June 2015 Horizons


In this issue:

  1. Former Chair’s Remarks
  2. New Chair’s Remarks
  3. Election Results
  4. Climate Change and Local Responses
  5. Daily Launch Highlights
  6. Dinner Meeting Reports


Former Chair’s Remarks

Welcome to the first of what we expect to be many new Horizons newsletters. The former newsletter editor, Mr. Douglas Yazell, did such an amazing job, winning awards along the way, that his shoes were very hard to fill. As such, we are still looking for an Editor who would like to continue this tradition.

As for me, my time as your Chair reached its end in June. We had 10 amazing dinner events this year with speakers like Alan Bean, Glynn Lunney, Randii Wessen, Franklin Chang-Diaz, and 7 others. In April, we had AIAA Executive Director Dr. Sandy Magnus speak to us about the State of AIAA. Alan Sisson, your new Chair, organized and ran a wonderful Region IV AIAA Student Paper Conference held at the University of Houston. Our Annual Technical Symposium was on June 5th and was put together by Ms. Justine Wiles. We also had numerous Lunch and Learns put on by our Technical Committees. On top of amazing dinners with speakers, we helped out with the UH Mars Rover Celebration, the International Space Settlement Design Competition, and Yuri’s Night 5k Fun Run. We gave $10,000 in a charity donation to the Expedition Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and a $1,000 scholarship to Ms. Allyson Cook, a Sophomore at Texas A&M University.

We also revived the University of Houston student section with the help of Dr. Edgar Bering, had a membership recruitment event at Wings Over Houston, and did membership recruitment at Boeing’s Engineers Week event. Lastly, we did all of this after raising over $9,000 from corporate sponsors and finished under budget!

This section is a vibrant and exciting organization to be a part of, and it was the officers’ hard work and your participation in those events that made it all possible. Thank you. AIAA Houston is better with your participation!

New Chair’s Remarks

Good day to the members of the Houston Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,

I am thrilled to serve you all as Chair of this section during the 2015-16 year. This is going to be an amazing year for AIAA-Houston. We have an excellent group of officers on the Executive Council. They are very dedicated to this organization and its members, and they have some truly spectacular ideas. For a long time, AIAA-Houston has been known for promoting the arts, sciences, and technologies of aerospace engineering through networking events, educational outreach, and political action. This year we hope to set a new high standard for ourselves. Of course, none of it would be possible without the support of our awesome members, so I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your continued loyalty to this fine organization and everything we stand for. This is going to be an incredible year for AIAA-Houston, and we are very excited about sharing it with you.

Warmest Regards,

Alan Sisson

Election Results

—Mr. Alan Sisson – Chair 2015

—Ms. Jennifer Wells – Chair-Elect, Chair 2016

—Mr. Fred Ouellette – Treasurer

—Ms. Lea Hougland – Secretary

—Ms. Justine Wiles – Vice-Chair, Technical

—Ms. Ashley Nelson – Vice-Chair, Operations

—Ms. Laura Sarmiento – Councilor 1

—Mr. Douglas Yazell – Councilor 2

—Mr. William “Bill” West – Councilor 3

—Mr. Zach Tejral – Councilor 4

Mr. Ryan Miller – Councilor 5

Thank you to Michael Frostad and the rest of the Election Committee for overseeing this election!

Climate Change and Local Responses

[Climate Change Science & Public Policy]
Article #10 in this Series
By Douglas Yazell

This installment will be short. Horizons is reformatting and changing its Editor, so our routines are changing.

This time I will write about two subjects, a new climate change statement and a new online climate change course, Denial 101x.

The faculty of the department of Atmospheric Sciences of Texas A&M University (TAMU) updated and reaffirmed their climate change statement, now dated November 14, 2014. It is in effect until January 1, 2020, or until revised. I suggest that this article embed this link here (in the word “here”) and provide it here in its full readable form:


To paraphrase here and below, it starts by saying the faculty is expert and has a responsibility to offer advice to Texas citizens, including whether (no pun intended) and why the climate is changing. They all agree with the following three conclusions:

(1) Warming of the global climate system is unequivocal, where I use some of the United Nations vocabulary from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They mention an increase of 1.5 degrees, but they omitted the F for Fahrenheit. They use the F in item 3 below. A native Texan friend of mine who once worked as an engineer in our NASA Johnson Space Center community tells me that we create hostility when we report on climate (but not plate tectonics, I suppose) using Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, but the science reports primarily use C instead of F, and if it is like most units of measurement, almost all of the world uses C instead of F. I prefer formatting such as 1C (1.8F), while reminding readers and myself that converting an increase or decrease from C to F is done by multiplying by 1.8 (9/5), and converting C to F is done by multiplying by 1.8, then adding 32.

(2) To use the IPCC vocabulary, human influence on the global climate system is clear.

(3) If we follow a path often called Business as Usual, additional global-average warming by the year 2100 would be 2.5 to 7 degrees F.

The Statement on Climate Change then presents this concluding sentence, “Continued rising temperatures risk serious challenges for human society and ecosystems. It is difficult to quantify such risks, except to say that the potential magnitude of impacts rises rapidly as temperatures approach the high end of the range quoted above.”

The Statement on Climate Change then presents three Additional Resources, including the two-page position statement of the American Geophysical Union with its title, “Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action.” Those three links are spelled out completely, so we do that here, too:

(1) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch. I recommend those reports without reservation, but they are the lowest common denominator in the sense that more than 100 countries must agree to each word in some or all reports, such as the Summary for Policymakers, and the IPCC works hard to avoid raising false alarms about the threat of climate change. For example, “The balance of evidence suggests an appreciable human influence on the global climate system.” The 2010 book Merchants of Doubt explains, as I recall, that in 1995, that was changed to “a discernable influence,” a change that required a day or two of work. Even with that change, this news was a bombshell. It was the first confirmation of human fingerprints on global climate in the IPCC reports. In 2007, about 500 IPCC volunteer scientists (TAMU professor Bruce McCarl said with humility that he won 1/500th of this award) won the Nobel Peace Prize (with 50% of that prize going to Al Gore). Ben Santer was the lead author for that chapter of that IPCC report. In the online course I discuss below, Ben Santer says that Stephen Schneider told him in 1995, “This Changes Everything!” Santer did not realize the importance of that sentence about the fingerprints of human influence, but that 2010 book reports on that importance in detail, saying that of all the attacks on climate scientists, the most brutal and unfair were those against Ben Santer. He tried to hold his marriage together. It ended in a divorce. I recommend that 2010 book without reservation, and I recommend Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

(2) The American Geophysical Union statement on climate change: http://sciencepolicy.agu.org/files/2013/07/AGU-Climate-Change-Position-Statement_August-2013.pdf

(3) The American Meteorological Society statement on climate change: http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2012climatechange.html

In other news, a new online course, How to Deal with Climate Science Denial, is outstanding. This is a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) from the University of Queensland (Australia). Denial 101x. I recommend it without reservation. Its duration is 7 weeks, and they reached week 4 or so already. They estimate two hours of work per week. I notice that if we enjoy the bonus videos, we need more than two hours. John Cook of the Skeptical Science blog is our main host, but quite a few people worked to create this course. Its format is easy to use and very modern. The course uses original video interviews with guests including Naomi Oreskes, Ben Santer, Michael Mann, Lonnie Thompson, and many more outstanding people. Thanks to Lindsay Abrams of Salon (Salon.com) for calling this course to my attention!

Here is that link for the online course: https://www.edx.org/course/making-sense-climate-science-denial-uqx-denial101x.

One myth discussed in the course: “In the 1970s, scientists predicted global cooling!” Another myth: “It is just the Sun!” Another myth: “Scientists ignore the urban heat island effect.” Another myth: “Carbon dioxide is a trace element in the atmosphere and needed by plants, so it is not a cause of global warming.” Another myth: “The 2009 ClimateGate scandal about email notes leaked just before the 2009 IPCC and United Nations meetings.” These and many other myths are easily dismissed, but the average person, including me, would not know how to respond.

I liked one quote from a video guest, despite the bad news, something like this: “Earth has reached a point of no return, and that point is moving in a bad direction.” Carbon dioxide’s harmful greenhouse gas effects last for hundreds and thousands of years. More than 100 nations agreed in 2009 to a limit of 2C, but Earth reached 0.8C over the last 140 years by 2009. The solution is simple in a sense: Limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

We finally reached the end of this short installment! See you next issue.


The following articles are from recent issues of the AIAA Daily Launch that relate to matters affecting the AIAA Houston Section Region:

Texas A&M-CC Working On UAVs With Multiple Agencies.

The Corpus Christi (TX) Caller-Times (5/12, Tamez-Robledo) reports that Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s (A&M-CC) UAV program is now working with NASA, the Texas A&M Forest Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Texas House Passes Bill That Would Impact State Aerospace Industry.

The Midland (TX) Reporter – Telegram (5/8, Basco) reports that the Texas House passed a bill that would let the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office “develop short-term and long-term initiatives for the aerospace industry in Texas, as well as make specific recommendations to the Legislature and governor.” It also would require an “overhaul of the state’s aerospace and aviation advisory committee,” stipulating that the committee include “one member from each of the spaceport development corporations.”

New Shepard Capsule Reaches Altitude Of 58 Miles On First Flight.

The AP (5/1) continues coverage of the first unmanned flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, which reached an altitude of 58 miles. Although it “parachuted to a landing in the west Texas desert,” the booster itself could not be recovered after it suffered from “a pressure problem.”

The Washington Post (4/30, Davenport) “The Switch” blog reports that Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said that the flight was a “testament” to private spaceflight development. Meanwhile. Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin founder, said in a statement that this test would have been “flawless” had the vehicle not been designed from the start to be reusable.

SpaceX, Blue Origin In “21st-Century Space Race” In Texas.

The AP (4/26, Graczyk) reports on the “21st-century space race” taking place in Texas between Blue Origin and SpaceX, both of which are led by billionaires with “seemingly unlimited resources…and lofty aspirations.” Their work toward lowering the cost of launches through reusable spacecraft comes after “Texas’ glory days of space exploration,” which was implied by the article to have ended with the space shuttle. David Kanipe, a former NASA division chief, said both of these companies want to work on their own and not “use or benefit from the lessons learned from what NASA did for 40 years, 50 years.”

FAA Maintains Wildlife Strikes Database.

The Houston Chronicle (4/16, Perera) reports that the FAA has a “Wildlife Strikes” database listing how many times animals have impacted planes. This listing can be sorted “by airport, airline, aircraft, species, data and damage sustained.” The article notes that Texas is among “the top five states” for animal strikes.

FAA Grants USAA Permission To Test Small UAVs In San Antonio.

The San Antonio Express – News (4/6, Danner) reported that USAA has received FAA permission “to test small drones on its San Antonio campus and in some unpopulated, rural areas south of the city.” USAA “eventually wants to be able to use the drones to expedite insurance claims from customers following natural disasters.” State Farm was the first insurer to gain FAA approval to use a UAV.

The San Antonio Business Journal (4/6, Thomas, Subscription Publication) reported that last year USAA applied for an exemption from federal UAV use laws. USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group President Alan Krapf said, “We’re proud to be among the first insurers approved to test this technology. It’s our responsibility to explore every option to improve our members’ experience.” The article noted that USAA has also submitted another application to use UAVs “during catastrophes.” The FAA’s ruling on that request could come “soon.”

Firefly Space Systems On Track For 2017 Rocket Launch.

Via Satellite (4/6, Henry) reported that Firefly Space Systems co-founder and COO PJ King said that the company was currently “on target” in its development of the Firefly Alpha small satellite rocket, currently scheduled to make its first launch in late 2017. An engine-firing program could start as early as May. According to the article, part of the company’s current “momentum” comes in part from a Space Act Agreement with NASA, as well as “a $1.2 million economic development grant from Texas’ City of Cedar Park Economic Development Corporation.” King stressed that when commercially produced, the rocket will be “absolutely designed for mass production.”


January 2015 Dinner Meeting

Location: Space City Room, South Student Center, the University of Houston main campus, Houston
Date: Saturday, January 31, 2015
By Michael Martin

AIAA Houston met in the Space City room in the newly refurbished Student Center at the University of Houston on a cold Saturday night to enjoy some tasty chicken BBQ from Catering on Cullen caterers. Dr. Randii Wessen, former Telecommunications & Mission Systems Manager for the Mars Program at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, was our guest speaker at the January dinner event. He had given two speeches earlier in the day to the hundreds of students attending the Mars Rover Celebration at UH. I overheard parents afterwards talking about how much everyone enjoyed Dr. Wessen’s high energy talks, which included numerous hands-on demonstrations on the difficulty of driving a rover on Mars. I fully expected that by the time he spoke to AIAA Houston at our dinner event he would be a little tired and low key. I was greatly mistaken. Although his talk to our professional members was much more technical than his previous two talks, he still was exuberant about his topic. He discussed not only Mars rovers but also JPL’s plans to explore the entire solar system with new robotic probes. The approximately 30 members in attendance at the dinner were highly engaged and asked many questions. By bringing Dr. Wessen to Houston from California, AIAA not only made him available for our dinner, but also allowed him to be present for the Mars Rover Celebration where he brought his message to more than 700 school children. This type of event synergy allowed us to have an unprecedented outreach, and it was all because you pay your AIAA dues.

February 2015 Dinner Meeting

Location: Mamacita’s restaurant, NASA Road 1
Date: Thursday, February 19, 2015
Climate Change Science & Public Policy, by Dr. Barry Lefer, University of Houston
Reported by Douglas Yazell

Professor Barry Lefer of the University of Houston was our guest of honor for this climate change science & public policy dinner meeting presentation in the patio room of Mamacita’s restaurant on NASA Road 1. Our free event attracted a crowd of 42 people, so we will be welcome to use that room again for one of our monthly dinner meetings. Neither AIAA membership nor advance registration were required, and attendees took care of their restaurant bills with the waiters using separate checks.

Dr. Lefer said yes to our request to place his charts on our website for anyone to download. The charts are now available near the bottom of the International Activities Committee page on our Section’s website. I have used an audio recording to help me create this report, and have edited the audio recording for clarity and brevity. I have paraphrased Dr. Lefer instead of using exact quotes for the entire article.

Section Chair Michael Martin asked me to select and invite our climate change science & public policy speaker. The three of us agreed that the presentation would include not only science but also public policy, with both subjects covered in roughly equal measure.

A few biographical notes are presented here from Professor Lefer’s University of Houston web page:

University of Houston Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences:

  • Associate Department Chair
  • Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science, Atmospheric Chemistry
  • B.A. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia (1989)
  • M.S. Earth Sciences-Geochemical Systems, University of New Hampshire (1992)
  • Ph.D., Earth Sciences-Geochemical Systems, University of New Hampshire (1997)
  • Post Doc, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (1997-2000)


The Sun heats the Earth’s atmosphere. Is that true or false? False! Almost all of that heating is from land and the oceans.

Climate is typically defined as the 30-year average of the weather. Temperature, precipitation, wind, etc. Quite a few different things can be measured.

The recent change in climate is due to human activities.

An energy balance controls the climate of the Earth, and sunlight is the main energy source. Feedbacks exist in the climate system (clouds, converting forests to crops, atmospheric particles, etc.). More greenhouse gas results in less heat escaping to space, heating the climate systems.

Air flows from high pressure to low pressure, so rising air is created. Ocean and air circulation takes heat from the tropics towards the poles.

Greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide (CO2) are needed to prevent Earth from being a frozen planet. Nearly 4.54 billion years ago, 96% of the atmosphere of the Earth was CO2, but oceans were not boiling because the Sun was 27% dimmer.

Venus has no oceans due to its runaway greenhouse effect, and Mars is a frozen planet, but Earth’s orbit around the Sun is between the orbits of Venus and Mars.

The CO2 has a big greenhouse gas effect on the climate system, but ocean feedback exhibits a big delay. That results in a delay in heating the atmosphere, so the hottest part of the day is about three hours after the most direct sunlight arrives, and the hottest part of the year (the most dangerous time during hurricane season, for example) is about three months after the longest day of the year.

The oceans store heat. As atmospheric CO2 increases, temperature does not follow that immediately.

Earth has ice now at the poles and elsewhere. The most recent similar ice age was 300 million years ago.

Dinosaurs walked everywhere 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous era. There was no ice in Antarctica or Greenland. Sea level was more than 200 feet higher than now. Texas was a shallow ocean. It was hotter then. There was more volcanic activity. Plate tectonics were much more active. There was 4 to 5 times more atmospheric CO2 than today.

The climate system cooled over the last 100 million years.

Ice ages and warm periods occurred during the last 3 million years due to changes in the tilt of the Earth’s spin axis. About 1 million years ago, we crossed a threshold. Earth experienced cycles of 100,000 years of cooling followed by rapid warming. The duration of the warm interglacial periods are short. Humans have existed for about 200,000 years. Humans experienced the last ice age and the current warm interglacial period.

Looking at the most recent 50,000 years, we can see a long ice age followed by rapid warming about 20,000 years ago. The transition from hunter-gatherers to agriculture took place in the most recent 20,000 years (including Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians), a warm interglacial period. That is all of modern human history, and it is a relatively stable climate.

Zooming in on the last 1,000 years, we see a gradual cooling. Zooming in on the last 100 years, we see warming that makes climate scientists concerned.

Texas A&M University [within the territory of AIAA Houston Section] includes a wonderful program that includes taking data from the bottom of the ocean, including thousands of sediment cores. Among other data, this tells us the past ocean surface temperatures.

For the last 1 million years, atmospheric CO2 did not exceed 300 parts per million (ppm), but in Hawaii, in 1957, the International Geophysical Year, it was 317 ppm, and now, in February 2015, it is 400 ppm, and increasing more than 2 ppm per year. It was 340 ppm when Dr. Lefer was an undergraduate student, 357 ppm when he was a graduate student, and 380 ppm when he began teaching about it.

Four groups estimate global temperature and obtain about the same result. This data is collected by NASA. For various reasons, that temperature has been relatively constant (the last 14 years) recently while atmospheric CO2 increased, but oceans store heat well. For the last 100 years, 94% of the Earth’s heat has been stored in oceans. Oceans are driving Earth’s climate system.

For the last 100 years, natural changes in Earth’s global climate are undetectable compared to human influence. The major warming is due to increases in greenhouse gases.

The warming is not uniform. The Arctic will receive much more warming than most places. Land will warm more than oceans. We are seeing that already.

Overall, we are creating a planet with more rain, but dry places will become drier, while wet places will become wetter. Do not buy property in Arizona, Las Vegas, or California. Many places depend on mountain glacier water. Someone said in the movie Chinatown, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.” Water is not just for drinking. It is also for agriculture.

More than 100 nations agreed in 2009 to limit global warming since the start of the Industrial Age to 2 degrees Celsius (C). The increase is already 0.8 C.

We will not succeed in limiting this to 2 degrees C. An increase of 4 degree C would be very difficult for life and civilization, but it would not mean the end of life. Strikes in the ports in California already make our life very difficult, but an increase of 2 degrees C will be much more dramatic. Poorer nations are the hardest hit, but the USA feels it, too. Galveston is only 4 or 5 feet above sea level, and sea level rise (projected to be 2 to 3 feet in a hundred years) is a part of human-induced climate change. The Houston Clear Lake area is not very high above sea level, either.

Oceans will be hotter. Hurricane will not occur more often, but will be more intense. Forest fires and droughts occur together. More extreme heat waves will occur.

Climate change is occurring and it will cause significant changes. Human-induced climate change requires urgent action.

Dr. Lefer usually stops here, but tonight’s presentation also covers public policy.

Public Policy

Global temperature forecasts as far ahead as the year 2099 include a range of results for the business as usual case. The upper end of the range is bad. A limit of 2 degrees C for a global temperature increase since the Industrial Age is the target, but that increase of 2 degrees C will have consequences. We need to stop arguing about what to do. We need to do something now.

Greenhouse gas emissions are the major problem. Mitigation, adaptation, and geoengineering are the only responses. Geoengineering is a subject for very limited research before even thinking about using it. This option is a somewhat dangerous idea.

Scientists say act now. Lags exist in the climate system, and lags exist in the economy. The irreversible effects of CO2 as a greenhouse gas last for hundreds of years. Many actions taken today to limit greenhouse gas emissions would not exhibit benefits until the year 2050 or 2100.

The effects of methane as a greenhouse gas last a bit more than 10 years, but methane is 22 times better at trapping heat that CO2 on a molecule per molecule basis. The effects of soot (black carbon) as a greenhouse gas last only about 2 weeks.

We often make business and political decisions in the presence of uncertainties. Arguments always exist on both sides. For most subjects, we do not attack the messenger. Climate scientists say stop debating the science; move on to the policy debate. The worst case is so serious that we must start greenhouse gas reductions now, even though forecasts are not guaranteed.

A counter argument says that because mitigation costs are so high, we must be certain before we take action.

Both of those two statements say we must be cautious. Both are conservative in that sense. Do not destroy the economy. Do not allow a very bad climate future to occur if we can avoid it.

Which error is worse?

If the science was wrong, we might needlessly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking actions including shifting energy sources from coal to nuclear and using more efficient cars. These changes would have many benefits, including reduced air pollution, with costs spread over several decades. Another benefit would be more energy independence. If we then find this was the wrong decision, we could reverse course and burn those fossil fuel reserves.

On the other hand, imagine that we decide to pursue business as usual even though the science is correct. If this decision is later found to be wrong, we cannot reverse it. We cannot remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

We can tax or use cap and trade, for example, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When sulfur was to be removed from gasoline, refiners said it would add 10 cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline, and some said it would cost a penny per gallon. Reality was between the two.

Imagine 1 ton of CO2 emitted, lasting for centuries, and imagine the dollar cost of the damage it does to the climate system. Exact costs cannot be known, but the cost would be high. The damage would last for hundreds of years. If we avoid emitting that ton of CO2, we pay today, and people in the future benefit. Meanwhile, costs and impacts are not evenly distributed. The poor are impacted most.

Environmentalists and many scientists say that even if the odds of a bad outcome is 1 in 100 or 1 in 50, aggressive action is required.

We will fail to limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees C, but we should try. The cost is economically acceptable. It will not destroy the economy. A 50% reduction in greenhouse gases 35 years from now requires an average reduction of 1 to 2% per year. It sounds outrageous, but there is good news.

Population will increase at 1% per year, and affluence will increase at 2 to 3% per year, so energy use for our technology (energy use per dollar of Gross Domestic Product, or GDP) must decrease at 5% per year. It is encouraging to note that since 1950, our energy use per dollar of GDP has been decreasing, and for the last 5 years, American GDP has been going up while American greenhouse gas emissions have been going down. In addition to improving energy efficiency, we burned less coal, and burned more gas.

Nothing changed in the last 20 years! Climate scientists still say the same thing they said 20 years ago. There is no financial cost now to polluting our shared atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the worst of which is CO2.

We must adapt and mitigate, and our climate system will become warmer, while geoengineering will remain a dangerous option which merits only very limited research.

Human-induced climate change requires urgent action. Start now. If we later conclude our actions are too expensive, we can change mid-course. Cap and trade will not succeed as a way to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Trading can be manipulated. Use a revenue-neutral carbon tax. People will save their gasoline receipts. Government income will not increase. Increase the cost of dirty energy to force our behavior to change.

Ozone holes in our atmosphere were a problem in the 1980s. Industry complained that the solution would be too expensive, and industry predicted a lack of refrigerated food as a result of getting rid of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs). But industry found substitutes for CFCs, and the successful solution cost much less than industry predictions.

Common ground exists. Warming occurred during the last 50 years. Greenhouse gas concentrations increased during the last 100 years. Human-induced climate change will have significant negative impacts to our society and our economy. We must act now. The entire world must act now.

Report author Douglas Yazell notes in closing that the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, discusses an unreasonable demand for certainty as an excuse for never-ending delay. That demand is a part of the very successful Tobacco Strategy. A movie based on this excellent book is opening soon.

March 2015 Dinner Meeting

Location: Alamo Ballroom, JSC Gilruth Center, Houston, TX
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2015
By Michael Martin

Our March dinner was held in conjunction with the NASA Alumni League. Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar was the guest speaker, who is a member of the National Academies’ Committee on Human Spaceflight and an AIAA Associate Fellow. She spoke eloquently about the findings released in the committee’s report, “Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration”. These findings included:

  • If the United States is to have a human space exploration program, then it must be worthy of the considerable cost to the nation and great risk of life.
  • No single rationale alone seems to justify continuing human spaceflight. Instead, justification lies in the sum of practical benefits and aspirational value which do, in the opinion of the Committee, argue for continuation of human spaceflight
  • The highest priority recommendation is that the pathways and decision rules recommended in the report be adopted
  • Given the expense of any human spaceflight program and the significant risk to the crews involved, in the committee’s view the only pathways that justify continued investment are those that ultimately place humans on other worlds.
  • Mars is the “horizon goal”.

Questions from the audience primarily focused on how likely the findings would be considered and acted upon. There were about 75 people in attendance.

April 2015 Dinner Meeting

Location: Space City Room, South Student Center, the University of Houston main campus, Houston
Date: Saturday, April 18, 2015
By Michael Martin

In conjunction with the AIAA Region IV Student Paper Conference, we held a dinner meeting on the University of Houston campus. Dr. Sandra Magnus, the AIAA Executive Director, was our honored guest speaker. She gave a “State of AIAA” speech to a crowd of over 40 people, including about 20 conference student attendees. She discussed why AIAA went to fewer but larger conferences and reorganized the committees. Questions from the audience focused on the future of AIAA and how people can get involved. We had some great BBQ chicken from Catering on Cullen.

May 2015 Dinner Meeting

Location: Ad Astra Rocket Company headquarters, 141 Bay Area Blvd, Webster, TX 77598
Date: Thursday, May 7, 2015
By Michael Martin

We ate delicious BBQ sandwiches inside the Ad Astra Rocket Company’s giant test lab and listened to Dr. Jared Squire and Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, former astronaut and CEO of Ad Astra, speak about the development of their magnetoplasma rocket engine on Thursday, May 7th. After the talk, we were given a personal tour of the VX-200 engine and their vacuum chamber. There were about 35 people in attendance.

June 2015 Dinner Meeting

Location: 1940 Air Terminal Museum, 8325 Travelair St, Houston, TX 77061
Date: Thursday, June 18, 2015
By Michael Martin

We met at the beautiful 1940 Air Terminal Museum near Hobby Airport and had beef and veggie fajitas for our Annual Awards Banquet. I welcomed everyone, and then Ms. Amy Rogers, Managing Director of the Museum, talked about the history of the building. Dr. Jayant Ramakrishnan, AIAA Region IV Director, gave out two national AIAA awards to Alan Sisson and Ellen Gillespie for outstanding service. Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, Department Head at the University of Houston, talked about the $100 award that AIAA Houston gave during the 2015 Houston Science Fair for Aerospace. Our dinner guest speaker, Mr. Wayne Hale, spoke about the challenges he and his Mission Control team experienced during two Space Shuttle missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Here is a list of other awards given out that night:

Executive Council Member of the Year: Mr. Alan Sisson

Exceptional Service Award: Ms. Jennifer Wells

Technical Chair of the Year: Ms. BeBe Kelly-Serrato

Operations Chair of the Year: Mr. Fred Ouellette

Councilor of the Year: Dr. Michael Kezirian

Outstanding Educational Outreach: Dr. Edgar Bering

Spirit of Apollo Scholarship Award: Ms. Allyson Cook

25 Years of Service with AIAA

  • Christopher S  Allen
  • Vatsal N  Bulsara
  • Barry W  Finger
  • Dr. J L  Foster
  • Dr. Larry J  Friesen
  • Theodore E  Goetz
  • Brian J  Johnson
  • Lon F  Miller
  • Brian O`Hagan
  • Michael L Raftery
  • Chris Y Taylor
  • Dr. John D  Whitcomb

40 Years of Service with AIAA

  • David P  Abuisi
  • Dr Charles J  Camarda
  • Barbara R  Counts
  • Lawrence T Guderian, Sr
  • Nicole O Lamotte
  • Renee J  Lance
  • Carla J Yager

50 Years of Service with AIAA

  • Jeri W  Brown
  • Norman H Chaffee
  • Andrew Hobokan
  • Chris C Kraft, Jr.
  • David Christensen

Our New Senior Members

  • Christopher W. Brunner
  • Ryan Chambers
  • Karl D. Heiman
  • Steven Koontz
  • Christian S. Mayer
  • Michael Frostad

Our New Associate Fellows

  • Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar
  • Sarah Shull
  • Dr. William Vantine
  • Mark Jackson
  • Dr. Christopher D’Souza
  • Christopher Culbert
  • Ali Najafi
  • Dr. Steven E Everett

Our New Honorary Fellow

  • Dr. Kyle T. Alfriend, Texas A&M University

Our AIAA Houston 2014-2015 Executive Committee:

  • ErynBeisner
  • Justine Wiles
  • Jennifer Wells
  • Michael Frostad
  • Zach Tejral
  • Dr. Albert A. Jackson
  • Dr. ZafarTaqvi
  • Evelyn Miralles
  • Dr. Steven E. Everett
  • Alan Sisson
  • Dr. SatyaPilla
  • Fred Ouellette
  • Roger Kleinhammer
  • KavyaManyuapu
  • BeBe Kelly-Serrato
  • Wayne Rast
  • Ryan Miller
  • Douglas Yazell
  • Kathleen Coderre
  • Angela Beck
  • Dr. Edgar Bering
  • Shirley Brandt
  • Laura Sarmiento
  • Clay Stangle
  • Svetlana Hanson
  • Victoria Wills
  • Irene Chan
  • Robert Plunkett
  • Ellen Gillespie
  • Dr. Michael Kezirian
  • Wayne Hale
  • David Dannemiller

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