International Space Development Conference Opens In Los Angeles


The 25th annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) opened today in Los Angeles, the ISDC is jointly sponsored by the National Space Society (NSS) and the Planetary Society (TPS). Registration figures exceed 1,000 attendees thus far.

In opening this event NSS Executive Director George Whitesides noted that "for the next 4 days this hotel will be the center of space activity on this planet". Following Whitesides was Bruce Betts, TPS Director of Projects who noted that this meeting happens at a moment of "great times and a time of peril".

This comment was in reference to an unprecedented series of cuts to space science that NASA has undertaken in order to pay for the implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). TOS Executive Director Louis Friedman noted that a press event on this topic would follow later in the morning.

Charles Elachi, Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory spoke next. Elachi began his talk with a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt. The quote is familiar to many who ponder why people explore: "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

Elachi then noted "anyone who lives in the twilight has no business being here [at this meeting]".

He then and gave an overview of what planetary exploration NASA is doing and hopes to do in the years ahead. He closed by saying "We are living in an exciting time. Hopefully the politicians will make sure that the appropriate funding goes to the right place.

This meeting got underway, by coincidence, just as a report was issued by the National Academy of Sciences. That report is blunt on the topic of funding for the things NASA wants to do - and what NASA should be doing. In a press release the NAS said "NASA does not have the resources necessary to maintain a vigorous science program, complete the International Space Station, and return humans to the moon, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies' National Research Council. "There is a mismatch between what NASA has been assigned to do and the resources with which it has been provided," said Lennard A. Fisk, chair of the committee that wrote the report."

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