Briefs from the 49th IAF Congress
by Adriano Autino
During the IAF Congress, in Melbourne, the World Space Programme Comittee held an organizative meeting. WSP is an initiative promoted by Perspective 2100, and its goal is to formulate the Space Program of Humanity for the next Century. Presided by Dr. Karl Doetsch (expiring President of IAF), the meeting - in which I was invited by the same Dr. Doetsch - allowed to clarify the condition of the Programme and to define the events that are going to bring at the presentation of the final document, at the UNO Conference on the Pacific use of the Space UNISPACE III, in june 1999 in Wien. Since today have been presented 13 documents, that have to be discussed by a list of, more or less, eighty experts (in which Marco C. Bernasconi, Michael Martin-Smith and yours truly). The agenda provides two regional meetings in February '99 (one in Europe and one in the USA), first moments of enlargement of the debate, which the expounders will be invited to take part. The objectivs of the regional meetings will be to put together all the materials and the comments picked up, to identify the omissions, to classify the subjects to best priority, to identify the biggest obstructions to the realization of the Programme's points and the strategies that Space Community should adopt to develop the Programme itself. The editing of materials is going to finish in April '99, with a meeting finalized to integrate and pass the final document. It's surely too soon for pronouncing any judgment about WSP operation. Probably they could have done more to involve, since the beginning, different and external requirements of the Society respect to the Space Community, but it seems very important, in any case, that a space program of the whole Humanity, and of such a wide breath, could see the light. It could be maybe, like we had already written on these pages thereabout one year ago, the most important political event of this century's and millennium's end, an epochal event, able to origine a new ideological engine. All will depend on what do they want to do with the Programme, once composed; in which political and informative sites they will or won't to bring it; and, first of all, who, and how many people, will they ask or not ask for help on its realization.
One of the most interesting Symposia of the Congress (and I don't say that only because it was presented here, and it had a great reception, my document "Concepts for a World Space Program Based in the Society", that saw Michael Martin-Smith as co-author!), for quality of the paper presented, all characterized by a remarkable social and ethical engagement. The Comittee has unfortunately suffered a certain crisis of direction, considered the impossibility to participate of the coordinator Roger Malina. The subcomittee "Relevance of the Astronautics for the Future" has besides suffered of the missing participation both of the chairman Marco C. Bernasconi and of the rapporteur Chris J. Elliot. Bob Finney, of Hawaij's University and yours truly have served better they could, respectively as chairman and as rapporteur. The symposium has however seen to develop a good discussion about nearly all the paper presented. I want mention in particular Dale M. Gray and his work entitled "Current Space Development as a Manifestation of Historical Frontier Processes". Dale is an historician and antropologue, with whom we have by the way established a connection, very promising of good results (like is reported also by Michael Martin-Smith in another article). I find in his exposition very interesting the analysis, and the derivated model, of the necessary conditions for ignition of new frontiers: Technologies, Social System and Ideology. That analysis shines like a light in the night, in my opinion, and brings the social analysis's level of the IAF Congress (usually leaning to give priority only to the first of the three elements) to a considerable height. The derivated methodological indication, to develop the social analysis and to origine a new ideological engine, can only find me enthusiastically, and actively, agree.
Talking about the subcomittee "Cultural Prespectives on the Future of Space", chaired by Arthur Woods, which I attended too, here were presented papers of excellent level, that have stired up lively discussions. I want to signal, between all, the presentation of Cheryl L. Asmus, from Colorado State University, that proposes a scientific analysis of the social gratification got in America by two different paradigms: "Space as a Place to Explore" and "Civil and Commercial Uses of Space". The method used to develop the analysis is very interesting and deserves a more in-depth study, and we shall not fail, in our own small way, to get ahead with it. Another introduction by which I was very struck and with I completely agree is the C.S. Welchs and D.I. Wades one, from the Kingston University (UK), entitled "The Design and Form of the Extraterrestrial Garden". Very easly, what could quickly transform an averse and desolate environment, like the lunar one, in a comfortable, wellcoming place for us? Gardening, the supreme art developed by Humanity, since from the time immemorial of prehistory, when the whole nature appeared, for our ancesters, quite more unfriendly and frightful then the Moon appears today to us. This answer, between others, I also tried to point out in my already cited document, and sometimes I called myself by the undeserved nickname (above all an aspiration) of "Space Gardner".