Commentaries on Past Meetings and Events









q       Aug 16-18,2006 “New Trends In Astrodynamics” in Princeton University by John Pazmino

q       April 2, 2005,  America’s Future In Space” in the AMNH with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson by Eugene Cervone


q       April 2, 2005,  “America’s Future In Space” in the AMNH with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson by Candace Pankanin


q       February 18, 2005 Cassini-Huygens at Titan and Saturn  

             A "SPACESHIP GAIA-LOG" ENTRY by Harold Egeln,


q       October 19, 2004, “THIS JUST IN  in the Dome of the Planetarium


q       June 19, 2004, “Return To The Moon Project” Guest Speaker Manny Pimenta


q       May 3-4, 2004 “Moon, Mars and Beyond” in NYC Asia Society

q       March 13, 2004,  America’s Future In Space” Guest Speaker Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

q       February 21, 2004, The Power of Inclusion in Fostering the Coming Age of Commercial Space Flight. 

Guest speakers Paul Contursi and Tom Olson


q       February 02, 2004, Our Place In Space.  The New York Chapter of the National Space Society is In The News


q       January 10, 2004, A Revolutionary New Approach to determining low energy Routes for Spacecraft.

Guest Speaker Dr.Edward Belbruno


q       October 25, 2003, Shuttle-Derived Vehicles, Guest Speaker Greg Zsidisin



April 2, 2005 –

“America’s Future in Space”

Presented by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Sponsored by “Allies in Space”

Kaufmann Theater - American Museum of Natural History

Saturday, April 2, 2005


By:  Eugene Cervone

New York Space Society President Ms. Candace Pankanin opened the presentation shortly before 12:00 noon by welcoming the nearly 200 space enthusiasts and Museum visitors on a damp, rainy Saturday afternoon. Ms. Pankanin briefly introduced Hayden Planetarium Director Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, describing him as one of the major driving forces behind the development, design and construction of the new state-of-the-art Rose Center for Earth & Space.  Since being named Hayden Planetarium Director, Dr. Neil Tyson and the Museum's staff of astrophysicists and astronomers have, over the last decade, regularly organized and skillfully hosted a series of highly educational cutting edge lectures covering a wide variety of issues and topics in contemporary astronomy and astrophysics in addition to presenting various round table discussions and debates involving top scientists in every field and offering the public a whole range of reasonably priced courses in cosmology and other related subjects.

Dr. Tyson began his illustrated presentation by displaying a picture of the recently rebuilt (February 2000) Hayden Planetarium lit up against the background of the nighttime sky calling the audience in the New York City area "space enthusiasts" or perhaps even "space nuts". He thanked the crowd for attending his presentation on such a rainy day and also expressed his appreciation and thanks to Ms. Pankanin for her gracious introduction. Dr. Tyson spoke about bringing all the various pro space organizations and astronomy groups together, describing this special joint event co-sponsored by "Allies in Space" as a "Town Hall Meeting" and strongly urged the audience to freely express their opinion about any of the issues discussed. He referred to the various age and income groups of people who visit the Hayden Planetarium and Museum each day and said the Rose Center tracks attendance - approximately 2,000,000 annual visitors; half of them are school age children - and of the school age children about half come in groups and the others come with their parents. Dr. Tyson briefly described some of the activities and programs that are offered to the public by the Planetarium and Museum. When the new Hayden Planetarium opened in February 2000, the overall attendance jumped by a factor of about 10, as compared to the final year of the old Planetarium.

In response to a question I asked about the Washington, DC - based National Air & Space Museum's attendance and how it compared with that of the new Planetarium, Dr. Tyson said it averages about 2/3 that of the Air & Space Museum on a daily basis in spite of the fact the Air & Space Museum is a much larger facility.

Dr. Tyson displayed some so-called "visions and wisdom" quotes from the past. Among the most stunning of these visionless quotes included a statement made by Wilbur Wright to his brother Orville in 1901, "Man will not fly for 50 years". Two years later in December 1903, the Wright brothers made their historic inaugural flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Another stunning statement was "No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris" made by Orville Wright in 1908. In 1927 Charles Lindberg made the first non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris in his "Spirit of St. Louis" aircraft. Dr. Tyson displayed other visionless quotes throughout the decades leading up to 1957.

By comparison, Dr. Tyson pointed out what he found sociologically fascinating once spaceflight became possible after Russia launched Sputnik I in October 1957 and people began to over predict what would be possible when Yuri Gargarin made his historic Earth orbital flight in April 1961. For example, he quoted an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 1966 predicting "The most ambitious United States endeavor in the years to come will be the campaign to land men on neighboring Mars"; we hadn't even gotten to the moon yet. Most "experts" estimated that this task would be accomplished by 1985.

Dr. Tyson's favorite quote: "By the year 2000, 50,000 people will be living and working in space. He then pointed out when the year 2000 came around; only three people were actually working in space on the initial construction and operation of the International Space Station (ISS).  These three people were merely just maintaining the Space Station.

Dr. Tyson pointed out the numerous inaccurate predictions portrayed in the movie "2001: An Odyssey" and the "drivers" that enabled us to go to the moon.  He asked the audience if the climate is indeed right to execute and sustain this grand vision of space exploration for future generations. He said he thinks it sort of is, but it needs some additional work and a little help.

Dr. Tyson then displayed a variety of slides demonstrating how the universe and various new cosmic discoveries are in the popular consciousness of everyday life.  He emphasized the extreme importance and significance of the spectacular Hubble Space Telescope color photos of the universe and how they have captured the public's imagination and interest of the cosmos, in addition to the recent close up images of Saturn and its largest moon, Titan, from the Cassini spacecraft.

One of the slides showed a stunning color photo depicting two colliding galaxies which appeared on the front page of the New York Times in October 1997.  This was the first week the New York Times ever displayed color photos in any of its editions.  Dr. Tyson expressed he was extremely pleased that the New York Times, on page one, followed up on a recent story about the light detected from an unknown object by showing a graph illustrating the color spectra of a star we are familiar with, a quasar and an object we are stumped by, analyzing and comparing the spectra of the three objects in order to help determine the composition of these objects.

Dr. Tyson briefly discussed a January 2001 New York Times article, which reported the controversy involving the Hayden Planetarium’s assertion as to whether or not Pluto was actually a planet and the considerable amount of “hate mail” he received from numerous school children as a result of this article.  He pointed out that there is no scientific value, or meaning or importance associated with counting planets.  What really matters are the various properties and composition of these heavenly bodies and how they behave in their orbits around the sun.

Neil Tyson briefly discussed a front-page headline that appeared in the New York Post a couple of years ago entitled "Kiss Your Asteroid Goodbye!" regarding a killer asteroid that was supposedly headed our way.  (My wife and I have a magnetic sticker of this sensational front-page headline, courtesy of the New York Post, on our refrigerator  door.  Under the main headline title, in smaller print, “Don’t worry, it’ll miss Earth by 600,000 miles” appears).

Dr. Tyson showed various space age marketing products available through the media, merchandising, etc., the most popular of which will probably be for the upcoming spectacular final episode of the “Star Wars” movie saga.  (My wife and I have seen each of the previous five “Star Wars” movie classics at least three times!).   He spoke about the so-called “encounters” with the religious community and referred to the origins of the Big Bang theory saying it’s probably a good thing the religious community is aware of the possibilities of discovering extraterrestrial life somewhere in the universe.


Dr. Tyson then described to the audience his recent appearance on NBC’s Today Show and explained exactly how he justified the total $3.2 billion cost of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft over its entire developmental lifetime.

Dr. Tyson pointed out some examples of the public taking ownership of the Cosmos. He explained one example of the public taking ownership of the Cosmos was the widespread outcry against dismantling the Hubble Space Telescope. Since it was launched in April 1990, the only scientific instrument that the public has ever cared about to any significant degree was the Hubble Space Telescope according to Dr. Tyson's best recollection.  Within the first two weeks that Spirit and Opportunity rovers landed on Mars there were over 10 billion hits to the JPL website. Cassini/Huygens spacecraft landing on Saturn's moon Titan was another example of the public taking over ownership of space exploration.

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) at Home was another example - largest distributing computer project ever, ever according to Neil Tyson. The Planetary Society sponsors and helps coordinate this innovative project.  Dr. Tyson cited, as his final example of the public taking over ownership of the cosmos, the weekend attendance of 1,000 people per hour at the Rose Center for Earth & Space.

As a direct result of the tragic Columbia accident in February 2003, President Bush announced his visionary Moon, Mars & Beyond Space Initiative program in January 2004 to give NASA a new specific challenging goal and objective to focus on.

Dr. Tyson then gave a brief description of each of the nine distinguished Commissioners, including himself, appointed by President Bush to serve on the Moon, Mars & Beyond Commission to make various recommendations and suggestions on how to best implement his ambitious space initiative policy. Shortly before President Bush's visionary space initiative was officially announced, a public opinion poll was taken. When President Bush's name wasn't mentioned in connection with the Moon, Mars & Beyond Space Initiative, the results were 48% in favor, 48% opposed and 4% undecided. However, a very interesting result was revealed when President Bush's name was mentioned, of the people polled, only 43% were in favor, 52% were opposed and 5% were not sure.  Dr. Tyson said he felt the main reason for the significant difference in the polling numbers was the negative way many people feel about President Bush and his various policies.

Dr. Tyson emphasized the absolute need for non-partisan politics when it comes to formulating a comprehensive long-range space exploration policy.  Dr. Tyson said this was the first clear evidence he had seen showing that partisan politics was having a significant effect and influence on our space exploration program policies.

Neil Tyson displayed a chart of funding challenges showing the three main “drivers” associated with creating the motivation for major projects in the past. Listed on the chart were historic costly projects like the Great Wall of China, Manhattan A-Bomb Project, Interstate Highway System, Apollo Project, Columbus and Magellan Voyages, the New Deal, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Vatican among a few others. Dr. Tyson pointed out the three primary “drivers” creating and sustaining the motivation and funding incentive behind all these costly projects were Defense, Promise of Economic Return and Praise of Power. He said other “drivers” exist other than those three but much less costly was the Hubble Space Telescope driven by discovery.

Dr. Tyson said if we are to undertake an expensive, long-term project like sending humans to Mars, it would probably require at least one or more of the three major drivers. He said exploration and discovery have not traditionally been among the major “drivers” for space exploration.

Dr. Tyson mentioned President Kennedy's overriding motivation for getting us to the moon by the end of the 1960s was primarily defense driven and not really based on the spirit of space exploration and discovery. Perhaps another possible "driver" for sending humans to explore Mars within the next couple of decades would be strong evidence of some form of life on the Red Planet.  This particular "driver" could likely be classified as The Search for Scientific Knowledge and possibly play a significant role in NASA's future manned space exploration missions on Mars and throughout the solar system over the next few decades.  Indeed, noted
aerospace engineer and Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin, has perfected an innovative, cost-effective “Mars Direct” plan specifically designed to land astronauts on the Red Planet within the next decade.

Dr. Tyson displayed a list of the current alignment of social and political forces at work today. Among these were the Centennial Anniversary of the Wright Brothers historic first flight, China putting a man in Earth orbit, last year's successful landings on Mars by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers and the tragic Columbia disaster.  He pointed out everyone of the Columbia astronauts' families that were interviewed said with conviction  America's manned space exploration program must continue. As a result of the tragic Columbia disaster, President Bush decided NASA's future vision needed to be redefined with the establishment of new goals and objectives.

Dr. Tyson indicated the importance of "Project Prometheus", whose primary purpose is for NASA to research and develop various innovative propulsion systems (like nuclear and ion driven propulsion). He mentioned to the audience he had dinner the previous evening in Washington, DC with newly appointed NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin whom he felt was extremely well-qualified to implement President Bush's visionary Moon, Mars & Beyond Space Initiative program.  Dr. Michael Griffin is a strong supporter of human space exploration.

Dr. Tyson said Congress recently approved a slight increase in NASA's annual budget in order to accommodate President Bush's visionary space initiative and went on to express his view that although none of the three major drivers he described are clearly present, there is a somewhat unique alignment of supportive forces which hasn't existed in the last 40 years currently at work that would strongly suggest now would be the best time for humans to explore the solar system. His biggest concern was whether or not the various drivers creating the incentives for this grand vision could be sustained for a reasonable period of time.

Dr. Tyson was then reminded by NY Space Society President Candace Pankanin of his next appointment later that afternoon. He thanked Ms. Pankanin for the time check and continued on with his fascinating presentation. At this point, we all felt Dr. Tyson was really enjoying this very energetic and enthusiastic “Town Hall” meeting as much as his captivated audience.

He displayed a chart listing the nationalities of famous scientific and technological innovators and the major projects they worked on.

Dr. Tyson emphasized that only the three major “drivers” he described have the power to sustain the necessary incentives from one Presidential administration to the next over a period of several decades. As an example of major scientific and technological projects that have been maintained over a period of time Dr. Tyson mentioned the Manhattan Project, which involved top scientists from several different countries. He pointed out that only two of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project were born in the United States and only one of them received his PhD. in the United States. "Science and technology ultimately win wars, not generals or G.I.s".  He pointed out German captured rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun was very instrumental in the development of our early space exploration program and the mighty Saturn V rocket that carried 27 American astronauts to the moon on nine Apollo missions.

Dr. Tyson showed a few slides of his previous aerospace commission trip to China in the fall of 2002 at the Great Wall of China and mentioned the fact that the Chinese recently put a man into Earth orbit.

Dr. Tyson pointed out what distinguished his Commission's final report from others dealing with space exploration was the fact that it made no reference to the glory of scientific discovery and mentioned the primary reason the super collider project failed to receive adequate funding was because its initial incentive was based solely on discovery. Yet it seems somewhat ironic the word "Discovery" appears in the title on the front cover of the Commission's final report which was displayed on the screen behind Dr. Tyson.

Dr. Tyson emphasized that the Commission tried to establish a candid recognition that if you want to turn the space program into a viable long-term space industry, NASA needs to develop a much stronger relationship with the capital markets. He said all of this would require various initial government investments in order to create a climate of competitive biding and economic efficiency. A previous example of government investments in industry was the creation of airmail delivery and commercial airline passenger service back in the 1920s.

Dr. Tyson displayed an editorial article entitled "Half-Baked Proposals for Space" which appeared in the New York Times a few days after the Commission released its final report in June 2004. He said the Times disagreed with the Commission's final report because they claimed it required costly major long-term studies to justify its recommendations. Countering this remark, Dr. Tyson stressed the nine commissioners were appointed because of their life experiences and expertise in their respective fields.

Dr. Tyson pointed out that President Bush's visionary space initiative proposed accomplishing its various goals and objectives over the next decade and a half in an affordable manner using existing funds with only modest increases in NASA's annual budget. He said President Bush's comprehensive reorganization of NASA and rather ambitious space initiative proposal for humans to go back to the moon and on to Mars was politically criticized as potentially being too expensive in the long run.

Dr. Tyson suggested that NASA should concentrate on exploring the space frontier and have some other federal agencies like the National Science Foundation and other Earth science organizations launch communication and climate-weather satellites and recommended using the budgets and resources of these various federal agencies and science organizations to fund a variety of Earth science operations.  He noted the 9-member Commission he served on recommended the creation of a special Space Exploration Steering Council to help advise NASA on planning for future missions.

Dr. Tyson displayed the front cover of a recent issue of the Economist magazine showing a color photo of Mars with the headline "George Bush's grand, but costly vision" criticizing President Bush's visionary space initiative plan. Neil Tyson showed a New York Times article criticizing the Commission's recommendation for the privatization of some of NASA's current functions pointing out that the Commission's Chairman Pete Aldridge, as a member of Lockheed-Martin's Board of Directors, would stand to greatly benefit from this proposal. Dr. Tyson vehemently disagreed with the harsh criticism of Commission Chairman Pete Aldridge by the New York Times.

Neil Tyson said the Commission proposed entrepreneurship in the private sector and offering prize money to provide incentives that would help promote creative, innovative ideas independent of corporate thinking pertaining to aeronautics and space flight. Competition and prize money were the key factors providing the incentive for Charles Lindberg to make his historic transatlantic flight from New York to Paris in 1927.  Dr. Tyson, as a scientist, questioned why our country should spend so much money to send people into space when they can easily get a much greater return on their economic investment by sending sophisticated robots to explore our solar system and the surrounding Kuiper Belt containing millions of frozen comets. Many scientists today question the validity and economic cost of sending humans into space when various advanced state-of-the-art robotic techniques could perform numerous mission objectives much more efficiently.

However, Dr. Tyson said as Director of the Hayden Planetarium, he also sees the public sentiment side of sending humans to explore space and pointed out that over its nearly 50 year history, approximately two-thirds of NASA's total budget has been devoted to the manned exploration of space.  Dr. Tyson mentioned that besides the science of exploration there are other agendas taking place at NASA including various military, political and economic issues. He pointed out if there was no manned space exploration program, there would be no NASA science and that it wasn't until the final Apollo mission (Apollo 17 in December 1972) that a scientist (Geologist, Harrison Schmidt) had the opportunity to explore the lunar surface.

Dr. Tyson then displayed the official White House Executive Order entitled "A Revised Spirit of Discovery" and briefly described its contents, which included a comprehensive outline of the Commission's objectives regarding space science research as it relates to the human and robotic exploration of space. Among the other objectives listed were to engage the private sector and encourage international participation within available resources, encourage education and careers in math, science and engineering.

Dr. Tyson defended the Executive Order as a valid representation of the Bush administration's space policy and described it as the essence of President Bush's visionary space initiative plan. He also indicated we, as the public, could hold the White House and Congress accountable to the terms and conditions stated in this official document.

Dr. Tyson stated among the major recommendations of the Commission were to streamline and reorganize NASA's management structure and convert the NASA space research centers around the country to federally funded research and development corporations which would give these companies the power to hire and fire employees and reward productive employees with various incentive bonuses. He also pointed out that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, California and the Applied Physics Lab at John Hopkins University are federal research and development corporations with the ability to hire and fire employees and reward creative thinking with various incentive bonuses in addition to being able to independently compete for other government scientific projects that NASA isn't directly involved with.

Another one of the Commission's recommendations was to allow NASA to recruit scientists and engineers in the same manner as the military recruits its enlisted personnel by the effective use of public relations and commercial advertising on TV and various other media outlets.

As an example of this international business partnership among nations, Dr. Tyson pointed out the robotic arm currently in use on the space shuttles is manufactured by Canada. Dr. Tyson suggested that President Bush's visionary space initiative plan did not have a specific singular goal or objective in mind as did the Apollo moon program, but rather viewed the solar system as a whole for future manned exploration. As a result, the funding for this ambitious space initiative plan would be provided more or less on an annual “pay as you go” basis.

Among the reordered priorities of President Bush's space initiative plan are to phase out the space shuttle orbiters within the next decade in favor of a multi-purpose state-of-the-art Crew Exploration Vehicle using strap-on booster rocket engines capable of transporting humans to the moon, Mars and beyond. Another important priority is to phase out our management of the ISS and shift the emphasis of the ISS science objectives to biology in order to determine the long-term effects of space travel on humans during a mission to Mars. Also, for NASA to exit the business of low Earth orbit and use the money saved on the phase out of the space shuttle fleet and our management of the ISS to significantly increase robotic and tele-robotic technology in order to pave the way to establish a permanent lunar base and for humans to eventually explore Mars.

Dr. Tyson pointed out that among the "winners" of President Bush's space initiative plan would be the robotic and human exploration of the solar system, the search for Exosolar planets beyond our solar system, the search for extraterrestrial life and the various effects of the sun on the Earth.  He mentioned that among the "losers" would be the development of advanced aeronautical designs and various Earth monitoring experiments like the search for gravity waves, which the Commission recommended should be farmed out to other Earth science agencies like the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Tyson also pointed out as a result of NASA's grand new vision for space exploration, there would be considerable grumbling among various scientific groups and organizations who will most likely have funding for their projects reduced or eliminated.

Dr. Tyson pointed out just as the Apollo moon program enabled us to perform the science of astronomy and astrophysics in space by the use of various Earth orbiting telescopes, the President's innovative space initiative would allow us to employ sophisticated space platforms
and tele-robotic operations to help build the way for future lunar and Martian base operations and the mining of various resources from these bases.

Dr. Tyson then displayed a graph entitled "Strategy: Long-Term Affordability" showing how NASA's annual budget would be able to adequately finance the space imitative vision over the years as the space shuttle and ISS programs were eventually phased out.

Dr. Tyson said NASA's modest funding for the President's space vision is fully justified compared with their historical spending for the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Sky Lab and Space Shuttle programs over the decades. He said allowing for inflation, the amount of revenue needed to adequately fund the President's space vision over the next couple of decades is approximately equal to NASA's past budget over a comparable period of time and should be easily affordable in combination with the proposed streamlining and reorganization of NASA.

Finally, Dr. Tyson displayed a color photo of one of the Mars rovers on the front page of the New York Times' Automotive section comparing methods of ground transportation on the Red Planet to that on Earth and then concluded his marathon presentation by saying he believes that with the proper motivation, the President's space initiative vision is attainable.  According to Dr. Tyson some examples of this motivation included challenging a class of 8th graders to design an aircraft that can fly in the rarified atmosphere of Mars, searching the soils on the surface of Mars for evidence of life and analyzing the chemistry of Jupiter's atmosphere in order to recruit the best aerospace engineers, biologists and chemists available to fulfill the vision. He pointed out these same aerospace engineers, biologists and chemists would also be available to help solve a variety of technological problems related to other aspects of society.

Dr. Tyson stressed that going into the 21st Century the major economies of the world will be driven by science and technology and that the best way to attract the finest scientists and engineers of tomorrow would be to meet the varied challenges of the proposed Moon, Mars & Beyond Space Initiative.

Dr. Tyson concluded his extraordinary presentation by stating he can't think of no greater investment in the security and economic strength of America's future than investing in President Bush's visionary space initiative plan.  Dr. Tyson then thanked the audience for their undivided attention and enthusiasm and proceeded to answer a wide variety of questions.

During the question and answer session, Dr. Tyson reiterated the unique significance of the Hubble Space Telescope by saying he would favor keeping it in service as long as feasibly possible not just because of the spectacular color photos it has provided and useful space science it has demonstrated over its 15-year lifetime, but because, as a scientific instrument, it has become a valuable part of our culture and the public's imagination.

In response to a comment I made regarding NASA's official position on the Hubble Space Telescope's future in light of the tragic February 1, 2003 Columbia disaster and the fact that Hubble was originally scheduled to receive just one more servicing mission during its


designated 15-year lifetime, Dr. Tyson agreed that Hubble's mission was originally intended for a specific period of time (15 years) with only one more scheduled servicing mission by the space shuttle and the increment on its anticipated productivity was only for a few more years beyond the final servicing mission.

In response to another question regarding the impact of China's recent manned orbital mission and its significance in their future role as a competitive force in the exploration and colonization of space, Dr. Tyson responded that although there is a faction in our government who views the Chinese move into space as a threat to our security, in his judgment based on military personnel he spoke with, it's somewhat of a concern but not a major military driver as was the case with the Soviet Union back in the 1960s.  He further explained that the real number one "driver" motivating President Bush's ambitious space initiative plan was the fact America lost seven dedicated astronauts in the tragic Columbia disaster with no clear cut vision or challenge defining NASA's future in space exploration.

Another interesting question posed by a member of the audience was if any life forms are discovered on Mars or anywhere else in the solar system, how would that revolutionize contemporary thinking in the science community concerning the origins of humans and life on planet Earth. Dr. Tyson responded by saying if this life form was DNA based, it wouldn't really make any significant difference and pointed out because of the similarity, we wouldn't be able to determine if early life on Earth was spawned by life on Mars via ejected rocks containing stowaway bacteria from the Red Planet landing on Earth, which would imply we were all descendants of Martians.

He also indicated the discovery of DNA-based life forms on Mars would imply that perhaps DNA molecules are common place throughout the solar system than we originally thought.  Dr. Tyson went on to say if, however, some form of life was discovered on Mars or elsewhere in the solar system based on a different chemical genetic encoding, it would, indeed, completely revolutionize biology as we know it and dramatically change the way we view ourselves and our place in the universe. A special feature currently showing in the Hayden Planetarium's new state-of-the-art Sky-Dome Theater clearly demonstrates how vastly unique different life forms are not only able to exist, but amazingly thrive, deep beneath the Earth's oceans with no sunlight whatsoever. Numerous astrophysicists, including Dr. Tyson, have speculated what, if any, life forms might exist in the probable liquid water ocean that lies under the icy surface of Europa, one of Jupiter's larger moons.  Perhaps NASA’s upcoming Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) mission will be able to shed some light on this extremely fascinating possibility.

Dr. Tyson expressed how much he enjoyed addressing this "Town Hall Meeting" of nearly 200 space enthusiasts from various groups and organizations and subsequently received a well deserved rousing round of applause from the captivated audience.


To obtain a complete copy of the President’s official Moon, Mars & Beyond Commission Final Report entitled “A Journey to Inspire, Innovate & Discover”, please refer to the following NASA website:




To obtain a copy of the official NASA booklet explaining the various goals and objectives of the President’s “Vision for Space Exploration” and a description of upcoming NASA missions, please refer to the following NASA website:

                        http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/55583main_vision_space_exploration 2.pdf









April 2, 2005 – “America’s Future In Space”

                                                            Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson   commentary by Candace Pankanin

A very special event took place on Saturday, April 2, 2005 . A community of Space and Astronomy groups joined forces to promote space exploration. Groups and Individuals working together, hosted a lecture which was held in the Kaufman Theater at the American Museum of Natural History. The event was Free and Open to the general public


As usual Dr. Tyson was a dynamic speaker who makes the audience part of the reason that the lecture is such a big success. Although he had just flown in from Washington, DC, that morning, he was still full of energy. I believe he even brought a few of the jokes he used in DC to our Manhattan "Town Hall Meeting" as he put it.


Everyone was enjoying themselves so much that Dr. Tyson decided to call to see if he could make other arrangements for an appointment he had that afternoon. He announced, to a swell of cheers and applause, that it was a go and he would be able to stay and take some more questions. I was sitting in the front and I could almost feel the questions, like cosmic rays, trying to get by me to reach Neil deGrasse Tyson.    


After the Q&A ended it was time to say "Thank You" to all who attended the lecture for being such a wonderful group. Dr. Tyson was so kind as to assist me in the selection of two winners for the Allies In Space giveaway. One video PBS series of "Origins" and one Book titled "Origins." Both were from a major NOVA special on PBS which was narrated by Dr. Tyson.


Wait, we are not done yet. More questions and more conversation continued directly outside of the Kaufman theater where Dr. Tyson stayed on to autograph books, tapes, and other memorabilia.


A successful event. Thanks Again to Neil deGrasse Tyson and All who attended!


Oops and lets not forget the Sponsors in this event. The Allies In Space


For the next couple of days I received some great comments from people who had attended the lecture and they are still coming.  I included some of these comments , of course with their permission.  Others will follow on the ALLIES IN SPACE website soon….


It was a very inspirational and educational lecture.  It was a great surprise when Dr. Tyson rescheduled to stay longer to answer all questions asked from the audience.   I hope to be included in more events from the New York chapter of the National Space Society.

Thank you and it was an honor and a pleasure to meet Dr. Tyson.        

Todd Temkin      Member of the National Space Society 


"He is great, a combination of Brian Greene, Stephen J Gould and Sinbad..

Dr Tyson and I are from the Bronx, me 1927, WWII and Korea Vet and now NJ physician. 

I enjoyed the lecture immensely. I appreciate the material your staff put together for us.

Thanks again."                                                        Lawrence Dalglish MD


 More to come…Go to ALLIES IN SPACE   ~Candace~


  Read Commentary by VP of NSSNYC, Harold Egeln on SPACESHIP GAIA EXPLORER




                      October 19, 2004 -  “THIS JUST IN”


This was a real treat. Both Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson,  Director of the Hayden Planetarium and Louis Friedman, Executive Director of the

 Planetary Society, were at the helm for “This Just In  to give insider views of “the science behind the headlines.”  Included in  the evenings

 news discussion were mention of The Planetary  Society’s upcoming flight of the first  Solar Sail Spacecraft to grace the heavens,  robot Vs

 human exploration of the planets and SpaceShipOne’s triumph.  A big Thank You to both for a very entertaining, thought  provoking hour +…..

Candace Pankanin, NSSNYC President          



                      June 19, 2004 -  “Return To The Moon Project”

                                   By Manny Pimenta

                                                                                                           Click here to Read





                             By Eugene Cervone

                                                                                                                        Click here to Read




 March 13, 2004 – “America’s Future In Space”

   Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson



On March 13, 2004, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the distinguished Director of New York City's state-of-the-art Hayden Planetarium,

discussed his role as one of the Commissioners officially appointed to President Bush's special 9-member Presidential Commission on

the Implementation of America's Future Space Exploration Policy before a near record crowd during a New York City Chapter meeting of the

National Space Society at NYU.  This Presidential Commission is chaired by Edward "Pete" Aldridge of Virginia and its main purpose will be

to clarify the specific details and guidelines to best implement the various goals and objectives laid down by President Bush's space

initiative proposal over the next decade. The final report of the Commission will be officially submitted within 120 days of its first meeting,

no later than June 2004.


Dr. Tyson, who previously served on the Future of the U. S. Aerospace Industry Commission a couple of years ago, opened his very

interesting presentation by saying the Commission had a maximum lifetime of 180 days and would officially terminate within 60 days after

submitting its final report during a 120 day period.  He went on to say NASA would provide all the necessary funding and support for the

operation of the Commission, which will be responsible for making various recommendations to implement the bold vision outlined in

President Bush's official Space Exploration Policy.


The main highlights of President Bush's space imitative proposal include phasing out the aging space shuttle orbiter fleet by 2010 after the

International Space Station is completed and returning humans to the lunar surface by 2020.  The development of a state-of-the-art Crew

Exploration Vehicle and an eventual manned mission to Mars are also proposed.  In addition to regular increases in  NASA's annual budget,

the lion's share of funding for these new space initiative projects would mainly come from the eventual phasing out of the space shuttle

orbiter fleet and space station program over the next  5-10 years beginning with NASA's budget for fiscal year 2005


Tyson stressed the Commission's main objective will be to form a consensus and recommend how to best carry out and implement

President Bush's space initiative vision for the next couple of decades.  He also emphasized the absolute need for non-partisan politics

when planning any long-term space exploration projects. The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo moon landings are a perfect example spanning

from President Eisenhower in 1958 to President Nixon in 1972.  Dr. Tyson pointed out the annual Defense Department's budget ($400 billion)

is about 25 times the size of NASA's annual budget and suggested perhaps NASA could work together with the Defense Department on

certain projects. He mentioned the need for future commercial involvement and private investment in building space colonies and stressed

the importance of establishing a solid infrastructure for long-term economic growth and including widespread international cooperation.


Dr. Tyson concluded his excellent presentation by passionately discussing NASA's recent decision not to provide a final routine servicing

mission to the Hubble Space Telescope because of certain safety considerations on the space shuttle orbiters.  He expressed his sincere

concern regarding the severe negative effects of public opinion against NASA.  Dr. Tyson then answered a variety of questions from

the audience.


Eugene Cervone                                                                                                                                               



                                                            To read other articles on "America's Future in Space" click here…….




                             February 21, 2004 -  The Power of Inclusion...

        Presented by Paul Contursi and Tom Olson

At the February 21, 2004 NSS/NYC chapter meeting, Mars Society of New York President Paul Contursi and its Chairman, Tom Olson, presented a comprehensive outline of the newly formed innovative Colony Fund to help provide future long-term financial support for viable alternatives to NASA’s funded space projects.  Mr. Contursi stressed how much the infrastructure of NASA had changed over the years and the urgent need to immediately reorganize its priorities and goals to achieve a more efficient streamlined agency dedicated primarily to the exploration of space.

It was mentioned several times by Mr. Contursi and Mr. Olson during their presentation the Colony Fund hasn’t completed its official filing process with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is therefore not currently authorized to sell any securities by the Commission. Mr. Olson emphasized the Colony Fund wasn’t designed for the short-term investor looking for a quick profit, but for a serious long-term commitment dedicated to America’s space exploration program. The need for major capital investments by numerous diverse corporations and private individuals from all areas of the economy in the commercialization of space will be absolutely essential to the establishment of affordable settlements and permanent colonies on the moon and Mars.

The future economic development of space exploration must be made widely available at an affordable cost to the other major sectors of the economy outside the big aerospace contractors and Department of Defense. A state-of-the-art, cost-effective reusable space vehicle will go a long way toward that goal. Mr. Contursi explained how considerably more cost-effective transport vehicles are currently available in other areas of the economy, like ocean submersibles.

Mr. Contursi and Mr. Olson concluded their presentation by saying once they started accepting initial public offerings from investors over the years for the Colony Fund, perhaps it will start attracting some institutional interest and gain a broad grass roots support to eventually help establish space colonies and tourism. As evidence of potential large scale small investor interest in space exploration, Mr. Contursi pointed to the 800 million hits the NASA/JPL websites received over a 2-month period in 1997 when the Pathfinder Rovers landed on Mars and the whopping 6 billion hits received so far during the current Mars Exploration Rover missions and claimed these figures unmistakably demonstrated the public’s enormous (yet largely unfocused) level of interest in a space exploration program where no human has been beyond low Earth orbit since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

Mr. Contursi and Mr. Olson then answered a variety of questions from the audience.

Ad Astra Always,

Gene and Fran Cervone





 February 2, 2004   The NY Chapter of the NSS is In The News

          C. Pankanin &  H. Egeln Interviewed on Live TV


On February 2, 2004, Ms. Candace Pankanin and Mr. Harold Egeln, President and Vice President, respectively, of the National Space Society’s New York City chapter appeared on the monthly Astronomy Forum educational cable TV series on Staten Island.


The first few minutes of the Show were spent describing various astronomical events of the month, especially the spectacular views of Saturn and its rings, Jupiter and Venus, all being in close proximity to the moon.  Candace mentioned she had seen Orion’s belt the night before and described it as “just beautiful”.  The Show’s hosts, Ms. Pat Brady and Dr. Karl Hricko presented a brief overview on the colonization of the moon and Mars within the next couple of decades.  They also spoke about the eventual exploration and possible colonization of planets (“exoplanets”) from beyond our solar system.


Dr. Hricko officially opened the discussion by asking Candace and Harold what were the main objectives and goals of the National Space Society.  Candace responded by saying the NSS was a “grass roots” organization originally founded by German rocket scientist Wehrner Von Braun in 1974.  Harold added the NSS was dedicated to promoting various spacefaring civilization colonies for the future advancement of human technology and was headquartered in Washington, DC with over 100 active chapters throughout the world.  Harold Egeln is a freelance newspaper reporter for the Brooklyn Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator and has written several feature articles about the National Space Society and our Nation’s space exploration program.


There were several members and officers of the NSS/NYC chapter present in the studio audience including myself, my wife Fran Cervone, John Pazmino, Norman Wille and our treasurer Terry Gulino. Candace announced that the next NSS/NYC Chapter meeting would be held at NYU on Saturday, February 21st and feature guest speaker Paul Contursi and Tom Olson, President and Chairman, respectively, of the Mars Society of New York.  She also mentioned our New York City chapter’s plans to possibly obtain a table to represent the NSS at Grand Central Station for Earth Day which falls on April 22nd. However, the actual event will take place the following weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 24th & 25th. Candace stressed that, as its inhabitants, the safety of our home planet should be our top priority and then emphasized that this could best be accomplished through the benefits of Space Exploration..


Harold emphasized the extreme need for our manned space exploration program to finally break out of low Earth orbit where it’s been stagnant since the final Apollo 17 moon mission in December 1972.  He noted some promising breakthroughs in current rocket propulsion technologies, especially various ion propulsion systems.  These are the efficient type of innovative, state-of-the-art rocket propulsion systems needed for future human spaceflight to the planets.


During the Show, my wife Frances and I, who were in the studio audience along with John Pazmino and Norman Wille, asked Candace and Harold several questions.  In response to my question regarding where they felt the limited amount of money available in NASA’s current budget could best be spent, Harold answered the first priority would be to develop a new efficient rocket propulsion system given the fact there’s $86 billion available under the Bush plan to send human to the moon and Mars over the next 5 years.


In response to Frances’ question concerning the long range objectives and purposes of President Bush’s space initiative, Candace said she feels Bush is bringing us together in our purpose to explore space by outlining some of the initial priorities like sending robotic missions to Mars first to thoroughly scout the terrain in preparation for future human missions to the Red Planet.  Candace summed up by saying humans and robots should work together hand and hand to comprehensively explore the moon and Mars.


In response to Norman’s question regarding international competition from the European and Chinese Space Agencies and its affect on NASA, Harold responded by saying the European Space Agency has only a modest $25 million study to explore putting humans on Mars and that China had already recently launched its first astronaut into Earth orbit and they plan others soon with the objective to go to the moon within the next decade.  Candace said we must include China, Europe and Russia in future manned space missions and learn to work together as a team in order to achieve success.


In response to Paz’s question concerning the controversial decision by NASA to suddenly cancel the last regularly scheduled space shuttle service repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, Candace explained NASA’s major concern was for the safety of the shuttle astronauts in order to avoid a possible repeat of the Columbia’s disastrous accident last year.  All future space shuttle flights would be limited only to the continued construction of the International Space Station where any damage to the underside of the space shuttle could be easily detected and repaired.  Candace and Harold also answered several call-in questions from TV viewers during the Show.


Because of the mineral composition of the lunar soil and given the fact the moon’s gravity is 6 times weaker than that of the Earth, Candace mentioned the possibility and feasibility of manufacturing certain types of high power rocket fuel on the moon, especially Helium 3.  Karl emphasized the importance of profit motivation as a probable essential factor in the long-range process of space colonization and mining the moon and various asteroids for mineral resources.  He spoke about the 2 rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) currently exploring the Martian surface and the prospects of finding liquid water somewhere beneath the surface and in the polar caps suggesting the possibility of life.  Karl then asked both Candace and Harold how they felt the startling news of the discovery of life, perhaps even intelligent life, somewhere in the past history of Mars might affect people on Earth.  Candace said she believed people here on Earth would be very happy to know life once existed on Mars and would probably feel more connected to the Cosmos.  Harold felt such amazing historical news would most likely have a tremendous affect on humans and would probably greatly speed up our plans to land people on the Red Planet.


Pat Brady concluded the Show by asking Candace and Harold if they would be willing to travel to the moon or Mars at a moment’s notice, if they were asked.  Harold responded by saying he would go in an instant and that he always dreamed of space travel as a child, inspired by the Collier rocketry articles written by Wehrner Von Braun in the early 1950’s.  Candace said she would want to go to the moon first without hesitation.


Well, there it is!  Hope you enjoyed reading my article.


Ad Astra Always

Gene and Fran Cervone


         Pictures of this Event, taken by NSS-NYC member John Pazmino and treasurer Terry Gulino, Coming soon…



                           January 10, 2004   A Revolutionary New Approach..                                                                                                                 

                                       Dr. Edward Belbruno



On January 10th about 25 people braved the extreme bone-chilling cold weather to hear our very own recently named NSS New York City chapter Honorary Executive Vice President Dr. Edward Belbruno of Princeton University talk about his recent month long trip to China and briefly describe his soon to be released innovative book about various unique fuel-efficient chaotic orbital dynamics and techniques.


Dr. Belbruno began his discussion at NYU by vividly describing China's unique culture and the modern design of its impressive cities and their numerous skyscrapers and went on to explain how very inexpensive everything was (complete dinner for 8 people: only $12.00)!  He was particularly struck by Shanghai's vibrancy and the significant changes that had occurred in China's cities over the last few years.


Dr. Belbruno lived at the University for 4 weeks and gave various lectures there.  He was even offered a permanent teaching position and described China's current economy as growing at a considerably faster rate than the U. S. economy and rapidly catching up.  He cited China's vast inexpensive, highly efficient work force as a major factor and said the orbiting of China's first astronaut had created a tremendous tidal wave of space enthusiasm throughout the country.  Dr. Belbruno seemed to hit the nail right on the head when he described NASA's current state as being similar to that of a former Olympic athlete eating potato chips and drinking beer (probably sitting in an easy chair) while watching reruns of past glories as other countries eventually catch up to and pass the U. S. in space technology.


He spoke about the various politics involved with working at the prestigious Jet Propulsion Lab (J.P.L.) from 1985 - 1990 and the eventual discovery of his innovative energy saving Weak Stability Boundary Transfer ("Chaotic") Orbits which dramatically saved the Japanese lunar spacecraft Muses-A (later renamed Hiten) in 1991 after it was dangerously low on fuel.  Other spacecraft, like the European Space Agency's Smart-1 have also recently employed Dr. Belbruno's unique orbital trajectories.


Dr. Belbruno's briefly discussed his soon to be released book on the dynamics of weak stability capture orbital mechanics and its various application possibilities for future space exploration missions to the moon, Jupiter and its major moons and the rest of the outer planets.  A major exception is Mars because its orbital velocity is too fast for Dr. Belbruno's orbital mechanics to effectively work.


The current Spirit and Beagle missions to Mars were briefly discussed as was President Bush's upcoming "space initiative" plan speech regarding NASA's future objectives.


During the question and answer session that followed I asked Dr. Belbruno if his innovative unique orbital design technique would be useful for transporting various cargo and supplies to the moon in order to eventually construct a permanent lunar base.  He responded by saying a total savings of up to 50% on fuel costs could be obtained by using his longer period Weak Stability Boundary Transfer ("Chaotic") Orbits to transport the same amount of cargo and supplies as compared with conventional Hohmann transfer orbits.


The meeting concluded with chapter President Candace Pankanin confirming Dr. Belbruno to return to our group in the next couple of months or so after the release of his book in mid-February for an in person book signing.


Well there it is, hope you enjoyed reading my article about Dr. Ed Belbruno's talk at our chapter meeting 


Ad Astra Always

Eugene Cervone





                    October 25, 2003   Shuttle-Derived Vehicles

                                    Guest Speaker Greg Zsidisin           

Our October 25, 2003 chapter meeting held at NYU featured Greg Zsidisin of AstroExpo.com discussing the various concepts of Shuttle-Derived Vehicles as an eventual reusable Space Transportation System replacement for our current fleet of 3 shuttle orbiters.

Mr. Zsidisin, a mechanical engineer and space reporter who was President of the NSS New York City chapter in the late 90’s, reasoned perhaps our initial effort to develop a cost-effective replacement space transportation vehicle should be based on evolving our current shuttle orbiters into various reusable shuttle-derived replacement vehicles over the next couple of decades until a new cost-effective state-of-the-art rocket technology is available. The numerous changing factors in space transportation philosophy since the early 1980’s, including the space station and concept of an orbital space plane and the new challenges and objectives they present, were discussed.

Mr. Zsidisin began his illustrated presentation by describing the basic components of our current space shuttles (orbiter, 2 solid rocket boosters, external fuel tank and 3 main liquid fuel shuttle engines) and their various functions. He went on to explain different ways by which the shuttle’s major components could be modified and/or replaced to create Shuttle-C, Shuttle-Z and a new type of shuttle-derived concept, Shuttle-B, which would use a newly developed expendable engine designed by Boeing (RS-68 now used on Delta IV rocket), or Northrop Grumman (TR-106).

Mr. Zsidisin pointed out these new shuttle-derived vehicles could be used on a variety of piloted or unpiloted missions in combination with other spacecraft and emphasized the various advantages and disadvantages of solid rocket and liquid rocket boosters. He stressed that although the reusable solid boosters are cost-effective and provide the main liftoff thrust for the shuttle while acting as support "pillars" on the launch pad, they cannot be throttled or controlled like the more costly expendable liquid boosters. These innovative shuttle-derived vehicles could be used to transport cargo to low Earth orbit and beyond as well as on large planetary missions. The concept and major features of the direct ascent Ares Launcher for a "Mars Direct" mission were also discussed along with the possibility of a "Wingless" orbiter, designed by the General Dynamics External Tanks Corp., containing a large-volume lab station and orbiter crew cabin and the "Flyback" booster concept featuring an unpiloted powered landing using jet engines. The Space Island Group was mentioned as an organization that advocates adapting Space Transportation Systems and Buran shuttle concepts for private ventures.

Mr. Zsidsin concluded his very interesting and informative presentation by showing 2 animated video simulations of how some proposed Shuttle-Derived Vehicles might be used on future missions and then answered a variety of questions from his captive audience.

I asked Mr. Zsidisin why the initially promising X-33 Venture Star program was suddenly canceled after spending nearly a billion dollars when a problem occurred with the special composite materials used on the liquid hydrogen fuel tank. He replied by saying the expectations were very high for the development of the X-33 and there was excessive financial pressure on Lockheed Martin to complete the project with an absolute minimum of initial technology failures at a low government cost. Mr. Zsidisin went on to say he was even more frustrated by the cancellation of the X-34 project for various political reasons and nothing else. 

Eugene Cervone


I thought that Greg Zsidisin's talk about Shuttle Derived
Launch Vehicles was excellent. No matter what goals we may seek in
space, heavy lift is one capability that would often come in handy.”

Comment by Paul Contursi ( President of the Mars Society of New York)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    New York Space Society