The recent facebook kerfuffle

[from the SSI Facebook page]

Apparently a minor ruckus was caused by a forward of a recent SpaceNews story. Comments here and there ran from analytical to … fun internetty 🙂. One gentleman noted the relationship between the cgi cylindrical design and Clarke’s Rama. For someone who does not do space work every day, it was a good note as were his points on limitations of current launch systems for something as huge as was seen in the article’s imagery. And there was this response:

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Hi [name withheld]! I attached a fun picture for you. Before there was an official Clarke Award, Sir Arthur gave this to nuclear physicist Gerard K. O’Neill. It was gifted between the two before there was an internet.

O’Neill was famous originally for revolutionizing particle physics with his Storage Ring Synchrotron – the technology that made round particle accelerators actually work – an idea that lots of professional folks said was nuts until O’Neill and Richter made the first one in Menlo Park near Stanford and Richter won that 1976 Nobel with it. And of course when anyone thinks of a particle accelerator now they see the O’Neill-caused design in their heads. I spoke with Freeman Dyson years back and in his 90s he was still pissed that folks weren’t / aren’t able to fully “get” O’Neill. (Really pissed, like he scared me when he banged his hand on the table over it.)

You are absolutely 100% correct that something like an O’Neill Cylinder (O’Neill called it an “Island 3” design) or even a “Bernal Sphere” (the a.k.a. name that O’Neill gave in homage to JD Bernal to his smaller “Island v1” design) is not something nearby in time. It isn’t, you are right.

However, that is not the full point that some people are making for spinners. The point, by my humble understanding, being around the industry for a bit of a while, is that at least some type of spinning test vehicle should by now be at least on someone’s timeline, even if it is just a New Glenn sized test lab. No one, no one, has done a single spin test away from the overwhelming influence of Earth’s 1G on even the smallest of vertebrates. Worms, yes, fruit flies, yes. But they don’t have backbones or bones at all like you and I do. Which is something to think about when you hear so many folks saying that the Moon (1/6thG) or Mars (1/3rdG) is going to be just fine for humans – there is no evidence to support those happy thoughts. None. Only a spinning test environment that is away from the 1G of Earth can do reduced gravity physiological testing. So a dream of a big O’Neill habitat is, I agree, a dream for today, but a push for a spinner, even a small one, is at this point, kind of a good idea IF we all are serious about Humans living for extended periods on lower gravity locations.

edited to add: I apologize for the long note, you can feel free to delete it… but I also wanted to let you know between just you and I that I do not expect or ask you to become one of those nutty O’Neill fanboys 🙂, I personally am on record as hating O’Neill (yes, hating) for his crazy “space stuff” for a long time. Thing is that after many years, decades in fact, one day it happened against my long proud habit, that I noticed that O’Neill’s numbers about his reasons for space systems started to add up. It was embarrassing for me BUT … I had to eat crow and admit it. That’s just my personal experience. The spinner test systems for vertebrate physiology in reduced gravity aren’t related to that, but I did want to share that personal bit with you [name withheld].


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Joe Haldeman essay: Peace From On High

Giant Space Settlements?  Why?

Science Fiction Grandmaster Joe Haldeman, creator of so many classics including The Hemingway Hoax, Camouflage, All My Sins Remembered and, of course, The Forever War series and Forever Peace series, has graciously given The Space Studies Institute permission to re-release his Non-Fiction essay “Peace From On High.”

This work, previously only available in the fall 1980 edition of the Baen/Pournelle Destinies book series, looks at the concepts of SSI Founder Gerard K. O’Neill from a different angle than most any other that we have seen over the years.

The Space Studies Institute is very proud to bring this insightful essay back to the public and we are sure that you will find it truly fascinating.

“Peace From On High,” from multiple Hugo, Nebula, Rhysling and Locus award winner Joe Haldeman. Now available to you, for free, from The Space Studies Institute.

Get the pdf, read the pdf.  Click here: JoeHaldeman_PeaceOnHigh_ssi

Got here on your phone and can’t read pdfs?  Click here for the online reading text page.

Why is the org into “the most far flung ideas” the one org that is pushing for the most important near-term work?

Someone is finally at least talking about starting some kind of Reduced Gravity test hardware!

SpaceX? No.
Blue Origin? Nope.
Boeing+Lockheed=ULA? Nah.
ESA? NASA? No and for the umpteenth budget year, No again.

China.

It’s an odd way to start but it might at least be a start.Here’s the story:
https://www.space.com/china-builds-artificial-moon
(and direct: https://www.livescience.com/china-builds-artificial-moon ).

Here is why it isn’t science fiction:
https://ssi.org/new-g-lab-program-pages/

And, here it is as clearly as it can ever be said:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO1Pvtv_A4k

Technology for Human Space Settlement