National Space Society Applauds SpaceX First Stage Drone Ship Landing and Successful Launch of CRS8/BEAM to the ISS

With a successful launch on April 8 at 4:43 PM EST, 2016 SpaceX achieved several dramatic milestones on their first supply run to the International Space Station (ISS) following the loss of a Falcon 9 in June of 2015. For the first time ever, the first stage of a rocket both returned intact to Earth and landed on a drone ship at sea. This new capability will enable lower-cost access to space by saving the fuel otherwise needed to fly the first stage back to the launch site, which SpaceX has previously demonstrated.

Falcon barge landing

In addition to this remarkable achievement, the Falcon 9 lofted the Cargo Resupply Services 8 mission (CRS-8) to the ISS. This is the 10th flight of the Dragon spacecraft. Once the Dragon docks at the ISS, for only the second time ever there will be six spacecraft attached to the ISS (Dragon CRS-8, Cygnus CRS OA-6, two Progress, and two Soyuz lifeboats). The Dragon contains a variety of experiments, including a cargo of live rats which will be used to test drugs that may combat the weakening of bones in space and on Earth.

In addition to pressurized cargo in the Dragon, an unpressurized “trunk” houses the 1,413 kilogram Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), an inflatable module that will be attached to the ISS for two years to test this new technology. The module, once inflated, will be 13.2 feet by 10.6 feet, and will provide a total volume of 564 cubic feet.

“In this mission it is hard to know what to be the most excited about,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX continues to break new ground in lowering the cost of going into space, and the drone ship landing is key to maximizing the amount that can be lifted into space by a first stage that is flying back to Earth. BEAM will pave the way for more affordable future commercial and deep space stations.”

Recently Blue Origin re-used its sub-orbital New Shepard booster on a flight to the Karman line (the edge of space) for the third time and returned the rocket to its launch site for further re-use. “Competition like that seen between Blue Origin and SpaceX is the key to rapid progress in space,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President. “NSS has strongly supported competition in both the NASA Commercial Re-supply Services program and the Commercial Crew program. Today’s drone ship landing is a direct result of the competitive, commercial nature of these efforts, and NSS advocates extending these types of programs into cis-lunar space.”

Lowering the cost of access to space is key to NSS’s vision of our future in space (see www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap) and today’s events have brought that future materially closer.

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Mr. Orlando Figueroa to Receive the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Non-Legislative Government Service

Orlando FigueroaMr. Orlando Figueroa is a winner of the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for non-Legislative Government Service. This award recognizes the work he has done at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA Headquarters, including serving as the NASA Deputy Chief Engineer, Director for Mars Exploration, and other important positions at Goddard in engineering, management and as a Deputy Center Director for Science and Technology.

“It is an honor to be recognized for whatever contribution I and the NASA teams I was privileged to lead made to the exploration of space and to science, and to be able to enjoy as much,” said Mr. Figueroa.

Mr. Figueroa will accept the award on May 19 at the National Space Society’s 2016 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2016). This will be the 35th ISDC and will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino. The conference will run from May 18-22, 2016.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at left, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, citizen astronaut Anouseh Ansari, Dr. Kip Thorne, and the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission team.

About Mr. Orlando Figueroa 

After starting work at the Goddard Space Flight Center in 1978, Mr. Figueroa served as manager and director of a very wide variety of Programs and organizations at NASA Goddard and at NASA Headquarters. His work on cryogenics may assist future development for storage and the transfer in space of such liquids as rocket propellants. Cryogenic storage and transfer technology is an enabler for reusable in-space vehicles and routine space operations.

NSS especially appreciates his many accomplishments during his years as Director for Mars Exploration. After the double failures of the 1998-9 Mars missions, just five years later Dr. Figueroa led NASA’s achievement of the double successes of Spirit and Opportunity. These were dramatic comebacks for NASA and the planetary program. These programs are vital for both basic planetary science and to provide climate and geological information about Mars for future human exploration. The confidence building successes of the Mars Exploration Rovers led directly to the development of the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, while the Opportunity rover is still collecting vital geological information 12 years later.

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Winners of 2016 NSS Space Settlement Student Art Contest Announced

NSS has opened a new website gallery for the 2016 NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement International Student Art Contest.

The Grand Prize winning entry, entitled “Pioneers of the Cosmos,” paints a picture of hope for the future of humanity. Successful habitation of an orbital space settlement and propagation of the human species in space has been accomplished. The foreground of this image reveals an intimate family setting after the birth of a new baby. Neptune, reflected in a light sail, and its moon Triton are visible in the background through the large window of the birthing room.

Pioneers of the Cosmos

“Pioneers of the Cosmos” is a digital painting by Adrianna Allen, a student from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI, where she is working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Medical Illustration. She has a website at photonillustration.com.

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BEAM Me Up, Elon: Inflatable Module Sets Off to ISS

By Alyssa Samson

Like a page out of a sci-fi novel, balloon-like rooms might be the future of space habitation. On Friday, April 8th, SpaceX is scheduled to launch the latest technology for space habitats, an inflatable module called Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), created by Bigelow Aerospace. Weighing about 14,000 kilograms, this new space module might hold the key to sustainable, livable space conditions – providing working and residency areas for astronauts with reduced costs.

The 8-foot bundle will travel aboard the Dragon spacecraft for two days, where it will be attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and deployed. The module will be roughly the size of a car or small bedroom. Here is a 2-minute BEAM installation animation:

BEAM will be tested by the ISS for roughly two years. While no astronauts will live in the module while it’s in space, they will periodically inspect it and record data. Scientists will use the designated time to determine its radiation protection capability, transportation effectiveness, as well as the product’s design performance – such as thermal and structural durability. BEAM has been designed with multiple thick layers of fabric to help prevent damage against space debris.

Findings from this two year mission will allow Bigelow engineers to modify the company’s larger model, the B330, which is designed to hold six astronauts and have a lifespan of roughly 20 years.

“The International Space Station is a uniquely suited test bed to demonstrate innovative exploration technologies like the BEAM,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA Headquarters. “Using the station’s resources, we’ll learn how humans can work effectively with this technology in space, as we continue to advance our understanding in all aspects for long-duration spaceflight aboard the orbiting laboratory.”

When the ISS has gathered data from BEAM for two years, the station will then release the module and it will burn up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere.

Bigelow Aerospace has two inflatable prototypes already launched into space – the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Inflatable modules are an attractive option for space habitats because of their cargo efficiency; they are lightweight and conserve fuel. If this mission proves to be successful, inflatable modules might be part of a deep space mission or more.

Have a safe flight, BEAM!

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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:

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Alabama [and America] should lead in space solar power

NSS Board of Directors member Peter Garretson is co-author of an article on space solar power in the Montgomery Advertiser, stating:

Being the first to establish Space Solar Power systems will establish who is the “Saudi Arabia of Green Energy.” Space Solar Power is as significant an industrial development as the airplane, the automobile, the locomotive, or the steam ship. It will determine which is the richest and most powerful nation on Earth and beyond.

…Already China is ahead in the only space race that matters—a competition that will decide who writes the rules in the multi-hundred-of-trillions-of-dollars economy that will emerge (yes, you read that right). They have a national program in Space Solar Power. America does not.

…China—the country that built the massive three gorges dam, completed its Shanghai maglev high speed rail in just three years—is planning a hundred kilowatt on-orbit demo just nine years from now, and a hundred megawatt demo five years later.

Read the full article.

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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

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Dr. Ellen Ochoa to Receive the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Non-Legislative Government Service

Ellen OchoaDr. Ellen Ochoa is the winner of the Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Non-Legislative Government Service. This award recognizes Ochoa’s career serving as a professional engineer, a shuttle astronaut, the first hispanic woman in space, and subsequently in very important management positions in NASA, including her current position as the Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Ellen will accept the award on May 19 at the National Space Society’s 2016 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2016). This will be the 35th ISDC and will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino. The conference will run from May 18-22, 2016. The public is invited to attend ISDC in order to view the award presentation.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at left, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, citizen astronaut Anouseh Ansari, Dr. Kip Thorne, and the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission team.

About Dr. Ellen Ochoa 

After receiving a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1985, Dr. Ochoa did research at both Sandia National Laboratories and NASA Ames Research Center. Her achievements include significant engineering work in optics, in information (signal-to-noise) in images, and as Chief of the Intelligent Systems Technology Branch at NASA Ames. She also served as a shuttle astronaut for over a decade, making four flights, from 1993 to 2002. Ochoa then served as Deputy Director and Director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center, focusing on the Astronaut Office and Aircraft Operations, and later as Deputy Center Director. Then, on the first day of 2013, Dr. Ochoa became the Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, a position she currently holds. Johnson has been the focus for human spacecraft operations for most of NASA’s history. Dr. Ochoa’s directorship of JSC will have a significant impact on the future of human spaceflight.

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China and Space Solar Power

From article China Plans to Build Space Solar Power Stations:

“Lt Gen. Zhang Yulin, deputy chief of the armament development department of the Central Military Commission, suggested that China would next begin to exploit Earth-Moon space for industrial development. The goal would be the construction of space-based solar power satellites that would beam energy back to Earth.”

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NSS and Space Solar Power

NSS Chair of the Executive Committee Mark Hopkins is mentioned in this interesting article on space solar power.

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