Transit of Venus – Party at HCC

Telescope
The Meade Telescope Safely Projecting an Image of the Sun and Venus
Image Credit: Dave Fischer

The Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix (HSGP) held a party to celebrate the Transit of Venus across the disc of the Sun. I won’t happen again for another 105 years. The Humanist Community Center is located at 627 W Eighth Street, Mesa Arizona.

Below is the black disk of Venus crossing the Sun.

Transit
The Transit of Venus Projected on our Screen
Image Credit: Dave Fischer

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NSS Urges Congress to Ease Export Control Restrictions on Satellites and Space-Related Items

The National Space Society (NSS) calls on Congress to ease export control regulations on spacecraft and related items, as urged by the Departments of Defense and State in their recent, joint “Section 1248” report, “Risk Assessment of the United States Space Export Control Policy.”

This report concluded that spacecraft and their components, designated as dual-use items, can safely be removed from the U.S. Munitions List (USML), which is controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) by the Department of State.

Once off the USML, the report recommends that these items be placed on the Commerce Control List (CCL) managed by the Department of Commerce. Experts maintain that a failure to implement this change not only would continue to cause harm to the American space industrial base, but could actually pose a threat to national security and potentially impede current and future space exploration efforts.

“For many years, the U.S. space industrial base has been at a competitive disadvantage with other countries due to outdated and overly burdensome licensing processes under ITAR,” said NSS Executive Director, Paul E. Damphousse. “The U.S space export control system has created delays, driven up costs, and severely hampered the ability of the American space industry to compete in an increasingly global market, and this situation must not be allowed to continue.”

A distinguished panel of export control policy experts will discuss the recommendations outlined in the Section 1248 report at NSS’s upcoming International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Washington, DC May 24-28, 2012. Patricia Cooper of the Satellite Industry Association will moderate the panel, which will include representatives from the Defense Department, Tauri Group, Bigelow Aerospace and the Universities Space Research Association. For more information about media access to the panel, please visit isdc.nss.org/2012 or email ISDC2012.Media@nss.org.

NSS believes that implementation of these recommendations will serve to bolster critical American space industries vital to space development and lead to increased cooperation in space exploration initiatives with our international partners. NSS agrees with the report’s goal, which is to urge Congress to enact legislation to “create higher walls around fewer items” and support the health and leadership of the U.S. space industrial base.

ISDC 2012 Features NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver

(Washington, DC – April 23, 2012) The National Space Society is pleased to announce NASA Administrator Charles Bolden as the Keynote speaker for the Opening Plenary Session at this year’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC), being held at the Grand Hyatt Washington (DC) hotel May 25th. In addition, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is confirmed as the Keynote speaker for NSS’s Annual Awards Dinner on Sunday evening, May 27th.

Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., began his duties as the twelfth Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 17, 2009. Gen. Bolden’s 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office. He traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. His flights included deployment of the Hubble SpaceTelescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew.

As Deputy Administrator, Ms. Garver is NASA’s second in command and this is the second time she has worked for the agency. During her first period of service (1996 to 2001), she served as a special assistant to the NASA Administrator and senior policy analyst for the Office of Policy and Plans, where she was later named Associate Administrator. Reporting to the NASA Administrator in the latter position, she oversaw the analysis, development and integration of policies and long-range plans, the NASA Strategic Management System, and the NASA Advisory Council.

Ms. Garver, who also worked for NSS from 1984 through 1996 and served as the Society’s Executive Director for a number of years, will also participate in a panel exploring NSS’s heritage during a plenary session the same morning, as part of the Society’s celebration of its 25th Anniversary year.

About ISDC: The International Space Development Conference is the annual conference of the National Space Society. ISDC 2012 will take place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC from May 24 through 28, 2012. ISDC brings together a diverse group of NASA officials, aerospace industry leaders and interested private citizens to engage in discussions about today’s prevalent space issues in order to stimulate innovation and overcome the obstacles that hinder human advancement off the Earth.

About The National Space Society (NSS)
: NSS is an independent, educational, grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded when the National Space Institute and the L5 Society merged in 1987, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space. NSS has over 12,000 members and supporters, and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. For more information about NSS, please visit http://www.nss.org.

Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study

Asteroid Capture
Keck Institute for Space Studies report on the Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study
Image Credit: Rick Sternbach / KISS

Do you want to gamble tens of billions to make trillions?

The Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) study, entitled Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study, is posted by the National Space Society (NSS) here (pdf).

On April 24, Planetary Resources officials will announce details of their space exploration plans in a press conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Investors include Charles Simonyi and James Cameron, among others, including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.

The original announcement of the KiSS study is described here.

Earth from the International Space Station

Video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Compiled by Michael Clark @ EpicFutureSpace
Videographer for NSS Phoenix

Stephen Hawking Awarded NSS Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award.

The National Space Society (NSS) is pleased to announce Dr. Stephen Hawking as the 14th recipient of NSS’s Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award. The award will be presented to Dr. Hawking at a special ceremony at the Cooks Branch Conservancy in Montgomery, Texas on Wednesday, March 28 and is given in recognition of his outstanding and continuing public efforts in support of human space development and settlement.

In the last decade, Dr. Hawking has repeatedly and publicly advocated the need to move part of humanity off the Earth in order to avoid the destruction of the human race, either through self-destructive actions such as nuclear war, or natural phenomena such as asteroid collision or, eventually, the death of our nearest star, the Sun. “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” says Hawking. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”

“Dr. Hawking’s public statements are very important, not only because of the respect his fellow scientists and many others have for him and his work, but also because they give more credence to these issues among scientists, the media, politicians, and the public,” said NSS Executive Director, Paul E. Damphousse, who will present the award to Hawking in Texas, along with Board of Governors member and Heinlein literary executor, Arthur M. Dula, CEO of Excalibur Almaz, a private spaceflight company.

Damphousse added, “Speaking for all our members, chapters, and partners who actively participated in the selection process, it is a distinct honor and privilege to bestow this honor upon Dr. Hawking – one of the greatest minds of our time.”

The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award, named after the author widely recognized as the “dean of science fiction writers,” honors those individuals who have made significant, lifetime contributions to the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization. Those individuals whose actions have involved personal, social, or financial risk are particularly meritorious. It is one of the highest honors bestowed upon an individual by the National Space Society because the award winner is chosen by vote of all of the Society’s members and chapters.

The date on which Dr. Hawking will receive the award exactly coincides with the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the National Space Society through a merger between the National Space Institute and the L5 Society. More formal celebratory events will occur at NSS’s 31st International Space Development Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., May 24-28, 2012. A video of the award presentation to Dr. Hawking will be shown at the 25th Anniversary Governors Dinner and Gala.

National Space Society’s Call to Action for American Leadership in Civil Space

The National Space Society calls NSS (pdf) for the United States to make civil space a high national priority in order to ensure American leadership in scientific discovery, technology development, and the creation of new industries and new applications that will benefit all humanity.

Five actions are necessary to achieve this objective:

Formulate a Strategy to Achieve the Ultimate Goal. Congress and the Administration shall institute, by no later than February 28, 2013, a comprehensive civil space strategy to achieve the long-range goal of the human settlement of space, including the use of space to better life on Earth.

Leverage the Private Sector. Congress and the Administration shall support public-private partnerships in space that draw on the strengths of both sectors. Commercial Crew Development is one such program that must be funded for Fiscal Year 2012 at the level requested by the Administration.

Ensure American Technical Leadership. Congress shall take all appropriate steps to utilize the internationally-recognized expertise of NASA, as well as the power of American industry, to develop enabling technologies and systems capable of carrying humans beyond Low Earth Orbit, exploring space, and developing new uses of space that will nurture new industries and support civil government functions.

Develop New Applications That Better Life on Earth. Government and industry shall work together to support research and development leading to new applications that will harness the vast material, energy and other resources of space, including use of Earth orbit, to dramatically improve life on Earth.

Establish Priorities to Enable a Sustainable Path for the Expansion of our Civilization. As a necessary and integral part of the exploration, development, and eventual settlement of the solar system, priority should be given to establishing an integrated spacefaring infrastructure capable of transporting passengers and cargo throughout the Earth-Moon system and beyond.

National Space Society Policy Committee
September 2011

Contact:
Rick Zucker
Executive Vice President, National Space Society
E-mail: rick.zucker@nss.org