The National Space Society vision is people living and working in space

A Note from the Executive Director:

Hot off the presses (and the websites) is a report which spacers everywhere should find interesting. Also attached is a press release about this weekend's HALO flight. Don't forget the unusual celestial triple-play this Sunday: a partial eclipse of the Full Moon, Mars only four degrees north of the Moon, and Hale-Bopp in the northwestern sky. All this on the celebration of Wernher Von Braun's 85th birthday. Happy sightings!

"NSS Capital Capsule" updated March 21, 1997

A national survey released today by the Council for Excellence in
Government highlights the importance of space exploration to the
American public, NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin said.

The URL of this press release is:

Here is are the relevant parts of the actual survey. I couldn't capture the entire document due to some really weird formatting of their webpage. The URL of the report is:

I can pull this up next week and try to print it...but in the meantime here are the parts which concern us... (Thanks to Rob Pearlman)


The survey research firms of Peter D. Hart and Robert M. Teeter conducted a nationwide survey among a cross section of 1,003 American adults. All the interviews were conducted by telephone between February 20 and 24, 1997. The primary focus of the survey was to determine Americans' attitudes toward government, its successes and failures, and how it could work better. In addition, two focus groups-one among women and one among men-were conducted on March 11, 1997, in Raleigh, NC.


This is the second survey conducted for the Council for Excellence in Government by the research firms of Peter D. Hart and Robert M. Teeter. In March 1995, the Council commissioned a survey to determine Americans' attitudes toward the role of government in society. The following is a summary of the central findings from the 1995 study.

- Americans perceived government as being more of an obstacle than a helping hand to achieving the American dream.

- The survey revealed a striking loss of confidence in government compared to 20 years ago, and that loss was most pronounced at the federal level, although the state and local levels also experienced some loss of confidence.

- Strong support existed for concentrating power at the state rather than at the federal level. The public was confident that programs would be managed better, of higher quality, and administered more fairly at the state level than at the federal level.

- Despite their lack of confidence in government, Americans did see a role for government regulation.

- The public exhibited strong support for improving the management of government and the performance of its employees.

The 1997 study repeated some of the questions from the 1995 poll, while exploring certain areas in greater depth. This report is organized in four sections: attitudes toward government, federal government successes and shortcomings, political leadership, and making government work.


Asked to name two or three of the most important successes of the federal government over the past 30 years, a plurality (42%) of Americans cannot volunteer even one. Among those who are able to give an example of government success, the most frequent responses include a strong military (8%), the space program (7%), welfare (7%), foreign policy (6%), and education (6%).

Americans perceive the federal government as having the greatest success on those issues that are commonly considered to be in the domain of the national government. Adults see the federal government as least successful on a number of non-economic domestic issues that are perennial problems for the nation. Americans were asked to rate a series of goals according to how successful the government has been in working toward them over the years.
The goals fall into four categories.

Tier 1: The National Domain. This set of goals is characterized by a high level of central control by or constitutional responsibility lodged in the federal government. Americans think that the federal government has been most successful working toward the goals of promoting space exploration, providing for the national defense, and keeping the nation at peace. To a lesser degree, they see it as successful at maintaining a growing economy. Large majorities of Americans think that the federal government has been very or fairly successful in working toward each of these goals.

- Promoting space exploration is the only item of the 16 tested about which a plurality of Americans say the federal government has been very successful. This result is consistent across all groups, with men rating it slightly higher than other groups.

Success of Federal Government in Working Toward Selected Goals

                                                Very/Fairly             Very/Fairly
                                                Successful              Unsuccessful
                                                %                       %

National Domain
Promoting space exploration                     85                      11
Providing for the national defense              82                      11
Keeping the nation at peace                     80                      18
Maintaining a strong economy                    76                      20
Support for Government Programs
                                                                 Support A
                                                                 Great Deal
Social Security                                                  69
The armed services                                               64
Medicare                                                         64
Enforcing workplace safety and health regulations                63
Enforcing laws against sex and race discrimination               61
Programs for public schools                                      61
Enforcing food and drug safety regulations                       60
The college student loan program                                 56
Enforcing minimum wage laws                                      56
Enforcing environmental protection laws                          55
Federal law enforcement, such as the FBI                         45
Enforcing family and medical leave laws                          40
NASA and the space program                                       34
Affirmative action programs that give special consideration
to women and minorities                                          29
Welfare programs                                                 24


Karen Rugg, Director of Communications
(202) 543-1900, ext. 77

Statement from National Space Society on Alabama Chapter's Historic Attempt to Launch Rocket from North Carolina Coast on March 22

WASHINGTON, DC -- March 20, 1997 -- On March 22, the Huntsville, Alabama chapter of the National Space Society will attempt to be the first amateur group to launch a hybrid rocket called a "rockoon" into space. The garage-built rockoon is a rocket launched from a high altitude balloon, and fueled by a mixture of pure asphalt and nitrous-oxide or "laughing gas."

The HAL5 chapter's volunteer members, many of them professionals with aerospace and high-tech companies, have spent the past two years on Project HALO (High Altitude Lift-Off), developing and testing components for the rockoon. If launched successfully off the coast of southeast North Carolina at 6:30 Saturday morning, HALO will become the first of its kind to ever make it into space by exceeding an altitude of 50 nautical miles (300,000 feet). Bad weather backup launches are scheduled for the same time on Sunday, March 23 and Monday, March 24.

David Brandt, Executive Director for the National Space Society in Washington, said, "These people are trailblazers. Decades ago, you could find grassroots rocketry efforts in places around the globe. Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun -- founder of our Society -- were just two of the people who got started in private rocket clubs. This activity practically disappeared when opportunities to launch through government facilities increased. Through the efforts of HAL5 we're returning to an era when private citizens have greater access to space."

Brandt adds, "We know that for every member of HAL5, right now is nail-biting time. Everything has to be just right -- no wind, no rain. We wish them the best of luck and eagerly anticipate this launch of a new era where space becomes more affordable for students, amateurs, experimenters and researchers."

The highest hybrid flight to date was flown on January 8 when a NASA-industry team sent a nitrous-oxide and HTPB-rubber hybrid sounding rocket from the ground to 119,780 feet.

The National Space Society is an independent space advocacy organization with headquarters in Washington, DC. Its 25,000 members and 95 chapters support the creation of a spacefaring civilization. For more information on the NSS and our future in space, visit For more information on the HAL5 chapter and Project HALO, visit

About the "NSS Capital Capsule"
The Capsule is a timely report of highlights from Capitol Hill hearings and other events involving space issues. Prepared by NSS staff or volunteers who attend in person, the Capsule provides NSS members and activists an "insider's" look into the thoughts of our national elected officials on space issues.

The National Space Society is an independent space advocacy group headquartered in Washington, DC. Its 25,000 members and 95 chapters support the creation of a spacefaring civilization. For more information on the NSS and our future in space, visit

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