small, Operational Single-Launch Satellites

The latest addition to the NSS Space Solar Power Library is a paper by Al Globus which he presented at the 2011 International Space Development Conference: Towards an Early Profitable Power Satellite Part II. Globus investigated technologies and designs that could deliver small, operational single-launch power satellites for niche markets. A reasonably sized R&D program could jump start the project into a vigorous space solar power industry. Indeed, the necessary precursor work may be significantly easier than the paper suggests, with an almost 31% efficiency under space conditions. And if you missed it, here is Part 1 of the paper from 2010.

ISDC 2011 Video Presentation – Paul Spudis

Paul Spudis Dr. Paul Spudis: Cislunar Space – The Next Frontier. Dr. Spudis, of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Huston, was presented the 2011 NSS Space Pioneer Award for Scientific and Engineering Paper for his paper on “Mission and Implementation of an Affordable Lunar Return.” 32 minute video (slides and paper included).

New International Law Textbook Discusses Lunar Real Estate

A new international law textbook contains an article on “Space Settlements, Property Rights, and International Law: Could a Lunar Settlement Claim the Lunar Real Estate it Needs to Survive?” by Alan Wasser and Douglas Jobes. Wasser, a former CEO of the National Space Society, argues in favor of “Land Claims Recognition” to help fund lunar settlements.

If and when the Moon and Mars are settled in the future through other incentives, the nations of Earth will eventually have to recognize these settlements’ authority over their own land. But to create an incentive now, governments would need to commit to recognizing that ownership in advance, rather than long after the fact.

Land claims recognition legislation would commit the Earth’s nations, in advance, to allowing a true private Lunar settlement to claim and sell (to people back on Earth) a reasonable amount of Lunar real estate in the area around the base, thus giving the founders of the Moon settlement a way to earn back the investment they made to establish the settlement.

The 42-page article was originally published in the Journal of Air Law and Commerce, Vol. 73, No. 1, 2008. The full article in PDF format is available on the NSS website as part of the NSS Lunar Bases and Settlement Library (“Additional Papers” section).

The textbook, International Law: Contemporary Issues and Future Developments, edited by Sanford R. Silverburg, was published in March 2011 by Westview Press.

New Coalition for Space Exploration PSA Video

The Coalition for Space Exploration, of which the National Space Society is a member, has produced another in its series of short public service announcement videos intended to provide some answers to the question “Why spend money on space when we have so many problems here on Earth?”

The new video is called “Think Outside the Circle” and can be viewed on the NSS website by clicking on the image below.

Think Outside the Box

NSS Board Members Speak Their Minds

Several NSS Board members were “caught” on camera at the recent International Space Development Conference, speaking about how they got interested in NSS, the importance of space, and related topics. These short videos have been added to the Board biography pages on the NSS website. Board members featured are current Directors Anita GaleMark Hopkins, Kirby Ikin, Jeffrey Liss, Joe Redfield, Stan Rosen, and Jay Wittner; Governors Lon Levin and Frederick I. Orway III; and former Director Richard Godwin.

Defending Planet Earth: National Research Council Final Report

The latest addition to the NSS website Planetary Defense Library is Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report (June 2010), by the National Research Council. The 132 page book is available for free download or for purchase in hard copy.

Abstract: The United States spends approximately $4 million each year searching for near-Earth objects (NEOs). The objective is to detect those that may collide with Earth. The majority of this funding supports the operation of several observatories that scan the sky searching for NEOs. This, however, is insufficient in detecting the majority of NEOs that may present a tangible threat to humanity. A significantly smaller amount of funding supports ways to protect the Earth from such a potential collision or “mitigation.” In 2005, a Congressional mandate called for NASA to detect 90 percent of NEOs with diameters of 140 meters or greater by 2020. Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies identifies the need for detection of objects as small as 30 to 50 meters as these can be highly destructive. The book explores four main types of mitigation including civil defense, “slow push” or “pull” methods, kinetic impactors and nuclear explosions. It also asserts that responding effectively to hazards posed by NEOs requires national and international cooperation. Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies is a useful guide for scientists, astronomers, policy makers and engineers.

National Space Society Announces "NSS in Second Life" Machinima Contest Winner

The National Space Society announces that the winning video in the 2010 NSS in Second Life Machinima Contest is “Dreamer’s Journey” by Rocksea Renegade. Second Life is an online 3D virtual world where participants can interact as avatars. Machinima is an art form consisting of computer animation of such virtual worlds. Entries were required to have an outer space theme, with 50% of the video taking place in the National Space Society Second Life simulation. Musician Craig Lyons graciously permitted his music to be used in the videos.

Anyone may view the winning video plus the 10 other videos entered into this contest on the NSS website. Participation in NSS in Second Life requires registration and installation of free viewing software.

Space settlement is the alternative to a pessimistic future

NSS Senior Operating Officer Mark Hopkins writes on Alternative Futures in the latest issue of Ad Astra magazine:

Because the Earth is running out of resources, the media is full of stories about our limited future. The public has been told over and over again that we live on a planet with finite resources, that the economic system is closed, resource availability is declining, and the environment is deteriorating.

As a consequence, for the first time in history Americans are pessimistic. A fundamental part of the American dream is that each generation will be better off than the previous one. Polls taken before the current recession show that Americans no longer believe this to be true. Pessimism about the future among Europeans is even greater.

But the reason for all of this pessimism is not true. Members of the Space Movement know that resources are not limited to those which are available on Earth. We can tap into the truly vast resources that await in space. Space is the alternative to a pessimistic future.

Read full article.