Image: NSS Space Ambassadors speaking at ISDC 2023.Top Row (left to right): Stevan Akerley, Kevin Simmons, Christean Kapp, Avinash Shirode. Bottom Row (left to right): Loretta Hall, Bryce Meyer, Jim Plaxco, and panelists Jim Plaxco, Stevan Akerley, Loretta Hall.

NSS Space Ambassdors made significant contributions to this year’s International Space Development Conference programming. Participating in the programming were ambassadors Loretta Hall, Christean Kapp, Bryce Meyer, Jim Plaxco, Ken Ruffin, Avinash Shirode, Kevin Simmons, and program director Stevan Akerley.

Space Ambassador programming opened with Thursday’s Student Plenary panel session Getting Ready for the Next Space Race.

Moderating the discussion was Jim Plaxco with Stevan Akerley addressing the NASA Artemis program, Loretta Hall speaking on commercial space stations projects, Bryce Meyer covering developments and issues with agriculture in space, and Avinash Shirode speaking on the state of space education in India.

Thursday afternoon, the Space Ambassadors had their own track of programming. Ambassadors and their topics for this track were:

  • Limitless Space Institute – Research into Hypervelocity Travel by Kevin Simmons
  • The Value of Authentic Aerospace STEM Experiences for Students by Kevin Simmons
  • NASA HUNCH Program by Christean Kapp
  • Indian Space Agency by Avinash Shirode
  • Women in the History of ‘Manned’ Spaceflight by Loretta Hall

The track closed out with comments from Space Ambassador Program Director Stevan Akerley.

On Friday, ambassadors delivered the following presentations as participants in various other programming tracks.

  • Keto in Space: Protein Targeted Space Agriculture and How it Affects Overall Mass Flow by Bryce Meyer
  • Can Spaceflight Blow Your Mind – Psychological Challenges for Long-Duration Missions by Loretta Hall
  • Evaluating the Market for Commercial Space Stations by Jim Plaxco, who was also speaking as President of the NSS Chapter Chicago Society for Space Studies.

The Space Ambassadors also had a dedicated track of programming on Saturday. The programming opened with a panel discussion on Perspectives on Space Priorities where panel moderator Jim Plaxco confronted panelists Loretta Hall, Ken Ruffin, Christean Kapp, and Stevan Akerley with a series of questions on space priorities. Questions for the panelists included:

  • What do you feel are the next big challenges for commercial space activities?
  • What role do you see new approaches to space launch playing in space accessibility, for example cost, frequency, mass and volume, and reliability?
  • Where do you see NASA’s Artemis Program fitting into moving us forward in terms of occupying space? How helpful or harmful will Artemis and Gateway, Commercial Lunar Payload Services, and HLS be to overall space development?
  • What has been your reaction to the strategic vision of NASA’s recently released Moon to Mars Architecture?
  • How critical do you think it is that we progress beyond a reliance on chemical propulsion systems in order to make human missions to Mars a realistic objective?
  • Humans are the weak link in the space exploration chain. What do you see as being the key challenge in this regard?

In addition to the moderator’s questions, the audience was also provided with the opportunity to put their own questions to the ambassadors.

The panel was followed by a series of presentations on a variety of subjects:

  • Keto in Space: Menu options and food processing for Vegan, Kosher, and Carnivore by Bryce Meyer
  • Can Spaceflight Blow Your Mind? Psychological Challenges for Long-Duration Missions by Loretta Hall
  • The Future of NASA and Commercial Spaceflight by Ken Ruffin
  • A History of Lunar Cartography and Nomenclature by Jim Plaxco
  • How to Move FAST IN THE Solar System by Christean Kapp

The Saturday programming track concluded with comments and observations by Stevan Akerley.

The final Space Ambassador presentation for the conference was Psychological Considerations for Long-Duration Missions by Loretta Hall.

The variety of topics presented by NSS Space Ambassadors demonstrates their breadth of coverage of space topics. If your organization would like to take advantage of the services of our Space Ambassadors, check out our Speakers and Subjects List.

Note that each Ambassador’s biographical page contains a link to  the Space Ambassadors Contact Form from which you can request an ambassador to make a presentation to your organization.

This year, NSS Space Ambassadors played a larger than ever role in ISDC (International Space Development Conference) programming. You can show your support of the Space Ambassadors by making a donation to the NSS Space Ambassadors program.


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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.

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