Chairman’s Message

Kirby Ikin
Chairman, Executive Committee

Awakening the Greatness Within
During these difficult times, the thoughts and prayers of all NSS members are with the victims, families, and those associates lost in the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York City and Arlington, Virginia. As Chairman of the Society, I know I share the concerns of each of our members over our daily safety and security. How quickly our world has changed, and how rapidly we must now adapt to this new awareness.

Space systems will play a vital part in both the hunt for terrorists and in rebuilding our global economy. Clearly, we will see commercial space assets used for communications, reconnaissance, remote sensing, and navigation needs. As the world’s airline industries return to service, satellite navigation systems will play a major role in the modernization of commercial aviation. Remote sensing satellites orbited by space entrepreneurs will be the tool of choice in monitoring the global political situation, as well as recovery efforts. Technology developed to sustain space travelers has already been employed to help firemen, police, and urban rescue squads sifting the rubble at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Robotic probes designed for Mars exploration are searching for missing loved ones at the wreckage sites as well.

Such technologies exist today because people with vision worked to develop them. Therefore we at the National Space Society must redouble our efforts in promoting today’s space research priorities. A strong civil, commercial, and military space program will give us the economic stimulus, jobs, and technologies that will be needed in the years ahead. So many of our members have knowledge of these programs that can be shared today with the public. Appreciation of the role the space program plays in our daily lives has never been more important. Or more reassuring.

And while we promote space research, we must continue to promote our longer-term vision for the future. The day will come when we have won the war against the terrorist menace. We must be ready when that day comes to have a forward-looking agenda for the full development of space resources. Simply put, our children will depend on it. NSS members can also work with other business and fraternal groups wherever they live to raise funds for the victims, help local fire and police departments, and share their expertise to help classes and schoolchildren make sense of these events. Now, more than ever, space can inspire, educate, and motivate us.

I know how difficult these past weeks have been. I was in London on a business trip when the attacks occurred. As the news spread, buildings near Buckingham Palace were evacuated, fearing that we might be the next target. While only inconvenienced, the experience left me shaken and worried about my own children back home in Australia. In the wake of all of this, it would be understandable to focus on our own personal concerns. But instead, I hope all of us will use this crisis to reawaken the greatness in each of us, to help our neighbors, and to continue our dreams of a brighter, better future.

Ad Astra!