If you are on or near the centerline of the path of totality during the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, you are able to participate in an activity to observe and record the faintest stars visible as a means of measuring how dark the daytime sky gets. By locating and observing the constellation Ursa Major (e.g, the Big Dipper) midway during the solar eclipse and comparing it to stellar charts, your “measurement” and submission of that measurement to the online database will document darkness levels of a daytime sky during a total solar eclipse. Your measurement will help scientific research.
For information on how to take your measurement, see the Globe at Night website. Globe at Night is a program of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
This annual event will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington from Friday, August 25th through Sunday, August 27th.
Come experience learning, brainstorming, and international collaboration in an atmosphere of history, invention, and discovery! A Family Science Fest day will be held in conjunction with the conference.
The theme of this year’s conference is the “Space Elevator Simulations.” Papers will be presented on this and other space-elevator related topics. There will be a miniworkshop on Space Elevator Simulations (which is also the 2017 ISEC Study topic), a mini-workshop on the Next Space Elevator Research Projects, as well as the everpopular Shotgun Science Session where conference attendees can present their ideas.
ISEC is proud to announce that the keynote speaker at the technical conference this year is Dr. David Raitt. Dr. Raitt will present a talk on history and how it leads to the future. Dr. Raitt served as Senior Technology Transfer Officer for the European Space Agency’s R&D division and is editor of the book recently published by ISEC on the history of space elevators.
The Space Elevator is one of the most magnificent engineering projects ever conceived. It promises abundant access to space and a multitude of benefits for humanity. Come to the conference and hear presentations and join discussions with people who are working to make space elevators a reality!
The Family Science Fest on Saturday, August 26th will also be held at the Museum of Flight. This event is open to the public (no registration required) and is included in the museum admission price. The Family Science Fest includes Space Elevator 101 and 201 presentations, a youth robotics competition, exhibits from science organizations and clubs, and much more.
More details of the conference program and the Family Science Fest events are posted at http://spaceelevatorconference.org, including information on registration for the technical conference. Registration for the technical conference closes August 17th.
The International Space Elevator Consortium (an affiliate of the National Space Society) is composed of individuals and organizations from around the world who share a vision of a world with inexpensive, safe, routine, and efficient access to space for the benefit of all mankind. The ISEC Mission is to promote the development, construction and operation of a Space Elevator (SE) Infrastructure as a revolutionary and efficient way to space for all humanity. To learn more about ISEC, please visit their website at http://www.isec.org.
The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates NSS Board of Governors member Dr. Scott Pace on his selection as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council on July 13th, 2017. Pace is the Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University. Towards the beginning of Dr. Pace’s long and storied career, he was the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the Policy Committee. Among his many contributions, he testified before the Congressional Space Committee.
“NSS looks forward to working with Dr. Pace in his new role as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council,” said Dale Skran, the current NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “Scott again joins the ranks of former NSS leaders such as Lori Garver and George Whitesides in holding a vital space-related government post. NSS is proud to have supported their careers as they developed as space leaders.”
The National Space Council will play an important role in the Executive Branch by coordinating space activities between NASA, Air Force and other agencies. NSS wishes Scott well in his new role in the Executive Branch. Meanwhile, NSS is active in advocating for space settlement in the Legislative Branch. This summer, NSS members around the country will visit Congress as they participate in the annual August Home District Blitz organized by the NSS-supported Alliance for Space Development. NSS members will be advocating for low-cost access to space, a robust cis-lunar economy, and funding for a space-based near-Earth asteroid detection telescope. Persons interested in participating can found out more information at tinyurl.com/2017AugustBlitzSignup.
“I am truly honored and a humbled by the President’s decision and I look forward to working for Vice President Pence in service to the nation,” said Scott Pace.
Dr. Pace served from 2005-2008 as the Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA. Before this, he was the Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lori Garver, NSS Executive Director 1989-1998, served as Deputy Administrator of NASA 2009-2013, and is currently the General Manager of the Airline Pilots Association. George Whitesides, NSS Executive Director 2004-2008, served as the Chief of Staff at NASA and is currently the CEO of Virgin Galactic.
“I think Scott’s background combining technology and policy as well as his experience with NASA and national security space is exactly the skill set needed for his new position,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to see the course that the National Space Council charts for America’s future in space.”
Mark Hopkins, the Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “During his younger days, Scott Pace was a major force in NSS for two decades. I have known him since the beginning of his involvement. He is a brilliant, tireless worker totally dedicated to humanity’s future in space. America is lucky to have him on the National Space Council.”
The National Space Society (NSS) endorses Vice President Pence’s call to maintain a “constant presence” in low-Earth orbit (LEO) leading to the settlement of the space frontier, made during a visit July 6, 2017 to Kennedy Space Center. Fresh off the June 30th signing of a an executive order that makes VP Pence the leader of a revitalized National Space Council, Pence delivered an optimistic view of NASA’s future. NSS applauds the creation of a revived National Space Council, and looks forward to Pence leading the Council toward a bold future in space that is not just exciting but that delivers the benefits of space resources to all Americans.
VP Pence spoke about space settlement, saying, “We will maintain a constant presence in low-Earth orbit, and we will develop policies that will carry human space exploration across our solar system and ultimately into the vast expanse of space.” Pence continued, “As the President has said, space is in his words the ‘next great American frontier.’ And like the pioneers that came before us, we will settle that frontier with American leadership, American courage, and American ingenuity.”
“NSS strongly supports a gapless transition from the current International Space Station to future commercial LEO space stations,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “We are encouraged to see the Vice President endorse a ‘constant’ human presence in low-Earth orbit. NSS works diligently to support the development and settlement of space, and this may be the first time that this goal has been endorsed in a public speech by a Vice President.”
NSS has been on the forefront of promoting space settlement for many years and has developed a Roadmap to Space Settlement that can be found at: www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap. NSS calls on everyone to help NSS push for space development and settlement by signing up to visit their Congressional representatives in the annual local August Home District Blitz at: tinyurl.com/2017AugustBlitzSignup.
Vice President Pence also spoke on the importance of public-private partnerships in the development of space, saying: “I’m particularly excited to see the increased collaboration with our burgeoning commercial space industry so much in evidence here at the Kennedy Space Center. I’m really sorry that I missed the successful commercial launch that took place last night. But the truth is we’re going to continue to foster stronger partnerships between government agencies and innovative industries across this country because both have so much to offer one another. In conjunction with our commercial partners, we’ll continue to make space travel safer, cheaper, and more accessible than ever before.”
“NSS is pleased that VP Pence has provided a strong endorsement for public-private partnerships in space,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “Such partnerships, which include the successful Commercial Orbital Transportation Services/Commercial Resupply Services programs to supply cargo to the ISS, have restored the U.S. as the world leader in space launch services.” This year, through the end of June, 2017, there have been 42 launches worldwide, with the USA leading at 13, roughly the same as Russia and China combined.
The International Space Development Conference®(ISDC®2017) gathered people from all around the world to St. Louis, MO, to connect and share the latest breakthroughs in space development. ISDC 2017 is over, but the effect of the conference will continue for months to come.
With over 800 attendees, and an unprecedented number of international and youth participants, our message will have an important and meaningful impact on the space advocacy community and beyond. Our message focuses on how we can impact the future with people living and working in thriving communities beyond Earth, and using the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.
There were a number of major figures from the space community present, including many that our members have come to know well through the pages of Ad Astra and the NSS newsletters. Notable among our keynote speakers were Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration Operations Directorate; Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency; Natalie Batalha, Kepler Mission Scientist; Dr. Linda Godwin, retired NASA Astronaut and University of Missouri-Columbia Physics Professor; and Andy Aldrin, Director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute.
It is interesting to note that Time magazine named Natlie Batalha, NASA’s Kepler project scientist searching for other worlds, to the Time 100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people on Earth.
The rostrum also hosted two Lieutenant Generals with stellar spaceflight credentials: Tom Stafford, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and Steven Kwast, Commander and President, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Their messages may have come from a military perspective, but spoke of a future beneficial to all involved.
Stafford delivered a rousing talk on his perspectives as an astronaut and his take on our future in the final frontier. Stafford was emphatic about what our country can do when challenged. During the space race, Launch Complex 39, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Saturn V Moon rocket, Apollo Command Module, and Lunar Module were all created from whole cloth in less than six years. These machines, and the people who designed and built them, enabled the greatest journeys of exploration in human history. Stafford advocated strongly for the maintenance of American supremacy in space.
The second blue-suiter, General Steven Kwast, provided similarly inspirational testimony about the imperative for our nation to maintain the high ground—not for war, but to maintain peace. Kwast’s moving speech inspired attendees to look towards maintaining a leadership position in the protection of our precious planet, currently challenged not just politically but environmentally as well. His speech was a voice of restraint and stability in an age of great uncertainty. Representing the old and new guard of Air Force leadership, both men are emblematic of the continued strong and enlightened command of the United States Air Force and its continuing quest to ensure the peaceful exploration and utilization of space for the betterment of all humanity.
One of the most rewarding activities was the networking between adult attendees and the pre-university students participating in the the NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest. Worldwide student teams came to ISDC 2017 to showcase their concepts for orbital space settlements and they brought visionary ideas on how future populations might live and work in space. Attendees were able to engage with the students at their poster presentations and many were impressed with the students’ understanding of the challenges and the innovative ideas they had in order to conquer space settlement.
Many of the students also brought models, several made using 3D printing, to highlight their concepts. Teams from China, India, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria and more shared their enthusiasm for space and the enthusiasm was contagious.
We at NSS feel that ISDC 2017 and the passion of our attendees will make a difference to achieving space development and settlement. NSS extends a huge thank you to everyone who helped make ISDC 2017 a success! Everyone had a fabulous time, met new friends, and learned new things.
NSS is pleased to announce that our exciting ISDC programming will not end with the conclusion of ISDC 2017 as the National Space Society is looking forward to the Space Settlement Summit to take place in Los Angeles, October 24-28. At this invitation-only summit, NSS will bring together space leaders to discuss living and working in space in a thriving space economy.
Enterprise In Space and SpaceWorks Partner to
Provide the Opportunity with ASTRO Program
SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. hosted a summer program specifically geared for high school students, challenging them to design the NSS Enterprise spacecraft envisioned by Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS). The students had access to numerous resources, including the expertise of SpaceWorks and EIS staff. After completion of their project, the team presented their proposed design, budget, and methods of atmospheric re-entry to SpaceWorks, EIS, teachers, and parents.
The SpaceWorks program is called ASTRO, or Aerospace Summer Training & Research Opportunity, a project-oriented experience during which participants work in teams to solve an aerospace engineering design problem. This wasTeam 8, consisting of six students, and their session started in early June.
“ASTRO has been a wonderful way for SpaceWorks to see first-hand the potential that high school students in our community have to offer. We thoroughly enjoy working with the students and look forward each summer to the amazing ideas they come up with. Partnering with EIS for ASTRO this year has been a great experience for both us and the Team 8 students. Team 8 has been inspired by the work of EIS and they are genuinely honored to be part of the NSS Enterprise design process,” says Ashley Russ, Director of the ASTRO Program for SpaceWorks.
It was a tough challenge! The NSS Enterprise must be designed to carry a minimum of 100 student experiments, survive its launch into space aboard a rocket or space plane and its return to Earth. It must also be able to communicate results of some experiments from space as well as protect those experiments whose results can only be obtained once returned safely to Earth. Avionics, communications, structures, and all the engineering disciplines had to be considered.
Adding the liberal arts into the mix, some Team 8 members prepared artistic designs that can be used for promotion by the EIS team. EIS values the Arts portion of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education.
Bill Miller, the CEO of Deep Space Industries, another EIS partner, stopped by SpaceWorks to lend his expertise to help students to understand some of the NSS Enterprise systems. He discussed DSI’s Comet water-based thruster for possible use in orbital maneuvering of the NSS Enterprise. About the students, Bill said, “I was incredibly impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm of these students. They are entering the space industry at perhaps the most exciting time in our history, and will have the opportunity to make a significant difference in how humans move beyond the confines of our fragile planet.”
“We are all thrilled that SpaceWorks has selected Enterprise In Space for the ASTRO program. It’s great to see the students take on the challenge and to see the interest and excitement they have shown in going into aerospace careers,” said Shawn Case, EIS founder. “May they succeed in their future endeavors and become the aerospace engineers and astronauts that take us to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. I would also like to express my gratitude to SpaceWorks for all of the kind assistance they have donated to the Enterprise In Space program.”
SpaceWorks Enterprises has been a member of the EIS team since 2015 and looks forward to what the future will bring for the EIS orbiter. “I am pleased to have the SpaceWorks ASTRO program among our partners and sponsors. EIS fundraising is underway and if you are interested in helping NSS/EIS carry out our mission of educating the workforce of tomorrow, we’d love to add you to our team,” says Alice Hoffman, NSS President and EIS Program Manager.
The National Space Society (NSS) cordially invites your participation in the 2017 Annual Alliance for Space Development (ASD) August Home District Blitz congressional action event. During the blitz, local groups will arrange to visit their Congressperson’s home district offices during the August recess to increase awareness about space related issues. Briefing materials will be provided on topics such as Ultra Low Cost Access to Space initiatives, legislation to enable Cislunar commercialization, making space settlement part of the mission of NASA, and support for planetary defense. The August Home District Blitz is free and open to all; invite your space-interested friends.
The National Space Society (NSS) is very pleased to announce that the team it has been actively supporting in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers has placed first and won one of the three Cube Quest Challenge flight slots on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) scheduled for launch in 2019. The team is led by Dr. Mason Peck and their spacecraft are planned for lunar orbit.
“We at NSS are very excited that the Cislunar Explorers team will be given an opportunity for the first-time in-space demonstration of electrolyzed water propulsion and an autonomous optical space navigation technology,” said Dr. Dean Larson, NSS Director and volunteer member of the team. “These groundbreaking technologies will prove to be very important in opening and settling space and are to be made available open-source to the space community,” he said.
“We’re thrilled to be selected for launch on SLS,” said Dr. Mason Peck.”This spacecraft represents a step toward democratizing space exploration. NASA’s support here marks an important difference between the agency’s contemporary approach to human space and what we saw during the Apollo era: NASA is embracing collaboration, inviting perspectives and technical solutions from all across the nation–private companies or universities exploring on their own terms. We’re all in it together,” he said.
In addition to the rides, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded $20,000 each in prize money, to the winning teams of citizen solvers competing in the fourth and final ground-test round of the agency’s Cube Quest Challenge.
As part of their involvement in the team, NSS has designed an integrated test and evaluation plan and software verification guidance that will be used to help ensure correct functioning of spacecraft systems. NSS has also coordinated a space act agreement with NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and is helping to coordinate an agreement with the Goohilly Earth Station in Cornwall, England to verify our spacecraft will have achieved lunar orbit.
The unique aspects of the spacecraft are summarized on the team website as: “The Cislunar Explorers spacecraft leverage simple physics and symbiosis between several subsystems. The concept is a single rectangular 6U structure that splits into two L-shaped spinning spacecraft with a spring loaded separation mechanism. Each Explorer has a tank of water in the bottom of the “L,” off-center from the spin axis. That water is electrolyzed, using power generated from solar panels, into a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas–excellent rocket propellant. The spacecraft spin helps separate the combustible gas from the inert water like a centrifuge.” See the Cislunar Explorers website for more details about the spacecraft. (http://cislunarexplorers.wordpress.com)
According to NASA, once deployed from SLS, the CubeSats will vie for a share of a $5 million prize in the first-ever competition in cislunar and deep space. The three Cube Quest Challenge teams launching on SLS are:
Cislunar Explorers, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
CU-E3, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado
Team Miles, Fluid & Reason, LLC, Tampa, Florida
“We are delighted in the profound achievements of these teams,” said Steve Jurczyk, STMD associate administrator. “Each team has pushed the boundaries of technology and innovation. Now, it’s time to take this competition into space – and may the best CubeSat win.”
Also from NASA: “The final phase of the Cube Quest Challenge comprises two segments: the Deep Space Derby and the Lunar Derby. In the Deep Space Derby, teams must demonstrate communications capabilities from a range of at least four million kilometers from Earth – more than 10 times the distance to the Moon – while the Lunar Derby requires teams to achieve a lunar orbit where they will compete for near-Earth communications and longevity achievements. Prizes will be awarded for orbiting the Moon, communicating the fastest and farthest, and surviving the longest.
The Cube Quest Challenge offers a total of $5 million, NASA’s largest-ever competition prize purse, to teams that meet the challenge objectives of designing, building and delivering flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the Moon.”
NSS will provide updates as the project completes its milestones towards flight. Congratulations to our Cislunar Explorers!
In order to drive innovation forward in space manufacturing technology, Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), has chosen the grand-prize-winning university students in its “Print The Future” competition. Announced at its 36th annual NSS International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in St. Louis, Missouri last weekend, the winner is Team ProtoFluidics’ microfluidic modules from University of Pennsylvania. Undergraduate students Adam Zachar, Laura Gao and Jaimie Carlson designed 3D-printable modules that enable rapid prototyping of microfluidic experiments aboard the ISS.
Through the “Print The Future” competition, EIS-along with Kepler Space Institute, Made In Space (MIS), Sketchfab, 3D Hubs, and Prairie Nanotechnology offered university teams a chance to 3D print a NewSpace experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). University teams were invited to create designs that push the bounds of 3D printing in microgravity to serve humanity in expanding its presence among the stars.
In this competition, winners were chosen based on the scientific and engineering merit, commercial potential, and originality of the designs. “With our 3D-printable microfluidic modules, researchers can easily design custom microfluidic circuits to conduct experiments for disease diagnosis, chemical analysis, protein crystallization, and more, capitalizing on the microgravity on station,” said Adam Zachar. “This process allows researchers to bypass the cost of fabricating and transporting conventional microfluidics to orbit,” he said.
Zachar added, “The most valuable economic advantages to 3D printing microfluidics on the ISS are the immense time and cost savings to researchers. Currently, sending a microfluidic experiment up to the ISS can cost as much as $27,000 for the launch and up to 12 months of wait time. 3D printing could significantly reduce these costs and delays by allowing researchers to fabricate their experiments on station, bypassing the launch completely.”
Team ProtoFluidics will work with MIS to 3D print their project on Earth as a test before printing aboard the ISS. The project will be 3D printed on the ISS before the end of the year. The project will be returned to Earth, where the winner will be able to leverage Prairie Nanotechnology’s advanced research equipment to study the results.
One member of the grand prize team will also receive the R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship, valued at $5,000, from the Kepler Space Institute to be applied towards a full certificate program. The R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship aims to encourage space advocates the world over.
The first place runner up was Team H2’s H2 Capsule. University of Pennsylvania Masters students Hyung Jin Yoo and Haimin Yie created a capsule that early Mars Explorers can use to store objects and media to convey their stories and personalities to future generations, as a means of confronting and accepting death as a possible outcome of their mission.
The second place runner up was Team Bengal Tigers’ Multi-Purpose Wrench. North Carolina State University PhD student Hasan Latif and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Masters students Habibur Rahman, Ankhy Sultana, Shourav Ahmed and Tavila Sharmin designed a 3D printable tool that reduces the need for multiple different tools required for loosening and tightening various sizes of nuts, bolts and screws.
All finalist teams presented their experiments at the ISDC®. All finalist entries are on display on the popular 3D modeling community Sketchfab. To learn more about the competition, visit the contest page at enterpriseinspace.org/print-the-future. EIS thanks all who have participated in our competition this year.
The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates SpaceX on the successful June 3 launch of a re-used Dragon capsule from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as part of the Commercial Resupply Services 11 (CRS-11) mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). This was the 100th launch from LC 39A. The SpaceX Falcon 9 made history on June 3, 2017 at 5:07 p.m. EDT by lofting a “flight proven” Dragon capsule toward the ISS. SpaceX successfully returned the Falcon 9 first stage to the launch site for later re-use.
This was the first time a private company has flown a re-used orbital craft. The most significant re-used orbital spacecraft prior to the Dragon were the now retired Space Shuttle and the currently operating Air Force/Boeing X-37B space plane, but both were government owned. The Dragon capsule that rocketed through the Florida skies today previously flew as part of the CRS-4 mission in September 2014.
NSS also congratulates ViaSat on another milestone, which occurred on June 1: the successful Ariane 5 launch of communication satellite ViaSat-2 (manufactured by Boeing), launched with Eutelsat 172B from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. “ViaSat-2 is going to be the highest-capacity satellite ever launched, with about 300 gigabits (per second) of total capacity, which is more than double what we had on ViaSat-1, which was launched less than six years ago, and more than 40 times the capacity of WildBlue 1, which was launched by Arianespace about 10 years ago,” said David Abrahamian, director of space systems at ViaSat. “So that shows you just how fast the technology is moving.”
“Both SpaceX and ViaSat are taking significant steps forward in the developing space economy,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “SpaceX has previously demonstrated re-use of a flight proven first stage and attempted to recover fairings. NSS thanks NASA for its on-going support of SpaceX’s technology development program with Space Act Agreements and service contracts.”
The re-use of the Falcon 9 first stage and the Dragon capsule supports Milestone 2: Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit of the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement which can be found at: http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html. The launch of ViaSat 2 supports Milestone 7: Applications of Space Technology on and for Earth.
The Dragon capsule carried over 2,708 kgs (5,970 lbs) of cargo to the ISS. Included in the cargo manifest is the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) that will study the physics of neutron stars. NICER will also demonstrate the use of pulsars as natural beacons to enable spacecraft navigation into deep space. Upon completion of its mission the Dragon will return to Earth loaded with the results of scientific experiments done on the ISS.
“The re-use of a Dragon capsule is yet another example of how SpaceX uses cargo flights to prove out new technologies that can be later used on crewed flights, and is a key step toward a commercial return to the Moon,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman.