Video: GAM AstroArt/OPTICKS event touched the Moon with art

On Thursday the OPTICKS project bounced off the Moon radio transmissions of images of art from the Humans in Space student art contest.  While this was happening, the participants in the Google+ hangout GAM AstroArt: Touching the Moon with Art & Footsteps discussed the project and other aspects of the intersection of science, space and art. Here is a video of the event:

The guests included:

  • Andrew Chaikin is the author of Man on the Moon and From Earth to the Moon.
  • Wendell Mendell is a retired NASA lunar and planetary exploration scientist.
  • Sarah Nobel is a current NASA lunar scientist and artist.
  • Frank Shiner is a winner of both the 2010 and 2012 Humans in Space Youth Art Competitions.
  • Jan van Muijlwijk, OPTICKS collaborator, radio operator, CAMRAS/Dwingeloo radio telescope.
  • Daniela De Paulis is the visual artist and researcher who developed the OPTICKS live performance technology in collaboration with the Dwingeloo radio telescope.
  • Jancy McPhee is the director of the Humans in Space Art Program, which includes the Youth Art Competition Project in its portfolio.
  • Mike Simmons, host, and director of Astronomers without Borders
  • Pamela Gay, producer, and Principle Investigator of CosmoQuest

NSS International Space Development Conference, Los Angeles, May 14-18

Still time to register for the National Space Society‘s annual conference, this year in LA:

Buzz Aldrin, Elon Musk Lead List of Luminaries at the
NSS International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles

May 14-18 Event is Open to the Public with Paid Registration

Los Angeles, California (May 1, 2014) – The 33rd Annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2014) kicks off on Wednesday, May 14, for five days of presentations, panels, exhibits, lunches and dinners celebrating this year’s theme, “A Space Renaissance.”

ISDC is the yearly conference of the National Space Society (NSS), a nonprofit organization that has hosted the gathering since 1982. This year’s venue is the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, 6101 West Century Boulevard, conveniently located near Los Angeles International Airport.

Among the notable VIPs at ISDC 2014 is the Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, who will open Thursday morning’s plenary session, and Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who will accept the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award during Friday evening’s Governor’s Dinner.

Apollo 11 astronaut and author Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, will speak at a noontime luncheon on Saturday. A total of six astronauts will be attending the conference.

“I’ve participated in the ISDC since the very first one in 1982, and it remains the preeminent meeting of its kind anywhere in the country,” said Aldrin. “I am looking forward to speaking at the conference again this year and I encourage anyone with an interest in space exploration and innovation to join me at ISDC 2014.”

Throughout the event, a stellar cast of experts and dignitaries, including astronauts, scientists, engineers, educators, aerospace industry leaders, and government officials will share their knowledge and opinions on contemporary space exploration topics. Exhibitors from many leading companies will also be on hand to showcase the latest space-related products, projects and technologies.

Additional distinguished speakers include Geoff Notkin, meteorite expert and star of TV’s Meteorite Men; former NASA Astronaut Rick Searfoss, Director of Flight Test Operations and Chief Test Pilot for XCOR Aerospace; Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX; Taber McCallum, Cofounder of Paragon Space Development Corporation; and over 200 additional presenters and panelists. Three members of the Mercury MESSENGER team will also be participating.

ISDC covers a number of broad topic areas organized into Program Tracks and sub-tracks. One track garnering considerable interest is Space and Media, focusing on the effects of media on the public’s perception of space exploration. Conference attendees will hear from some of the creative minds behind movies like Gravity, Oblivion, and Star Trek: Into Darkness, and the current hit television series COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey. Other major tracks include Space Experience, Living in Space, NASA/Exploration, Mars, and Space Solar Power.

“ISDC 2014 is shaping up to be an amazing conference with an extraordinary group of talented speakers and panelists,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the Executive Committee for the National Space Society. “Some event seating is limited, so anyone interested in registering should act quickly.”

Online registration is currently open with a variety of options, from single day registration passes to full conference registration with meals. To do secondary registration for meals and events, click here. Discounts are provided for youth, full-time students, seniors, and members of the National Space Society and its affiliates.

Visit for complete registration details and discount requirements. For registration assistance, call 408-736-2363. For information on exhibiting or participating, call 949-727-1211.

NASA announces Z-2 EVA spacesuit design style contest winner

I wrote a post here at the end of March about NASA’s Z-2 Spacesuit contest. They announced the winner on Thursday:

NASA’s Next Prototype Spacesuit has a Brand New Look,
and it’s All Thanks to You

With 233,431 votes, the “Technology” option has won NASA’s Z-2 Spacesuit design challenge with just over 63% of the total vote. This design now will be incorporated into the final version of the suit, which is expected to be ready for testing by November 2014.


NASA’s Z-2 suit is the newest prototype in its next-generation spacesuit platform, the Z-series. With the agency laser focused on a path to Mars, work to develop the technologies astronauts one day will use to live and work on Mars has already begun. Each iteration of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first humans to step foot on the Red Planet.

There are many key advances to be found in the Z-2 suit when compared to the previous Z-1. The most significant is that the Z-1 had a soft upper torso and the Z-2 has a hard composite upper torso. This composite hard upper torso provides the much-needed long-term durability that a planetary Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit will require. The shoulder and hip joints differ significantly based on extensive evaluations performed during the last two years with the Z-1 to look at different ways of optimizing mobility of these complex joints. Lastly, the boots are much closer in nature to those that would be found on a suit ready for space, and the materials used on the Z-2 are compatible with a full-vacuum environment.

Besides the typical fit checks and mobility evaluations, NASA currently is planning a very comprehensive test campaign for the Z-2 suit. Engineers will conduct multiple vacuum chamber tests, including one series at full vacuum, mimicking the lack of atmosphere found in space. The suit will be tested at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, the huge indoor pool used to train astronauts to spacewalk. Further testing at a site at Johnson that imitates the rocky Martian surface  will help evaluate the suit’s mobility, comfort and performance. Ultimately, all of these tests will guide engineers in designing the Z-3.

With the Z-2, NASA will employ cover layer design elements, like electroluminescent wiring, never used before in a spacesuit. The designs that were available for voting were produced in collaboration with ILC Dover, the primary suit vendor, and Philadelphia University. The intent of the designs was to highlight certain mobility features for testing. To take it a step further, NASA offered the public the opportunity to decide which of three candidates will be built.

Because the Z-series is still in the prototype, or non-flight, phase, the design won’t be making a trip to space. The cover layer of a non-flight suit still performs an important function in ground-based testing. The cover protects the lower layers and technical details from abrasion and snags during testing. It also serves to provide the suit with an aesthetic appeal. The cover layer on flight suits used for spacewalks performs many other important functions like protecting the spacewalker from micrometeorite strikes, the extreme temperatures in space and the harmful effects of radiation. These requirements drive selection of specific high-performance materials and design details that aren’t necessary at this stage in a prototype suit.

NASA’s Z-2 Spacesuit is a project under the Advanced Exploration Systems Division which pioneers the development and demonstration of new technologies for future human missions beyond Earth orbit as part of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Engineers and scientists around the country are working hard to develop the technologies astronauts will use one day to live and work on Mars and safely return home from the next giant leap for humanity. Follow our progress at and