Press Release

2008 International Space Development Conference Demonstrates Spirit of Cooperation in Face of Imminent Change

By SpaceRef Editor
June 5, 2008
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Announcements on New Programs, Market Studies, and Space Research Mark the ‘New Pace of Space’

Washington D.C. – (June 4, 2008) – The National Space Society’s (NSS) 27th Annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) brought together leaders and supporters of the civil space program and the emerging commercial space sector last week to discuss the state of the industry and inform the general public of future space efforts.

ISDC, produced and hosted by the National Space Society, is a global forum for anyone with an interest in space to learn, interact, and discuss the future with the leaders of space exploration, business, and science.

The four-day conference, held in a different city each year, has become known as a leading nexus between NASA programs and the emerging commercial space industry.

On Wednesday May 28, 2008 the conference kicked off with an exclusive pre-conference event, the 4th Space Investment Summit (SIS), which brought together the emerging commercial space industry with the established world of finance to exchange their goals, ideas, and advice. Investors and established aerospace firms heard business plans from some of the most exciting new companies in space-related business sectors, while expert panels discussed important issues like exit strategies for aerospace startups, as well as early and mid-stage financing.

Will Whitehorn, President of Sir Richard Branson’s private space tourism company Virgin Galactic, keynoted the opening session of ISDC with a positive report on the developmental progress of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. Whitehorn announced that the WK2 carrier vehicle will be ready to roll out on July 28th of this year and will begin testing as early as August.

Whitehorn and National Space Society Executive Director George Whitesides announced the new NSS Space Ambassadors Program, which for one person will lead to a trip to space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. Space Ambassadors will be trained to educate and inspire the public about the practical and humanitarian benefits of exploration and research in space. As part of their job duties, one Space Ambassador will be selected to fly on a suborbital space flight aboard SpaceShipTwo in a seat generously donated to NSS by Virgin Galactic. Interested parties are encouraged to sign up online at to receive more information.

Other distinguished speakers from the commercial sector included SpaceX Founder Elon Musk and George Nield, Associate Administrator of Commercial Space Transportation for the FAA.

Friday’s programming consisted of speakers and panels that discussed the industry’s preparedness for the transition to Constellation after the upcoming retirement of the Shuttle program.

Congressman Nick Lampson from Texas’ 22nd district, home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, kicked off the morning session with a pledge that congressional support for the manned space program is bipartisan and strong. NASA panels were led by Doug Cooke, the NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, and Mark Uhran, the NASA Assistant Associate Administrator for the International Space Station, who explained the next steps of NASA’s Constellation program and plans for utilization of the International Space Station.

The Constellation Panel consisted of Doug Cooke as well as Charlie Precourt, Vice President of ATK Launch Systems; James Chilton, Vice President and Program Manager of Boeing Exploration Launch Systems; and Laurence A. Price, Deputy Program Director at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. Moderated by Julie Van Kleeck, Vice President of Space Systems at Aerojet, the panel discussed current testing and future timelines for when the Orion vehicle and Ares rockets become fully operational.

Also on Friday, the Coalition for Space Exploration debuted a new video depicting the importance of space and the benefits we gain from exploration. Additional information on the video can be found by visiting

Friday afternoon’s highlight was an Election 2008 panel featuring representatives from the three remaining major party campaigns to take questions from CNN anchor, environmental correspondent, and space expert Miles O’Brien. The panel included Senator Clinton’s space advisor Lori Garver; Floyd Deschamps, a senior Senate staff member representing Senator McCain; and Steve Robinson, an advisor to Senator Obama.

The annual NSS Gala dinner featured renowned broadcasting icon Hugh Downs, Chairman of NSS’s Board of Governors, as well as a heartfelt remembrance of science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke by longtime friend and NSS Governor Frederick Ordway. The evening concluded with the presentation of NSS’s Robert A. Heinlein Award to master airplane and spaceship designer Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites. Rutan is the innovator behind the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE winning SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded vehicle to fly to space.

Saturday focused primarily on personal spaceflight and how the public can get involved in the space industry. Space tourism is now a major part of commercial space and ISDC brought together organizations, companies, and individuals to inform the public about how to get there and what it’s like to be a private space explorer.

A space tourism panel featured Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson along with two of his previous clients, Dr. Gregory Olsen and Anousheh Ansari. Both Ansari and Olsen purchased tickets and traveled on the Russian Soyuz launch vehicle to visit the International Space Station and gave passionate accounts of their amazing experiences.

Saturday also marked the release of a new market study of personal spaceflight commissioned by Personal Spaceflight Federation and conducted by the respected Tauri Group research firm. The study documented $268 million in industry revenue in 2007, with more than 50% revenue growth from the previous year, and $1.2 billion in overall investment committed to date.

One afternoon highlight was a panel on the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE that featured several of the teams competing to land a privately funded rover on the moon by 2014. The panel included Bob Richards of Odyssey Moon, David Gump of Astrobiotic Technologies, Paul Carliner of Quantum 3, Jeff Krukin of STELLAR, and Dr. Jayfus Doswell of Team JURBAN. X PRIZE Foundation Director of Space Projects Will Pomerantz moderated the panel.

Saturday afternoon also marked the launch of a newly announced project, the Overview Institute, founded on the Overview Effect principles set out by author Frank White and led by producer David Beaver. The Institute will seek to research, disseminate and evangelize the potential of the Overview Effect to prompt positive change on the planet. More information can be found at

A major focus of the conference was the potential of Space Based Solar Power to respond to the energy challenges facing the planet. On Saturday night, the authors of a study conducted for the National Security Space Office were presented with the society’s Heinlein Award. Former NSSO director Gen. James Armor was on hand, as well as senior representatives from the Air Force and Marines. Current NSSO Director Mr. Joseph Rouge attended and made brief remarks. Over ten hours of additional panels with 20 experts also presented throughout the conference.

The society honored several space leaders during the conference. Dr. John Marburger, Director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, was honored with a Space Pioneer Award, in recognition of his vision in setting out the justification for the US Plan for Space Exploration. Patricia Grace Smith, former Associate Administrator of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, was honored for her extensive service to the country. Students from India and Bulgaria were honored for their success in the NSS Space Settlement Contest, and Anita Gale and Al Globus were honored for their role in running such contests. NSS chapter leaders and activists were honored for their work on behalf of space, and NSS member Rick Zucker was honored with the Pancratz Space Activist of the Year Award.

The 2009 International Space Development Conference will be held in Orlando, Florida at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate from Wednesday, May 6, 2009 to Sunday, 10, 2009. To register for the conference please visit or call (202) 429-1600.

The presenting sponsor of the Space Investment Summit was Space Florida. Other sponsors included The Boeing Company, Honeywell, EADS Astrium, Lockheed Martin,, Innovarium Ventures,, Ecliptic Enterprises, and United Space Alliance. Media sponsorship for the event was provided by Space News.

The presenting sponsor of ISDC 2008 was NASA. Other sponsors included Arianespace, The Boeing Company, ATK, Wyle, Lockheed Martin, and Aerojet. Space News acted as the

exclusive media sponsor for ISDC 2008. NSS would like to express their sincere thanks to all of these sponsors for making ISDC 2008 an indisputable success.

All media interested in acquiring information on this or next year’s conference can do so by emailing Ian Murphy at or calling (310) 689-6397. Photographs are available for major speakers. Links to CSPAN video of the conference can be found on the NSS Website at

About the National Space Society The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. For more information on the society or the conference, please visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.