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Our Meeting Summaries

NASA Advisory Council, April 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Apr-2015 (Updated: 10-Apr-2015 11:34 PM)

The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) considered a number of findings and recommendations during its April 9-10, 2015 meeting.  Several were adopted, including a finding that the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) should be modified so that the spacecraft makes a round-trip journey to Mars instead of an asteroid.  One on which consensus could not be reached concerned whether the technology development effort for sending people to Mars is adequately funded. published two articles on April 10, 2015 summarizing the actions at NAC:

Virgin Galactic Vows to Persevere and Succeed at AIAA SciTech 2015, January 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Jan-2015 (Updated: 09-Jan-2015 09:46 PM)
In his first speech in a major public forum since the October 31, 2014 test flight accident that killed SpaceShipTwo (SS2) co-pilot Michael Alsbury, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides made clear that the company will "persevere" in its goal to open space to all.   He summarized the company's progress on building a second SS2 vehicle and plans to resume test flights in 2015 and begin commercial operations in 2016.  He also discussed the company's plans for the LauncherOne air-launched rocket.  Whitesides spoke on January 9, 2015 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech2015 conference in Kissimmee, FL. published a summary of his remarks on January 9, 2015.

Beyond the Flare--SWF/AAS Briefing on Space Weather, November 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 23-Nov-2014 (Updated: 11-Feb-2015 07:39 PM)

On November 20, 2014, the Secure World Foundation (SWF) and the American Astronautical Society (AAS) sponsored a seminar on Capitol Hill to explain what space weather is and why it is important to be able to forecast extreme space weather events.   Speakers from NASA, NOAA, the Air Force, the State Department and a regional transmission organization (RTO) in the electric utility industry explained the science behind space weather, forecasting efforts by the NOAA and the Air Force, practical effects on the electric power grid, and international efforts to better understand and mitigate it.

The seminar was entitled "Beyond the Flare:  An AAS/SWF Briefing on Space Weather." published a summary of the event on November 23, 2014.

Speakers at the event were:

  • Ms. Laura Delgado López, SWF project manager and AAS Board member (moderator)
  • Dr. Madhulika ("Lika") Guhathakurta, Living with a Star & STEREO Program Scientist, NASA Heliophysics Division
  • Dr. Thomas Berger, Director, Space Weather Prediction Center, NOAA/National Weather Service
  • Mr. Frank Koza, Executive Director, Infrastructure Planning, PJM Interconnection, LLC
  • Col. Robert Swanson, Chief, Weather Strategic Plans and Interagency Integration Division, Directorate of Weather, HQ U.S. Air Force
  • Dr. Chris Cannizzaro, Physical Science Officer, Office of Space & Advanced Technology, Department of State

ULA's Tory Bruno Vows To Transform Company, November 2014

Laura M. Delgado
Posted: 14-Nov-2014 (Updated: 14-Nov-2014 01:38 AM)
On November 13, 2014, Tory Bruno, President of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), spoke to the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. about his views on the future of the launch services industry and transforming ULA so it remains the leading U.S. launch services provider.   Part of that strategy is replacing Russia's RD-180 engine, used for ULA's Atlas V rocket, with an "American solution,"  Blue Origin's BE-4 engine. published a summary of Bruno's remarks on November 14, 2014.

Elon Musk Interviewed at MIT Centennial Celebration, October 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 24-Oct-2014 (Updated: 24-Oct-2014 11:18 PM)
SpaceX Founder and Chief Designer Elon Musk was interviewed on stage by the head of MIT's department of aeronautics and astronautics, Jaime Perarie, during an October 2014 centennial celebration of the establishment of the aero/astro department.   Musk's comments ranged from deeply technical to philosophical on rockets, Mars exploration, Tesla cars and hyperloops. published a summary of the space-related portions of the session on October 24, 2014.

NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group Debates Asteroid Redirect Mission, July 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 01-Aug-2014 (Updated: 01-Aug-2014 06:13 PM)
NASA's Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) met July 29-31, 2014 in Washington, DC.   It received a number of briefings from NASA officials on the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and other aspects of the "Evolvable Mars Campaign."   A significant portion of the meeting was devoted to debate about ARM, particularly a presentation by MIT's Richard Binzel, a planetary scientist who was sharply critical of the mission. summarized the SBAG meeting in an article published on August 1 entitled "Asteroid Expert Richard Binzel:  ARM is "Emperor With No Clothes."   (Planetary scientists use the term "small bodies" to refer to asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust, small satellitles, and Trans-Neptunian objects.)

NASA Advisory Council Adopts Recommendations on Human Spaceflight Program, July 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 31-Jul-2014 (Updated: 31-Jul-2014 10:46 PM)

The full NASA Advisory Council (NAC) met July 30-31, 2014 at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA.  Over the course of the two-day meeting, the NAC adopted three recommendations and one finding about NASA's human spaceflight program after long and lively debate. published two articles summarizing the meeting:

NASA Advisory Council's Human Exploration and Operations Committee, July 2014

Len Ly
Posted: 29-Jul-2014 (Updated: 29-Jul-2014 04:40 PM)
The Human Exploration and Operations committee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) met on July 28-29, 2014 at NASA's Langley Research Center.   During the afternoon of July 28, NASA deputy space station program manager Dan Hartman discussed the status of the International Space Station (ISS) and plans for the future. published a summary of Hartman's comments on July 29, entitled "Hartman: U.S. and Russian Crews to Fly Both Soyuz and U.S. Commercial Vehicles."

National Security Space Launch and the Industrial Base: Issues and Opportunities. July 2014

Laura M. Delgado
Posted: 29-Jul-2014 (Updated: 29-Jul-2014 04:35 PM)
The George C. Marshall Institute held a panel discussion on July 23, 2014 on "National Security Space Launch and the Industrial Base: Issues and Opportunities."   Panelists were Josh Hartman, CEO of Horizon Strategies Group, and Scott Pace of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute.  Hartman was a member of the "Mitchell Panel" headed by Maj. Gen. Howard "Mitch" Mitchell (Ret) that reviewed alternatives to Russia's RD-180 rocket engines. published a summary of the meeting on July 24, 2014 entitled "RD-180 Decision Will Not Be Made by Space Community Says Member of Mitchell Panel."

Hidden Benefits of NRO Spy Technology, July 2014

Laura M. Delgado
Posted: 29-Jul-2014 (Updated: 29-Jul-2014 04:27 PM)
On July 11, 2014, the Space Foundation held a panel discussion highlighting the benefits derived by society from intelligence-gathering technology developed by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).  NRO designs, builds and operates the nation's spy satellites. published a summary of the discussion on July 12, 2014.  Panelists at the event were Dr. Robert McDonald and Dr. James Outzen from the Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance.