Tasha O’Neill on the Gerard K. O’Neill papers at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Archives

This morning Tasha O’Neill, Artist, co-founder of the Space Studies Institute, SSI Senior Associate and widow of Gerard K. O’Neill, sent this note. We are very proud to share it with you.

In Oct. 2013, I finally decided that it was time for Gerry’s papers to leave this house for a more permanent resting place.

After Patrick McCray had finished the research for his book ‘The Visioneers’, I packed up 26 file boxes with Gerry’s papers and drove them to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport where they would be archived. The important thing to the family had been that ALL of his papers were accepted, covering all aspects of his distinguished career: Physics, Space, Geostar (and other entrepreneurial ventures), aviation, including articles, books, manuscripts, photographs and a screenplay about the High Frontier.

Patrick McCray had made the introductions to his contact who would be championing the acceptance – Supervisory and Acquisition Archivist Patricia Williams.

A few weeks after contacting her, the selection committee at the archives had determined that Gerry was worthy of being included.

We drove to Washington Dulles Airport, were met at the gate and made our way down the taxiway that all aircraft now housed in the Museum had used, including the Space Shuttle and the Concorde. We were led down a ramp into a huge loading bay where staff was waiting to help us unload the Explorer. We were then escorted up to the archives, had the boxes counted and formally received. Patti gave us a tour of the archives including the cold chamber where some manuscripts are chilled for three days to kill any insects before they could do any more harm. She invited us to come back once the papers had been properly archived.

On April 19, 2016, we drove to Dulles where Patti Williams introduced us to Tyler Love who had actually preserved and archived Gerry’s papers. She was very complimentary of how organized they had been and how easy it was to maintain the order that Gerry had put them in. There were stories of how sticky notes can cause harm and what she did to preserve the paper and the content that had been covered up by the sticky notes.

I was able to fill in some mysteries of why there was a newspaper from 1982 featuring the Epcot opening at Disneyworld. The answer was that Gerry had been an advisor to the creators of a space ride and that we had been invited to the gala opening.*

We toured the stacks and noted that 73 boxes occupy 10 shelves.

I was pleased to see that Amelia Earhart’s was right next to his and the Saturn History Project Oral History Interviews as well. He is in good company.

— Tasha O’Neill


Gerard K. O’Neill papers now in the National Archives


Gerard K. O’Neill papers now in the National Archives


Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Archives Division


Direct link to the O’Neill collection: http://airandspace.si.edu/files/pdf/archives/finding-aids/NASM-2014-0005_GKO’Neill.pdf

* – for more on the Epcot O’Neill Colony attraction see this issue of SSI Update

Links from the President. G-Lab and the Chinese embryos

Anyone who has been in a room with SSI President Gary Hudson over the past several years has heard about the absolute need for a G-Lab free-flying multiple-gravity testing habitat.

The SSI G-Lab, testing generations of vertibrates so as to finally gather information applicable to Humans in non-terrestrial gravities, must be a habitat situated for a relatively long period off of the Earth so that the effects of the planet’s 1G do not influence the data.

It should be a spin-system that allows the testing of various low gravities including the popular-culture goals of Mars (=~1/3rd) and the Moon (=~1/6th) plus a control Earth-normal and also the ability built into the fundamental design to test other various increments between those. That last point is important to SSI because a planetary surface is not the only place where a Human presence should be considered, and also because even transit “missions” such as to Mars will require the knowlege of just exactly what level of simulated gravity is best for the period of the trip – it may not be a full G.

The questions about this orbital laboratory typically include “Why does it have to be so big, can’t we get by with a small box?” and “Isn’t NASA or some other government agency already doing this testing?” and “Elon is going to Mars, he must be personally driven to invest in this research, right?” All good questions that are easily answered.

Over the past week another question has been starting to be asked: “Now that it has been proved that embryo development is possible in zero gravity, do we need a G-Lab?”

In case you haven’t seen the news, President Hudson advises you read these headline links:




This is very positive news, but even with independent confirmation the results of this experiment do not in any way take away from the need for G-Lab. We congratulate the scientists and engineers for being the first to publically reveal their doing this important research, but zero gravity/micro-gravity is not the only game in Space and conception is only the beginning. Related – but somewhat contradictory research – from Japanese scientists can be found at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0006753.

Even though it took decades for a government space agency to do this particular obvious experiment, we have conducted decades of applied micro-gravity research. G-Lab is about testing *Reduced Gravity* through the entire life span of a vertebrate, or as President Hudson says:

“… I’d have expected this result. The blastocyst isn’t likely affected by low or zero G. No bones, no calcium metabolism to speak of. The issue is how the embryo develops into a fetus, and what happens after the pups are born and they develop to adults in partial G. That’s the key experiment that (to my knowledge) has never been done.”

And doing that work is what G-Lab is about.

For more information, including the answers to the questions above, please click this link.

An update on the SSI Newsletter Archive

We were just wrapping up the conversion of the January/February 1995 SSI Update and recalling how that was a bit of a jolt to some of the general membership (SSI Senior Associates had been previously informed).  In that one issue of the newsletter Dr. George Friedman (Corporate Vice President for Engineering and Technology at Northrop Corporation, Adjunct Professor in Engineering at the University of Southern California) was named to the board and was presenting his expanded vision of NEO research for the Space Studies Institute.

NEO studies had been, of course, a part of SSI’s efforts for several years, but Dr. Friedman saw expanding the work as being a great benefit to SSI and as an important piece of The High Frontier big picture – while not one that may have been top-of-mind when Gerard K. O’Neill started his investigations decades earlier at Princeton.  After all, Shoemaker-Levy was not on any form of radar in 1976, but in 1995 that story and its implications were bringing NEOs far closer to all of our homes.

We hope you’ll head over and visit the SSI Newsletter Archive and read this issue and Dr. Friedman’s arguments because the consideration of SSI’s role in relation to the Human Habitation of Space requires bringing all thoughts to the table and assessing them in order to prioritize the directions for your Senior Associate pledges and other – greatly appreciated – contributions.

The link to that SSI Update issue is now available in the newsletter Archive, just scroll down to the bottom of the list.

You might be interested in how Dr. Friedman’s efforts evolved over time. Keeping track of the SSI Update Archive will help – we’re nearly done with the conversion of the SSI Update which followed that one (it was the first of the Quarterly releases of SSI Update so it is a long one, with three O’Neill articles, a piece by Dr. Friedman attempting to ease some concerns, and a reprint of the Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine article on the SSI Air-Spike experiments by SSI’s Dr. Leik Myrabo and Yuri Raizer), that issue should be ready for posting in the Archive in a few days.


[[4-18-2016 addendum: It has been asked if SSI’s Dr. George Friedman is the same George Friedman who started the Stratfor global intelligence organization.  We see the confusion because there is a well-known video interview with that George from 2012 after the first SpaceX ISS rendezvous where that George talks in very positive terms about Asteroid exploitation and Space Solar Power.  However our Doctor George Friedman is a different person.]]

Quick hello from Space Access 2016

sa16_garypathways(left to right: Dave Salt of Telespazio-Vega GmbH, SSI Senior Associate Dr. Justin Karl, Industry legend and SSI Advisor Henry Spencer and SSI President Gary Hudson)


It’s dinner break on day two of the Space Access Society SA’16 in Phoenix and I just ran up to the room to get you some pictures of a couple of the day’s sessions.

The picture above shows SSI President Gary Hudson at the podium kicking off the morning panel “Paths to Reusability”, a fast paced and enlightening talk/Q&A on the widely varying approaches, market potentials and the Cons and Pros of RLV’s and ELV’s (Reusable and Expendable Launch Vehicles) .  Plus more than a bit of discussion on the effects of different soft-tech and HR policies of both long-established launch providers and companies new to the game.  If Mr. Bezos had a listener in the audience, I think he will be hearing happy words and also a bit of good advice to keep in mind from the many person-years of industry experience in the room this morning.


Later in the day Dr. Justin Karl gave a quick overview of the Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach Commercial Space Operations course then handed the microphone over to his UCF SpaceOps lab students Carl Christiansen, Bryan Malave, Edgardo Manzenara and Daniel Risler to present their undergrad G-Lab study plans (somewhat related to last year’s SSI G-Lab overview by Gary Hudson).


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There have been, as always, a lot of great presentations at this year’s Space Access —  While it’s mostly a rockets and propulsion gathering there was MUCH talk of the need for a real G-Lab, a “LEO, CisLunar and Beyond” panel with Dave Masten, Steve Hoeser, Mitchell Clapp and Jeff Greason that hit High Frontier topics and ULA brought out slides backing SSI Senior Advisor John Mankins’ SPS-ALPHA work.

Ok, it’s after 8 here.  Mitchell Burnside Clapp of DARPA is already into his talk on the DC-X and Pioneer Rocketplane so we have to get back down to the ballroom, there’s still more to come tonight and a full day tomorrow.

If you’re in the Phoenix area you should consider a day ticket tomorrow morning – Registration opens at 8am and I think that day rate is still $60 — well worth it. It’s right at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix North, 10220 North Metro Parkway East, Phoenix Arizona.  For more information hit the Space Access Society page.

Technology for Human Space Settlement