Ad Astra
Volume 15, Number 4 September/October/November 2003

Space Community

Member Survey
By Josh Richards,
NSS 2003 Summer Intern

Despite the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia earlier in the year, Members of the National Space Society have made known their enduring commitment to the future space exploration in this year’s member-only survey.

In the months, and possibly years to come, President George W. Bush will be in position to make a number of key decisions regarding the future of U.S. space exploration. When asked what the President’s chief space policy focus ought to be, responses indicated that 42% of NSS members supported a long-term plan for space exploration that includes both robotic and human exploration and plans to return to the Moon and a human mission to Mars. The idea of “developing a next generation launch system” was highlighted by 29% of respondents as also needing to be a top priority of the President.

Although the completion of the International Space Station (ISS) has been scheduled for the year 2004, the future of this project remains uncertain. However, 72% of NSS members have endorsed the preservation of the Space Station by indicating the need to “develop a comprehensive station science plan to be implemented by scientists and entrepreneurs.”

Only a small number of those surveyed (5%) believe that ISS funds should be cut all together, and that the resources should be channeled to other human space flight goals.

Emphasizing a need for both government and industry to be actively involved in the development of next generation launch systems, 89% of members overwhelmingly support a future government-industry partnership for that effort, as opposed to an industry-only approach, which was only supported by 1% of respondents.

While some scientists and lawmakers may debate the role of robot vs. humans, NSS members unequivocally confirmed their commitment to human space exploration. More than 91% of respondents favored a vigorous human space exploration program that would also balance funding “robotic missions that can provide critical information to pave the way for human explorers.” Only 4% of members favored a robot-only exploration program, while only 3% favored human-only exploration that excluded robotic probes.
In the coming years, the commercial space sector will continue play a critical role in the development of space technology and missions, but survey results indicate a strong concern that government regulation and tax policies will discourage the private sector. When posed with multiple possibilities, selecting as many as deemed appropriate, NSS members overwhelmingly recommend the idea of providing “tax credits or tax incentives to companies developing low-cost space launch systems,” with 71% approval. Additionally, 49% told NSS that the government ought to “place a temporary moratorium on any federal taxes on products developed in Low Earth Orbit to encourage orbital research and development.” Reducing “government regulation of commercial space launches” and reforming “export control laws that place U.S. aerospace industry at an international competitive disadvantage,” each claimed about 40% of member support.
Finally, respondents were given the opportunity to communicate to the National Space Society their thoughts on what can be done on their behalf. Once again, members were not limited to one selection, but rather were able to choose from a range of possibilities. With each receiving 69% levels of support, respondents asked NSS to utilize “every method possible to get the NSS message of future space vision before the public at large” and to fight “any proposals in Congress that attempt to scale back human space exploration” were the key concerns of NSS members. Maintaining 66% support, respondents also asked of NSS to “maintain extensive educational efforts to
members of Congress and the Administration.”

This information helps the NSS staff and elected leadership target our actions, so on behalf of the NSS team, thank you to all who participated in this year’s survey.

The youth are our future
Natalie Orms of Danville, Kentucky stands in front of her winning entry in the Boyle County Middle School Science Fair. Natalie’s entry explained the theory and mechanics behind the “Space Elevator” concept and drew upon research papers, computer imagery, and an elaborate model to inform audiences. Natalie has long had an interest in space, and was encouraged on the project by her Father, Bob Orms, an NSS member. Science fair judges were impressed with Natalie’s thoroughness—we at NSS are impressed with Natalie’s interest in a spacefaring society!

Call for Volunteers
The National Space Society is an activist organization and as such there are always opportunities for volunteers. Currently there is a particularly strong need for help in these areas (services and direct financial contributions are also tax deductible):
1. Fundraising. If you have experience in nonprofit or other types of fundraising, we’re also looking for new ways to build our efforts.
2. Website and Internet. Do you have WWW design and layout experience? If you want to volunteer your time and experience, please contact us.
3. Graphic Design. NSS periodically needs graphic design work for projects, so if you have experience in this field and want to help advance the NSS cause, let us know!
4. New Chapters. Want to bring NSS to your community? Start a chapter!
5. Free Printing. Do you own a print shop or willing to pay for print work? NSS periodically needs to print materials for special projects and could use your help!
If you want to help with one or more of the above volunteer projects, send an e-mail to NSS Headquarters at and be sure to include your name, address, and phone number.
Start an NSS Chapter
The National Space Society is seeking volunteers willing to assist with the creation of new NSS chapters in their communities. Chapters are at the heart of NSS’ community outreach activities. Chapters provide members with the unique opportunity to work towards a spacefaring civilization right in their own community.
If you are willing to assist with the creation of a NSS chapter in your community, please either contact NSS headquarters at 202-543-1900 or send an email to Jim Plaxco, NSS Vice President of Chapter Affairs at and include the phrase “New Chapters” in the subject line. Your activism will make a difference!

Grassroots not Astroturf!
2004 is an election year for the NSS Board of Directors. The NSS is the premier membership organization promoting the vision of people living and working in space. As described in the NSS Bylaws and Rules, every member of the Society has the privilege of potentially bringing forward their name for consideration by the membership to be a Director.
If you feel you have skills that would be helpful to the NSS Board please visit the web site and select “About Us”, then “Rules and Bylaws of the Society” for more information on what needs to be done in order to run. Candidates are requested to notify NSS Headquar-ters by 1 January 2004 of their intention to run.

All members are encouraged to send suggestions, as to who should be selected by the Nominations Committee, to the Office by 1 January 2004.  Petition candidates must file their petitions by 15 January 2004.

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