National Space Society Award for Excellence Presented to Jim Plaxco
Well I’ve been home almost a week from the ISDC (International Space Development Conference) and I still haven’t fully caught up. I have quite a store of materials, recordings, and photographs to go through in order to produce some written reviews of some of the presentations I attended.
I arrived in Dallas at noon on Thursday the 24th just ahead of thunderstorms that were to cause massive flight delays and cancellations. I wound up sharing a shuttle bus to the hotel with an author working on a book about space tourism. Arriving at the hotel, I dumped my bags and headed straight off to the afternoon session of the Space Venture Finance Symposium. After sitting through three of the presentations, I ducked out in order to attend the meeting of the NSS Fundraising Committee. While not a member of the committee, I felt obliged to attend in order to report on the financial aspects of the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest and Calendar.
A dinner break and it was back to committee meetings. While I sorely wanted to attend the Space Settlement Advocacy meeting, I felt obliged to attend the meeting of the Web Oversight and Internet Development Committees. These were the two committees I created as chair of a special committee established to identify an alternate solution to the society’s Internet needs. Fortunately our committee was able to implement an all-volunteer system of web site support while procuring complimentary hosting from CyberTeams, producing substantial cost saving for the society. The meeting finally broke up shortly after midnight and that’s when I called it a night.
Friday was the first full day of the conference and I attended too many sessions to cover here. I also got a nice guided tour of the ISDC Space Art Show and Sale which had some very cool space art. Unfortunately I just can’t recall the name of the attractive young lady who so kindly walked me through the show. The Friday night dinner featured science fiction author and scientist Dr. Ben Bova whose presentation I will cover at a later time. Following dinner, which lasted a few hours and included a number of award presentations, I headed back to my room in order to download the photographs I had taken that day and to go over the three presentations I was slated to give on Saturday.
Saturday was more sessions and a busy afternoon as I had my own three presentations to give. Probably the most interesting session of the day was given by General Simon “Pete” Worden, Director of NASA Ames Research Center, who delivered his talk via the virtual community Second Life in which NASA has a presence. Afterwards General Worden appeared from behind the curtain to take questions from both the live audience as well as the audience in Second Life.
Saturday’s Gala Dinner featured Dr. Steve Squyres, Principal Scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Mission who spoke at length about that mission. The most memorable moment for me was when, during the awards segment that followed Dr. Squyres presentation, I was presented with the National Space Society’s 2007 Award for Excellence (see graphic above) in recognition of my work as the chair of the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest and Calendar Committee.
With my presentations behind me, I took the opportunity to spend Saturday night partying. I stuck it out until after 3:00am before heading back to my room in order to dump the photos I had taken that day to my laptop. Probably the longest conversation I had that evening was with Darel Preble, chair of the Georgia Tech Space Solar Power Institute SSP Workshop. We had an extensive discussion on, you guessed it, space solar power. You can learn more about Darel and hear him interviewed about space solar power on The Space Show.
Sunday came much too quickly. It was another morning of space with Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society opening the day with his Mars Direct presentation. The luncheon speaker that day was Apollo 9 astronaut and B612 Foundation Chairman Rusty Schweickart who spoke about the NEO impact hazard. Earlier Rusty had graciously autographed a 16×20 photo composite I had created from NASA photographs of his Apollo 9 mission. The speaker at that evening’s NSS Awards Dinner was former U.S. Senator and Apollo 17 Mission Scientist Harrison “Jack” Schmitt whose presentation dealt with mining lunar helium-3 as a fuel source for fusion reactors. His book on the subject, Return to the Moon was one of my primary sources for a class I taught on the subject at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
Monday morning I opted to attend the three hour Moon Rock and Meteorite Samples Certification Course. I had previously taken this course in 1989 and felt that it was about time that I go through the course again. A good portion of the class was spent doing hands-on activities meant to be done by students in the classroom. I think most people liked making craters the best.
And that is how ISDC went for me. Following the Moon Rock class, it was time to check out and head to the airport. As it was on my arrival, the weather was nasty but I was able to catch an earlier flight by flying standby and was able to depart Dallas before the worst of the storms hit.
It felt good to be back home but am not sure when I will be able to go back through the pages of notes I took, the hours of presentations I recorded, and the hundreds of photographs I took. ISDC may be over but the real challenge of ISDC still awaits me.
Ad Astra, Jim