A new space community get knowledge of itself!

by Adriano Autino


In Europe a new discussion about Civilian Astronautics

The age of SpaceShipOne

A new horizon

the view, at the bottom of the gravitational well, is: 

...flat and limited!

In Europe a new discussion about Civilian Astronautics

The space community which met up the April 1st in the Medieval Castle of Moncrivello is all but the traditional space community, who frequents the astronautical congresses and learnedly discusses about space science, without the society was never touched by such events.

TDF organized this appointment by quite "handicraft" means. We were forced to do so, due to the narrowness of the available funds. We didn't profit of any attention by the media, at all insensitive to any initiative not related to the electoral mediatic circus. 

We counted therefore only on our (few) strengths, and on the net tam-tam. And the sites who republished our call and linked the convention' home page are not few! To them, as to all the people who collaborated to the result of the event, a sincere and sound THANKS!  

Around 60-70 people answered with enthusiasm and participation, crowding the saloon of the castle, bringing their testimony, their suggestions, their experience and their interpretation of the events that characterize - a bit silently - the start of the space economy and the beginning of a properly said space age. 

As Dr. Patrick Collins noted, this was not only the first convention of this kind in Italy, but also the first held in Europe after the international symposium of Brema in 1999, on initiative of Space Tours - a tour operator whose mission focused on the space tourism - with the support of DASA, on the theme of the space flight. The space tourism topic, in fact, is around since the 90's of last century, and since then some courageous ones gave birth to enterprises looking ahead, to the new frontier. 

the view, at the top of the gravitational well, is: 

...360, 3D!

Nevertheless, before 2004, the year of SpaceShipOne, such commercial initiatives could offer, at best, parabolic air flights, with few second of weight absence, and visits to the Russian and American space bases. But nowadays the climate is well different: Virgin Galactic  is building a commercial spaceport in New Mexico, where it plans to transport paying civilian passengers in space in 2008. Before 2004, in our analyses, the regret was prevailing: "if the space agencies ran over only 1% of their multibillion budget in technologies targeted to the civilian astronautics...". 

The age of SpaceShipOne

Nowadays, instead, a new awareness is beginning: that our kind can perhaps succeed, to become a multiplanetarian kind, also without the space agencies. And, however, rumors are around, that even Nasa, lately, is considering the opportunity to supply tourist services! 

Our convention run in this new climate. The age of SpaceShipOne, of the civilian astronautics, was almost palpable, in all the speechs, since 9.30 a.m. up the 07.00 p.m., at a very high rhythm. The topic of the day -- the advent of the space economy and how to help its development -- was fully developed, by the different panelists, in an almost choral way, as if it was orchestrated and harmonized in advance. Obviously there was absolutely no time to do anything of that kind, provided that someone held it opportune! Many participants questioned, in the talks during the lunch, the coffee breaks, the dinner at the end of the day, around the origin of a kind of magic that fluttered in the castle, and that brought the people to often smile each-other, and almost to recognize each-other as friends, aware to live an event, recurrently called "great" and "memorable". Surely to held the convention among the walls of an ancient castle, where we can breath the history of this curious and stubborn species, contributed to inspire great thoughts. But I would like to risk an additional explanation: many participants had the awareness to be in tune with the change, on the "edge of the wave" that brings us toward the stars. History passed indeed, in the castle of Moncrivello, the April 1st 2006, and we were part of it, in absolute modesty, but also proud for having detected such path since long time. 

As the promoter of the initiative, yours truly had the undeserved task to introduce the discussion, suddendly focusing the discourse on the so many 'eases' of space (wrt the planetary surface), and on the incomparably higher view that we will have when we'll be out of the gravitational well. 

Patrick Collins re-checked the history of the last 40 years, very clearly showing the curbing role of the major space agencies, up to the great revolution ignited by SpaceShipOne. Collins commented the bloom of initiatives on space tourism and suborbital flights (the feasible footstep today), that will allow to experience both on technological, commercial and legal layers, besides providing a formidable horizon of development for the global economy. Furthermore, Patrick clearly pointed out that the aeronautical industry will likely develop the civilian astronautics, while the government agencies, given their military nature, will be at the end incapable, besides not economically motivated, to develop the needed evolutionary footsteps. 

A new horizon

And Steven Wolfe spoke about evolution. He gave his vision of wide philosophical breath, tracing the path of the universal evolutionary impulse, beginning from the big bang, up to the birth of an intelligent species on this planet. Evolutionary impulse is quite pushing today our kind, and firstly its most sensitive members, to go over, to bring the intelligent life in the solar system. 

Giancarlo Genta added his own dispassionate vision, very rich of further cues for reflection, about the critical phase of the transition of our monoplanetary kind to a spacefaring status. And Peter Wainwright well clarified as it is possible, with the money that Nasa spends for one only shuttle mission (500 US$ million) to build at least 10 suborbital vehicles (SpaceShipOne like). 

The most technical interventions, by Paul Bianco (Carlo Gavazzi Space) and by Matteo Gorlani (Blue Engineering) gave an interesting outlook on some frontiers of the space technologies, giving the measure of how the Italian aerospace industry is decidedly ready to be protagonist of the space economy. 

Adriana Parlatini (OdisseoSpace) provided a report of the activities of her organization in the sector of education, to promote the scientific culture to the new generations. Arthur Woods, closing the day, introduced his last project -- Cosmic Stones. He told his artistic experience and his own philosophical engagement. Woods (together with Marco C. Bernasconi) is author of a cycle of very interesting and well documented papers on the theme of the Space Option. 

Aldo Mella (double bass), Gaetano Partipilo (saxophon), Alberto Tafuni (keyboard) and Roberto Bongianino (accordion), greatly closed the convention, with more than an hour of modern jazz, decidedly inspired and involving, while images of Earth were beamed, recorded by satellite, by shuttle and by the International Space Station. 

The morning of the April 2nd (Sunday), the first meeting of the new constituted TDF Scientific Committee was held, with Prof. Giancarlo Genta (Politecnico di Torino) as chairman, Patrick Collins (University of Azabu, Japan) as co-chairman, Steven Wolfe and others in the board of directors. By now I don't want to anticipate toomuch, because the job is just begun. However please take note that great projects are going to be yarded. 

In complex I would like to say that we demonstrated how, with a modest contribution of the participants (60 Euros is not an exorbitant rate) and some sponsors' help - which I wish once more to thank: CGS. Blue, SpaceFuture, Study DM, OdisseoSpace, S. Paolo of Cigliano, it was possible to realize a really great event. 

Next year we hope to succeed in doing better, involving a larger number of people. Also on the organizational layer, we will plan to devote maybe a couple of days rather than one only, dividing the convention in four sessions, and opening a true call for papers, at least six months before. We will see. Very much it will depend from the sponsorships and from the subscriptions that we will succeed collecting. Unfortunately, none of us has the time to devote himself full time to such task. 

Thus I invite right now all the ones who share our aims, and take our initiatives useful, don't be shy nor fence-sitter, and to take immediately the initiative: write us, examine our proposals of partnership and sponsorship. Together we'll make great and marvelous things! 

NOTE: a better English revision is coming soon!

 [003.AA.TDF.2006 - 17.04.2006]