September 17 Meeting

The 50th Anniversary of Project Gemini: Paving the Way to the Moon

A presentation by Mike Mackowski

2016 is the 50th anniversary of the manned Gemini missions, NASA’s two-man spacecraft that led to Apollo. Gemini paved the way to the Moon, proving out rendezvous techniques, extra-vehicular activities, and extended duration manned space missions. After a summer break, we will start up monthly meetings this month on September 17, when Mike will give a talk on the history of this program as well as several concepts for follow-on Gemini adaptations that never got off the drawing board.


Additionally, it’s time to get serious about the future direction of the Phoenix chapter of the National Space Society. It is becoming clear to me that the old model of chapters having meetings with speakers is dead and we should just acknowledge it. Social media and the Internet are changing the way people network and learn about special interest topics, like space exploration and development. This is a problem not just for NSS, but many other hobby-type clubs and fraternal organizations. These groups are getting smaller and older, but I still see a need for person-to-person interaction regarding focused areas like space. We may have to wait a while for the younger folks to figure out how they want to fill that void, besides via on-line social media. We will also select new officers at the end of this year, and I have yet to hear from anyone volunteering to pick up the reigns.

So I’d like to reserve some time to talk about how we, as a local chapter of NSS, want to move forward. Maybe we have fewer meetings and take advantage of the many space-oriented lectures offered by ASU and add a few social functions and call that a plan. Some chapters have projects (STEM outreach, conferences, contests, rocketry, etc.) to bring people together. I am open to new ideas and a new model for this group.

The meeting will start at 11 am at our usual location at the Humanist Center in Mesa (627 W. Rio Salado Parkway). As always, everyone’s welcome.

Mike Mackowski, NSS Phoenix Chapter President

Late Summer Update 2016

As noted previously, since yours truly was running out of programming ideas, and no one else came up with any, it was decided to take a break from meetings over the summer. We plan to return to the Saturday sessions on September 17. We need ideas for presentations and outings.

Meanwhile, we will look for opportunities to get together socially or for special events. I’d recommend the ASU New Discovery series lecture set for Thursday, August 25, at 7:30 pm. Our buddy, Dr. David Williams, will give a talk on “Asteroids, Ion Propulsion, and NASA’s Dawn Mission to Vesta and Ceres”. It will be at building ISTB4 on the ASU Tempe campus.

Another such idea was a screening of the new space documentary, “The Wonder of it All”. It is a new IMAX film looking at Earth from the space station, and had a very short run here recently. If it comes back to Phoenix, we hope to make it an outing.

Other similar suggestions are welcome. Another topic to remember is new leadership for the Phoenix NSS chapter. The current officers two-year terms expires at the end of this year, and we need to seriously start finding candidates. I do not intend to run again. Have a great summer!

Mike Mackowski


May 21 Meeting

The speaker for the May meeting will be Mike Mackowski. He will give a talk on “Whatever Happened to Reusable Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) Rockets?”. With all the progress that SpaceX and Blue Origin are making on reusable boosters, this is not a new concept. There have been studies galore of fully reusable SSTO rockets but none have been built. We’ll explore why that is and if reusable SSTO is even possible.

Monthly Meeting is Next Saturday

The next meeting of the Phoenix Chapters of the National Space Society and the Moon Society will be at our usual date and location on next Saturday (April 16, 11 am) at the Humanist Center in Mesa. Our own Mike Clark will present some of the aerospace news videos he produces for the on-line TMRO webcasts (

Mike Clark does short videos (5 to 8 minutes) called Space Pod available from several on line venues including a YouTube channel. He releases these every week or so and they focus on the latest news in space development. Mike’s style is very friendly and congenial, and he explains things in a clear, concise way. The TMRO Space Pods are crowd funded shows and they are always looking for patrons, which I’m sure Mike will tell us all about. We’ll watch some of the videos, and then have an open discussion about some of the latest developments in space exploration.

The meeting will start at 11 am at our usual location at the Humanist Center in Mesa (627 W. Rio Salado Parkway). As always, everyone’s welcome.

Hope to see many of you there!

Don’t forget to drop by The Grid Tuesday for Yuri’s Night. See previous post on this blog.


Mike Mackowski

President, Phoenix chapters NSS & TMS

It’s time for Yuri’s Night!

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth. Yuri’s Night is the World Space Party. Every April 12th the world comes together to dream about where we’re going, explore where we are, and celebrate where we’ve been. To celebrate the anniversary of this milestone in space exploration, the Phoenix aerospace community is having a Yuri’s Night (YN) event on Tuesday, April 12. See this link for more information on the global Yuri’s Night celebrations.


The local celebration will be at The Grid in Mesa! We’ll have prizes for the best space themed costumes and Legos to build spaceships. Perchdragon will be spinning all night. The Grid is Mesa’s latest neon-filled bar/arcade and blends the best craft beers with gaming culture. Admission is free!

You can RSVP for the party on Facebook (or just show up):

The Grid: Games and Growlers 525 S Gilbert Rd, Mesa, Arizona 85204

Hope to see many of you there!


Mike Mackowski

March 19 Meeting – The International Space Station

The Making of The International Space Station

Discussion led by Chuck Lesher

The International Space Station is the largest man-made structure ever built in space. From end to end, it is as long as a football field and can be seen from the ground by the unaided eye by observers who know when and where to look.


The $100 billion space station is the product of international cooperation among 15 different countries and five national space agencies representing the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. Construction began in 1998 and the first crew, Expedition 1, took up resident in 2000. Rotating crews of between three and six astronauts/cosmonauts have kept the space station permanently manned ever since.

Along with a bunch of images gleaned from various websites (mostly NASA), Chuck has put together a presentation showing the construction of the ISS and its present configuration. He will show several short videos including a recent 28-minute tour of the station given by Sunita Williams.  He will be bringing a model of the ISS designed and released in 2000. Chuck has tried to bring the model more in line with how the ISS actually turned out. The idea is to generate a nice discussion of the Space Station and perhaps tell you something you hadn’t know before. Should be fun.

The meeting will start at 11 am at our usual location at the Humanist Center in Mesa (627 W. Rio Salado Parkway). We will also have a short preview of the upcoming Space Access Conference from the event organizer, Henry Vanderbilt. As always, everyone’s welcome.

February Meeting

The February meeting of the Phoenix Chapters of the National Space Society and Moon Society will be a week earlier than usual. It will also be a field trip, as you are invited to partake in a visit to Biosphere 2 near Oracle, AZ during the afternoon of Saturday, February 13, 2016. This is a joint activity of the Phoenix and Tucson chapters of the National Space Society and the Phoenix Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Biosphere 2 is one of the world’s most unique facilities dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues. The Biosphere 2 facility serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies, an arena for scientific discovery and discussion, and a far-reaching provider of public education. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe; to catalyze interdisciplinary thinking and understanding about Earth and its future; to be an adaptive tool for Earth education and outreach to industry, government, and the public; and to distil issues related to Earth systems planning and management for use by policymakers, students and the public.

Admission is per below and we are actually planning to partake in two tours (included in this price):

Adults $20

Military $18

Children ages 6 through 12 $13

Plan to arrive around 2:15 pm at Biosphere 2. They are located just outside of Oracle, AZ, which is on Hwy 77 north of Tucson. See their website for directions. We will start with a history tour at 2:30 followed by a guided tour of the facility. The general tours run roughly about an hour and half, are a little under a mile of walking with over 150 stairs throughout the structure, and are led by a tour guide. We should be done by 5 pm, and afterwards folks who are interested will head to Oracle for an informal dinner at a restaurant to be determined.

Please RSVP by clicking this link (this is a Google form we use for AIAA events) or by replying to this email (send a reply to Michael Mackowski) so we can get an idea of how many people to expect. You do not have to pay in advance, as it will be simpler to just pay at the door.

We hope to see many of you there for this unique opportunity!

Mike Mackowski

President, NSS & Moon Society Phoenix