NSS Survey Results

NYC Chapter Prepares Scouts


NSS Survey Results
By Lauren LaRue
Answering the seven-question, annual, member-only survey distributed in late March, National Space Society members called for more advanced research goals and progressive development beyond Earth orbit.

Many responses alluded to a strong interest in further lunar exploration and settlement. When asked what goal should be NASA’s top priority for the future, 31% indicated that they would like NASA to “carry out human spaceflight beyond Earth’s orbit.”

A return to the moon could be driven by various purposes, as indicated by the numerous respondents’ comments. Some called for “a lunar base for launch of deep space vehicles to other planets,” while others advocated a “scientific and permanent base on our moon.”

NSS members surveyed also endorsed the infusion of commercial business into the space program. Twenty-four percent reported that they think NASA should become a “partner with the Air Force and private industry to develop low-cost space launch vehicles.” Doing so would facilitate opening the market to space tourism and other aerospace commercial applications. However, the majority of NSS members do not want complete privatization. Only 16% selected the commercialization of NASA’s facilities as the agency’s top priority.

In order to emphasize the importance of lunar and technology development, 29% of NSS members indicated that the NSS’s primary agenda should be to “utilize every method possible to get the NSS message of future space vision before the public at large.” 26% of members also felt that extensive efforts to educate new members of Congress remain imperative.

More specifically, one member stated that the NSS should “promote returning to the moon and establishing a colony for good.” Another suggested extending the education to even larger arenas, such as to the schools. “Educate the school children and win them over as space advocates and establish space lobby,” commented a member.

The society members did, however, underscore their faith in NASA when only 15% suggested that the Bush administration devise a new space management structure.

In light of the ongoing International Space Station on-orbit construction, 71% of members indicated that the station should focus upon innovative science research, which can be achieved by “a comprehensive station science plan to be implemented by scientists and entrepreneurs.”

For scientific purposes, members recommend using the station as a science lab as the first step toward establishing a research station on our moon. Other members also urged the use of the station for commercial and entrepreneurial purposes, including space tourism and private research.

One member advised that NASA needs to “develop the ISS to be more suitable to tourists like Tito” and another added, “share the space station operation between business, government, research firms, and universities.”

Very few members, only 4%, advocated cutting ISS funding and the consequential redirection of the money toward other human space flight endeavors.

Following the failures of the Mars Polar Lander and Orbiter, an overhaul of NASA’s Mars mission has been mandated. More advanced Mars and solar exploratory missions have yet to be funded. Nonetheless, 60% of members expressed that they want NASA to “receive the full funding for the advanced Mars mission that was announced in December 2000 by shifting existing resources to robotic missions,” while only 23% supported the probing of the locations in the solar system which might harbor liquid water.

Others recommended that NASA needs to forego Mars and instead concentrate on the moon, such as “establishing a base” and “installing lunar colonies.” Only 5% advocated the shifting of exploration to sites in the solar system such as Pluto.

Another NASA program, the Space Launch Initiative, was established to develop technology ideal for the next generation of reusable launch vehicles. Following the cancellation of the single stage RLV program, the X-33, NASA has focused upon other configurations. However, 42% of NSS members supported the single-stage approach, while 37% remained unsure, and 21% preferred a 2-stage method.

NASA’s original reusable launch vehicle, the space shuttle, just celebrated its 20th anniversary. In accordance with the attempts at developing a new RLV, a strong majority, 70%, recommended the “orderly phase-out of the Shuttles in favor of a new generation of re-usable vehicles,” while 4% supported “(the expansion of) the program through the construction of another orbiter.”

The answers to these seven questions all conclusively show that NSS members continue to advocate innovative lunar and commercial space development along with forward-looking scientific research.

NYC ChapterPrepares Scouts

NYC Chapter Chief Elaine Walker takes the “Case for Space” to the Boy Scouts during summer 2001. Elaine (below) also lectures on the evolution of the solar system.