Our Vision: 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.
The Society publishes Ad Astra magazine and maintains an active global network of volunteers and local chapters. Membership and participation are open to all. Join the space movement, and help build a positive future for humanity!
New Watershed for Space Solar Power
NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos writes: “The new book by John Mankins, The Case for Space Solar Power, is a major milestone in doing the work required to translate the National Space Society’s general vision into a concrete reality with a viable business case. The author was the leader at NASA of virtually all the useful work on space solar power (SSP) by the US government in the last 25 years, so this book is a unique and authoritative source. Mankins’ book is the game plan for bringing SSP to reality. If you could only afford to have one book on your shelves, this should be it.”
“Not only does this book provide the blueprint for providing Earth with limitless clean energy, the book also offers a whole new basis for solid, realistic hope that we might succeed after all in the kind of vision which Gerard O’Neill inspired decades ago, where humans settle space in an economically sustainable way, beaming energy to Earth as part of a growing space economy.”
The Case for Space Solar Power is available in hard cover and in an inexpensive Kindle edition from Amazon. If you don’t have a Kindle, there are free Kindle reader apps at tinyurl.com/kindlereaderapps that enable you to read it on your computer or mobile device.
National Space Society Supports 2015 NASA Commercial Crew Budget
(Washington, D.C., March 7) The National Space Society has been a consistent supporter of NASA's Commercial Crew program to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). In the NSS position paper on the NASA Commercial Crew Program released today, the Society strongly endorses $848 million in the 2015 NASA budget for Commercial Crew, along with the $250 million supplemental Commercial Crew request. Furthermore, the $171 million "hold" placed on the program last year should be removed.
At a time when the availability of the Russian supplied Soyuz, our current sole method of getting American astronauts to the ISS (at $70 million per seat), is being increasingly questioned and political relations with Russia are deteriorating, we need to move Commercial Crew to the top of NASA's priority list.
NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos summed up the situation. "We face great uncertainty in our ability to access the ISS. We can develop a competitive, commercially successful American means to do this. There is little or no benefit to waiting. Let's do it."
Mercury MESSENGER Team Wins National Space Society's Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering
(Washington, D.C., March 3) The National Space Society takes great pleasure in awarding its 2014 Space Pioneer Award for the Science and Engineering category to the (Mercury) MESSENGER Team. MESSENGER stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging. This spacecraft entered an orbit around the planet Mercury and conducted an extensive scientific survey of the entire planet, the first human object to do so. With this award, NSS recognizes both the importance of the first dedicated probe to orbit Mercury and the significance of the scientific results already released. See full press release.
Elon Musk Wins National Space Society Robert A. Heinlein Award
(Washington, D.C., February 21) The National Space Society takes great pleasure in announcing that its 2014 Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award has been won by acclaimed space entrepreneur Elon Musk, the Chief Designer and CEO of SpaceX. In the last decade, SpaceX, under the leadership of Elon Musk, has been moving directly toward accomplishing goals that many of us in NSS think are of utmost importance, such as forcing a drastic reduction in launch costs by doing the very hard task which no one else in the world has been willing and able to tackle: working to create a family of commercially successful and reusable rocket boosters and reusable spacecraft.
The National Space Society's prestigious Robert A Heinlein Memorial Award will be presented to Elon Musk at the 2014 International Space Development Conference (ISDC). The conference will be held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. The ISDC will run from May 14-18, 2014.
See full press release.
National Space Society Issues Position on Protecting Earth from Cosmic Impacts
(Washington, D.C., February 17) “The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.” — Larry Niven
A year after a meteor exploded over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, damaging over 7,000 buildings and injuring almost 1,500 people, the National Space Society is releasing a position paper focusing attention on the near-term need and the opportunity to significantly improve our ability to detect and track collision threats to the Earth.
NSS Director and Space Settlement Advocacy Committee chair Al Globus summed up the situation: “We face an existential threat. We can develop the ability to remove it. There is little or no benefit to waiting. Let's do it.”
National Space Society Opposes HR 3625
(Washington, D.C., January 13) The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) strongly opposes the passage of House of Representatives bill HR 3625. This bill would (a) require NASA to obtain legislative permission to cancel four of its most expensive human spaceflight and science programs, and (b) allow contractors for these programs to have immediate access to hundreds of millions of dollars in funds which currently are held in reserve to pay the government's obligations in the event of such termination. The four covered programs are the Space Launch System, the Orion crew capsule, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and the International Space Station. See NSS Position Statement on HR 3625 and Opposition to HR 3625 Grows.
Ordinarily, government agencies like NASA have the right to terminate a project if it no longer appears necessary or cost effective, provided it pays "termination liability costs" which are sometimes provided for in such contracts. It is unusual to require an act of Congress in order to stop a program. As a practical matter, getting Congress to pass such an act would be extremely difficult.
Consequently, if HR 3625 is enacted, even after the responsible agency determined that a project was no longer useful, contractors would continue to get millions of dollars for unnecessary and unwanted programs until such a time as Congress passed a bill specifically calling for the cancellation of the project and allocating the funds required for program termination.
"The ability to cancel a program for convenience is essential to allow the government to deal with changing circumstances," said NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos. "Requiring explicit Congressional approval to terminate a program for convenience represents a significant shift in power between the Executive and Legislative branches of government that should not be taken lightly."
2014 Legislative Blitzes: Washingon DC in February, Home Districts in August
Washington Legislative Blitz February 23-25, 2014: The National Space Society will be participating in the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2014 legislative blitz in Washington DC in February. NSS encourages all members to sign up for and participate in the SEA Blitz as described at www.spaceexplorationalliance.org/blitz from Rick Zucker of Explore Mars. Dale Skran, Deputy Chair of the NSS Policy Committee will be coordinating NSS members as needed. Please send him a short email message at firstname.lastname@example.org indicating you plan to participate when you sign for the Blitz.
The Space Exploration Alliance includes groups ranging from NSS and Explore Mars to AIAA, the Moon Society, the Mars Society, the Planetary Society, the National Society of Black Engineers, SEDS, and Buzz Aldrin's ShareSpace Foundation. The major goal of the SEA blitz from an NSS perspective will be to provide as much support for the NASA budget as possible during these difficult budgetary times. Now is the time to stand up for space and be counted. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC, February 23-25, 2014.
Home District Legislative Blitz August 2014: If you live too far from Washington to participate in the 2014 SEA Blitz, NSS is currently planning on organizing a "home district" blitz later in the year, probably during August when Congress is in recess and members of Congress are in their home districts. If you are interested in participating in the home district visits please send an email to Dale Skran at email@example.com. This email should contain your contact information. By doing so, you are giving permission for a statewide coordinator to contact you for purposes of organizing home district visits.
Additionally, we are seeking at least one volunteer to coordinate visits in each state. If you are interested, please send an email to that effect to Dale Skran at the email address above. We especially encourage multiple volunteers for larger states such as California and Texas. Thanks for your support.
Roadmap to Space Settlement 2014 International Student Art Contest
The National Space Society is looking for student artists to create illustrations for the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement. Submitted artwork should REALISTICALLY illustrate one of this year's two themes: Asteroid Settlement or Building a Space Settlement. All full-time students at any grade level between the ages of 13 and 25 are eligible. The deadline for submissions is March 16, 2014. See our contest web pages for information about prizes and submission requirements.
National Space Society Congratulates SpaceX on First Successful GEO Transfer Mission
(Washington, D.C., December 6) The National Space Society congratulates Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) on the successful launch of the SES-8 telecommunications satellite, the first mission to geo-synchronous orbit for SpaceX. Bruce Pittman, NSS Senior Vice President, said, “This milestone injects a new US competitor into the international commercial satcom launch market, and is an important step toward lowering the cost of access to space, which in turn will help drive space development and settlement.” See full press release.
National Space Society Position on Space Solar Power in Economist Magazine Debate
(Washington, D.C., November 14) The Economist magazine has conducted an open, on-line forum on the topic, “Can Solar Energy Save the World,” which concluded on Friday, November 8, 2013. The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) has voted “YES” in this debate.
NSS urges that the European Union (EU) allow Space Solar Power to be given equal treatment with other sources of renewable energy as part of the European system of feed-in tariffs, which have worked for ground-based solar power to create a viable new market for energy. Feed-in tariffs are a guaranteed offer of a price and a market to generators of renewable electricity and not a tax on imported goods.
Dr. Paul Werbos, Chair of the NSS Policy Committee, said “What are some good strategies to really help develop space resources? The best strategy is one which tries to ‘kill two or three birds with one stone.’ And so, at nss.org/EU, you will see a new position statement aimed at three goals — to create new jobs where they are badly needed in the EU, to accelerate low-cost forms of solar farms on Earth, and to set the wheels in motion for serious market-oriented investment in space solar power.”
Participate in the International SunSat Competition — Over $40,000 in Prizes!
(Washington, D.C., October 28) The National Space Society in affiliation with Ohio University is pleased to announce that the International SunSat Design Competition is now registering competitive teams. If you are a space scientist, engineer, academic, business or digital media professional with an idea for moving space solar power closer to implementation, consider forming a team to join in this effort.
Space Settlements Represent Hope for Humankind
(Washington, D.C., August 23) The National Space Society (NSS) offers a comparison of its vision for space settlement to that promoted by many dystopian science fiction movies of today. NSS has supported the concept of rotating space settlements in orbit or deep space since the epochal publication by Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill of his seminal article on space colonies in Physics Today (1974).
Since those days, concepts of democracy and egalitarian societies have been integral to our vision. A goal of NSS is the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization with people living and working in space. We believe in democracy to build and operate space settlements, whether in space, on the Moon, on Mars, or even on planets around other stars.
A large part of the space movement today is founded on improving life on Earth by creating an ability to operate in space. This includes the ability to divert threatening asteroids, detect solar outbursts that could destroy our electrical grid, and build solar power collection/transmission satellites that could produce huge amounts of carbon free energy in space for use on Earth, enriching all of humankind. In fact, an early justification for building space settlements was to house the labor force needed to build the solar power satellites that would provide a global solar power source to all nations, helping to prevent the ecological and economic collapse and chaos depicted in many dystopian movies of today. NSS believes that we are making the future every day and that we want to build a hopeful future.
NSS is happy that space settlements are beginning to appear in popular culture such as the recent motion picture Elysium. NSS applauds the cinematic skill that resulted in the depiction of the physical appearance and operation of a rotating orbital space settlement. While NSS accepts that a conflict is fairly fundamental to a good story, we would like movie viewers to keep in mind that the tyrannical government depicted in the movie does not represent the path of humans in space envisioned by the NSS and its thousands of members.
National Space Society Salutes Lori Garver's Service at NASA
(Washington, D.C., August 12) The National Space Society (NSS) would like to congratulate Lori Garver for the tremendous contributions she has made to NASA and America's space program during her four years as Deputy NASA Administrator.
"She was a staunch supporter of commercial space and using public/private partnerships to leverage private investment using fewer taxpayer dollars," stated Mark Hopkins, chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. "Lori's calm leadership and grace under pressure will be missed by all of us in the space community and we wish her all the best in the next phase of her career."
Lori was the Executive Director of NSS for nine years until she left for her first tour with NASA in 1998. She was a key player in the building of the new organization that came into existence after the merger of National Space Institute and the L5 Society in 1987.
National Space Society Position on the 2014 NASA Budget
(Washington, D.C., August 5) The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) announced its support of the 2014 Senate Authorization bill for NASA over the House version, which contains substantial cuts to the NASA budget. Dr. Paul Werbos, Chair of the NSS Policy Committee, said "The future of humans in space, as well as NASA itself, is very much at stake and at risk in current Congressional discussion." In particular, NSS urges full budgetary support for the following program elements:
- Commercial Crew
- Proposed Asteroid Return Mission
- Space Technology Program
- Earth Science
- Space Act Agreements
- Reusable launch vehicle research
- Exoplanet studies
The House NASA authorization bill singles out Earth science for heavy cuts, which should be reversed. Also, continuing a pattern from the previous year, the House bill fails to fund Commercial Crew at the level requested by NASA and the Administration, virtually assuring that the US will continue to rely on Russian spacecraft for access to the International Space Station. In addition, NSS urges Congress to make new investments in reusable launch vehicles and space solar power in such a fashion that they can be included in the Kalam initiative. Details on the Kalam initiative can be found here. The entire NSS position paper can be found here.
NSS Response to State Department Request for Public Comment on ITAR
(Washington, D.C., July 5) As part of the President's Export Control Reform effort, the Department of State proposes to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to revise Category XV (Spacecraft Systems and Related Articles) of the U.S. Munitions List (USML) to describe more precisely the articles warranting control on the USML. The definition of "defense service" is to be revised to, among other changes, specifically include the furnishing of assistance for certain spacecraft related activities.
The response from the National Space Society can be found at nss.org/itar expressing concerns that the regulations as proposed could have a major negative impact on development and use of commercial suborbital and orbital manned space vehicles, satellite and spacecraft servicing and refueling, and space solar power.
Space Solar Power: Key to a Livable Planet Earth
(Washington, D.C., June 10) The National Space Society (NSS) announces a new space solar power international initiative. NSS endorses this initiative and will work to forge an international organization involving America, India and other nations to develop space solar power. This has the potential of solving humanity's energy needs and greatly mitigating climate change.
Newly Illustrated Versions of the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement Now Available
(Washington, D.C., May 18) A newly illustrated version of the National Space Society publication Milestones to Space Settlement: An NSS Roadmap is now available in three new formats from nss.org/roadmap: (1) A free downloadable PDF edition [6 MB]; (2) a free online full-screen flip-book edition; and (3) a quality full-color magazine-style printed edition for $9.95 (think Father's Day?). These new editions provide additional ways to read and distribute this material to help promote the NSS Vision.
The NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement discusses milestones to be reached for the settlement of four destinations: the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and orbital space settlements. The Roadmap takes no stand on which may or should come first but supports all four destinations.
As originally announced in Ad Astra magazine, this Roadmap was adopted by the NSS Board of Directors in 2012, updating the original NSS Roadmap published in 2000. On May 24th the 2013 International Space Development Conference will feature a Roadmap Track and Press Conference about the Roadmap.
National Space Society Applauds NASA Asteroid Capture Plan
(Washington, D.C., April 11) The National Space Society (NSS) applauds the new NASA budget item that would provide close to $100 million for a mission to rendezvous with a small asteroid and move it into orbit around the Moon where it could later be visited by astronauts.
"An asteroid capture mission is a tremendously important mission, and one that could not be more relevant to the challenges our civilization faces today," said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. "Robotic asteroid capture is the first step to exploiting the vast material resources of the solar system for a hopeful and prosperous future for mankind."
Notes NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos, "Even small asteroids contain tremendous wealth—precious metals, rare strategic metals important for sustainable development, raw materials for in-space construction, and volatiles for life support and propulsion in space."
Robotic asteroid capture is also a key step toward an effective planetary defense. The mission will mature our ability to capture and deflect a hazardous asteroid—protecting civilization from suffering the same fate as the dinosaurs. The search for suitable targets will find huge numbers of smaller, currently unknown asteroids which pose a very real meteor threat to cities as evidenced by the explosion last month over Chelyabinsk, Russia that injured over 1000 people.