Long-Serving Space Settlement Advocate Mark Hopkins Passes On

Mark Hopkins

Former National Space Society CEO Had a Long History of Supporting Space Initiatives

Photo by Christian B. Meza.

It is with condolences and appreciation for his past service to the National Space Society that we announce the passing of Mr. Mark Hopkins on Monday, May 8, 2023.

Anita Gale, NSS CEO, said, “Mark Hopkins has been a visible part of the space settlement movement from the very beginning. Much of what NSS is and does today is because Mark made it happen. As the torch is passed to a new generation of space settlement advocates, we will remember Mark’s many contributions.”

Hopkins was a long serving member of the National Space Society and one of the key founders from the organization’s early days as the L5 Society. He had a BS in Economics from the California Institute of Technology and an MA in economics from Harvard University. When not volunteering for NSS, he had a long career with the RAND Corporation, and provided economic analyses of space settlement for multiple studies including one that resulted in the publication of NASA SP-413, “Space Settlements: A Design Study” in 1977.

Lori Garver, former NSS Executive Director and former Deputy Administrator of NASA, said “Mark Hopkins was one of the early space pirates and among a handful of people who initially recognized the value of expanding the economic sphere beyond Earth and its atmosphere. As a leader in the L5 Society, he was instrumental in negotiating the merger with the National Space Institute, creating the National Space Society. Mark’s dedication to establishing a spacefaring civilization was unmatched and his determination advanced the day when this will become a reality.”

In 1975 Hopkins join the first Board of Directors of the L5 Society, a citizen group dedicated to making Gerard K. O’Neill’s vision of the human settlement of free space a reality. In 1987 he was part of the team that negotiated the merger of the L5 Society with the National Space Institute to form the National Space Society (NSS). He held many positions within the organization over the decades, including most recently CEO Emeritus. Hopkins was especially interested in using the political process to advance the cause of space settlement and founded Spacecause and Spacepac for this purpose. He was also active in the successful fight to prevent the United States from ratifying the so-called “Moon Treaty” which would have created obstacles to space development and settlement. Hopkins also traveled to India and China to discuss challenges facing global space powers.

NSS Board of Governors Chairman Karlton Johnson said, “Over the years, Mark shepherded an influx of donations to strengthen NSS’s educational programs and advocated for NSS priorities in Washington, D.C., as well as strengthening the society’s international ties in key strategic growth areas. His belief in space settlement has served as a cornerstone for NSS.”

More recently Hopkins initiated the NSS annual Space Settlement Summit, an invitation-only gathering focused on bringing together leaders in the field of space settlement. The sixth annual Summit is currently planned for October 27-28 in Phoenix Arizona under the co-chairmanship of Greg Autry and Zaheer Ali, both professors at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

As NSS Secretary David Brandt-Erichsen commented, “It’s people like Mark Hopkins who will give humanity the stars.”

Those wishing to honor Mark Hopkins’ work with NSS may make a donation at go.nss.org/settlement-donate.


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Contributors to the NSS Blog are unpaid volunteers. Unless specifically labeled an NSS position or press release, all blog posts represent the views of the author and not of NSS, even if written by an NSS officer.

5 thoughts on “Long-Serving Space Settlement Advocate Mark Hopkins Passes On”

  1. Very sad news. Our condolences to the great space scientist who always encouraged new generation. I have special remembrance of him as he always appreciated and encourage me to participate and work for Nasik India CHAPTER and particularly for Indian space agency. I had felicitated him as per Indian culture at the opening ceremony of ISDC at Los Angeles in May 2018. I was very eager to meet him at ISDC at the Dallas and had brought a special gift for him. It is a personal loss for me. May his soul rest in peace..

  2. Mark was a dear friend, colleague, and profoundly opinionated ideator dedicated to envisioning and enabling the space movement. His presence will be missed, but the spirit of his life’s work will endure. Space is our future!

  3. What a loss for all Earthlings! Mark often got me to volunteer for NSS activities that enriched my life and connected me with wonderful NSS members. His legacy will be to get humanity to the stars.

  4. Very sad to see Mark pass, but his work will live on in all of us. He served as one of my NSS mentors, and tasked me often with tough questions and tasks to further the mission, the one I call “Trillions of Happy, Smiling Babies”. His wisdom and perserverance for decades definitly moved the ball closer to the goal line.


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