by James Dean, copyright Florida Today, January 18 (reproduced with permission)

Brevard space organization resets focus, changes name

The space program is changing, and with it one of the area’s leading advocacy organizations.

This week, the Space Coast chapter of the National Space Society unveiled a new name that it says better reflects its mission and goal to grow a broader and more active membership.

The chapter’s new identity: Florida Space Development Council.

“We found that to be a more descriptive title,” said chapter president Laura Seward. “We wanted something a little more inclusive.”

The chapter — not to be confused with the National Space Club Florida Committee — aims to act as a grassroots advocacy group welcoming anyone with a general interest in space.

“We don’t only support NASA,” said Seward, a 29-year-old Rockledge resident and Florida Tech graduate who is pursuing a doctorate in planetary science at the University of Central Florida. “We want to encourage the organizations out there, private and public, that will develop space and human interactions in space.”

Every other month the chapter hosts “Space Locals,” an informal lecture or roundtable discussion featuring local experts. The events are free, and annual membership is $5.

Started in 2006, the chapter in 2009 hosted the national society’s annual International Space Development Conference in Orlando, but nearly dissolved after that.

It has rebounded to about 40 paying members.

Seward said changes in space policy and in Brevard County in recent years contributed to a desire to rebrand and reinvigorate the chapter, one of two in the state.

“I love the fact that Kennedy Space Center is diversifying and I love the fact that the area is diversifying, which is why I’m really optimistic,” she said.

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