Yuri’s Night in Phoenix

The Phoenix, Arizona space advocacy societies held a joint Yuri’s Night event on Sat. April 12, 2014 on the campus of Arizona State University (ASU). The event was hosted by the ASU chapter of the Student for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). Besides SEDS members, attendees included members of the local NSS and Moon Society chapters as well as others brought in via the MeetUp social network. There were over 30 people in attendance. The local AIAA Section provided financial support for the refreshments.

The evening started off with pizza, wings, and soft drinks set up in a well-equipped conference room in the space science building. A Mars landing video game kept folks entertained, and foam rockets that Mike Mackowski brought from Orbital Sciences proved to be a hit, as missile battles ensued all across the room. There was much socializing and networking amonst the students, educators, and professionals in attendance. To cap it off, there was a showing of the original Star Wars movie (episode 4, if you must) in the building’s main auditorium.

This was a great evening of celebrating Earth’s first venture into manned spaceflight.

Yuri’s Night 2014


On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth. To celebrate the anniversary of this milestone in space exploration, the Phoenix aerospace community is having a Yuri’s Night event on Saturday, April 12, 2014. This will be a fun evening of entertainment, food, and and socializing.

For the past few years, the Phoenix chapters of the National Space Society and the Moon Society have held a Yuri’s Night event in conjunction with the Space Access conference. That conference is not occuring this year, so we are all joining up with the YN event hosted by the ASU chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). The event will be free and open to everyone. No advanced registration is required. You can sign up on the event’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1407954946126455/) if you want.

The fun starts at 7 pm and will be held at the ISTB-4 building on the east side of the campus. Parking is available at the surface lot immediately south of the building or the Rural Road parking garage just east of ISTB-4. Parking is generally free on weekends in these lots.

This primary sponsor of this event is the ASU chapter of SEDs, with with additional support provided by the Phoenix Section of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the local chapters of the National Space Society and the Moon Society.

For more info on the international YN movement, see http://yurisnight.net


The Role of Chapters and Grass Roots Space Advocacy

Commentary by Mike Mackowski, 10/25/13

I’ve been a little quiet recently on this blog. There has been activity in the way of space news (the successful Antares/Cygnus flight to ISS, an upgraded Falcon 9 launch, the successful LADEE lasercom experiment, etc.) but nothing that inspired me to write any new commentary.

I’ve been busy with a number of activities involving outreach to schools and related STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects. In fact, I could use some additional volunteers to meet the various requests we get for mentors and speakers. There are several K-12 schools looking for help, so contact me if you are interested. Coming up in early November is the SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space – sort of a campus-based version of NSS) annual SpaceVision conference which will be held at ASU in Tempe.

The NSS leadership recently held their board of directors meeting, which triggered some discussions among chapter leaders across the country. The issue was the relative balance (within NSS) between chapter activities and broader national-level efforts. From my perspective, and my long history with this organization, you really need both. The national organization provides a highly visible public image and a voice in Washington, DC, while local chapters provide a venue for personal involvement and opportunities for grass roots activism.

Focusing on local activities, and considering that most space policy decisions are made in Washington, what is the role of chapters in an organization like NSS? Consider the list of “E”s below.

Energize Membership
• A compelling local group can motivate members to stay involved, renew their membership, and recruit new members. If a chapter can grow and have a larger active membership base, they can take on more projects.

Educate members about what is going on in the space business
• You can get info on line but you usually have to look for it.
• Info acquired via an in-person presentation is often serendipitous and surprising. You could learn something you never expected. You could find something you weren’t looking for. You get to have a personal exchange with the presenter. It is much harder to do that on the internet.

• There is a social aspect to any avocational pursuit. Space exploration is no different. Having a local chapter with interesting activities builds membership by keeping people involved, having fun, coming back, and encouraging new members.

Engaging Others
• The general public is under-educated about technology in general and space in particular. Most folks think the US has no space program. A chapter can perform public outreach and serve as a source of information for local media. This also creates opportunities to enhance membership.

What this says to me is that being an effective space advocate is a lot more fun when you are doing it in concert with other like minded people. Being active in a chapter is a great way to make that happen, so please get involved and visit a chapter meeting or say hi on this blog or our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/Moonsociety/).

NSS May Meeting

NSS May Meeting

The turnout for the May meeting was very good. I counted over twenty. They all enjoyed the video and had a good time before and after socializing. They clapped and laughed and was very engaged in what the seven people in the video was saying and doing. All in all, it was a fine meeting.

Our Biosphere 2 Trip was Cancelled

sad_face1The trip to Biosphere 2 that was scheduled for yesterday (Sat April 20) was cancelled.  Originally we envisioned renting a tour bus to go to Biosphere and the Pima Air and Space Museum. Poor response made it uneconomical to hire a bus, so we scaled it back to a car pool to the Biosphere 2 facility. But as the week went on and into early Saturday, it came down to Chuck Lesher and myself and our spouses as the only people interesting in going. So we decided to cancel the trip for now until we can actually make it a group outing. (Note: if you sent in a check, it will be returned to you.)

April 20 Trip: Biosphere 2


Join NSS and HSGP in taking a trip down to see the Biosphere 2.  It should be a day of fun and education.  Spend it with your friends.

Transportation: We did not get enough folks to charter a bus, so the new plan is to simply meet at the Biosphere 2 facility near Florence at 10 am next Saturday, April 20. After the roughly one hour tour, interested parties will get together at a nearby restaurant for lunch. No advance payment is necessary as attendees will pay their own admission at the door.  We would, however, like an RSVP so we know who to look for.

If you have any questions please call Chuck at 602-616-3162 Continue reading

International Space Development Conference

May 23-27, 2013


The 32nd International Space Development Conference, to be held at the La Jolla Hyatt Regency, San Diego, California, May 23-27, 2013. Speakers at the ISDC will discuss many breakthroughs happening in space development. ISDC 2013 will showcase the latest developments, promote new ideas, and prove fertile ground for collaboration and innovation.

The conference theme is “Global Collaboration in 21st Century Space.” This is the century we break free of the gravity that has limited our ability to colonize space. We will learn how to collaborate effectively in a global, soon to be multi-planetary community. ISDC promises to be the place where 21st century skills are developed for 21st century space.
Continue reading

Forward Progress at NSS Phoenix

meeting minutes


Several members of NSS-PHX attended the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix (HSGP) meeting today and met with their board. We discussed continuing meeting at their facility and possible future joint activities. The bottom line is that we will be able to use their facility for our monthly meetings although there will be a nominal fee involved.

Additionally, Chuck Lesher has some innovative ideas on bringing together like-minded people from NSS, HSGP, and Arizona State University for possible endeavors like joint outings/tours, scholarships, and community outreach. He presented those to the HSGP board and these are the kind of ideas that our NSS group needs to find new members and ways to reach out to other groups.

Next Meeting is this Saturday, Feb. 16

by Mike Mackowski


There is still some uncertainty as to the availability and access to the Humanist Center (as I believe Dave Fischer may have unlocked the building himself) but we are planning to hold a meeting there at 10 this Saturday.  The topic will be to discuss future directions for the club (NSS and Moon Society) and ideas for Yuri’s Night (Fri. April 12).  Please make an effort to attend.  Unfortunately, I will still be away on business.

The Passing of Dr. Dave Fisher

Dr. Dave Fischer

Dave Fischer


The National Space Society of Phoenix is saddened to announce that the moderator of this blog, and chapter vice president, David Fisher passed away on January 19, 2013. Below is a message from Richard Dewey, president of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix, another group that David was very involved with.



I am very sad to tell you that our dear friend and treasurer, Dr. Dave Fischer, died Saturday in a car accident on his way home from Tai Chi. What we know at this point is that his vehicle was the only one involved and his death was quick. His wife Marty is planning an open house celebration at their home sometime within the next month. I will keep you informed as I get more details. This is indeed a very tragic loss for us all. Dave was an integral part of our community and was positioned to become even more involved since he had just retired at the beginning of this year.

Dave was most certainly a “Renaissance” man. He was the principal blogger for the NSS Blog and webmaster for the Phoenix Chapter of the National Space Society. He was Senior Business Analyst for the Industry Relations group at Money Management International, a non-profit consumer debt management company. He was in the Consumer Credit Counseling world since 1996. Prior to that he was MIS Director for Alphagraphics. He earned his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry at The Ohio State University in 1974. His first experience with computers was on an IBM 709 at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964, where he earned his BA in Chemistry. His Interests included his 3 year old granddaughter, science fiction, human space flight issues and performances with the Desert Winds Steel Orchestra, which we so loved to hear. He also enjoyed traveling the world and had made trips to Africa and South America including a recent trip to Peru that we had planned for him to talk to us about in the coming months. Dave was a long time member of HSGP, he did tremendous work on the renovation of the HCC including much of the electrical fixturing, he was our treasurer for some months in 2011 and then again in 2012, he taught Tai Chi at the HCC every Saturday through 2011 and 2012, he brought the Desert Winds Steel Orchestra for us to enjoy one evening in 2011, gave us two talks on space exploration, one in 2011 and another in 2012, and was just a dear friend to everyone he knew. He will be sorely missed!

Marty has requested that all messages or condolences be sent to her email address at martyfischer@dataimaging.com.


Richard Dewey

President, HSGP

Meanwhile, at a meeting on February 2, new officers of the Phoenix NSS chapter were selected by the active members present.

  • Chapter President:  Michael Mackowski
  • Chapter VP:  Samantha Thompson
  • Treasurer:  Patrick Lonchar
  • Secretary:  Michael Clark
  • Chapter President Emeritus / At-Large Director:  Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto

More information will follow soon.

Thank you,

Mike Mackowski