Int. Space Development Conf. (ISDC 2017) in St. Louis, May 25-29

The annual conference of the National Space Society will be held this year in St. Louis, Missouri over May 25-29:

The International Space Development Conference (ISDC® 2017)  is where people from all around the world connect and share the latest breakthroughs in space exploration, development and settlement.

ISDC® 2017 is the perfect place for space leaders, astronauts, enthusiasts and the next generation of experts to meet.

ISDC® attracts men and women of all ages; each bringing unique skills and backgrounds such as: aerospace industry leaders and startups, space exploration pioneers, academic thought leaders, and space supporters – all united by a common goal; to discuss the latest discoveries and projects on space development.

Here are lists of the Speakers and Programs.

SPACE Canada & the NSS select semi-finalists in student Space Solar Power competition

An announcement from SPACE Canada and the National Space Society:

SPACE Canada and National Space Society
Announce Semi-Finalists Selection in
First Annual International Space Solar Power Student Competition

(Washington DC, April 25, 2017) SPACE Canada and the National Space Society (NSS), working with the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Power Committee, the Global Space Solar Power Working Group (GSSP-WG) of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), have organized a new annual faculty-advised, student-conducted international research and engineering research/paper competition on the topic of Space Solar Power.

“Space solar power is the concept of harvesting solar energy in space, 24-7 and delivering it safely and economically via wireless power transmission to markets on Earth. This exciting new student competition will encourage the involvement of young engineers and scientists in this important field of energy and space research,”

said John Mankins, NSS Director and coordinator of the International SSP student Competition.

The International Space Solar Power Student Project Competition

The purpose of this new annual competition is to engender new, meaningful and credible student research projects in the broad field of Space Solar Power, and to support the presentation of the best of the various projects by students in an international forum.

“The projects proposed and the breadth of students participating is tremendously gratifying,”

said George Dietrich, President of SPACE Canada and sponsor of the competition.

During 2017, the first year of this new competition, 16 projects were proposed from 5 different countries (including China, the US, Japan, the Netherlands, and India) and involving some 14 academic institutions, 8 faculty advisors and 49 graduate and undergraduate students. From the submitted proposals, 7 have been selected as semi-finalists and have been invited to present (with support from SPACE Canada) at the upcoming NSS International Space Development Conference®, ISDC® 2017 (May 25-29) in St. Louis, Missouri USA during the Space Solar Power Track. NSS invites the public to attend this conference to view the presentations and see who wins.

The semi-finalist teams include students from the following institutions: Dalian University of Technology (China), Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), Hampton University (USA), Harbin Institute of Technology (China), Hosei University (Japan), Indiana University (USA), Kitawato University (Japan), Princeton University (USA), Purdue University / Indianapolis (USA), Shizuoka University (Japan), The Graduate University of Advanced Studies (Japan), Tokai University (Japan), Tokyo University of Science (Japan), University of Colorado / Boulder (USA), and the University of Maryland (Baltimore County and College Park Campuses, USA).

Following their presentations at the ISDC 2017® Conference, winning teams will be invited (with travel support) to present technical papers summarizing their research at the Space Power Symposium at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2017) during 25-29 September in Adelaide, Australia.

About SPACE Canada: SPACE Canada is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Canada; the purpose of which is promotion of international dialogue on, and understanding of the topic of Space Solar Power. To learn more, visit the SPACE Canada Website ( .
About the National Space Society (NSS): NSS is an independent nonprofit educational membership organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space, with over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The Society publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. NSS thanks their ISDC 2016 Galaxy Sponsor, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust. To learn more, visit

Video: A 360-degree view of Cassini diving between Saturn and the rings

This interactive video from NASA JPL allows you to scan Saturn and the rings as the Cassini spacecraft makes one of its dives between the two before the Grand Finale in September.

Dive between Saturn and its rings with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in the final chapter of its mission. In this 360-degree video, you are traveling along with the spacecraft at tens of thousands of miles per hour as it makes one of 22 planned dives through this unexplored gap. The first dive of Cassini’s Grand Finale takes place on April 26, 2017, with additional dives about once a week. 

Key Dates
  • April 22: Titan 126 Flyby at 6:08 a.m. UTC (11:08 p.m. PDT on April 21)
  • April 23: First Grand Finale Orbit Begins at 3:46 a.m. UTC (8:46 p.m. PDT on April 22)
  • April 26: First Ringplane Crossing at 9 a.m. UTC (2 a.m. PDT)
  • May 24: Northern Summer Solstice Begins
  • Sept. 15: Cassini’s Final Entry into Saturn’s Atmosphere begins at 10:44 a.m. UTC (3:44 a.m. PDT). Spacecraft loss of signal comes one minute later at 10:45 a.m. UTC (3:45 a.m. PDT).
  • Sept. 15: Final signal received on Earth at 12:08 p.m. UTC (5:08 a.m. PDT)

See also these other recent Cassini posts:

Here is a view of Earth and the Moon as seen recently by Cassini through the rings: NASA Image Shows Earth Between the Rings of Saturn | NASA

This cropped, zoomed-in version of the image makes it easier to see Earth’s moon — a smaller, fainter dot to the left of our planet’s bright dot. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute Full image and caption

Here is a new video of Saturn’s hexagon north pole using Cassini images: Cassini: Mission to Saturn: Saturn’s Hexagon in Motion

North pole of Saturn made from Cassini images. Different wavelengths of light from ultraviolet to visible to infrared have been assigned colors.

The gray scale version:

The black and white version.


Sci-Tech: Uber unveils electric VTOL flying taxi service to start in 2020

And now Uber unveils its prototype electric vertical takoff and and landing (eVTOL) vehicle for a flying taxi service that it will begin testing in Dallas and Dubai in 2020. The vehicle is being developed in partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell Helicopter, and Embraer.

Announcements from the companies:

First flight of Aurora’s eVTOL aircraft on April 20, 2017.
(PRNewsfoto/Aurora Flight Sciences)

From the Aurora release:

Aurora’s eVTOL concept is derived from its XV-24A X-plane program currently underway for the U.S. Department of Defense and other autonomous aircraft the company has developed over the years.  Aurora has adapted and combined the autonomous flight guidance system from its Centaur optionally-piloted aircraft, the perception and collision avoidance system from the AACUS program, and the battery electric propulsion system from the XV-24A demonstrator to create the innovative eVTOL design.

“The Uber Elevate mission is all about low noise, high reliability, and low cost,” said Aurora CEO John Langford. “By drawing on our nearly 30 years of successful autonomy and robotic programs, Aurora is well positioned to deliver on this urban solution. We have already built and flown the first proof-of-concept aircraft and we’re excited to partner with Uber in accelerating the eVTOL initiative.”

The partnership agreement provides the basis for a system of urban transportation solutions that will enable users of the Uber Elevate Network to request an Aurora eVTOL aircraft via Uber’s computer or mobile software applications. With the successful first test flight of the aircraft on April 20, 2017, the goal of delivering 50 aircraft for testing by 2020 is well within reach.

Bell Helicopter background overview:

Uber will be working with Bell Helicopter as a collaborator to accelerate the eventual large-scale deployment of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOLs) in order to fulfill its mission ofproviding a safe, reliable transportation service to everyone, everywhere.

Additional details include

 ● Uber plans to operate a network through which electric VTOL vehicles in numerous cities worldwide will provide transportation and delivery logistics services.

● Bell Helicopter plans to develop technologies that will lead to aircraft that satisfy short distance urban operations. Bell’s initial propulsion technology focus is expected to be hybrid electric with an eventual goal of fully electric.

● Uber will participate in the development of airspace control software and hardware for themanagement of Pilot VTOLs on the Elevate Network, and provide interface connectivity with airspace controllers/regulators.

● Bell Helicopter is an industry-leading producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft. Among otherprojects, Bell is exploring new opportunities in the future of air transportation with electric and hybrid VTOL aircraft.

A sample of articles:

Update: Here is a video of the Uber Elevate Summit conference presentations and panel discussions:

Thomas Pesquet’s marvelous photos of earth

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet has worked on the International Space Station as an ESA member of the crew since last November. His six month mission will end in May. During his stay in space he has carried out multiple spacewalks and performed many science experiments. He also has taken lots of great snapshots and videos of the earth. Check out the sample below and the links to more:

Eye of Africa

Thunderstorm on the horizon


Brown Moon

Saloum Delta



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