We had a great meeting on Sept. 14 with about 20 people attending Mike Mackowski’s talk on Mars exploration. There was some good discussion of the progress (and lack thereof in some areas) we have made on getting humans to Mars. It is going to be difficult, no matter who takes the lead (governments or private entities). One development to watch is to see if the commercial launch providers, like SpaceX, can help get launch costs down to help make such a mission less expensive. Seeing SpaceX make some progress on reusable vehicles offers a bit of hope on that aspect.
Meanwhile there is a lot going on locally. The next meeting will be on the second Saturday of October instead of the usual third Saturday. We have scheduled Chuck Lesher to give an update on space solar power satellites, another technology that has not been standing still. We are considering a field trip on October 21 to the lava tube caves in northern Arizona but that is still tentative. On Sat. Nov. 2, ASU will be having their annual Earth and Space Exploration Day. This is a great event for families and for all people interested in science. It is a neat open house where they showcase the exciting research going on in Tempe. See this link for details. For November we will get an update on commercial space and NewSpace companies, as Orbital has sent their first Cygnus resupply ship to the International Space Station and SpaceX will have made a test launch of their upgraded Falcon 9 rocket. We are planning a winter holiday party in December and could use a volunteer to host it. We also have preliminary speakers lined up for the January meeting, so keep an eye on this website for future announcements.
Another way to track our local activities is via our Facebook page. The late Dave Fischer started a Facebook page for the NSS chapter but he set it up as a “business” page and we have been unable to do anything with it. So we have now joined up with the local Moon Society folks and have modified the Facebook “group” page they have to encompass both Moon Society and National Space Society activities. We are having joint meetings and there is a lot of overlap in membership and interests, so it made sense to evolve that into a “Phoenix Space Societies” group page (follow the link) to cover all local news of interest to Phoenix area space advocates. So please check out the page, “friend” it, and feel free to post announcements and your thoughts on current events. Additionally, members are encouraged to post their thoughts on this blog, as well.
Through my activities with AIAA, I am making contact with a lot of K-12 schools who are looking for speakers to visit schools and talk about space exploration. If you are interested in doing that, please contact me and I will link you up with those opportunities as they arise.
Mike Mackowski, 9/26/13