This year, for the third year in a row, NSS members and other space advocates will gather in Washington to carry our pro-space message directly to Congress. At the 2005 Space Blitz (National Space Society's Third Annual Legislative Conference), held May 17-18, we will visit the offices of your U.S. Representatives and Senators, and speak with them directly on the importance of space development and access. As citizen lobbyists, we will represent the members of NSS and other citizens concerned with our future in space, presenting specific proposals for legislation and funding that will bring the creation of a spacefaring civilization closer to reality.
The Space Blitz is your opportunity to actively participate in your country's government, supporting budget decisions and legislative action that affect what you really care about. Registration for this event is $50 until May 1, $75 thereafter, and $25 for students and seniors over age 65. More information, and the registration form, can be found at www.nss.org/legislative.
We've scheduled this event in conjunction with the NSS annual conference, so that you can combine trips and also see Burt Rutan and the many other space leaders scheduled for the 2005 International Space Development Conference. (More info on that below).
In the past two years, we've seen more progress on space issues in Congress than we've seen in many years. NASA finally has a mandate to break humans out of low earth orbit and send them once again on great exploratory voyages to the Moon and Mars, and on into interplanetary space. Equally important, legislation has been passed that will give the fledgling space tourism industry the stable legal platform, and the freedom from excessive regulation, that it will need to open up access to space all of us, not just the fortunate few who manage to get their astronaut wings from NASA. We have more reason to hope for a bright future in space than we've had in a very long time.
All this progress is due in no small measure to the fact that the members of NSS and other space advocacy groups made their voices heard. In our prior Legislative Conferences, we've visited the offices of hundreds of Senators and Congressmen, and told them how important their support for space-friendly legislation was.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the gains we've made still stand on very shaky footing, and could yet be reversed. We need to make certain that NASA's new mandate doesn't get derailed before the ink is even dry on the first paper studies to turn it into reality. But saving the NASA budget isn't enough. Space must be opened up to commercial activity that will lower the cost of access to everyone, so we also need to make certain that the Congressmen who want tighter regulation of commercial launchers don't manage to pass legislation that will strangle the space tourism industry before the first paying passenger ever gets off the ground. Finally, we must make sure Congress takes steps to involve the private sector in NASA's Moon-Mars initiative.
The fight for a wider, brighter future for humanity in space goes on. In addition to overcoming the force of gravity, to get off the earth we also need to beat the force of bureaucracy. We need your help in that fight. And there's an additional incentive for you to join us in Washington this year. Stay for the rest of the week, and you can participate in the 2005 International Space Development Conference. Speakers at this year's ISDC include X-Prize winner Burt Rutan, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Rear Admiral Craig Steidle, Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn, Aldridge Commission member Dr. Paul Spudis, X-Prize Foundation and Zero-Gravity Corp. founder Dr. Peter Diamandis, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, Sea Launch LLC President Jim Maser, and many more. For more information about ISDC, visit http://isdc.nss.org/2005/
Those of us committed to the cause of a spacefaring civilization know that, aside from being humanity's best hope for a prosperous future, there's no greater adventure. Join us in Washington, and we'll make that message heard on Capitol Hill.