About the name of the Greater Earth

(A contribution to the Greater Earth's Manifesto)

by Arthur Woods


Hello all

As we are considering using the name 'Greater Earth' and what it implies as a focus and as a lable for our activities, I thought it would be useful to distribute the source, at least for me, where I was first exposed to the Greater Earth concept. The following article appeared in Space News on 03-21-94 . I personally do not know if the concept and name of Greater Earth was coined there for the first time or is an acceptable astronomical or astrophysical term for what it describes? I have never seen it used anywhere else. The article does mention some of our Space Option arguments.

Arthur Wood

It's Greater Earth, Stupid

by Elisa Griffin Wynn and Kevin Griffin

The sign in the Clinton-Gore campaign that became a political legend read, ''It's the economy, stupid.'' That ever-present reminder helped give the campaign its focus, keeping it on course in the face of constant diversions.

Conventional wisdom has it that such a focus -- in the form of a visionary goal -- is what the U.S. space program needs more than anything else. Its dismal lack of vision was recently demonstrated by the shortsightedness of sending a gamma ray spectrometer to Mars, which of course went the way of the the ill-fated Mars Observer spacecraft that carried it.

The absurdity is not that we sent a gamma ray spectrometer millions of miles to Mars, but that we did so at the expense of putting one in orbit around our own moon. Year after year the Lunar Polar Orbiter mission was held hostage to Mars Observer, only to ultimately be denied even the promised back-up spacecraft. Meanwhile, the straightforward, but vitally important job of mapping the moon for resources remains undone. We continue to give lip service to human missions to Mars instead of using the U.S. space investment to improve the future.

That future will remain an unfocused dream unless the United States stops confusing vision with fantasy. Fantasy is sending astronauts to Mars. NASA does not have the fail-safe, closed life support systems, nuclear propulsion, or other minimum capabilities necessary for the trip to Mars, nor will they be achieved in the next decade.

A useful vision for the space program's future must be based on challenging, but attainable goals and offer a meaningful payoff proportionate to the investments required. Only one destination is both reachable and worth reaching. It includes not only Earth's moon, but also Greater Earth -- the special part of the Solar System defined by Earth's gravity.

Why is a Greater Earth focus so important? One compelling reason is the Earth's current energy resources cannot meet the demands of the planet's burgeoning population without catastrophic environmental costs. Space power systems can be built. But the only way to build space-based power systems economically is to use extraterrestrial resources. And the problems this world will face in the coming century will be far easier to manage in an energy-rich world than an energy-starved one. Only by learning how to live fully within Greater Earth will humanity win a genuinely sustainable economy and environment. Now that is a vision worth embracing.

Who can replace the old, played-out vision with the new? Not NASA. NASA's job is to deliver hardware, capabilities and information. There is ample evidence that doing that job often conflicts with a long-term vision. Not Congress. While congressional stalwarts like Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D.-Md.) and Rep. George Brown (D.-Calif.) have fought for years to give the space program direction, Congress has too many opposing interests.

Real change will have to start at the White House. The 1995 budget provides President Clinton with an opportunity to provide the leadership and vision needed to set a bold new course.

By adopting nearby space as our theater of action and then redirecting, reshaping and prioritizing the uncoordinated collection of space projects it inherited, the Clinton government has the means to create a coherent, productive Greater Earth-focused program by following this formula:


A Preamble to the Greater Earth Manifesto

by Arthur Woods



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