Ad Astra
Volume 14, Number 5 September/October 2002

Lifting Off

Diversity gets us there sooner!
By Christopher M. Pancratz, NSS Vice President of Public Affairs & Chairman, Executive Committee

One thing that has impressed me since I first became involved with the National Space Society has been the diverse makeup of the membership. As the product of an early merger of the National Space Institute and the L5 Society, NSS has enjoyed the melding of two distinct cultures. NSI’s original membership included space professionals, engineers and scientists from government and industry while the ranks of the The L5 Society were filled with activists from academia and other segments.

Today, the membership of NSS includes those professional and activists, along with enthusiasts from many walks of life. In addition to astronauts, scientists, and engineers, we have business people from established aerospace companies and entrepreneurs, writers and entertainers, healthcare professionals, educators, insurance agents and lawyers. All of these varied people bring different perspectives and approaches to our mission of promoting change. Their primary interest may be a return to the moon, missions to Mars, planetary defense, asteroid mining, space tourism, commercialization, rocketry, closed system life support, property rights or the effects of weightlessness on the human body. Yet, they share one vision—human settlement—people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth.

But we are not diverse enough!

We need to work harder in our own communities to recruit, not only the people that are like us in background and interests, but also those who are different and seemingly under- represented in our membership. For starters, we need many more women and students and people of varied ethnic backgrounds.

Our membership needs to include people from all regions and all occupations. Farmers, transportation workers, civil servants and teachers have an equally big a stake in the vital movement of humanity into space. We need to find ways to recruit and welcome them to our Society.

But even that will not be enough! Our Vision is a planetary goal, not just for the United States, North America or for the English-speaking world. We need to enlist and involve people from everywhere on the planet. NSS currently has chapters in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland and Mexico in addition to the United States. Other space faring nations need to be represented—Russia, Europe, Japan and China. We have members in other countries that have shown some commitment of resources to space, like Brazil and India. We need to find ways to expand our Mission to reach people around the globe. Each new member, each new voice, each new perspective forwards the day when our vision will be reality.

Please let me know what you are doing in your community and what ideas you have to further diversify our Society—email me at Ad Astra!

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