The year 2013 was a good year for the Phoenix Chapter of the National Space Society. It started off on a tragic note, however, with the death of David Fischer on January 19. David was the chapter vice president at the time and was instrumental in solidifying chapter activities in the last few years, particularly by setting up the WordPress blog, arranging our meeting place, and hosting several holiday parties. He will be missed for his friendship, as well as for his passion for space exploration and dedication to the club.
After David’s passing, the core of the group got together in February for a planning meeting and new set of officers was elected for a two year term:
- President – Michael Mackowski
- Vice President – Samantha Thompson
- Treasurer – Patrick Lonchar
- Secretary – Michael Clark
Other positions are:
- Chapter President Emeritus / At-Large Director: Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto
- Media and Publicity Manager – Chuck Lesher
Chuck (with Mackowski’s help) did a major redesign of the website (WordPress blog) and hooked us up to the MeetUp on-line social network. This service posts our meetings to people who have expressed an interest in science and space exploration. This exposure led to increased meeting attendance and new members. We formalized our arrangements with the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix (HSGP) to use their meeting hall for NSS meetings, and the exposure to that group also brought in new members. We also worked hard to have regular meetings with interesting speakers and programs. The summary of monthly events follows.
- 1/19 at HSGP with Dr. Pete Swan talking about space elevators.
- 2/16 at HSGP to report on new officers and to discuss future directions for the club.
- 3/16 at HSGP – General club policy and planning meeting.
- 4/12 – Yuri’s Night social at Space Access Conference
- 4/20 – Planned trip to Biosphere 2 was cancelled due to lack of interest
- 5/18 at HSGP – Watched YouTube video of ASU Storytelling of Science seminar featuring Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Brian Greene.
- 6/22 at HSGP – ASU Lunabotics club presentation and robot demo.
- 7/20 at HSGP – with ASU LRO researcher Dr. Sam Lawrence.
- August meeting cancelled due to multiple club members vacation schedules.
- 9/7 planning meeting at Starbucks in Tempe
- 9/21 at HSGP – Mackowski gave his Road to Mars talk and did a live interview on the Ch. 15 6 am newscast.
- 10/12 at HSGP – Chuck Lesher gave an update on space-based solar power.
- 10/26 – Field trip to northern Arizona lava tube cave with AIAA members.
- 11/8 at ASU – NSS had a display table at SEDS SpaceVision national conference where Mackowski gave a talk at the commercial space panel.
- 11/16 at HSGP – Henry Vanderbilt gave an update on the NewSpace industry and Commercial Space.
- 12/4 – Mackowski gave a talk on space activism to SEDS club monthly meeting at ASU.
- December – Winter Holiday party not scheduled due to minimal interest.
Some events were not as successful as others. During planning meetings, there seemed to be a lot of interest in field trips. So we planned trips to Biosphere 2 and to a lava cave near Flagstaff. The Biosphere trip was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of interest, and the lava tube trip was pulled off in conjunction with the local AIAA section but only one NSS member attended. So we will learn from that.
We had several good outreach and publicity opportunities that promoted the local chapter. These included our presence at the Space Access Conference with our Yuri’s Night party, representation at planning meetings for the Arizona Science and Technology Festival, Mackowski’s appearance on the Sept. 21 Channel 15 newscast, involvement with SEDS at the national and local (ASU) level, and a meeting with Casey Drier, the Director of Advocacy and blogger for The Planetary Society, were he and Mackowski discussed the current state of space interest groups.
I think it was a pretty good year where the group established a routine of meetings, outreach, and communications (emails, blogging). Now we need more members to step up and continue this trend into the new year. We’d like to see new ideas and fresh (and younger!) faces picking up leadership roles, posting opinions, and organizing special events. Thanks for your support during 2013 and I hope to see you at the January meeting.
Phoenix Chapter President: The Moon Society, National Space Society