The NewSpace Frontier
This Saturday is Astronomy Day and once again I will be giving a presentation as a part of the Harper College Astronomy Day activities. The principal sponsor of the event is the Northwest Suburban Astronomers and is cosponsored by the Harper College Department of Physical Sciences. I’m a regular speaker at this event and in recent years have given presentations on The Art of Astronomy, Art and the Exploration of Space, Imaging Mars, and The Universe According to Monty Python.
This year my presentation will be The NewSpace Frontier in which I look at the history of private and commercial space and rocketry activities, the key players today, and the challenges facing this emerging 21st century industry. Of particular concern to me is the possible emergence of an overbearing regulatory environment (ITAR for example). Quoting Patti Grace Smith, former Associate Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation: "Don’t over regulate this industry. If we regulate the industry the way certification would require – all the vehicles to be certified, with all the tests and costs – the industry will never get off the ground.". Also of concern is NASA’s willingness to support rather than stifle this new paradigm of space exploration.
Some of the space businesses I’ll be talking about include Armadillo, Bigelow, Deep Space Industries, Golden Spike, Mojave Air and Space Port, Moon Express, NASTAR, Orbital Sciences, Planetary Resources, Reaction Engines, Scaled Composites, Sierra Nevada, Space Adventures, Spaceport America, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and XCor.
There will of course be space art in my presentation as space art plays a crucial role in helping people visualize the rockets, spacecraft, space stations, and Moon and Mars bases that the various players envision as a part of our future in space.
As to what hat I’ll be wearing when giving this presentation: while I am a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador, because I’ll be talking about commercial space and some of the associated politics I can not rightly wear that hat. While billed as a former director of National Space Society for the same presentation which I’m giving a week later at the Winnetka Library, I am not speaking as a representative of National Space Society nor do my views necessarily mirror those of NSS. As President and principal spokesperson for the Chicago Society for Space Studies, I can’t claim to represent the views of that organization. So I’ll be speaking simply as a private citizen who is very interested in seeing our new commercial space enterprises prosper and grow.
In case you can’t attend Astronomy Day, I’ll next be giving my The NewSpace Frontier presentation at the Winnetka Library on Sunday April 28. Details of both events follow.
As to why I care about such things, I offer you the following excerpt from the close of the short story The Sentinel written by Arthur C. Clarke in 1948 and upon which the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey was based:
Perhaps you understand now why that crystal pyramid was set upon the Moon instead of on the Earth. Its builders were not concerned with races still struggling up from savagery. They would be interested in our civilization only if we proved our fitness to survive – by crossing space and so escaping from the Earth, our cradle. That is the challenge that all intelligent races must meet, sooner or later.
Astronomy Day, Harper College
Saturday, April 20th – 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Harper College, Building Z
1200 W. Algonquin Road
Palatine, IL 60067
NSA Astronomy Day Information
NewSpace Frontier Presentation
The Winnetka-Northfield Library, with the support of the NSS Illinois North Shore, the Chicago Space Frontier L5 Society, and the Chicago Society for Space Studies will host The NewSpace Frontier presentation that explores the exciting world of newspace. The presentation will be given by CSSS President Jim Plaxco.
IMPORTANT:The library is requiring that attendees register for this program as it begins before the library opens that day so please take the time to
Register with the library to attend
Note I have been told that Chicago Society for Space Studies members who show up without having registered will be able to attend.
Sunday, April 28, 2013 from 11:30am to 12:45pm
Winnetka-Northfield Public Library
768 Oak Street
Winnetka, IL 60093