Category Archives: Conference

Looking Ahead to 2019

The Space Studies Institute has been hard at work preparing for the new year. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Professor Gerard K. O’Neill’s High Frontier vision and the start of a new era for SSI. We’re ready for it.

We’re pleased to say that we now have a firm date for the Space Studies Institute 2019 Conference and a great venue. Look for an announcement shortly after the first of the year. This conference will have a new format and new theme, which marks the start of multi-year effort to identify the barriers to space settlement and develop viable solutions.

The Space Studies Institute continues to focus on O’Neill’s goal of opening up space for settlement by large numbers of people. To achieve this goal, we must address the economic barriers to space settlement as well as the technological. The original High Frontier concept relied on space solar power as an economic driver. Unfortunately, the space solar power industry has so far failed to develop. In retrospect, it was a mistake to base the concept on a single revenue driver. Multiple revenue streams are needed. SSI will be taking a fresh look at space solar power, but we will also be looking at other potential revenue sources.

The larger space community is currently focused on government contracting. While NASA contracting is a viable strategy for startups such as SpaceX, NASA alone cannot provide the stable funding that is needed for large-scale space settlement. The history of frontier settlement on Earth shows that cities arise where there is a commercial opportunity or, more rarely, military need. Examples of cities arising from government science outposts are notably lacking. We must look to markets beyond NASA.

The large space settlements envisioned by Professor O’Neill, housing thousands of people, will not be built overnight. They will almost certainly be preceded by a series of smaller habitats, which will gradually increase in size and complexity over time. To date, however, we do not have even a single commercial habitat in space. We must give thought to the intermediate steps between the International Space Station, with its six-person crew, and O’Neill’s Island One. What will those intermediate stations, or proto-settlements, look like? Who will build them, and how will they pay for themselves?

We need to take a close look at advanced space construction techniques and extraterrestrial resources, based on the latest data from recent missions and current research. We should open our minds to new approaches. For example, there is enough space debris in Earth orbit to build a space station six times the size of ISS, and it’s already in the form of highly refined aerospace-grade alloys, not raw ore. Could recycling this material be the first step in developing extraterrestrial resources?

There are also formidable challenges in life support and human physiology factors. We need to learn how to create a functioning farm ecology in space. We need to better understand the limits of human tolerance for partial gravity and cosmic radiation. And we need to develop and prove out better forms of radiation protection.

Finally, we must consider the best location (or, more likely, locations) for large-scale space settlement. Professor O’Neill made powerful arguments for the Lagrangian libration points, 60 degrees before and behind the Moon, but we need to consider all alternatives in light of current knowledge: Everything from Low Earth Orbit to the asteroid belt. And, then, we will look beyond, to the stars. SSI is already working on advanced propulsion, with support from the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts, that may take us to the stars. Or perhaps we’ll take the slow route, hopping from one interstellar object to the next, establishing outposts of human civilization as we go.

There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed over the next few years. We hope you’ll join SSI at our 2019 Conference to help us find the answers.

A Free PDF from SSI

SSI 10th Conference Remarks Document Cover

This is the 90th Birthday week of Space Studies Institute’s founder Gerard K. O’Neill and over on the Space Studies Institute Facebook Page we’ve been posting some snippets from Gerry’s Opening Remarks at the 10th SSI-Princeton Conference on Space Manufacturing.

It was O’Neill’s last time together with the whole SSI membership, scientists and engineers and this short conference opener was, as they say, “A Doozy.”  There is nothing unclear or fluffy in the Professor’s words.

Acquiring copies of the complete collection of SSI Conference Proceedings is an expensive task for individuals, mostly these books are part of private research libraries, so there’s a chance that many even in the SSI family haven’t yet seen all of the details of the real work that can make The High Frontier Concept a reality.  We’re working on ways to make the volumes more accessible, but for right now we’d like to share with you this one small but very important chapter… The full text of those Gerard K. O’Neill Opening Remarks.

If you’ve been reading the quotes on the Facebook page and want more in context, or if you just stopped by here and are open for a very good read, it’s all yours on a free PDF from SSI.  I’ve read it myself and it clocks in at less than 6 minutes… but it packs quite a punch.

90 times Earth has moved around the sun since Gerard O’Neill was born, 40 times since he and Tasha started SSI to work on making a better future for Human Beings.  How many more times does the planet have to run in circles before we take it upon ourselves to pitch in and help its people truly get somewhere?

Click here right now to download and read this free PDF

It’s high time to get people moving toward The High Frontier.

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.

Gerard K. O’Neill on NASA

It is common at conferences and meetings to hear folks casually mention that, unlike other established entities, The Space Studies Institute is not a political organization.

That isn’t exactly the full truth.

A key difference between SSI and some of the other Space related organizations is that we are not a lobbying group, but as Robert Heinlein wrote in Podkayne of Mars: “Politics is just a name for the way we get things done… without fighting.”

Because The Space Studies Institute was founded to be an active participant in the getting of things done the workings of politics always have been acknowledged, occassionally have been acted upon quietly, and sometimes have been taken on openly as parts of the whole of our activities.

Back in 1991, Gerard K. O’Neill found it important to speak openly and very clearly about a governmental situation related to the Humanization of Space. That speech was printed in the proceedings of the 10th SSI/AIAA Space Manufacturing Conference at Princeton (Space Manufacturing volume 8, Energy and Materials from Space) and because its *Point* is just as relevant right at this moment in time as it was when it was written, we wanted to offer it to you.

Here’s the thing though, because of another current project we already had the equipment set up and so decided to present this in a form that you can take with you and “read” while accomplishing other things in your busy life. Please use the link below to download an mp3 audio file of this short O’Neill speech for playing on your smartphone, tablet or computer.

This is NOT the voice of Professor O’Neill. I truly wish that it was, but we don’t have a recording of his presentation so we did our best with a “reading.” It is our hope that the read does justice to the message and that those who knew Gerry personally take no offense to any parts where the voicing strays from his unique style. I plead guilty to being deeply affected by the message, and the way that I spoke it comes from the heart with sincere respect.

Click here for mp3 audio file (19mb).  To avoid your browser being helpful and playing the file directly, Windows users can right-click and Mac users can control-click this link to choose a “Save As…” download option.