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International Space Development Conference Day Two

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Bolden, Garver, Mankins
Pictured left to right: NASA Administrator General Charles Bolden, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, Bob McDonald from SPACE Canada, SPACE Canada Executive Director Margaret McLaughlin, John Mankins, SPS researcher from Japan whose name I can’t recall.

Far too much happened today on day two of the International Space Development Conference to go into any sort of detail and having only now gotten home it would take some time to type up my notes and make them comprehensible. However I will say that the two presentations by Jeff Greason were most enlightening.

Unfortunately, the biggest event of the day took placed during the dinner which featured NASA Administrator General Charles Bolden. It was after dinner and after the presentation of the NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Award to the Durango High School Aerospace Design Team. General Bolden had just started to speak when some young well dressed lady strode up to the podium, took the microphone from Bolden, and proceeded to attack NASA and Bolden for their animal experiments. NSS Executive Director Gary Barnhard, who was sitting several feet away, got up and promptly escorted the lady out of the room.

I will say that the net effect of this woman on the audience was to portray animal rights activists in a poor light. My big question: did this woman buy a ticket for this event or did she crash the gates?

Following is the relevant audio clip featuring the unwelcome interruption. Press the play button to begin the audio playback.

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International Space Development Conference Day 1

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

 

Buzz Aldrin at the Boeing Coffee

Buzz Aldrin at the Boeing Coffee

Eric Anderson, Space Adventures

Eric Anderson, Space Adventures

Gordon Woodcock, Boeing (retired)

Gordon Woodcock, Boeing (retired)

John Carmack, Armadillo Aerospace

John Carmack, Armadillo Aerospace

John Mankins, SPS guru

John Mankins, SPS guru

model Mars base

A model Mars base in the exhibit hall

typical slide at an ISDC presentation

A typical slide at an ISDC presentation

I arrived at 8:00am for the first day of the International Space Development Conference (ISDC). I took a walk around the hotel to get the lay of the land. Next stop was operations to see how things were going. The nice thing about being the web master for the conference is that once the conference is underway my job is pretty much done.

Heading over to the Artist’s Gallery (an open common area between meeting rooms) I saw my friend Veronica Zabala-Aliberto, Coordinator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera at Arizona State University, who greeted me with a warm hug. The last time I had seen Veronica was when she had given me a tour of the LRO offices at ASU a couple years ago.

Next it was off to the Space Solar Power Symposium. The SPS Symposium is chaired by John Mankins who opened the symposium with a summary of who is doing SPS research. The "who" consisted of both individuals and organizations. Following this was a presentation by Gordon Woodcock who provided an overview of past SPS research efforts. Much of this discussion focused on the Boeing study of the late ’70s in which he was personally involved.

At the break I headed over to registration but took a pass on standing in the long line. Registration was late in opening apparently due in large part to difficulties the hotel was having with their internet access.

On the way back to the SPS program I ran into Wayne White who is currently employed by the Constellation program – meaning his future is uncertain given Obama’s decision to kill the program. Once again I started for the SPS program but ran into Sherry Bell, the Dean of Psychology at Kepler Space University, from whom I received my second warm hug of the day.

Back in the SPS room, Susumu Sasaki was giving a presentation about the Japanese Space Agency JAXA’s work on SPS. He was followed by Paul Jaffe of the Naval Research Laboratory who spoke about a small (under $2 million) project at NRL working with technology that would be relevant to SPS.

Next a coffee break sponsored by Boeing (thanks Boeing for the refreshments and desserts) where I spent some time speaking with John Olson, a director of the Space Frontier Foundation and later fellow NSS director Mark Hopkins.

I next attended a joint presentation by Eric Anderson of Space Adventures and John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace on their joint space tourism project. Space Adventures has contracted with Armadillo to provide the reusable space vehicles for launching space tourists on suborbital flights. John stated that he expects that within a year they will be flying unmanned science payloads to 100,000 feet and that within another year they’ll be flying to 100km. He stated that they expect to operate at a loss for the next couple of years. The interesting thing about their model is that there will be no pilot for these flights. The only people aboard will be the tourists. Some people may find the idea of a ship with no onboard human pilot disconcerting In the q/a session that followed, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin quipped "Yuri Gagarin landed in a parachute." So concluded the first morning of programming at the ISDC.

For the afternoon I attended the AIAA Space Colonization program track. First up was a presentation that was not at all about space colonization but rather a presentation that linked the major space programs of the U.S to how other countries perceived the will power of the U.S. Delivered by John Brandenburg, The Geopolitics of Space presented an interesting line of reasoning: Perception creates reality and deterrence is based on perception. When the U.S. is perceived as being strong in space, the U.S. is perceived as being a strong country, and vice versa. This presentation was followed by Gordon Woodcock and Strategy for Space Development in which Gordon pointed out to the audience that destinations are not goals and that our two goals should be 1) the successful economic development of space and 2) the extension of human civilization to space. The next talk was by track chair Anita Gale of Boeing whose talk Triggers for Space Settlement explained the scenarios created for students to address in the annual International Space Settlement Design Competition.

Then it was back to the SPS Symposium for a presentation by John Mankins on the results of the International Academy of Astronautics SSP study

That ended the programming for me. My next stop was the NSS Fundraising Committee meeting – already under way. After that it was dinner with fellow NSS director Robbie Gaines. Then back to the hotel for more conversation with various folks and then the drive home.

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The New NSS Space Art Gallery

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Shattered Dreams digital painting
Shattered Dreams digital painting snippet

On Wednesday, I flipped the switch and the National Space Society’s Space Art Gallery went live. Creating the NSS Space Art Gallery has allowed me to combine two of my loves: art and space exploration. I was actually drawn to art because of space art. As a child I found the paintings of astronauts exploring distant worlds enthralling. Later I became a member of the National Space Institute (now the National Space Society) because of their work on promoting the human exploration and development of space.

Being a director of the NSS, as well as the chair of the NSS Web Oversight Committee, put me in the unique position to address what I saw as a problem. While there are a number of web sites that focus on astronomical art, their really is no central hub for art that focuses on the human exploration of the solar system. There are several NASA sites that feature space art but they are limited to art created in the past to document previous space missions and what little future looking art there is is tied to specific NASA programs.

My first undertaking to address this issue was in response to a request to chair a NSS committee whose job it would be to create a space calendar. Rather than relying on stock NASA space art, I turned the task of illustrating the calendar into a space art contest. Thus was born the NSS’ first Space Settlement Art Contest.

Subsequent to that experience I proposed that the NSS create an open space art gallery to which artists could apply for exhibition. I saw this as being a win-win situation for all concerned. The NSS would benefit by having a new source of content for the web site and by showing our support for space art and artists by providing this free service. The artists would benefit from the exposure they receive since the NSS web site has a very high page rank and traffic rank. And of course lovers of space art will benefit by having a central source of space art that they can visit.

To get the space art gallery up and running, I contacted a few of my space artist friends and asked if they would like to participate. Much to my delight they all agreed. The founding artists of the NSS Space Art Gallery are Frank Hettick, Walter Myers, David Robinson, and myself. In fact, David Robinson allowed NSS to use one of his works as the background image for the 2010 International Space Development Conference. for which I am the web master. In fact being the web master for the 2010 ISDC is one reason why I have not been more active of late in posting new material to my own web site and blog.

So please check out the new National Space Society Space Art Gallery. While the gallery currently has just 20 works of space art, I am hoping that as more artist’s join, this gallery will grow to become the web’s most significant collection of space art.

The Illustration Shattered Dreams

Just what is that a picture of? Well, it is a very small fragment of a digital painting titled Shattered Dreams. I created this work of digital art to serve as the cover art for the 2010 International Space Development Conference Program Book. I was inspired to create this art as a consequence of a debate I was having with another National Space Society director over the new Obama space policy. Yes, it is true that you never know where inspiration will come from. I am also donating one of the ten limited edition prints to the NSS space memorabilia auction that will be held at the ISDC. I will not reveal the full painting until the start of the ISDC so you’ll just have to check back here in a couple weeks to find out what it looks like – that or attend the ISDC.

Ad Astra, Jim

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