On the final day of the 24th Annual International Space Development Conference of the National Space Society, held at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, Moon Society President, Peter Kokh, and Chairman of the Moon Society Board of Directors, Randall Severy, signed a simple document by which the two organizations recognized a new status of close collaboration. The Moon Society will remain independently incorporated, and be listed, not as an “at large special interest group” or as an “at large chapter” but simply as an “affiliate” organization. Signing for the National Space Society was Gary Barnhard, chair of the NSS Executive Committee.
Text of the Signed Document:
“On this 22nd day of May, 2005, gathered together at the 24th Annual International Space Development Conference in Arlington, Virginia, The National Space Society and The Moon Society hereby enter into a new relationship, wherein the Moon Society will continue the pursuit of its goals as an autonomous affiliate organization of The National Space Society. The Moon Society will offer NSS chapters, and NSS members at large, the opportunity to participate in its various programs and projects, and agrees to collaborate with the National Space Society in all* areas of mutual interest.
“[all*] MOU: While aggressively pursuing public outreach and education, the Moon Society has historically, and deliberately avoided political activism. That said, the Moon Society is willing to work with NSS in drafting new legislation proposals, and will encourage those of its members so inclined to participate in NSS organized political initiatives.”
Key Points of our Proposal to the National Space Society
Moon Society – NSS Talks and a firm decision by the Moon Society
The Moon Society had, over the past year and a half, given due and careful consideration to the proposal that we seek an institutional association with the National Space Society. It had become our firm belief that this association is in the interests of both societies. Collaboration will make all our efforts more productive as well as sending the right message to the Space supporting community at large, and to Congress.
Preliminary talks with NSS leading up to ISDC 2004 and since, were quietly suspended on the Moon Society’s part because of the uncertainties arising from the governance issues under consideration within NSS. By the beginning of the new year, the dust had now settled, and the Society Leadership Council became confident that NSS has a bright future, one to which we firmly wish to contribute.
It is the firm desire of the Moon Society to remain an independently incorporated organization that runs its internal affairs with full autonomy and, as a 501 c3, does not have to file a financial report with NSS. Currently, the Space Nursing Society and a number of NSS Chapters fit that mold.
The “Pigeonhole” Designation is the Key
An important issue to the Moon Society has been the particular pigeonhole under which we will be filed. To call us a chapter, even an at large and/or special interest chapter seems awkward because we have chapters of our own just as does NSS Australia, which while associated with NSS, remains fully independent.
Our request for a unique classification, “affiliate” seemed appropriate, and would also fit Space Nursing Society and NSS-Australia. This request has been approved by both the NSS Chapters Assembly and by the NSS leadership.
The Moon Society and a possible NSS “Moon Section”
The Moon Society would not oppose the creation of a separate Moon Section within NSS; indeed, we would welcome it. This would be a special interest group of NSS members who wanted to pursue Moon-related projects without joining the Moon Society. This is not only legitimate but potentially very productive. Small Group Dynamics virtually guarantees that in each group only a small number of people will form the active core. If there are two groups with like focus, that doubles the number of active people involved. Two heads are better than one, as the old saying goes. An NSS Moon Section would give birth to additional Moon-focused projects in which members of both groups could participate and collaborate. More gets done. NSS in the past has offered little in the way of projects as menu options for individual member activity. An affiliated Moon Society, alongside a new NSS Moon Section, would start addressing that need. Whether such a development occurs remains to be seen.
We would also invite the formation of an NSS Mars Section, as the Moon Society is now actively collaborating with the Mars Society on several fronts.
Exchanging “first time, first year” membership breaks.
If Moon Society members who have not previously belonged to NSS, receive the current break in joining NSS, a $20 rate (vs. the posted $45,) The Moon Society would offer a first year first time membership rate of $20 (vs. the posted $35). This has not yet been formally agreed to, but we have every reason to expect that it will be so.
Policy Statements and Position Papers
We would like to be invited to have input (not necessarily a vote) on a regular basis in the formulation of new NSS position papers where the subject matter is of direct interst to us. We will then cosign any new position papers whose final version we can live with. The effect of this is to get across to the public, and Congress, that we have our act together. This was not part of the short Memorandum of Understanding signed today, but NSS Leaders appear to be open to this.
The Moon Society, Ad Astra, and Moon Miners’ Manifesto
We would like to have ads in Ad Astra for Moon Miners’ Manifesto and for our various projects that might be of interest to NSS members who would be welcome to participate whether they join the Moon Society or not. We may from time to time submit articles of interest to Ad Astra for the editor’s consideration. The idea is to allow us to reach the large numbers of NSS members who are enthused about the Moon.
Another option to realize this goal is being examined by NSS leaders as we speak: finding a way to get Moon Miners’ Manifesto, including the Moon Society Journal centerfold section, in the hands of all NSS members. There are a lot of technical and practical issues to be considered before such an exciting development can become a reality. All that can be said now, is that both sides will be looking at these options over the coming months..
moonsociety.org and nss.org
We have proposed that both websites trade graphic links. The details are to be worked out. As you see on our front page, we have taken the first step.
Moon Society Chapters in the context of our affiliation with NSS
Our chartered chapters, should they so choose (and if they include 3 NSS members), should be listed on their own in the NSS Chapter list. This would be a plus for NSS which would stand to gain a vigorous chapter in St. Louis, where it now has no organized presence. Others may follow.
NSS Chapters and the Moon Society
Currently three NSS Chapters are listed on the Moon Society website as collaborating or partnering NSS chapters: Oregon L5 (because of its strong lavatube interest) and the Lunar Reclamation Society (because it publishes Moon Miners’ Manifesto which has served Artemis Society International, and its successor in membership services, The Moon Society, since 1995) have enjoyed a decade of informal collaboration with the Moon Society. The relationship has no formalities, no requirements, and each NSS chapter is free to define it in whatever pragmatic way they wish. It is about working together on projects, not legalities. Recently, Minnesota Space Frontier Society requested to come aboard in this informal association. We would welcome any other NSS chapters with a strong interest in the Moon to actively collaborate in our projects and various endeavors, again with no legal or formal constraints. See www.moonsociety.org/chapters/ for the list.
Our Collaborative Public Posture
In today’s climate, it is essential for space organizations to close ranks. While keeping the special focus around which each may be organized, it is in everyone’s interest to seek to collaborate on projects and publicity (including press releases and position papers) whenever their separate interests converge. A big plus and incentive for collaboration is that the public and congress are sure to take notice that “those feuding space societies finally seem to have gotten their act together. Maybe it’s worth listening to what they agree on.”
This is the 21st Century and the time for “turf-protectionism” is past. Our needs are better served by active and creative collaboration. At the same time, we strongly affirm the need and right to form a plurality of space interest societies. Getting humanity into space has many fronts and vectors and no one society can effectively and appropriately focus due attention on all of them. Additionally, a plurality of societies gives opportunity to more people to contribute in leadership positions. Our diversity is healthy, but it is productive only to the extent that we cross-fertilize one another’s efforts in an ever expanding list of collaborations. The Moon Society looks forward to a productive future as an independent affiliate of the National Space Society.
Photo of Moon Society / MMM Exhibit at ISDC 2005, taken by Ben Huset, Minnesota Space Frontier Society (newly aboard as a Moon Society partner NSS chapter)