The theme of the International Space Development Conference (ISDC), taking place this week in Huntsville, Alabama, is exploring how we grow a spacefaring civilization “From the Ground Up!” This years silent auction, an annual ISDC tradition, will raise money not just for the National Space Society, but also for tornado relief efforts in Alabama.  Fifty percent of auction proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross in Madison County, where Huntsville is located.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the space-related items to appear in the silent auction is a zero-gravity flight that will be provided by Aurora Aerospace of Oldsmar, Florida.  The company will have the Rockwell Commander 700 aircraft in Huntsville on Sunday, May 22, and the winner of this auction item can either schedule their flight for that day, or they can make arrangements with Aurora Aerospace to take the flight in Florida at a later date.

Bart Leahy, ISDC 2011 Conference Chair, believes the auction captures the true spirit of the event: “Space advocacy has always been a challenging mix of idealism and practicality. We want to see human beings living in thriving communities beyond Earth, but we realize there are difficult things to do here on Earth to make it happen. Likewise, while we realize we are here to promote space activities, we can’t ignore the devastation many families have faced from last month’s tornadoes. I look at this as a way we can be good citizens of our solar system and our community.”

The auction will be conducted in the Von Braun Center as part of ISDC’s exhibit hall Thursday May 19 and Friday May 20. General Admission to the exhibit hall will be $5 per person at the door.  Individuals can find an online registration form for the conference at isdc2011.nss.org/. The winning bids will be announced at 4 p.m. on Friday in the exhibit hall, and payment will be accepted at that time.

The auction and exhibit area are only one part of a very diverse and extensive conference. Participants include space professionals and advocates from around the world who will explore all aspects of human space endeavors, including the International Space Station, heavy-lift launch vehicles, commercial space activities, space-based solar power, technology development, and politics, education, and outreach.

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