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National Space Society logo (courtesy of NSS)

The National Space Society (NSS) is an international nonprofit 501(c)(3), educational, and scientific organization specializing in space advocacy. NSS is a member of the Independent Charities of America, and an annual participant in the Combined Federal Campaign.

The National Space Society's vision is people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth. NSS members promote change in social, technical, economic, educational, and political conditions to advance the day when people will live and work in space.National Space Society vision statement

The society supports manned space missions as well as unmanned space missions, which are remotely-controlled or robotic space probes by both the public (e.g., NASA, Russian Federal Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and private sector (e.g., Ansari X Prize, Transformational Space, Scaled Composites, etc.) organizations.

The National Space Society was established in the United States on March 28, 1987, from the merger of two space advocacy organizations: the National Space Institute, founded by Dr. Wernher von Braun; and the L5 Society, based on the concepts of Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill.

The society enjoys the support of, and is served by, a volunteer elected Board of Directors and Board of Governors consisting of such individuals as astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, John Glenn, Harrison Schmitt, Gerald Carr, William Pogue and Kenneth Money, writers C. J. Cherryh and Ben Bova, actors and entertainers Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Lance Bass, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Nichelle Nichols and Bruce Boxleitner, scientists Dr. Alan Binder, Dr. K. Eric Drexler, Dr. David Criswell and Dr. Michael DeBakey, Maria von Braun and many others.

The chairman of the society's Board of Governors is former ABC-TV 20/20 host and news anchor Hugh Downs. The chairman of the Board of Directors is Kirby Ikin. The Executive Director of the society was George T. Whitesides until early 2009 when he moved on to work for NASA and the Obama administration. Brett Silcox is the Associate Director of NSS.

The National Space Society hosts the annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) that is held in major cities and venues. The ISDC has often been held over the Memorial Day weekend. ISDC 2007 "From Old Frontiers to New: Celebrating 50 Years of Space Flight" was broadcasted live from Dallas via streaming video from May 25 through May 28, 2007—courtesy of the helloWorld website. The general public was provided the opportunity to follow key remarks and presentations by running their computer's mouse or cursor over the TV broadcast tower graphic entitled "Shows" and clicking the "On the Air Now!" link.

Archived files of past ISDC conferences can also be reviewed via the ISDC website.

NSS sponsors and supports smaller, regional conferences as well. The Society's magazine Ad Astra is published quarterly.


NSS Chapters network

Locations and “sphere of operation” of current NSS chapters in the United States (image courtesy of NSS)
Regional areas in the World where current NSS chapters are located (image courtesy of NSS)

A large number of NSS chapters exist around the world as a means to involve members in local groups for a variety of purposes. Some of these purposes include space advocacy, education, volunteering, and technical projects that can excite and energize the grassroots space movement.

NSS chapters may serve a local area such as a school, city or town, or have a topical or special interest focus, such as a rocketry or astronomy club, or educational/community outreach program. Chapters are the peripheral organs of the society by organizing events, communicating with the public on the merits and benefits of space exploration, working to educate political leaders, and inspiring new generations of space activists.

Active chapters are eligible to receive a number of resources regularly supplied by NSS. For example, chapters may establish a local web site on the NSS Chapter Network.

Physical resources, such as NSS banners, copies of Ad Astra magazine, membership brochures and the like are provided to chapters on an ad hoc basis, usually upon request via the chapters committee.

Location of current NSS chapters in Australia (image courtesy of NSS)
Present location of current NSS chapters within the European Union (image courtesy of NSS)

A very strong contingent of chapters is located in Australia. Prior to the NSI-L5 merger, the L5 Society had been developing chapters around the world, and in Australia, three chapters had been established. The 'Southern Cross L5 Society' was formed in 1979, with groups in Sydney, Adelaide (in 1984) and Brisbane (in 1986).

As the NSS network in Australia developed and chapter membership numbers grew, the need became apparent for a greater national structure to be developed to coordinate the many activities of the Society.

Following discussion with all chapters, it was decided in late 1989 to create the National Space Society of Australia (NSSA) which could act as an umbrella organization under which all chapters could operate, providing for them a single identity in which to be recognized by, and through which resources, finances and administration could be pooled for the better operation of all chapters. The change to NSSA, while linking to the parent organization, has helped to further strengthen NSSA's own independent, self-governed identity in Australia.

Similar efforts have taken hold in Brazil, Canada and Mexico, as well as European countries that have a strong aerospace presence. NSS chapters within the European Union include France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Individuals interested in joining as an individual member or forming a chapter of like-minded peers within their own community can fill out a "Request to form an NSS chapter" form either in writing, by going on-line to the main website, or by personally calling the Washington, D.C. headquarters office for more information or assistance.


The Independent Charities of America's Seal of Excellence

The National Space Society was awarded the "Five-Star Best in America" award by the Independent Charities of America organization in 2005:

"Space Exploration Is Good For Everyone" There is a great need today to convince the American public that boldly exploring and developing space is very important! The average American is focused on their wealth, health, and safety. They do not see the relevance of space. They have not forgotten space; they just do not see that going there is necessary - they see it as a luxury for better times. But space exploration today is improving the lives of ALL Americans!Independent Charities of America website

The Independent Charities' Seal of Excellence is awarded to the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate on an annual basis that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. These standards include those required by the US Government for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign, probably the most exclusive fund drive in the world. Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded this Seal.

Additionally, NSS manages a number of awards via an awards committee. These are typically presented during the annual International Space Development Conference that NSS hosts. These awards are in recognition of individual volunteer effort, awards for NSS chapter work, the "Space Pioneer" award, and two significant awards which are presented in alternate years:

  • The NSS Von Braun Award, given in odd-numbered years (2003, 2005, etc.). The 2005 recipient was Burt Rutan in recognition for his achievements in the development of SpaceShipOne, winner of the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Other scholarships and award activities NSS provides or assists with include:

  • The NSS-ISU scholarship, worth $12,000, to the International Space University. Application deadline is December 31 of each year, for study during the following year. The 2005 recipient was Robert Guinness of St. Louis;
  • EURISY international youth science fiction writing competition (NSS provided US support in 2005), and;
  • Permission to Dream space adventure for students, teachers and parents from the Space Frontier Foundation which is partly sponsored by NSS.


The National Space Society is an alliance organization of the Meade 4M Community in support of the educational initiatives and outreach of NSS.

See also


External links



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