News & Events to Inspire STEAM Education

Space Solar Power Track: Gary Barnhard Robotic Space Systems Engineer | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Space Solar Power Track: Gary Barnhard Robotic Space Systems Engineer  | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Apr 10, 2014

Gary Barnhard is a robotic space systems engineer whose professional work includes a wide range of robotic, space, and computer systems engineering projects. Gary has received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1982 combining Aerospace Engineering, Materials Science, with graduate work in science policy, solar physics, and artificial intelligence. He was awarded a grant to participate in NASA’s Graduate Student Researchers Program under the auspices of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and the UMCP Aerospace Engineering Department. Some of his work included supporting the development of the Space Station User Information System Requirements. Over the last 34 years he has been extensively involved in the space advocacy community. QGITS had the opportunity to chat with Gary Barnhard who will be speaking on the panel at this year’s ISDC National Space Society Conference coming up May 14-18 on the Space Solar Power track.

Gary Barnhard

QGITS: You have an extensive background in space related educational programs and working with different organizations in the space field, how did you get started in the space advocacy community?
Gary Barnhard: For me I had an interesting habit of hanging out in the Nasa headquarters library back in junior high school and early high school and one day the librarian there who I was good friends with came up to me and said you know Gary there is something you need to read and she handed me a copy of the publication “Physics Today” and it had an article by this interesting Physicist in it from Princeton named Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill dealing with the issue of “Was the surface of the planet really the best home for an expanding technological civilization?” (Physics Today, September 1974). I had wanted to be an Astronaut since I became aware watching the Gemini launches go up in space. Unfortunately, despite memorizing the eye chart, it was clear I could never pass a real vision test. What Dr. O’Neill offered was the vision of a positive future that I could help with, helping to provide for space development and build large space structures and space stations. That’s how I went on to.. what turned out to be a career in robotics space systems engineering.

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Photo credit by NASA of Solar Maximum Mission (SMM).

QGITS: Can you tell us about the projects you have worked on?
Gary Barnhard: I started off as part of the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) which was a satellite doing solar observations in the early 80’s. I provided real time images of the sun in hydrogen alpha to the control room as part of the cooperative research in physics & astronomy agreement between University of Maryland and NASA Goddard. I went on from there as a NASA grantee in NASA graduate researchers program where I was working on the applications of knowledge based systems to the domain of spacecraft systems engineering. I had the opportunity to be a part of the Space Station Program Mission Requirements Working Group in the original efforts to breathe life into the space station program and from there I ended up on the contractors side of the fence working with Goddard Space Station Office.

QGITS: What will you be addressing on the panel for the Space Solar Power Track (SSP)?
Gary Barnhard: There will be five sessions: 1 – Overview Perspectives; 2 – SSP Concepts, research and technology development; 3 – Supporting Infrastructure; 4 – Fostering international cooperation – focusing the government/industry/NGO mix; and, 5 – SSP Industry Day. One of the more unique sessions will be on “space solar power industry day” which is intended to draw out where help is needed ..once a upon a time NASA used to have these events called “industry days” where technical people working a program would explain where the problems are and where we need help. The idea being to view the contractor community as resource to help solve the tough problem a program faces. Today space solar power is tough systems engineering problem but is one of the few options that we can potentially bring to the table that can scale to not only make a dramatic contribution to the energy to the United States but to the world.

QGITS:  Lastly, why should someone attend the ISDC conference?
Gary Barnhard: We need to be about the question of not just thinking about the future we like to see come to pass but what are we doing to make it real? The National Space Society is effectively the big tent space advocacy organization with the goal trying to provide a path to engagement in space for anyone that has an interest. Regardless of whether it is just a vicarious interest, those who wish to be advocates for helping make things happen, and/or those who actually who want to be involved in building things and making it happen directly. The ISDC pulls together a diverse community of individuals across all disciplines and perspectives.

Stay tuned for more updates and news as the countdown continues for the upcoming National Space Society (NSS) International Space Development Conference (ISDC) happening soon in Los Angeles May 14-18 2014.

About the National Space Society: The NSS has over 50 chapters around the world with conferences held in major cities and venues throughout the United States that covers several broad areas of study related to building a spacefaring civilization, including transportation to and through space, technology needed to live and work in space and Earth based activities to advocate for or educate others about space development. The ISDC is unique in that it brings together members of the general public with space activists, scientists, engineers, educators, astronauts, aerospace industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and government officials for one purpose: to explore humanity’s future in space.

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Space Experience Track: John Spencer Space Architect & Designer | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Space Experience Track: John Spencer Space Architect & Designer | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Apr 4, 2014

John Spencer is a Space Architect & Designer, founder and president of the Space Tourism Society (STS), and author of the first book on space tourism published in the U.S. titled Space Tourism: Do You Want to Go? (2004) in which he pioneers the application of yachting and cruise ship industry models to space tourism. He has been quoted in more than 150 TV shows, documentaries, radio shows, and articles in magazines and newspapers on Space Tourism. He is considered a leading expert in creation and design of real space facilities and space ship interiors for NASA and private space enterprise, as well as space and future-themed simulation attractions, resorts, camps and media for the general public. He is the founder and chief designer of the Space Experience Design Studio (SED). QGITS had the chance to talk with John Spencer Entrepreneur, Visionary and Space Architect Pioneer who is on the Board of Directors for the National Space Society and he will also be speaking on the panel at this year’s ISDC 2014 National Space Society “Space Experience” track.

QGITS: What inspired you to become a Space Architect rather than designing shopping malls, for example?

John Spencer: I am actually designing a Mars Space themed shopping mall at the moment but that’s a different story. I was thirteen years old when the Apollo 11 first landed on the moon, I was very impressionable in those years and of course the tv show “Star Trek” was also a big a impression on me and the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” with all the cool design, so I always loved finding stuff in architecture, science and space. In the late 70’s when I was working on my Masters in Architecture, I combined those two into a brand new field – Space Architecture. How do you really design these habitable spaces for people? There was very few people, just two other guys at that time in the late 70’s pioneering space architecture, there are more people today but it has been really quite an adventure, it’s what I really call the exploring the design frontier, it’s very exciting for a career.

Destiny
Orbital Super Space Yacht “Destiny”: Current project John Spencer has been working on for the past decade.

QGITS: You have worked on innovative designs of real space facilities and space ship interiors such as the International Space Station, Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, SpaceHab Module and more, how does that feel to know that you have worked on these impactful projects?

John Spencer: It’s really very satisfying because everyone one of those was a big challenge and part of the challenges particularly in the early days was from the Aerospace industry “Why are you here?” in other words, why is there an Architect Designer even in the room because that was different from an engineering stand point and it was a struggle to show the validity and the value of design; there was a lot of challenges but it made it more satisfying to succeed and to know that deep in my heart that this was important stuff and over time it would become more important as more and more people go to these extreme and isolated environments whether it was for science or adventure tourism and the comforts and safety were very important to them.

John Spencer

QGITS: At the ISDC conference coming up, what are some of the things people will hear you talk about on the panel “Space Experience” track?

John Spencer: I like talking about what I call the “Big Picture”, and that is a wide definition of Space Experience; I have been involved in all of these different mediums. There are 3 key areas: (1) There’s real space, someone who actually goes to space (2) there’s Earth space..space experiences where you visit places like the Kennedy Space Center, Space Museum or one of our space experienced simulation projects and (3) there’s movies, TV, media, virtual worlds and games.  If you ever imagine a triangle, with 3 parts..so all three of those are different types of space experiences, now over a lifetime people become more affluent in life having ever increasingly realistic space experiences from reading a book to going to space museum to taking a zero gravity flight to suborbital flight to eventually a real space flight. That’s what I will be talking about is giving the big picture and then showing some of my visionary things, concept of the rover race around the entire moon and some other things but also showing a little bit of context of the history of envisioning space experiences from Jules Verne the great science fiction writer to Walt Disney and futuristic space stations and so forth and so what I want people to walk away with whatever field I am in I can have a career in the space field whether I am hair dresser, chef, architect, a designer we have to look at all of those areas to create space experiences and to a wider audience of space.

More Latest ISDC News & Updates: The Space & Media track will feature some of the top creative minds behind recent blockbuster movies that have brought audiences spectacular visions of space. Giving ISDC attendees a peek behind the curtain will be Tim Webber, VFX Supervisor and The Third Floor CEO Chris Edwards, with a look at previsualization and visual effects on “Gravity”; Ben Grossman, VFX Supervisor, with a look at “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” and Bjorn Mayer, VFX Supervisor and Steve Preeg, Animation Director, showing the making-of “Oblivion” — with more to come. Countdown to ISDC 2014 – May 14-18.

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Space & Media Track: Buzz Hays 3D expert for Sony Corporation Worldwide | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Space & Media Track: Buzz Hays 3D expert for Sony Corporation Worldwide | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Mar 31, 2014

Buzz Hays is one of the leading experts in Stereoscopic 3D film production and post-production in the motion picture and television industry. His producing experience led to his key role as the 3D expert for Sony Corporation worldwide, from film production to live-broadcast events to consumer and professional electronics design consulting. His expertise and guidance was integral to the rollout of Sony 3DTV in 2010, and his contributions in camera design for 3D has led to successful products in the marketplace both for professionals and consumers. He founded the award-winning Sony 3D Technology Center based at Sony Pictures in Culver City, CA. He is now the Owner and Studio Chief of the True Image Company, a 3D and advanced imaging production and consulting company. QGITS had the distinct pleasure to chat with Buzz Hays over the phone and ask him more about stereoscopic 3D technology and how he is looking forward to being a part of this year’s Space & Media track in Los Angeles at the ISDC conference 2014.

3D QGITS: What were your thoughts when you were asked to speak at the ISDC?
Buzz Hays: I was thrilled. I actually spoke at the SETIcon conference two years ago and that was a really great experience hanging out with astrophysicists and astronauts. I thought this would be a nice adjunct to that. In much of the work I do, I end up working with scientists. I think if I didn’t pursue this career path, I definitely would have become a scientist. In the work I do for stereoscopic 3D in films, I work with neurobiologists and neuroscientists, partially just to understand what is going on in the brain when we fuse 3D images in the visual cortex, and how we perceive those images on an emotional and physiological level. I also work with these scientists to learn how we can improve the process of stereoscopic image creation, in addition to furthering the use of the S3D medium into the medical, scientific and navigation fields.
Buzz Hays Photo Credit: FilmNewEurope.com; Buzz Hays at the International 3D Society’s 2012 Technology Awards.

QGITS: How exciting is it to be working with visual effect technologies and to be part of the film industry?
Buzz Hays: It is incredibly exciting! Filmmakers have a great opportunity to transport you into a new time and place, and bring audiences into compelling situations where they are completely immersed in the story. In visual effects, there has been a lot of refinement of the techniques over the years, but often it has gotten to the point where you almost don’t believe things you see anymore. It’s so fantastic, that it’s hard to get a grasp of it all sometimes because the storytelling is lost in the visuals. However, when it comes to great 3D films like Gravity, where the filmmakers take the use of visuals very seriously, they work very hard to integrate the visuals into the story, and therefore they successfully recreate the experience of what it would be like to be in space. I worked at Lucasfilm for many years in the post-Star Wars era, and I learned that even though writers made up the science in the storytelling, it still had to be plausible, even if the technology they devised in the script hadn’t been developed yet. It’s really fun to look forward and create these situations that may some day come true, but for now we are taking from people’s imagination so that audiences can experience new and exciting places in the universe.

QGITS: At the ISDC conference coming up in May, what can people take away from your talk?
Buzz Hays: I think people coming to the conference really appreciate the marriage between art and science, so I am hosting a panel about immersive technology from the perspective of both science and art. The panel will include top filmmaking professionals working in 3D who create these worlds artificially for entertainment, and also I’ll have a JPL engineer on the panel who designs systems to connect us directly to space. We will discuss how immersive technologies provide a virtual gateway to space.

Almost a month away stay tuned for more updates and news as the countdown continues for the upcoming National Space Society (NSS) International Space Development Conference (ISDC) happening soon in Los Angeles May 14-18 2014.

About the National Space Society: The NSS has over 50 chapters around the world with conferences held in major cities and venues throughout the United States that covers several broad areas of study related to building a spacefaring civilization, including transportation to and through space, technology needed to live and work in space and Earth based activities to advocate for or educate others about space development. The ISDC is unique in that it brings together members of the general public with space activists, scientists, engineers, educators, astronauts, aerospace industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and government officials for one purpose: to explore humanity’s future in space.

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Julie Miller Associate Producer of Space & Media Track | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Julie Miller Associate Producer of Space & Media Track | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Mar 26, 2014

Julie Miller is a talented strategic communications pro in entertainment & technology an Associate Producer of the Space & Media track for this year’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2014 happening May 14-18 in Los Angeles. Julie’s background: she was Director of Communications & Marketing at Academy Award-winning digital production studio Digital Domain. The company is known for creating visual effects for feature films, advertising and games. There she oversaw communications, publicity and marketing for the company’s work on movies like “Iron Man 3,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” the ‘hologram’ Tupac Shakur at Coachella and more. QGITS had the chance to meet and chat with Julie about the upcoming ISDC 2014. Here’s what she had to say:

QGITS: What do you think of having a Space & Media Track, at this year’s ISDC conference 2014?

Julie Miller: I think it’s great and so important, relevant and timely. The media, whether it’s through entertainment or advertising – that’s a way we all discover views of space. Games, films and TV shows, and of course, the news, all show us different visions of what space looks like. This a great conference track that shows where these visions of space come from and how the public perceptions get shaped. I think it’s really interesting.

California Science Center

Recent photo of Julie Miller (far right side) at the California Science Center with some team members of the ISDC conference 2014. Next to Julie in photo Derek Cederbaum, Associate Producer, Space & Media track/ISDC, William Harris VP of Marketing, California Science Center Foundation and David Knight Film Producer of “Journey of Endeavour’, Chair of ISDC and Producer, Space & Media track-

QGITS: How did you get involved in the space tech industry?
Julie Miller: It’s really interesting because my involvement is very new. I come from a background in digital production, marketing for technology and creative companies. Space travel, space battles and things like aliens are common themes in visual effects productions, for the obvious reasons. Filmmakers don’t get out into space much.. Digital Domain created some of the memorable space visuals for movies like “Apollo 13,” “Oblivion,” a couple of “Star Trek” movies, and “Ender’s Game.” It’s fascinating to learn the processes and research that visual effects companies undertake to achieve what you see on screen. I have made lots of contacts in the media industry and just recently got connected to  Conference Producer David Knight, actually through a journalist at the Hollywood Reporter who called me to help place some speakers. I’m totally sucked in now and really loving working on this event.

QGITS:  What are you excited about this year’s ISDC conference?
Julie Miller: I am just becoming aware of how big, important and prominent it is, and it’s exciting to be part of fostering the awareness and excitement about space.  With commercial space companies making their marks and the show “Cosmos” being such a big event, it feels like the space movement is reaching critical mass in the public domain and I am looking forward to being a part of that cross over bridge of the media and perceptions it makes. In addition to getting a behind-the-scenes look at some of the big movies and shows that create a picture of space, I’m most excited about getting exposure to topics I know very little about — like space-based solar power, the new business models of the space industry, and of course, maybe getting the chance to hear Buzz Aldrin or Elon Musk speak.

QGITS:  Anything else you would like to talk about?
Julie Miller:  I guess one more point worth mentioning is how the visual effects industry relates to STEM and STEAM. It’s a really exciting field to get into and it’s everything that STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering arts and math. That’s visual effects – all of those things combined. I have met amazing, brilliant, talented artists who solve crazy difficult problems by combining technology with art.

Stay tuned for more updates and news as the countdown continues for the upcoming National Space Society (NSS) International Space Development Conference (ISDC) happening soon in Los Angeles May 14-18 2014.

About the National Space Society: The NSS has over 50 chapters around the world with conferences held in major cities and venues throughout the United States that covers several broad areas of study related to building a spacefaring civilization, including transportation to and through space, technology needed to live and work in space and Earth based activities to advocate for or educate others about space development. The ISDC is unique in that it brings together members of the general public with space activists, scientists, engineers, educators, astronauts, aerospace industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and government officials for one purpose: to explore humanity’s future in space.

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Space & Media Track: David Knight Film Producer “Journey of Endeavour” | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Space & Media Track: David Knight Film Producer “Journey of Endeavour” | Countdown to ISDC 2014

Mar 20, 2014

We’re continuing our Countdown to the National Space Society (NSS) 33rd International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Los Angeles, taking place May 14-18. Keep checking here every week for exciting news and updates about the conference. For the first time, ISDC will include a track called Space & Media: the purpose of the track is to illuminate how media, in all of its forms, influences the public perception of space exploration, and in particular, manned spaceflight. The new track will include presenters drawn from film, television, news, social media, simulations, games and even music. Already signed up to present are Oscar-winning Visual Effects Artist Ben Grossman from the movie “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” Buzz Hays who until recently was Senior Vice President of 3D Production at Sony Pictures, and many others. Click here to view the track’s session schedule, which runs for the full four days of the conference.

David Knight photo space shuttle

The NSS asked STEM supporter and documentary filmmaker David Knight to chair Space & Media: David is an entrepreneur primarily involved in computing and space technology. Most recently he became a film producer, heading a multi-year effort to document the final phases of the Space Shuttle program, culminating with the journey of Endeavour to Los Angeles. David is now building a technology company involving microsatellites and UAVs, and continues to invest in high-tech and entertainment related startups. He is among the original members of the XPRIZE, which saw SpaceShipOne achieve the first private spaceflight, and plans to fly on Virgin Galactic. With a background in applied physics, David is committed to bringing science education to youth of all ages. He is a Trustee of the California Science Center Foundation and various other STEM-focused non-profits. According to him, “With ISDC taking place this year in the world center of media, it was logical to highlight the people and activities that shape people’s perception of what we’re doing, and what we could be doing, in space. The stunning popularity of films like Gravity, Star Trek and others, coupled with private spaceflight companies such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, and the new generation of immersive technologies that can ‘take us there’ right from our living rooms, are building an excitement that hasn’t been there since the Apollo program.” In fact, Knight points out, it was Walt Disney himself who worked with the Kennedy administration to build a series of promotional films that not only influenced the public via television airings, but were utilized in depicting the possibilities and advances that a moonshot program would bring, to Congress in order to obtain funding. “Often with each new technological wave comes a range of opportunities which we are all going to benefit from,” Knight said. “Ranging from personal spaceflights to individualized medications to ultra-rapid transcontinental travel, we’re only at the beginning of where this next wave will take us.”

Take a look and watch this incredible ‘mini-film’ documentary produced by David Knight chronicling Endeavour’s final journey three-day voyage to the California Science Center Museum with a cheering crowd of over 1.5 million who lined the route.

Stay tuned for more updates and news as the countdown continues for the upcoming National Space Society (NSS) International Space Development Conference (ISDC) happening soon in Los Angeles May 14-18 2014.

About the National Space Society: The NSS has over 50 chapters around the world with conferences held in major cities and venues throughout the United States that covers several broad areas of study related to building a spacefaring civilization, including transportation to and through space, technology needed to live and work in space and Earth based activities to advocate for or educate others about space development. The ISDC is unique in that it brings together members of the general public with space activists, scientists, engineers, educators, astronauts, aerospace industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and government officials for one purpose: to explore humanity’s future in space.

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