Category Archives: Events

Conference announcement – “SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise”

Here is an announcement from the Space Studies Institute on their conference this summer (see also the recent announcement for the Space Access Society‘s upcoming meeting):

SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise

(Seattle, WA) The Space Studies Institute (SSI) is pleased to announce the date and location for its 2019 conference. Make your plans now to attend SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise July 15 and 16 at the renowned Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Tickets are on sale now at, Super Early Bird tickets are already sold out, but a limited number of discount Early Bird tickets are still available.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Professor Gerard O’Neill’s High Frontier concept and the start of a new era for the Space Studies Institute,” said SSI senior researcher and conference chairman Edward Wright. “We’re about to embark on a multi-year effort to update the High Frontier vision, incorporating new technology, new knowledge of the solar system, and new commercial space ventures.”

The conference dates were chosen to coincide with another historic anniversary. The Apollo 11 lunar mission launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969, Conference attendees will be able to view museum exhibits including the Apollo 11 command module and other historic artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.

“The Space Settlement Enterprise is not about the past, however,” Wright said. “This will be a working conference where some of the space industry’s top thinkers put their minds together to help identify the technological and economic obstacles to space settlement”

Panel discussions will cover six major areas:

Habitat Design: What do we want to build?
Construction: How do we build it?
Resources: Where and how do we get the materials?
Transport: How do we get there?
Life in Space: How do we survive there?
Economics: How do we pay for it?

The conference is structured to allow plenty of time for questions and audience interaction,

“The questions developed at this conference will inform SSI’s research programs over the next several years,” Wright said.

“We’ve also planned two gourmet luncheons catered by McCormick and Schmick’s. These luncheons will provide a great opportunity for networking and informal discussion of the day’s topics. Luncheon tickets are limited, however, due to the size of the dining room. We strongly recommend that conference attendees take advantage of the luncheon option, but the museum has two excellent cafes that are available if luncheon tickets sell out.”

About SSI: In 1969, while Apollo was preparing to land on the Moon, Professor Gerard O’Neill was teaching a physics seminar at Princeton University. As a class project, O’Neill asked his students to examine a question: “Is the surface of a planet the best place for an expanding technological civilization?”

A Bernal Sphere design for an in-space habitat.

Over the course of the semester, Professor O’Neill and his students came to a remarkable conclusion: It was possible to build large space habitats, each one housing millions of people, using materials readily available from the Moon or asteroids. A fleet of such habitats could house more people than are currently living on the surface of the Earth.

As a first step, O’Neill conceived a smaller habitat, called Island One, capable of housing 10,000 people. The residents of the Island One habitat could build solar power stations that would supply clean electrical power to the surface of the Earth.

Professor O’Neill authored a best-selling book, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space, which was published in 1977. To promote and develop his High Frontier vision, O’Neill created the Space Studies Institute (SSI).

SSI continues in its dedication to the High Frontier Vision. As we approach the 50th anniversary of this vision, the Space Studies Institute is preparing for a dramatic reboot of Professor O’Neill’s research program. Everyone interested in space settlement is invited to support our research by becoming a Supporting Member or Senior Associate. For more information, visit

Space Access 2019 Conference

My favorite conference series is back in action after a pause of a couple of years:

Space Access 2019 Conference
The Technology, Business, and Politics of
Radically Cheaper Space Transportation
at the Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley, April 18-21

Space Access 2019 will be the next round of Space Access Society‘s conference on the technology, business, and politics of radically cheaper space transportation, brought to you this year in cooperation with the Bay Area’s own Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society.

SA2019 will feature a cross-section of the growing cheap access community, talking about what’s going on now and what happens next, in an intensive informal atmosphere, single-track throughout so you don’t have to miss anything. Space Access has been described as “Hackers” for rocket people, with better content than other space conferences costing many times more. It’s three days of total immersion in making the future happen.

The primary web page for SA2019 conference registration and hotel room reservations is . And check for the latest updated conference info and program as it grows and evolves.

Preliminary SA2019 Conference Agenda updated 2/2/19

(We’re rolling – this list represents over two-thirds of the final SA2019 three-day program. Stay tuned for additional details and a few more excellent program additions in the coming weeks.)

Confirmed speakers/presentations so far:

  • Additive Rocket Corporation on High Impulse, Ultra-Low Cost Additively Manufactured Rocket Engines
  • James Benford on Ultrahigh Acceleration Neutral Particle Beam-Driven Sails
  • Breakthrough Starshot/Peter Klupar on Plans for a Near-Term Interstellar Probe
  • Cislunar Space Development Company/Dallas Bienhoff on Elements Of A Cislunar Transport Net: Space Tugs, Moon Shuttles and Propellant Depots
  • CubeCab
  • EXOS Aerospace/John Quinn with An Update On the SARGE Vehicle
  • Firefly Aerospace on The Alpha Launch Vehicle, plus Highlights of OTV and CLPS
  • Flometrics/Steve Harrington on Progress Report: Pistonless Pumps For High-Performance Rocket Propulsion Systems
  • Gerald D Nordley on Mass Beam Propulsion, An Overview including Jordin Kare’s Sailbeam Concept
  • Jeff Greason of Electric Sky will discuss Some Advanced Power Transmission & Space Propulsion Concepts
  • Masten Space Systems/Dave Masten
  • Momentus Space/Joel Sercel, CTO on Water-Plasma Propelled In-Space Transportation Services
  • Jim Muncy/Polispace will discuss Prospective FAA Launch/Reentry Rules Changes and The Washington Space Scene
  • Orbit Beyond – Lunar Spacecraft & Landers
  • Rocket Lab/Amanda Stiles, Senior Mission Manager on The Electron Launcher & Multi-Burn Kick Stage
  • John Schilling will discuss Earth Orbit, Cislunar & Mars Practical Payload Capabilities Of Current & Near-Term Launchers
  • Rand Simberg will discuss A Co-Orbital Transportation Infrastructure Concept
  • Space Studies Institute Hosted Session covering SSI’s focus area of How To Get Things Done Once There, technology and business aspects of habitats, power generation, resource extraction, manufacturing etc.
  • SpaceIL
  • Henry Spencer will discuss Transitioning From Standalone Spaceships To Space Transport Networks
  • Henry Spencer & Henry Vanderbilt will discuss Some Likely Characteristics Of Usefully Faster Near-Term Inner Solar-System Space Transports. Thermal rockets aren’t practically capable of high enough velocities to minimize cosmic-ray and other slow-transit problems.  A look at some near-term approaches that may be usefully faster – and why they may not look at all like you might expect.
  • Jess Sponable will discuss Project History & Management Lessons From DC-XX-40, and XS-1
  • Tethers Unlimited
  • Unreasonable Rocket/Paul Breed on Development Of A Low-Cost Modular Launcher
  • Pete Worden, Breakthrough Prize Foundation Chairman, on What We Might Do With A StarShot Capability

Panel Discussions

  • Extremely High-Velocity Propulsion Concepts: A Survey.  Jim Benford, Gerry Nordley, Henry Spencer
  • How To Save Civilization and Make a Little Money, or, This Is All Jerry Pournelle’s Fault.  Recalling Jerry’s significant part in the forty-year evolution from “Commercial rockets? Security, get this loon out of my office” to “Commercial rockets?  How much do you want?”  Aspects of the story as seen by some who were there.  Larry Niven, Gary Hudson, Jim Muncy, Jess Sponable, Henry Vanderbilt
  • Space Startup Party Fouls – Common Startup Errors & How To Avoid Them, as seen by Rocket People. There are a thousand books that will tell you what Venture Capital people look for. Rocket people, not so much. Paul Breed, Ben Brockert, Henry Spencer, Henry Vanderbilt
  • NewSpace Meets Milspace – Both are evolving fast, with overlaps (both business and operational) likely growing with time. Some discussion of what the shared spaces may look like.  Bill Bruner, Mitchell Burnside Clapp, Jess Sponable

We also plan Subject Concentrations this year on

  • SmallSat Launch Startups
  • Commercial Lunar Cargo Companies

Participants for both currently being recruited – if you haven’t yet heard from us, contact us at

We’re also interested in Student Space Project Presentations – we’re reserving a number of short (5-10 minute) timeslots in the main program track for student/amateur presentations on interesting (not necessarily directly access-related) space projects. Contact

Conference Registration

Basic SA2019 registration will be $180 through March 27th, more afterwards. Student full-conference rate $60. See for more details on Exhibitor and Patron rates, or go directly to SA2019 online registration.

Exhibition Space

We will have an Exhibitor Room across the hall from the main Presentations ballroom. Exhibitor memberships will get you one Regular membership, an 8′ table in a 10′ x 10′ area, and two chairs. Space is limited and will be assigned on a first come first served basis. When space is filled we will create a waitlist. Register at the $300 Exhibitor Rate at SA2019 online registration

Conference Hotel is the Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley.

Hotel Rooms We have negotiated a special deal for the convention, with a room rate of only $130 per night (in Silicon Valley!), so book your room early to keep you in the heart of the conference. Space is limited (it’s a very busy hotel). Mention “Space Access 2019” to get this rate and be in our room block. Conference-Rate Reservation cutoff is 27 March 2019.

Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley
46100 Landing Parkway
Fremont, CA 94538

Reservations: (510) 413-3700 – Mention “Space Access 2019”

Conference Schedule

Program Sessions will run Thursday & Friday, morning afternoon and post-dinner, and Saturday morning and afternoon, with socializing opportunities Saturday evening plus an extended Sunday networking brunch.

Conference Style

Space Access conferences are designed to let people who are serious about low-cost space transportation get together, trade information, make deals, and learn useful things. Dress averages business casual, and we don’t do rubber-chicken banquets – just an intensive single-track presentations schedule with relaxed on-your-own meal breaks, in a setting with comfortable places in the hotel and nearby to go off for food, drink, and talk – not least of these ERPS’s interpretation of our world-famous volunteer-run Space Access Hospitality Suite.

Space Access has been a useful productive conference over the years – companies started, talent recruited, deals made, ideas spread. Be here with us for the next round.

New Horizons successfully flies by Ultima Thule & Brian May releases commemorative song

The New Horizons probe made a successful flyby of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule today. (See earlier preview posting.) It will take several weeks for all of the high resolution images and data to be downloaded from the distant spacecraft. The first high-res flyby views will come out in a day or two. Today a blurry “pre-flyby” image was released: New Horizons Successfully Explores Ultima Thule: NASA Spacecraft Reaches Most Distant Target in History – JHAPL

At left is a composite of two images taken by New Horizons’ high-resolution Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), which provides the best indication of Ultima Thule’s size and shape so far. Preliminary measurements of this Kuiper Belt object suggest it is approximately 20 miles long by 10 miles wide (32 kilometers by 16 kilometers). An artist’s impression at right illustrates one possible appearance of Ultima Thule, based on the actual image at left. The direction of Ultima’s spin axis is indicated by the arrows. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI; sketch courtesy of James Tuttle Keane

Here is a video of a briefing held today at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (JHUAPL), which manages the NASA-funded project (the panel discussion starts at ~23:00):

The New Horizons team shares the first image of Ultima Thule, as well as updates on spacecraft status and flyby success, from the Mission Operations Center at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

Panelists include Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute; Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; Chris Hersman, New Horizons mission systems engineer, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

The former Queen guitarist and professional astrophysicist Brian May was at JHUAPL for the event and he released a new song in honor of the New Horizons mission: Queen’s rock-star astrophysicist Brian May debuts anthem for a far-out trip – GeekWire

More about the flyby:


Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto

Videos: Follow the Insight Mission landing on Mars today [Update]

[ Update: The landing was a success: NASA InSight Lander Arrives on Martian Surface | NASA

NASA’s InSight Mars lander acquired this image of the area in front of the lander using its lander-mounted, Instrument Context Camera (ICC). This image was acquired on Nov. 26, 2018, Sol 0 of the InSight mission where the local mean solar time for the image exposures was 13:34:21. Each ICC image has a field of view of 124 x 124 degrees. Credits: NASA/JPL-CalTech


NASA’s Insight spacecraft will set down on the Martian surface today Nov. 26th at around noon PST (3 p.m. EST). NASA TV will provide live coverage:

InSight was launched on May 5th and marks the first landing of a NASA spacecraft on the Red Planet since the Curiosity rover arrived in 2012. InSight’s mission, which should last at least two years, is to study Mars’ deep interior. The studies will help scientists better understand the formation of Mars as well as other rocky worlds, including Earth.

InSight is accompanied by two mini-spacecraft in a test named Mars Cube One (MarCO). This is the first deep-space mission for CubeSats. The MarCO satellites will not land but instead will fly by Mars and attempt to relay data from InSight during its entry into the planet’s atmosphere and the landing sequence.

For the key events during the landing, see NASA InSight Landing on Mars: Milestones | NASA.

Here is a preview of the Insight landing:

NASA’s Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft is on track for a touchdown on the surface of the Red Planet on Nov. 26. One day before landing, the mission team provides an update and explanations of everything that must go right during the entry, descent and landing of the spacecraft. 

And here is a Q&A with the Insight mission team:


Telescopes and Binoculars at Amazon

Lots of rocket launches planned for next 10 days

Several rocket launches around the world are scheduled for the next couple of weeks. Most of these will be webcast.

** Rocket Lab Electron – Nov.10/11, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. EST (0300-0700 GMT on 11th) – Rocket Lab is ready to put several commercial smallsats into low earth orbit on the third Electron launch from New Zealand (see earlier posting).

** Northrop Grumman Antares – Nov.15 – Thursday – 4:49 a.m. EST (0949 GMT) Wallops Island, Virginia. The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will send a Cygnus spacecraft with cargo to the ISS.

** SpaceX Falcon 9 – Nov. 15, 3:46-5:29 p.m. EST (2046-2229 GMT Kennedy Space Center. The F9 will send the Es’hail 2 communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit for Es’hailSat of Qatar.

** Russian Soyuz – Nov.16, 1:14 p.m. EST (1814 GMT) – The Soyuz rocket will send a Progress cargo spacecraft to the ISS.

** SpaceX Falcon 9 – Nov.19, 1:32 p.m. EST; 10:32 a.m. PST (1832 GMT) Vandenberg AFB, California. The F9 will put over 70 satellites from 50+ customers into low earth orbit on the SSO-A mission organized by Spaceflight Services.

Other launches coming up but no times fixed yet:

  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk. 3 (GSLV Mk.3-D2) – Nov.14? Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota – India’s biggest rocket is to launch the GSAT 29 communications from .
  • Chinese Long March 3B – Nov.19? Xichang, China – The LM-3B is to put 2 Beidou navigation satellites into medium earth orbit.
  • Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL air launch out of Kennedy Space Center. An attempt to launch the ICON spacecraft to study the Earth’s Ionosphere was scrubbed last week and no new target date is set yet.


Telescopes and Binoculars at Amazon