49th IAF Congress: some Worknotes

by Dr. Michael Martin-Smith


Now that I am back in England, it is time to look back on the trip to Melbourne and note some impressions. As you know, I went to the IAF Congress in Melbourne, and gave one paper on the Humble space telescope project, and was co-author with Adriano Autino of another paper on the economic/political and philosophical case for enlarging our sphere of activities to embrace a Greater Earth. This paper was very well received, and Adriano took some 2000 printed copies of this Manifesto to Melbourne - many of these were taken up, and led to many fruitful enquiries and connections for the spread of our campaigns.

We would like to welcome two particularly interesting new colleagues, Dale Gray, a Professor of History in California with an interest in the dynamics of frontiers, both geographical and technological. He gave a very interesting paper in which he set out the salient characteristics of frontiers, their explosive growth, and the early signs that a new frontier is truly emerging; by his analyses, it is apparent that many features characteristics of the early explosive growth of frontiers have, for the past two years, become, for the first time, visible in the space arena. Chief among these is the sudden growth of new players, increasing risk taking, involvement of venture capital from outside traditional sources, and the use of assets on the Frontier to make advances on the frontier. Dale Gray writes that the ignition of a frontier depends on a tripod of Technology, Legal/social frameworks, and what he calls Charisma, or ideological motivation, needed to create the longterm impetus necessary to overcome early hardships. I see our family of organizations as very important in creating and disseminating this Charisma element in the process, in that our concepts of Cosmic Destiny and Greater Earth can take on the role of the more questionable Manifest Destiny in the American Western expansion of the 19th century. Fortunately - we space pioneers do not face the vexed ethics arising from indigenous peoples. One frontier begets another.

Earth Resources, navigation, and tourism are clearly in the wings, while beamed energy, initially for use in inaccessible communities, is being developed here on Earth right now. It is not long before Kistler or someone like him, uses an evolved reusable satellite launcher to carry a few tourists, and experimental solar power satellite packages for freight. The economists have worked out that evolved Kistler's vehicles could, by 2007/8, be carrying 2500 space tourists per year, with SPS elements as freight, at 40% annual return, leading to an annual billions dollar business. I attended this particular paper, and noted that in the front row was - Walter Kistler in person!

In another paper, I learned that there is an economic law which states that given cost reduction of 10 fold - (in any sphere, provided the bottom line allows it), there results a 1,000 fold increase in activity. The ongoing X-33 development programme aims to achieve such a 10 fold cost reduction in space access by 2004/5, with the Venturestar, while longterm NASA programmes are doing research aimed at a further 10 fold cut in costs by 2020, using small technology demonstrator programmes to test out key components.

Our Greater Earth Manifesto also attracted the interest of Ms Adelia Bertetto, of the EU Commission, who is now interested in collaborating with Adriano. It is hoped that Adriano and I will be able to put our programmes up for discussion at the Unispace (United Nations) space conference in Vienna next summer, and that we may join the IAF outreach committee for IAF Amsterdam in 1999. Thus, new opportunities for presenting the ideas of Space Age Associates, Technology of Frontiers, and the Greater Earth Manifesto to more influential audiences are emerging.

Meanwhile, I have strengthened my connections with the Singapore Straits Times, and we have agreed to do two articles for them covering topics raised at the Congress. Much achieved - but so much more to be done!!

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