Space Colonization and the Space Movement

By Mark Hopkins
Chair of the Executive Committee, National Space Society

The National Space Society (NSS) and its precursor organization, the L-5 Society, have been promoting Space Settlement since 1975. Our ultimate goal is nothing less than the settlement of space and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity. This goal has been moving toward the mainstream at an accelerating pace.

A discussion of recent progress (up until May 2015) can be found in “We Are Winning” (Ad Astra, Fall 2015). Since then the pace has continued to accelerate. Both SpaceX and Blue Origin, using only non-government funds, have returned launch vehicles to Earth for reuse, signaling an imminent reduction in space transportation costs. Space Settlement is the goal of both of these companies. The Space Exploration Development and Settlement Act was introduced in Congress on March 16, 2016. If passed, the SEDS Act would make Space Settlement an official goal of NASA (see “Victory: The Vision of NSS May Soon Become an Official Objective of NASA”). Most recently, Elon Musk, head of SpaceX, announced his company’s plans to send the first human mission to Mars as early as 2024. Musk also announced that he will detail SpaceX’s plans to settle Mars during the International Astronautical Congress in late September 2016. This announcement is likely to cause the goal of Space Settlement to make a major jump toward the mainstream.

NSS has been using the term Space Settlement rather than Space Colonization since our beginning in 1975. All of the other organizations in today’s Space Movement were founded after us and almost all followed our lead, using the term Space Settlement. This was done because in 1975 the word colonization had negative connotations. Much of the world was made up of former colonies that resented their former status.

However, the rapid move of Space Settlement toward the mainstream in the last few years has shown that society outside of Space Movement circles, and particularly outside of space circles, prefers the term Space Colonization. The recent hit movie The Martian provides an example. NSS considers the two terms Space Settlement and Space Colonization to be synonymous. Despite the 40-plus years of the Space Movement using the term Space Settlement, society may well push us to using the term Space Colonization in the future.

The Space Movement began in 1975. Space Colonization is its goal. (For articles about the Movement, see “The Space Movement” at www.nss.org/spacemovement). The advancement of this goal toward the mainstream is energizing the Movement. The greatest obstacle for the Space Movement has been credibility. Time and time again we have convinced influential people of the importance of Space Colonization only to have them become disenchanted after talking to space “experts” who have questioned its credibility. The ongoing destruction of this obstacle is creating an environment favorable to the explosive growth of the Space Movement.

Rapid progress toward convincing society as a whole of the importance of Space Colonization to the human future is now possible. NSS can reenergize the belief in the American dream, an ever-improving dramatic betterment of humanity, and a hopeful future for all.

A potential space colony. Artwork: Richard Bizley

Posted in Space Colonization, Space Settlement | Leave a comment

Space 2.0

Rod PyleThe National Space Society (NSS) is pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with space historian and author Rod Pyle (photo at right) to write a new book entitled Space 2.0. NSS plans to use the finished volume as a primary tool for outreach and STEM/STEAM educational efforts, as well as supporting the organization in the broader marketplace.

This new book will explore current efforts in space, and then, looking through the eyes of industry and government leaders, embark on a compelling narrative about the future development, exploration and settlement of the final frontier. Intended interviewees include Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Buzz Aldrin, Andy Weir, Lori Garver, and Sir Richard Branson, among others.

Space 2.0 will be published in oversize format, lavishly illustrated with approximately 300 full-color images, and competitively priced to assure maximum accessibility. The book is currently scheduled to be published early next year by BenBella Books and distributed by IngramPerseus to an international audience.

For more information about how you can support this important new project, please contact Susan Holden Martin, MBA, J.D., at susan.martin@nss.org.

See also the NSS Review of Rod Pyle’s 2009 book Missions to the Moon.

Posted in National Space Society | Leave a comment

Astronaut Eileen Collins Gives Prime Time Address to Republican Convention

Eileen Collins was the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission and the first astronaut to address a 2016 political convention. Her 4-minute address is above, pointing out that “nations that lead on the frontier lead in the world.”

Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica, blogged:

Here’s what Collins really missed on Wednesday night…. Probably the most exciting spaceflight development of the last decade or so has been the successful pursuit of reusable rockets by SpaceX and Blue Origin. This low-cost rocketry is what will ultimately make America greater in space…. The reality is that the best way to “lead on the frontier” in the 21st century is not through flags and footprints, but rather by sending people into space to stay, in a sustainable way, with the eventual aim of making space profitable.

Disclaimer: The National Space Society does not endorse any political party or candidate. In her speech, Eileen Collins also did not endorse any political party or candidate.

Posted in Space Policy | Leave a comment

NSS Board Member Al Globus Provides Updates on Space Settlement Research

Al GlobusLast year National Space Society Board of Directors member Al Globus released three pre-prints that together suggested a radically easier path to space settlement. A major part of this is the discovery that space settlements in Low Earth Orbit very close to the equator (ELEO) will experience far less radiation than any other location—so little that dedicated shielding may be unnecessary. This massively reduces the mass of space settlement designs (roughly two orders of magnitude).

The paper focused on radiation has now been substantially revised incorporating information from a number of NCRP (National Council on Radiological Protection and Measurement) publications. The bottom line recommendations have not changed, however. This paper can be found at:

  • Orbital Space Settlement Radiation Shielding,” Al Globus and Joe Strout, preprint, June 2016. The major result of this paper is that settlements in low (~500 km) Earth equatorial orbits may not require any radiation shielding at all based on a careful analysis of requirements and extensive simulation of radiation effects. This radically reduces system mass and has profound implications for space settlement as extraterrestrial mining and manufacturing are no longer on the critical path to the first settlements, although they will be essential in later stages. It also means the first settlements can evolve from space stations, hotels, and retirement communities in relatively small steps.

These changes are also reflected in:

  • Space Settlement: An Easier Way,” by Al Globus, Stephen Covey, and Daniel Faber, June 2016 describes a relatively easy, incremental path to free space settlement by taking advantage of very low radiation levels in Equatorial Low Earth Orbit (ELEO) and higher rotation rates. Low levels of radiation in ELEO may permit settlements with little or no radiation shielding. Higher rotation rates permit much smaller settlements. Together this reduces settlement design mass by two to three orders of magnitude and places early settlements very close to Earth, radically reducing the difficulty of building the first space settlements and making launch from Earth practical. The mass model used in this paper is available here as an Excel spreadsheet.

For completeness, here is the third paper although there have been no revisions:

  • Space Settlement Population Rotation Tolerance,” Al Globus and Theodore Hall, preprint, June 2015. This paper reviews the literature to find that space settlement residents and visitors can tolerate at least four, and probably six, rotations per minute to achieve 1g of artificial gravity. This means settlements can be radically smaller, and thus easier to build, than previously believed.
Posted in Space Colonization, Space Settlement | Leave a comment

The National Space Society Applauds Alan Stern Winning the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal

The National Space Society congratulates Dr. Alan Stern on winning the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. This award is the highest honor that NASA can bestow. NSS has also awarded one of our highest honors to Dr. Stern, the NSS Wernher von Braun Award, which he received at our International Space Development Conference last May in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dr. Stern was Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. “Leading New Horizons has been the greatest honor of my lifetime, but it’s important to recognize so many others who also contributed to the success of this mission,” said Stern. “I dedicate this award to the 2,500 men and women who worked so hard to build, launch, and fly New Horizons across the solar system to explore Pluto and its system of moons.”

Portrait of Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls.

Portrait of Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls.

Posted in NASA, National Space Society, Space Exploration | Leave a comment

National Space Society Applauds SpaceX Launch of IDA to the ISS and successful RTLS of the Falcon 9 First Stage

With a successful launch on July 18 at 12:45 AM EST, 2016 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, SpaceX achieved several dramatic milestones on the Commercial Resupply Services 9 mission (CRS-9). In addition to supplies and experiments in the pressurized part of the Dragon, an unpressurized “trunk” houses the 1,028 lb (467 kilogram) International Docking Adaptor (IDA), manufactured by Boeing. The IDA, once attached to the International Space Station (ISS) will be the connecting point for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crewed Dragon 2 spacecraft as they bring American astronauts to the ISS on American-built and operated vehicles for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program.

Experiments being lofted to the ISS by CRS-9 include a Biomolecule Sequencer that will attempt for the first time DNA sequencing in micro-gravity and a new type of heat exchanger being developed by NASA. CASIS/ISS National Laboratory projects include OsteoOmics, which will use magnetic levitation to increase our understanding of the bone loss that results from osteoporosis, and HeartCells, a study of the effects of microgravity on the human heart, which could improve treatments for heart disease on Earth.

“The CRS-9 delivery of IDA is on the critical path to our future in space,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX continues to break new ground in lowering the cost of going into space, and the return to launch site landing of the first stage is key to eventually lowering the cost of spaceflight. With the successful installation of IDA on the ISS, America will be ready for the next epoch of human spaceflight based on commercial vehicles.”

International Docking Adaptor

International Docking Adaptor (IDA) ready for installation in the Dragon trunk [courtesy NASA]

On June 19, 2016 Blue Origin re-used its sub-orbital New Shepard booster on a flight to the Karman line (the edge of space) for the fourth time and returned the rocket to its launch site for further re-use while demonstrating the reliability of the capsule parachute system in the case of a failed parachute. “Competition like that seen between Blue Origin and SpaceX is the key to rapid progress in space,” said Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President. “Today’s launch of IDA to the ISS and the successful RTLS [return to launch site] landing is a direct result of the competitive, commercial nature of CRS and Commercial Crew, and NSS advocates extending these types of programs into cis-lunar space.”

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

Posted in Commercial Spaceflight | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NSS Presents Expanded Space Elevator Library

Thanks to National Space Society’s affiliate the International Space Elevator Consortium, we have substantially updated and expanded our Space Elevator Library. Check it out!

 
 
 
 

Posted in NSS Website Updates, Space Transportation | 1 Comment

2016 August Home District Blitz

You are cordially invited to join the 2016 Annual ASD/NSS/SFF August Home District Blitz congressional action event. This event supports the 2016 Alliance for Space Development (ASD) annual campaign. You can expect topics being pushed to include items like support for the Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act (H.R. 4752), a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and supporting a gapless transition from the ISS to commercial space stations. During the blitz, local groups will arrange to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the August recess. Signup is via http://goo.gl/forms/40pGqMuGcU1n6aiB2. Please sign up immediately and follow the directions on the NSS legislative page at www.nss.org/legislative to set up an appointment with your Representative and Senators.

ASD includes groups like the Space Frontier Foundation, the National Space Society, the Lifeboat Foundation, The Mars Foundation, The Mars Society, the Space Development Foundation, the Space Development Steering Committee, the Space Tourism Society, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, Students on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party in Space, and the Texas Space Alliance. You can find out more about ASD at www.allianceforspacedevelopment.org.

Posted in National Space Society, Space Policy | Leave a comment

The National Space Society Pays Tribute to the Space Policy Leadership of Former FAA Leader Patricia Grace Smith

The National Space Society celebrates the life and contributions of a visionary champion of the commercial space industry and human space settlement, the Honorable Patricia Grace Smith. Ms. Smith unexpectedly passed away on June 5th, after quietly fighting pancreatic cancer over the last year.

“The commercial space industry owes a huge debt to Patti Grace Smith whose years of determined and well-reasoned advocacy combined with her natural charm and grace won over many converts in government and fostered the birth of a new industry. There might not be a commercial space flight industry were it not for Patti’s leadership,” said Bruce Pittman, Senior Operating Officer of the National Space Society.

Ms. Smith served her country for almost three decades, including eleven years as the Associate Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She was appointed to this office shortly after it became part of the FAA and was instrumental in creating policies and guiding the FAA’s regulatory efforts in a manner that was supportive of the emerging commercial space flight industry

After retiring from the FAA in 2008, Ms. Smith became an important consultant to the commercial space industry and was the chair of the commercial space committee of the NASA Advisory Council until 2014. She was also the vice-chair of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies and a Member-at-Large of the Board of Directors of the Space Foundation.

NSS is following the path opened by Patti Smith in one of our initiatives called the Space Exploration, Development and Settlement Act of 2016. This bill, just introduced in Congress, will change the NASA charter to enable NASA to do more. To help with this effort, citizens can take action here.

Patti’s family has asked that donations be made in her name to:

American Cancer Society
800-227-2345 action 2
Or
PO Box 22718
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123-1718
Or
Cancer.org

Posted in Space Policy | Leave a comment