The Chicago Society for Space Studies (CSSS) has just added a sixth member to its CSSS Speakers Bureau. Our new speaker is CSSS member Kent Nebergall who in 2004 won the Kepler Prize for Mars Mission Design from the Mars Society and was later part of Mars Desert Research Station Crew 32. Several of Kent’s Mars Society papers are included in “On To Mars, Volume 2” from Apogee Press. Kent has been a CSSS member since 2005.

For years the Chicago Society for Space Studies had informally supplied speakers on space topics to area community and civic organizations as a part of our mission to educate the public about space exploration and development. These presentations were provided by long time CSSS officers Larry Boyle and Jim Plaxco.

That changed in 2003 when CSSS Vice President Jim Plaxco proposed the creation of a speakers bureau. The purpose of creating the speakers bureau was to improve the outreach capabilities of CSSS and increase the visibility of its speakers. In the beginning the Speakers Bureau consisted of three speakers: Larry Boyle, Jim Plaxco, and John Vittallo. By the start of 2008 the speakers bureau had grown to 5 speakers having added David Koch and Jim Kovac.

For the past several years the CSSS Speakers Bureau has been the primary public outreach and education tool of CSSS. In 2007 the speakers bureau provided more than 40 presentations to Chicago area schools, libraries, community groups, and science fiction conventions, including four given by Kent prior to becoming a member of the Speakers Bureau. The year’s top event was provided by Jim Plaxco who narrated a travelog and associated slide show of a child’s journey to outer space as a part of a space concert provided by the 30 piece Music Institute of Chicago Symphony Orchestra which attracted some 300 people.

For the Chicago Society for Space Studies, the CSSS Speakers Bureau has been an unqualified success and has greatly enhanced our ability to provide quality space, and astronomy, related presentations to the general public.