By Mark Hopkins (Summer 2015)
Something important happened on February 19-20, 2015, during the Pioneering Space National Summit. The goal of the summit was “to agree upon a shared Vision and set a basic national agenda for U.S. human space activities beyond low-Earth orbit….” It was a high-level, invitation-only meeting of more than 100 diverse space leaders, including senior NASA officials.
NSS Senior Operating Officer Bruce Pittman and I represented NSS. On the morning of the first day, five organizations were given time to explain their relevant goals. I spoke on behalf of NSS. The foundation of what I had to say was our Vision and Mission Statements. The current wording of these statements was adopted in 2007. The Vision Statement can be found near the top of the home page of our website (nss.org). It reads:
“People living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.”
The NSS Mission Statement can be found on our website. It reads:
“The Mission of NSS is to promote social, economic, technological, and political change in order to expand civilization beyond Earth, to settle space and to use the resulting resources to build a hopeful and prosperous future for humanity….”
These statements are elaborations of the original goals of the L-5 Society. L-5 was founded in 1975, 40 years ago. It merged with the National Space Institute in 1987 to create the National Space Society. The first issue of the initial publication of the L-5 Society, the September 1975 issue of the L5 News, was four pages in length. It was mailed to the then L-5 membership of approximately 30 people. Copies of the L5 News can be found on our website. According to page 2 of the first issue:
“The L-5 Society is being formed to educate the public about the benefits of space communities and manufacturing facilities….”
In the second issue of the L5 News, the October 1975 issue, there are reports concerning two studies (one by myself) about the potential use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity. After two days of debate the 2015 Summit reached a unanimous consensus concerning the future of America’s human space program—a consensus which is effectively a restatement of the NSS Vision and Mission. They concluded that:
“The long term goal of the human spaceflight and exploration program of the United States is to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that will enable human settlement and a thriving space economy….”
Note the word “settlement” in the statement. This is the first time that “settlement” (or “space communities”) has been included in a statement from such a highlevel group, including many establishment players from industry and the government. This result made me proud to be a leader of the National Space Society. When we started advocating this concept 40 years ago, the only consensus that such a group could have obtained is that we were crazy. Oh how the world has moved in our favor. We are winning!
This article was written by Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Space Society. The article originally appeared in Ad Astra, Summer 2015.