Twenty Years of NSS in North Texas
by Curtis Kling
The National Space Society has had an active presence in North Texas for twenty years. In 1987, four chapters were formed – two in Dallas, one in Fort Worth and one in the suburbs between the two cities known as the Mid-Cities area. Mid-Cities NSS held its first meeting in October, 1987, and chose Tom Hayden as its first president.
Three current members of NSS of North Texas participated in the founding – Christine Becker of Fort Worth Space Society, Al Johnson and Carol Johnson (no relation) of Mid-Cities NSS. Another long-time member, Curtis Kling, joined the Mid-Cities chapter at its second meeting. Mr. Kling took over as editor of the chapter’s newsletter, The Mid-Cities Spacecraft, in September, 1992, and has proudly served as editor ever since.
Unfortunately, by the end of 1991, two chapters had folded, leaving Mid-Cities NSS and Dallas Space Frontier Society to represent North Texas. Another chapter got started at aerospace company E-Systems in Greenville, Texas – east of Dallas – by Trent Telenko, but did not last long.
In conjunction with a major exhibit about Soviet space technology at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in 1991, Mid-Cities NSS arranged for astronaut Don Thomas to speak at the museum. The chapter also set up displays about American and Soviet space accomplishments at libraries in the suburbs of Irving and Arlington. The mayors of these cities proclaimed October and November, respectively, of 1991 to be “Soviet Space Month,” thanks to the chapter’s efforts.
With the loss of the Dallas Space Frontier Society, the Mid-Cities chapter became the only survivor. In April, 1995, the chapter changed its name to the National Space Society of North Texas in order to reflect their expanded role in the region. The newsletter was also renamed to be The North Texas Spacecraft.
A significant milestone was achieved when NSS of North Texas hosted the Southwest Regional Space Conference on March 16, 1996, at a hotel in Arlington, Texas. The theme of the conference was “Space Station: Two Years and Counting.” Mrs. Johnson, who organized it, was a systems engineer at Loral Vought Systems (since acquired by Lockheed Martin), which was assembling the heat rejection system, including radiator panels, for the International Space Station at a facility in Grand Prairie. A tour of that facility was provided to conference attendees. More than 70 people attended and there was press coverage of a lecture by Don Thomas, who came at the chapter’s request.
In April, 2002, the Boy Scouts of America, headquartered in Irving, contacted chapter president Lou Mazza to inquire if NSS of North Texas would like to rewrite their Space Exploration Merit Badge Handbook. The chapter eagerly accepted the task. The 88-page booklet was published by the end of 2003.
For the past 20 years, NSS members in the Dallas/Fort Worth area have dedicated themselves to educating the public about the merits of manned space activities and the mission of the National Space Society. Having now tackled the ISDC, NSS of North Texas anticipates more exciting adventures in the 21st century!