John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2013 April 13 initial
 2013 May 23 current

    2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the first female space flight 
by Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union. She orbited Earth with 
Popovich in June 1963. April is the anniversary month for the first 
human orbital flight by Yuri Gagarin, also of the Soviet Union. His 
solo ride around the Earth ws in 1961. 
    In fact, each April, this year on the 16th, New York celebrates 
the Gararin event with a Yuri's Night social party in a night club, 
usually on Manhattan. 
    The Tereshkova flight is often missed from casual discourse about 
space travel, altho those of men are routinely played up. Flights into 
space by other women are submerged in the usual accounts of human 
ventures into space. 
    Such marginalization of women in space, and in most other higher- 
skill careers, is one of the sorrier features in our current society. 
It sends a dissuasive and dismissive telegram to potential young 
females who want to enter such careers. The present paucity of females 
in the technical and engineering disciplines is the imprinted evidence 
of this situation. 
    Here I summarize the meeting and insert collateral material 
relating to human spaceflight. 

NYSkies invite 
    On 5 April 2013 I received an invite thru Myrna Coffino, a major 
supporter and advocate for NYSkies. The United Nations was holding a 
special session for the Tereshkoa anniversary and she obtained permits 
for NYSkies members to attend! It was on Thursday 11 April 2013 at 
10AM EDST. The session was a panel of three space leaders to discuss 
and explain the opportunities of women in the aerospace industry. 
    I personally on occasion am invited to sit a UN meeting every so 
often for astronomy, engineering, culture by a singular request to 
specific persons. This is much like the annual invite I an favored 
with for the engineer's inspection of Grand Central Terminal, which I 
already received for the 2013 event. This invite in hand was the first 
for NYSkies as a whole group. 
    Because NYSkies Seminars often relate to space projects, like the 
Planck mission at the April 5 meeting, and its members follow space 
news, I welcomed the invite. I posted the notice, adapted from Myrna's 
formal papers, in the NYSkies yahoogroup and supplemental mailing list 
on Monday the 8th of April. 
    I got several replies of deep interest, even tho the session was in 
a workday morning. Most of us can't take time off, but a few can. I 
myself slided my lunch hour to the meeting. 
    This anniversary celebration was part of an ongoing program of 
briefings and updates run by the United Nations for its Non 
Governmental Organizations, NGO. These are outfits who, not eligible 
for full statehood membership, are allowed to attend certain 
categories of UN meetings to keep informed of matters of their 
concern. There are many concurrent sets of these meetings in broad 
classes to cater to the diversity of NGO interests. 
    The meetings are arranged thru the UN Department of Public 
Information, whence the initials of the meeting sponsor DPI-NGO.
    The invite noted that NYSkies attendees should sign in under 
'NYSkies', in spite of it not [yet?] having NGO status at the UN. I 
later learned that we were the only outside group invited to this 
meeting. All other attendees represented standing NGOs. 

Meeting hall 
    The meeting was in the Salvation Army base on East 52nd St between 
2nd and 3rd Avenues, not in the UN campus like most other DPI-NGO 
events. It was a quick train ride from my office at Herald Square to 
the Salvation Army, with the station exit there being in a shopping 
concourse of a corner office tower. 
    On entering the building I found a lobby desk laid out with sign-
in sheets. I asked if there was a particular one to use. The agent 
said they are all the same and I could sing on any one. I did: 'John 
Pazmino, NYSkies'. The agent seemed pleased with that. 
    In the NYSkies announcement I advised to have to hand a photo ID 
in case it's requested. Mine was not called up and I did not offer it. 
It seemed the same for other attendees arriving at about the same 
time. They were passed thru without asking for any papers. 
    The meeting was in a ground floor auditorium a few meters from the 
street entrance. I never penetrated deeper into the building to see 
its other features and rooms. 

    I entered the auditorium, with bench seating and a raised stage. 
It appeared to hold about 200 people if packed in the benches. The 
room was almost empty at first with more UN crew working at the stage 
than audience in seats! 
    The invite stipulated that we be in our seats at 10AM and it was 
quite 10 o'clock when I took my seat in a forward row of benches. 
What's the story here? 
    Within the next fifteen minutes more attendees arrived, including 
a couple NYSkiers who sat near me. 
    The full attendance was in place by 10:30AM, still only about 1/4 of 
the seats, or about 50 total. The people were mostly women of mid to 
elder age, with only a sprinkling of men. Most were in business or 
other neat street dress. From the banter among them it seemed that 
most were wisely about assorted world affairs. 
    On the stage was a table for the speakers, three at first, then 
four when the moderator took the last seat in the later half of the 
meeting. A microphone on flex cord offered ample level of sound. 
    For the Q&A a DPI agent passed around a wireless mike. SOme people 
started their question before the mike reached them, causing the 
audience to ask them to wait. They restarted their comment when the 
microphone was in hand. 
    The room was well lighted from ceiling lamps and daylight thru 
side windows. I had no trouble reading papers or writing notes. 
    The air was acclimated to a comfortable level, altho a few women 
donned scarfs or sweaters. With mild weather outside it was probably 
simpler to wear the garment than to crumple it on an empty seat. 

National Space Society
    I was surprised to learn in the days after NYSkies received its 
invite that there was no notice from the National Space Society, NSS, 
national office or from its New York City chapter. The chapter is also 
known as the New York Space Society. 
    I assumed that this panel on human spaceflight is a must-do event 
for NSS members. Yet there was no advance news of it in any national 
or local NSS news. NSS members attending the DPI-NGO session did so 
thru the NYSkies invite, because many members associate with NYSkies. 
    One NSS national delegate did attend, Amanda Moore, who follows 
the work of the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs, OOSA. It is homed in 
Vienna, Austria, but Moore is from New York. She on two instances from 
her audience seat gave comments in the Q&A. 
    One was to ask if certain upcoming OOSA events can be held in New 
York. The response was that DPI was already in comms with the Vienna 
office and is working on holding space-related activities in the City.
    On/about April 13th the chapter issued its May 2013 newsletter 
Astro-Gaia. It, in the extract here, notes the meeting as a past event 
with no anticipation of a later account, like from Moore. 
    On April 11, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first orbital 
spaceflight by a woman, 26-year-old Valentina Tereshkova on June 16, 
1963 (a tandem mission with Pavel Popovich in a separate Vostok), 
there was an invitation-only [NYSkies members were invited), non-
public UN-NGO celebration in Manhattan of women space travelers, an 
observance held through the declaration two years ago by a U.N. 
General Assembly Resolution declaring April 12 as the International 
Day of Human Space Flight. Amanda Moore is the NSS UN-NGO 
representative and works at the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs. 

    Because April 2013 is the anniversary for both the first human, a 
male, to orbit Earth and the first female to travel in space, also by 
Earth orbit, the speaker's dialog often swopped between the two for 
the meeting purpose. 
    Nominally the meeting was a retro- and prospect on women in 
spaceflight. Almost from the start it enlarged to deal with the place 
of women in all of the aerospace community and in all technical and 
scientific fields. 
    The meeting opened with a reading of UN General Assembly 
resolution A/RES/65/271 setting April 12th as 'International day of 
human space flight'. It was enacted on 2011 April 7 with implicit 
recognition of both flights of Gagarin and Tereshkova. 
    Look again at that UN resolution again. It sets the International 
Day of Human Space Flight on the date of Gagarin's, the  man's, 
flight. Tereshkova's, the woman's,  flight is subsumed into it. 
    A couple people who responded to me about the invite asked if this 
event was some congratulation of the USSR and Communism. From the 
wording of the invitation it could be interpreted that way. I myself 
figured that this would be a mistake because too many UN countries 
know pretty damn well what the Soviet presence in their territory was 
really like. 
    This session was entirely separate from other celebrations for the 
space anniversary, virtually entirely centered on the Gargarin 
flight!, else where in the City. Yuri's Night comes on April 16th in 
Gramercy Park MH and the April 19th NYSkies Seminar presents a show 
'How we went to the Moon 100 years ago'. 

    The modertor for the DPI-NGO meeting was slated as Maria-Luisa 
Chavez, chief of the DPI-NGO operations. She was detained in travel to 
the meeting. A substitute DPI agent standed in for her but I missed 
her name. She seemed up to speed, perhaps from working with Chavez. 
    After the dedicated remarks of the three panelists, the moderator 
took the fourth seat at the table and engaged in the Q&A. 

    The panel of three speakers was a top-flight selection of space 
leaders! They were:
    Evgeny Zagainov from the Russian mission to the UN 
    Anousheh Ansari of the X-Prize and first female space tourist 
    Susan Chodakewitz of Tetra Tech AMT 
    The three covered a government, civilian, and industry sector of 
spaceflight. While Ansari heads up a aerospace business, she was 
selected mostly for her trip to ISS as a tourist. Chodakewtiz also 
works educational services for young females in science. Zagainov 
walked to the meeting from his mission house. The other two arrived 
from out-of-state. 
    Each speaker gave an initial statement, then elaborated on their 
themes for females in the space program. 
    After this dialog there was an extended Q&A. This segment occupied 
about 2/3 of the two-hour meeting. The moderator took the fourth seat 
at the table to field questions with the three speakers. 

Women in space
    An early comment was that it is still necessary to have dedicated 
discussion about 'women in space'. It should be the goal to eventually 
work just with 'humans in space' with no gender distinction. 
    Zagainov went to the Moon describing the Soviet and Russian 
achievements in space, noting the part women played in that endeavor. 
He was careful to blend the USSR into Russia at the crossover point in 
their history. 
    He was fuzzed up when walking thru the long hiatus when Russia 
excluded females as cosmonaut candidates. The country resumed 
accepting women applicant only a few years ago. 
    One of the main problems for the US in attracting women as 
astronauts is the just about every astronaut is chosen from the ranks 
of USAF or USN aircraft pilots. With so few female pilots there just 
aren't many in the pool to pick from. Until the pool enlarges to other 
skilled careers besides only pilots, there may always be far too few 
women among astronaut candidates. 
    The reason to use military pilots as the source for astronauts is 
glatt simple. These folk are already trained in many skills and to 
handle complicated machines and are disciplined to cope with dangerous 
situations. Going beyond this source may complicate the training and 
instruction requirements for future astronauts. For sure, no astronaut 
can come from a person who is merely interested and enthusiastic about 
space travel. 
    The preparation for space tourist is simpler than for an 
astronaut/cosmonaut, yet still arduous and rigorous. Ansari described 
her travails at Russia's Star City for about six months before 
qualifying to fly to ISS. 
    The requirements for being a space tourist include the ability to 
set aside long time spans, six months at least, a faculty very few 
people enjoy. Folk in retirement could afford the time but they are 
entering an age of rising medical and physical erosion. This would 
quickly disqualify them from space tourism. 
    It also came out in the dialog that women have biological needs 
that in the early Space Age were never considered. The Space Age began 
when 'men' were the ones going into space with women watching them on 
television. Space-related fixtures, tools, operating procedures still 
often ignore women. 
    When a female is on the crew of a spaceflight they function as 
completely and competently as the male crew. Of course, if they 
couldn't, they would not be in the crew but washed out already. It 
does show that, with the fair chance and honest consideration, women 
can perform in space crews as well as men. 

Inertia and weight 
    When describing her experience on ISS, Ansari did a goof. She 
mentioned that men and women do equally well in space because they are 
in zero-G. This is only partially correct and is a very common 
confusion between inertia and weight. Weight is the force pulling on a 
body against the resistance of the ground or other support. Inertia is 
the resistance of a body against a change of motion, say from rest to 
being carried. 
    To move a body you must overcome its inertia. A man in general has 
stronger upper body muscles to do this than a woman. He can manhandle 
a machine part while an other crew bolts it into place. The typical 
woman may have a harder go at doing this, altho she can easily do the 
bolt work. 
    Ansari was a passenger on ISS, not part of the operating crew. 
Like other tourists she did not actively run the spaceship. She 
handled only small loads, like food, tableware, clothing. She may just 
not have realized that the heavy items were moved about against their 
larger inertia, requiring substantial muscle strength. 
    The mixup with weight and inertia is a patheticly prevalent one 
among spacefarers, leading to some ridiculous descriptions of how we 
will live in space.  

First Iranian 
    Ansari noted she is the first Iran space traveler. She missed the 
incident about her Iran shoulder patch. NASA went ape-crap wild when 
she wanted to include on her flight suit an emblem of her native 
country. After a major brou-ha-ha she left off the patch. 
    I don't know if the meeting was recorded or there was an Iran 
'spy' in the audience. The audience was asked to turn off recording 
devices, yet I saw many people taking pictures of the stage with cell 
phones and tablets. Assuming some recording, the president of Iran 
will not like it. 
    On 4 February 2013 Iran president Ahmadmejad chimed up with his 
desire to be the first Iran astronaut. He was already upstaged by a 
woman and a monkey! This incident raised hysterical laughter when a 
commentator in the US acted surprised. 'He just was on a space ride 
last month', alluding to the Iran monkey flight in January 2013. 

Ansari movie
    Much of the Q&A centered on Ansari's experience on ISS. The bulk 
of this discussion at the DPI-NGO meeting could be satisfied by the 
movie Ansari made about her ride. She composed 'Space tourist', first 
played in 2010 at Paley Center in New York. I with other NYSkies 
members went to this show. 
    The movie was never mentioned in this meeting, not even as a 
reference. While there probably was no commercial promotion allowed, 
the movie was really a documentary of the ISS trip and it included a 
deep introspection of the Russian space program not shown else where. 
    I wrote a summary of 'Space tourist' with added discussion of 
Russia, at 'www.nyskies.org/articles/pazmino/ansari.htm'. 

Space tourism
    With Ansari as an actual space tourist, many questions related to 
the use of outer space in the tourism industry. Ansari fielded most of 
these questions. 
    Tee cost per ride today for space travel ranges from about 
$200,000 for a suborbit 1-hour ride to about $30 million for a week 
stay at ISS. Few ordinary people can afford this cost. In Ansari's 
case, her company paid for her trip. 
    She said that the way to drive prices down is thru competition 
among space companies. As each attracts customers they will devise 
cheaper methods of reaching outer space. 
    On the other hand I note that NO space rides are running now, in 
early 2013. after about ten years of heavy work by several private 
spaceship companies, only the USS rides -- arranged by Russia -- were 
available. They are suspended now because seats on  the Soyuz capsule 
are needed for ISS crew with none left for tourists. 
    The US government does not cater to space tourists. Trips to ISS 
are operated thru the Russian space agency. Even then, Ansari was 
confined to only the Russian half of ISS on her trip. 
    She emphasized that there is a definite amount of energy required 
to loft a given mass into space. Given the immense work so far to 
achieve just suborbit elevation, with no attempt to circle the Earth, 
it will take some unanticipated new and cheap energy source to move 
space travel into the public market. 
    With the means to hand now and for the foreseeable future there is 
no way other than chemical rockets to hoist customers into space. Such 
means are innately horrificly expensive. 
    Ansari gave an example from her telcomms work. When mobile 
telephony was first offered the units were heavy, some needing a whole 
automobile to carry them. They also were expensive, at least $1,000 to 
purchase the unit apart from the ongoing service fees. Today mobile 
phones are sometimes given free to new customers, on signing into a 
service contract, and they are carried in the pocket. 
    She missed showing that there was a positive strong desire for 
mobile telcomms that impelled the development of better and cheaper 
products. People wanted and needed to talk to each other while away 
from a wired landline. 
    There is still, after a half-century, no such motive for any 
ordinary person to take a space trip, other than for the hell of it  
once in a lifetime. Trips for other purposes, such as hypersonic 
flights between distant airports, is not yet practical. 
    She expressed the hope that some day buying a spaceship ticket 
will be as simple as buying an airline ticket. I can't believe this 
silly analogy persists! Any airline traveler knows fully well that 
getting a ticket and then boarding the vehicle is hardly a simple 
task. Does Ansari go about by Amtrak and Greyhound? 

    The panel seemed very cautious to speak of 'human', not 'manned', 
spaceflight. In the US 'manned' is still prevalent in space 
litterature, even in current works. Space travel started in the era 
when almost no females were enrolled in higher-level posts in 
industry. Women were still treated as hired hands to work in the 
clerical fields like typing and filing and reception. 
    Just about all other careers and job names were stripped of their 
gender, like 'letter carrier' for 'mailman' and 'firefighter' for 
'fireman', much of spacefaring retains the gendered terms. 
    There is also the legacy of space travel movies in the early space 
age. They showed women as auxiliary crew or even only as ornaments to 
accompany the real spacemen. They also tended to wear scanty outfits 
with accentuated curves.
    In spite of the apparent care to keep 'manned' out of the dialog, 
there was a curious lapse of gender avoidance. Female middle to high 
school students were commonly called 'girls'. While this is stricta 
mente grammaticly correct the better term may be 'young women', 
'teens', 'youths',  In a few instances the speakers said 'women and 

Social attitude 
    In the old days, girls didn't belong with the men. Men did real 
work, had real jobs, made real money. Girls were for the enjoyment and 
pleasure of the men and to perform household and family functions. 
When a woman did reach a man's level of success, she was commonly 
treated as something odd, weird, strange. 
    If she was eventually accepted, she was set upon by the hoochie-
koochie routine. A visitor to the office is taken to her: ' And this 
is our new girl engineer'. Her male coworkers would muse about 
situations on the job for the woman, like a fantasy sit-com. 
    Even today some proposals for future spaceflight minimize the 
standing of women. Dennis Tito, of all people as the first human space 
tourist!, in March 2013 put out a plan to fly a 'married couple' to 
Mars and back in 2018. 
    Why a married couple. The idea is to allow means for the man to 
maintain familial relations during the journey of a couple years. He 
notes that so far a man is in ISS for a half-year while his wife stays 
home. The man loses his companion, probably adding to the stress and 
anxiety during the trip. 
    Apart from the miserable attitude implied in the plan, there are 
social concepts that are rudely ignored. Why must the couple be 
'married'? Can not the same purpose of the Mars trip be satisfied with 
a civil union or just a close friendship? 
    Tito also seems ignorant of the marriage conditions in many US 
states, where same-sex couples may earn full marriage status. Does the 
Tito plan include these married couples? 
    If we adhaere to the stipulation of an opposite-sex married 
couple, Tito seems utterly ignorant of outfitting his spacecraft for 
familial activity. No other spacecraft [admittedly] properly accounted 
for familial activity. NASA denies to the max all thought of letting 
these activities on its spaceflights. 
    An other modern example is the suborbital rides by Virgin 
Galactic. The intent is that each person maintain good behavior during 
the ride. The firm is constantly propositioned by adult entertainment 
studios to film familial activity during the zero-G period of the 
ride. The waiver is that the riders may be any mix of gender. So far 
Virgin Galactic rejected all such ideas. 
    Thru the entire discussion about women in the aerospace and other 
advanced fields, the meeting was carried by the three females, Ansati, 
Chodakewitz, and the substitute moderator. Zagainov more or less 
offered a word from time to time but mainly keeped to himself. 

Women in STEM 
    In addition to hard science of the sort associated with space 
travel, there are other collateral fields of immense importance to 
society. These are collected into the initials STEM: Science, 
Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. In the boro of Queens the 
initials are written in reverse order, starting with 'M'. 
    Of these only maths was a traditionally 'girl' subject in school. 
The others were often closed to young women. They often weren't 
allowed even to enroll in them. 
    In my high school years, the boys were assigned to shop, wood and 
metal and joined hobby clubs using tools and kits. The girls were put 
in homemaking or business classes to become housewifes, office clerks, 
concierges and ushers, store workers.  
    There were, and still are, New York City high schools dedicated to 
various industries like transit, automotive, electrical skills, 
aviation, seafaring, printing & publishing, building trades. Altho 
opne to both genders, they are overwhelmingly attended by yound men. 
    In my time I attended conferences for the utility industry where 
there was a 'ladies's program'. The men went to the meetings, where 
they moved and shaked the electric power industry. Their wifes (never 
just a companion!) were taken on visits to musea, gardens, famous 
homes, brunches, decoratiing and furnishing talks, cooking demos. 
    I personally know of several female astronomy colleagues who in 
school were actually advised to skip the sciences for being too hard 
or not suitable for women. Many of these astronomers went to other 
more accommodating schools and eventually became accomplished 
    A female youth intimated away from science get the drift to stay 
away. A woman at a technical meeting and shunted off to a boat ride 
gets the clue to forget about technology. 
    This attitude shrinks the pool of potential women candidates for 
high-level employment and careers. 

Routes to STEM 
    The situation for women is orders better, in the US, now than in 
the late 20th century. It really did take a full and more generation 
since about 1960 to wash thru the grosser prevalent old-boy mentality 
toward women. Altho on a formal level women are equalizing with men in 
the STEM fields, there are pockets deep antiquated feelings. 
    In other countries the indigenous society may still maintain a 
subjugated subordinate role for women. In some cases it is formally 
enforced by law or custom. In others it's part of a belief scheme, 
real or finagled. In a few cases, violation of the established place 
of a woman carries severe penalty. 
    The theme of the speakers was that in the US we must get the 
attention of women students in their lower teens. This is in their 
middle school grades. Youths should be exposed to the STEM fields thru 
books, films, videos, exhibits, lectures, visits. The school should 
admit teen women into the 'boy' courses in STEM. 

Phony future?
    The hoochie-koochie factor has to go, cold turkey. Same with 
pandering and condescendent behavior toward women. 
    The first of two comments I offered was the problem of handling 
the apparent phniness of attracting women into disciplines with few 
current and likely fewer future career opportunities. A woman may feel 
she is exploited or even abused when she finds that after all her 
effort, schmaltzed by possibly pandering attitudes, she ends up hardly 
better in life than otherwise. 
    The reply from the speakers was that we can't make the furtherance 
of women a one-track path. It has to be the entry to a wide field of 
prospects. Yes, there will always be only a handful of astronauts per 
country but the work done to aspire toward astronaut status are 
applicable to a broad range of other careers. 

Home astronomy
    I offered two comments. The first was that for attracting and 
supporting women in STEM, elaborated above. The other was a reminder 
that in place right now is a structure for women to enjoy and take 
part in the space program without the machoism and old-boys burden. It 
also is free of muscular strength and playing with dangerous and 
complicated machines. 
    By engaging in home-based astronomy, which is one of the greatest 
beneficiaries of the space program, women can wage a profession as 
fully equal to that by men. 
    Home astronomy is often presented as requiring a telescope to work 
with. This is driven by the need to satisfy advertisers who by and 
large sell astronomy telescopes, gadgets, equipment.. The litterature 
caters to this income source by pressing readers to buy these products 
to become a fully-vested home astronomer. 
    As fate has it, the bulk of telescopes are heavy, clumsy, 
mechanical devices that are designed by and for men. In fact, there ae 
some telescopes that can not even be looked thru by a women by its 
fundamental design flaw. The scope structure blocks a female body from 
getting the eye to the eyepiece. 
    Telescopes can also come with a truckload of parts and 
accessories, all of which presume a masculine mentality and manuality 
to deal with. Women in many home astronomy settings are turned off and 
leave the fold. 
    This is nonsense! A person -- male or female -- can carry out a 
vivid and valid astronomy profession with no telescope at all. New 
York has a peculiar setting where having a typical telescope can be a 
ridiculous burden. Carrying a 20-kilo crate up stairs in a walkup 
building is no simple task for a husky man. It can be impossible for a 
woman of light build. Neither man nor woman will for long carry such 
an load on the train or bus to a stargazing session. Once that's it. 
    The result is the in the City home astronomy evolved away from 
masculine attributes to more mental and cerebral skills. There is also 
the thoro leveling of the playing field with computers and Internet, 
which are gender-free in their operation. 
    At least in New York, home of the United Nations, women can enter 
and stay in the astronomy profession and, in the process, be 
integrated into the space program. 

    This DPI-NGO program was an excellent commemoration of human 
spaceflight and in hindsight probably should have been open to the 
general public. The auditorium was amply large enough for any 
reasonably expected number of attendees and there seemed nothing 
privileged or reserved to only UN officials in the presentation. As it 
was, it did a wise and welcome gesture to give Ms Coffino the invite 
for NYSkies to attract some city astronomers.
    The discussion quickly shifted to a general one about promoting 
STEM activities to women, not just the aerospace industry. This is a 
topic of quite broad concern in, among the sciences, astronomy. Most 
astronomy is carried out in an academic setting, where female 
astronomers, many being students with higher diplomas, are also 
subject to the masculine pressures of that world. 
    The sentiments expressed at this DPI-NGO meeting definitely 
command serious consideration for home astronomy which may be the best 
climate, in the City for sure, for women to take part in a STEM-
related profession. Home astronomers else where should do the effort 
to accept women into astronomy.in an honest and honorable manner.