NSS Phoenix 2014 Year in Review

Everyone seems to do a year-end wrap up so let’s join the party and consider what this NSS chapter has accomplished during 2014.

We’ve had monthly meetings or events throughout the year with decent attendance. Most meetings had around a dozen people, with around 20 showing up to hear Tracey Dodrill (MAVEN Mars orbiter) and later for Eric Nichols (orbital debris). We had a fun joint meeting with the Tucson chapter in May (we need to do something like that again). We had summer and winter social functions and joined in with the ASU SEDS club for their Yuri’s Night celebration. Our use of the MeetUp web service brought in a lot of new faces, and we hope to see many of them on a regular basis in the future.

It’s also been an interesting and notable year in space with some historic milestones. On the negative side, we had the SS2 fatal accident and the spectacular Antares CRS Orb-3 failure. There were quite a number of firsts, however, including the amazing rendezvous and landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the ESA’s Rosetta and Philae, and the test flight of NASA’s first Orion deep space capsule. There were debut launches of Russia’s new heavy lift Angara 5 booster and India’s new GSLV Mk 3 rocket. NASA announced the winners of the Commercial Crew program (Boeing and SpaceX), and Congress actually passed a budget. This was decent news for NASA, providing a solid budget for planetary exploration, firm funding to continue SLS and Orion development, and enough for Commercial Crew to limp along (but short of what is really needed to keep two providers in the game).

Coming up in 2015, NSS Phoenix starts out with elections of officers (president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer) for two-year terms. The election will be at the January 17 meeting and we will also make arrangements to vote via email. Candidates are:

President                      Mike Mackowski

Vice President           Athena Roberts

Secretary                       Chuck Lesher

Treasurer                      Pat Lonchar

Our January speaker is scheduled and should be very interesting. We have Sian Proctor, a geology professor at South Mountain Community College, who spent three months in a simulated Mars habitat in Hawaii (the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS)). She will talk about her experiences with that project. We have a few other ideas for programs and are always looking for good ideas for our meetings, so please contact me if you would like to suggest something.

We also have a quick reminder to vote for the ASU Sun Devil Satellite Lab team in their effort to get their experiment selected for the Mars One exploratory lander scheduled to head for Mars in 2018. This selection is based on popular votes, so go to this link to the SDSL site that explains step-by-step how to vote for this project:


Meanwhile, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Mike Mackowski

Chapter President





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