Completed Projects

The Space Frontier Foundation has successfully completed many projects over twenty years of activity.  Below is the list of all the past projects of the Foundation, including the year(s) the project was active, the goal(s) of the project, the outcome & legacy of the project, and any surviving press coverage & associated documentation. Archived projects are sorted by date of completion, starting with the most recently completed projects at the top. Since this is an archive, it is an on-going, long-term project. More past projects will be added as information becomes available.

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The Overview Institute

2007-2012

Project Manager: Frank White

Goal(s) of the Project: The Overview Institute was created with the purpose of both researching and informing the world of the reality, nature, and potential of the Overview Effect. The Institute also planned to promote and support widespread experience of the Overview Effect, through direct space travel, and newer, more powerful and more publicly available space art, multi-media, and education. The plan is to encourage artists, educators, entertainment creators, and simulation media designers and technologists to consider the rich potential of integrating the Overview Effect into their work as well as the opportunity to play a role in bringing space experiences to the world. And, just as important, they plan in the future to network with world social leaders in all those areas most likely to benefit from the Overview Effect, both directly experienced and through space media.

Results: Space Frontier Foundation was used as an incubator for this project, while those involved with formation of The Overview Institute formulated their plan for the organization, as well as filed for their 501(c)3 status. On May 27, 2008, at National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference, the formation of The Overview Institute was formally announced, and a declaration of goals and principles (“The Declaration of Interdepencence” was signed by more than 20 leaders of the space movement). Space Frontier Foundation ended the project in 2012, when The Overview Institute became an independent organization.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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Space Investment Summit

2005-2011

Project Manager: Mark Lorimer

Goal(s) of the Project: Space Investment Summit was an annual event that started in 2005, as a way to increase investor visibility for startup companies focused on Lunar Commerce (hence the name “Lunar Commerce Roundtable”). In 2007, this was changed to “Space Investment Summit” and opened up to all companies associated with the space experience (e.g., advertising, entertainment, hotels, and tourism), energy production in space, materials sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, robotics, artificial intelligence, communications, Earth imaging, and navigation. In addition, space commerce experts provided the latest updates at each event on emerging space technologies and enterprises in suborbital transportation, Earth-to-orbit transportation, on-orbit pursuits and ventures beyond Earth orbit.

Results: 3 successful Lunar Commerce Roundtable events were held between 2005-2007, and 9 Space Investment Summits were held from 2007-2011 across the country. In 2011, main sponsorship for the event was lost, and the project was put on indefinite hiatus.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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SpaceVentures

2008-2011

Project Manager: Liz Kennick

Goal(s) of the Project: The goal of SpaceVentures was to increase public awareness of SFF’s viewpoints of space settlement and commercial space. TEDxMidTownNY & Yuri’s night were the two different methods used to achieve this. TedxMidTownNY was a multidisciplinary presentation/discussion series, featuring speakers who were actively engaged in the advancement of field research, exploration, and opening the space frontier. The main goal of this project was to inform the general public of SFF’s viewpoints via the popular presentation style of TED.com, and using the brand name of TED to increase visibility and credibility. Yuri’s Night is a global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space. Yuri’s Night parties and events are held around the world every April in commemoration of April 12, 1961, the day of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first manned spaceflight, and April 12, 1981, the inaugural launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle. SpaceVentures was responsible for New York City’s Yuri’s Night event.

Results: 4 successful annual Yuri’s Night events were held from 2008-2011, and 5 separate TEDx speaking events were held in New York City from 2010-2011. SpaceVentures was put on indefinite hiatus in September of 2011, when Project Manager Liz Kennick was appointed as leader of the project Teachers In Space.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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Mind The Gap

2008-2011

Project Manager: Jim Muncy

Goal(s) of the Project: By convincing NASA to switch from building brand new rockets (Ares 1 and Ares V) to buying flights from commercial launch providers, NASA will reduce or eliminate the time span where the United States will be without orbital launch capability, due to the retirement of the Space Shuttle. NASA would be able to accelerate other elements of Constellation and more space jobs will be created across America. By doing this, there will be more overall economic growth, as well as stronger nation-wide public support for America’s human spaceflight efforts.

Results: After the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee (also known as the Augustine Committee) reviewed Constellation (October 2009), they found it to be economically unsustainable at the current NASA budget, and Constellation was cancelled. A shift in thinking began within Congress, NASA’s leadership, and elsewhere within the space community, where commercial launch providers began to be thought of as a viable, less-expensive alternative to a brand-new NASA rocket.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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We-Are-Space Video Competition

2011

Project Manager: Sara Meschberger

Goal(s) of the Project: The We-Are-Space Video Competition, sponsored by the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), Students for the Exploration & Development of Space (SEDS), and Spacevidcast.com, asks the question, “How will emerging low-cost access to space transform both the role of government space agencies and the lives of ordinary citizens?” The 2-3 minute videos entered into this competition hopefully would not only fuel the imaginations of those who were currently working to lower the cost of spaceflight, but also to raise awareness in the general population about the possibilities space holds for the everyday person.

Results: We-Are-Space awarded $1,000 to the winning student video, decided by public social media votes and partner organizations’ approval. While the competition received lower submission levels than expected, planning was well executed. We-Are-Space served as an excellent testbed project for training future Foundation management and nurturing relations with Foundation partners. Failure to generate the desired minimum amount of submissions caused the sponsors to question the interest and capabilities of students to produce clips on this topic. The Foundation review team delivered prerequisites to planning a follow-on competition: higher value prize, contacts within notable film schools, more general question, and opening up the competition beyond students.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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The Cosmos Review

2008-2011

Project Manager: Vanna Bonta

Goal(s) for the Project: The Cosmos Review was intended to be an online literary magazine dedicated to space poetry. The magazine was planned to feature classic poems from ancient Greece to contemporary voices of poetry, all related in some way to the cosmos. A children’s category was planned to feature poems from tomorrow’s leaders, providing classroom project suggestions for teachers to lead poetry and cosmos appreciation in the classroom.

Results: The Cosmos Review became an online resource of archived space‐relevant poetry, essays and quotes. Within the website that was built for this project, a database was begun which cataloged poetry dedicated to space from 8th century B.C. up through contemporary times.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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Space Solar Power

2001-2010

Project Manager: Margo Deckard

Goal(s) of the Project: The goal of the 9-month project was to reach out to the environmental community to inform them of SSP and give them a forum to address SSP issues. The environmental community mentioned here consisted of academics, industry, advocacy groups, and general enthusiasts. The objectives of the 9-month project included (1) an introduction of the concept of SSP as a space-based energy source for the Earth to this environmental community, (2) the assessment of the environmental community’s concerns about SSP impact, and (3) the development of a framework for which to address the benefits and concerns raised by the environmental community. SFF hoped this project would be one of many successful endeavors by the campaign.

Results: On February 28, 2001, Space Frontier Foundation, ProSpace, and FINDS sponsored a Senate Roundtable on Space Solar Power. The Roundtable was held in the Space Subcommittee Hearing Room, Room 2325, in the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington D.C. A report was generated out of the meeting, and disseminated amongst the space community. In 2008, SFF released a White Paper outlining the importance of SSP to the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, resulting in significant political exposure. From 2008-2010, various articles were written on the subject of SSP and published.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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External Tanks

2007-2008

Project Manager: Alex Gimarc

Goal(s) of the Project: The concept of taking the Space Shuttle External Tank (which was scrapped after each flight) into orbit, salvaging it, and using it on-orbit has been around since the mid 1970s. Public interest in the concept started with a suggestion by Gerard K. O’Neill to use the expended tanks as a source of aluminum for Space Manufacturing Facilities and habitats. Interest in the scientific and technical community grew to the point where the National Commission on Space in 1986, Congress in 1987 and 1988, and President Reagan in 1988 directed NASA to make the tanks available to entrepreneurs in the late 1980s. NASA signed Memoranda of Understanding in 1987, 1989, and 1992 to provide ETs to the External Tanks Corporation (ETCO) of Boulder, CO and Global Outposts of Las Cruces NM. An external tank-based platform was even proposed as a low-cost alternative to the current International Space Station in 1993. After a few years of relative quiet, the concept is back as a low cost way to fly large commercial platforms in space. This project was intended to give an overview of 25 years of concepts, policy and research into ET Applications.

Results: The External Tanks project page became an online resource for all the research to-date that was put into using the external tank for on-orbit operations. Although the academic community disagreed on what the tanks should be used for, there was 100% agreement that it should be used for something other than just one shuttle flight. But due to political and budgetary pressures within NASA and Congress, nothing ever happened with the external tanks, as the possible station(s) that could be built with these tanks were seen politically as an irresistible low-cost alternative to the International Space Station, which was currently being built at a massively higher cost. The project within SFF was completed and archived in 2008. After a total of 135 missions from 1981-2011 (30 years), each Space Shuttle External Tank was scrapped and a new one was built and flown. This archive survives as an example of how government can be inefficient and impede massive progress, and how difficult change can be despite how many professionals in the academic community voice their concerns.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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Permission to Dream

2001-2008

Project Manager: George Whitesides

Goal(s) of the Project: Permission to Dream, a telescope donation project, had the goal of connecting students around the world through the wonder of space and astronomy by observing the night sky. Specifically, the goal was to inspire students to achieve great things, like create the next generation of space explorers, instill a sense of wonder and responsibility about our planet Earth, motivate school learning, and open minds to new career possibilities.

Results: Over the course of the project, Permission to Dream donated telescopes to 25 groups in 13 countries on 6 continents. The team also held programs and seminars, and each participating group that SFF visited agreed to to hold regular observation nights with their students, and explore the sky using online missions PTD had developed. This ensured on-going space activities whether or not Space Frontier Foundation had an on-going presence in that location. This project achieved a series of impressive objectives, including introducing students to science and technology career possibilities, deepening students’ knowledge of science, math, history, engineering, geography, and social studies, connecting students and teachers with astronomy experts, and providing telescopes, training, and lesson plans to classrooms around the world.

Documents & Press Coverage: none

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VidVision/SpaceContest

2008

Project Managers: Greg Zsidisin

Goal(s) for the Project: In 2008, the Space Frontier Foundation, in conjunction with SpaceContest.Org and SpaceVidcast.com, concluded the first Space VidVision Contest, in which contestants were asked to post short videos on YouTube answering the question, “What should the future of American human spaceflight be? This project looked to develop grass-roots videos for the best arguments for or against sending people into space, or for changing current plans, developing compelling cases for what the future should bring.

Results: Space VidVision received over 30 submissions and awarded a $2000 1st prize, $1000 2nd prize, and $500 to the 3rd place team. Half of the submissions had professional production value and successfully communicated the respective producer’s future space vision. In the years following the competition, some of these videos served as public inspiration through the Foundation’s YouTube page, at Foundation public events and within Foundation presentations around the globe. While Space VidVision did achieve basic goals, and proved sufficient interest in a space video competition, team management felt that a follow-on competition would only be warranted if a significantly larger prize could be raised.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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NewSpace Economic Development

2006

Project Manager: Jeff Krukin

Goal(s) of the Project: The Space Frontier Foundation’s then-Executive Director, Jeff Krukin, was working with several organizations in his home state of North Carolina to demonstrate how the state can contribute to and benefit from the emerging commercial space industry (for example, SFF partnered with and received grant funding from the NC Space Grant and NC State University). Although not a traditional aerospace state, North Carolina did (and still does) have aviation and non-aerospace technical and manufacturing industries that could participate in a larger aerospace economy. The Foundation intended to use this work as a template to assist other non-traditional aerospace states and grow the NewSpace Industry as a whole.

Results: This project’s effort had a small amount of success in North Carolina and elsewhere. After some research and follow-up discussions, it was found that state governments were not interested in stimulating the commercial space industry outside of traditional actions, like changing tax laws and incentives, which already took place when a NewSpace company chose a state to reside in.

Documents & Press Coverage: None

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Keep Mir Alive

1998-2001

Project Manager: David Anderman

Goal(s) of the Project: The goals of the Keep Mir Alive project were to keep the Mir Space Station in orbit, and to get NASA to endorse the effort. Since Russia couldn’t afford both the Mir Space Station as well as their planned involvement with the future International Space Station, the Keep Mir Alive Project wanted to commercialize Mir, thereby allowing both Mir and the ISS to survive.

Results: Efforts were made to educate the media and the general public of the pressures NASA was putting on Russia to de-orbit the Mir Space Station. When public outrage was ignored, de-orbiting plans continued, until MirCorp was created, The Russian space station Mir was de-orbited in March of 2001.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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Space Settlement Project

2003-????

Project Manager: Ron Kohl

Goal(s) for the Project: The goals of the Space Settlement Project were to present to the general public and our elected leaders a compelling vision equating American and global survival and prosperity with the permanent human settlement and development of space, and to establish a national strategy for the permanent human settlement and development of space that involves government, business, and academia. These goals would be achieved by carrying out various activities, including publishing a series of white papers outlining a strategy for achieving sustainable space settlement, presentations at conferences and elsewhere, press releases & commentary, and an annual space settlement summit for opinion leaders, space advocacy organization leaders, and select space industry organizations to evaluate progress towards achieving the project’s goals, and consider changes to our strategies.

Results: Several successful events were held to discuss the issue of sustainable space settlement, including the Space Settlement Summit in 2003, and various other keynote speeches and panels during the annual Space Frontier Conference between 2003 – ????. Many press releases,  opinion pieces, and articles were written and published in mass media discussing the issue of space settlement, thus attempting to educate the general public. Several other space settlement advocacy groups began to emerge as well, such as the Space Settlement Institute. These other groups began to become so successful with their endeavors that instead of just being a project within the Foundation, a whole group of people could focus on the issue with much more focus. The project successfully concluded in ????.

Documents & Press Coverage:

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$250,000 CATS Prize Project

1997-2000

Project Manager: David Anderman

Goal(s) for the Project: In November of 1997, the Space Frontier Foundation and the Foundation for the International Non-governmental Development of Space (FINDS) jointly announced a $250,000 prize for the first private team to launch a 2 kilogram payload into space, 200 km or higher, by November 8, 2000, using a privately developed launcher as specified within the rules. Called the CATS Prize, The Foundation and FINDS wanted to show that space is not purely the domain of governments.

Results: The Cheap Access To Space (CATS) Prize ended on November 8, 2000. Several private launch companies, including JP Aerospace, InterOrbital and HARC, as well as many individuals, vied for the prize. Although no company was able to achieve the objective within the allotted time, their efforts added to the advancement of private space enterprise. The project inspired a number of people, such as John Carmack and his Armadillo Aerospace, to form advanced rocket groups and continue to make progress with increasingly sophisticated rocket projects.

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