Creating a Spacefaring Civilization

By Pat Dasch
NSS Executive Director

Space, NSS, and Education

The mission of the National Space Society is “to promote change in social, technical, economic, and political conditions to advance the day when people will live and work in space.” One of the major ways we work to fulfill our mission is through public education which also aligns with our primary goal to “Increase public understanding of how space exploration and development result in scientific, technical, and economic benefits that improve the quality of life on Earth.”

Earlier this year I co-chaired an international meeting in Seville, Spain, in which representatives of government space agencies and aerospace companies from around the world debated how to do a better job of communicating the benefits of space to the public. We realized that we had a lot to learn or re-learn from the enthusiasm of emerging space powers. At a follow-up meeting this October, plans will be set in motion to initiate a broad international education effort leveraging technical and communications expertise of established practitioners with the refreshing approaches of new space players.

Also this October, I hope that many of you will participate in World Space Week by reaching out to your local community. Talk to a class at a local school about the exciting things we are doing in space, put up a display in a local public library, rent a space movie and watch it with family and friends. And try your hand at making space food. Astronauts tell us that their taste buds are subdued in space and food tends to taste bland so they like to add sauces and seasonings. See what you can cook up — become a galactic gourmet, cook up some planetary pasta — and invite your family and friends to launch into an out-of-this world feast at the dinner table!

And talking of having fun with space education, I’ve been delighted at the expansion and success of the children’s program associated with our International Space Development Conference over the past few years. Children have limitless imaginations and see boundless possibilities ahead. It is essential that we capture their interest and show them the future. I’m glad to have this opportunity to congratulate all those who have made the children’s program the success it has become.

ISDCs are the annual focus point for NSS activists. The conference offers an opportunity to catch up with all the latest developments and new theories in space exploration and development. In short, it is our major opportunity each year to educate you, our ambassadors to the world, on emerging issues and new discoveries on the space frontier. I hope that in future years more of you will find an opportunity to attend an ISDC and share in the excitement that this annual gathering offers to all true space enthusiasts. The 2002 ISDC will be held in Denver, Colorado, 23-28 May. Save the date! But don’t wait for next year to be a space advocate—become active NOW! The space we save will be our own!

Ad Astra!