Statement from the British Interplanetary Society about the Coronavirus outbreak

Update 13 May 2020

Dear BIS Fellows and Members

A brief update is in order and I do hope that all our members round the globe continue to remain physically and mentally healthy.

Our breaking news is that a successor has been hired to fill Gill Norman’s role as Chief Executive Officer. Elizabeth Anderson will start on 1st June and will spend two months working with Gill to ensure a smooth transition. We currently envisage that much of this handover will be performed remotely but are confident that our staff and systems can cope with this.

I want to pay special thanks to:

  • Our HQ events team which has worked immensely hard to produce videos and live stream Q&A sessions, to replace the evening talks at our HQ.
  • Our amazing West Midlands branch members who have been scheduling a greatly enhanced programme of lectures on-line to provide entertainment, education and food for thought in these difficult times.
  • Our wonderful BIS-Italia branch which has been delivering online talks every few days to our Italian members.

I’m pleased to say our printers are still able to produce printed versions of our publications and the delivery companies are still able to send out these publications to most countries. We apologise to those of you living in countries to which the UK is currently unable to deliver. Please rest assured that we will post out your copies as soon as we are able to do so. We also apologise that some orders for printed products cannot be fulfilled until we can access our HQ again safely. Gill and Ralph Timberlake have an assortment of magazines that they are able to post out from their home addresses, so that some level of customer service can be maintained. However, there have been many late renewals coming in that require copies of magazines that were delivered to HQ before the lockdown and are not accessible for the time being. Please be patient with us; we are doing the best we can and you will receive your orders in time.

You should be receiving the June issue of Spaceflight soon and the April issue of the Journal will be heading to the printer shortly. We were delighted with the wonderful response to our revitalised Space Chronicle and the 2nd issue for 2020 will be sent for publication in the next few weeks.

Please continue to stay safe and well.

Best wishes

Gerry Webb

President, on behalf of the BIS Council

Update 06 Apr 2020

Dear BIS Fellows and Members

We are experiencing unprecedented times and the BIS Council and Staff send their best wishes and hope that you are all keeping safe and well.

I wanted to update you personally on some items.

We have sent the May edition of SpaceFlight magazine to print recently. For those who subscribe to the printed version, we hope that it will be on your doorsteps in a few days (longer for those outside the UK). We are liaising frequently with our printing and delivery companies and will let you know if significant delays are expected. Whilst we can still provide printed publications, we will do so. We envisage no problems with delivering digital versions at the very least. Journal subscribers should have received the January issue and February will hopefully be sent to print shortly. Those who also receive our Space Chronicle should have the first of the revitalised editions, which will now be quarterly.

Our Events team is working hard to see if we can provide online versions of our evening talks with, if possible, a live-streamed question and answer session with the speaker on the night already advertised – more news when we have it and please see our website for update on various events.   I’m afraid we have already had to cancel, or perhaps postpone, our ever-popular Sino-Russian Technical Forum, which is such  a shame as it would have been its 40th anniversary.  We will try to fit it in towards the end of the year, but failing that, will definitely be good to go in June 2021.

Sadly we have had to close our HQ in London for the time being and know that you will understand the reasons. The majority of our committee meetings and the administration of the branches all take place online or offsite from HQ anyway – with big thanks to those who organise all this essential activity.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to our staff who have set up various procedures and equipment to allow HQ to be run remotely.  Thankfully our editors and the small team of volunteers, many of whom are already fully accustomed to working from home, have adapted seamlessly. We are in close contact with our tenants and many of our suppliers and are doing our best to supervise the building and provide a ‘business-as-usual’ service from afar.

If you can think of anything that we should, or could, be doing please let us know.  Our phones will usually be manned during office hours and our e-mails are open to all members.

Please take care and do what you can to defeat this terrible virus.  We will do our best to support all our Fellows, Members and Staff and hope the Society will come out of these difficult times even stronger and more united in its aim to promote the use and exploration of Space.

Thank you for your support,

Best wishes,

Gerry Webb

President, on behalf of the BIS Council

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