Category Archives: News

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.

Tasha, Jeff and Gerry

Jeff Bezos accepts the Gerard K. O’Neill award from Space Studies Institute co-founder Tasha O’Neill at the National Space Society ISDC in Los Angeles.

Tasha O'Neill, Jeff Bezos and the Gerard K. O'Neill Award.  NSS ISDC Los Angeles 2018

From our personal talks before the ceremony and from his heartfelt words to the attendees at the event, we want our SSI Associates to know: He truly “gets” The High Frontier Concept.

 

Update Thursday May 31st 2018:  

Space Studies Institute co-founder and Senior Associate Tasha O’Neill sent us this link to Alan Boyle’s Geekwire chat with Jeff Bezos which took place just after he accepted the Gerard K. O’Neill award last Friday night at the NSS ISDC in Los Angeles.

https://www.geekwire.com/2018/jeff-bezos-isdc-space-vision/

Here is a link to that on the SSI Announcements page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpaceStudiesInstitute/posts/971465493023029 .

Remember, even if if you don’t have and don’t want a Facebook account, you can visit the SSI Facebook page to see the latest fast bits of information.  Just use the url:  https://www.facebook.com/SpaceStudiesInstitute and move the popup that asked you to log in, all of the posts are viewable without having to sign up for anything at all.

Will you be at the ISDC?

From last week’s members only SSI eUpdate:

This year, the National Space Society, one of the largest Space Advocacy organizations on our planet, will be featuring two awards of direct interest to Space Studies Institute Associates:

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Blue Origin and Founder and CEO of Amazon.com will receive the Gerard K. O’Neill Award for Space Settlement and Professor Freeman Dyson, a dear man with credits to Science and Humanity – and SSI – far too numerous to name, will be receiving the Heinlein Award.

A very exciting fact that isn’t yet on the NSS pages is that Space Studies Institute Co-Founder Tasha O’Neill will be doing the presentations to Mr. Bezos and Professor Dyson.

Everyone involved in Space knows that the NSS knows how to put on a show and the ISDC is always THE place to meet old friends and make new Space relationships.

We encourage you to look at your calendar and set aside May 24th-27th 2018 for this year’s once in a lifetime event.

Read the press release on this year’s Gerard K. O’Neill Award here: http://space.nss.org/jeff-bezos-to-attend-national-space-society-conference-to-receive-award/

And on Professor Dyson’s Heinlein Award here: http://isdc2018.nss.org/team-member/freemandyson/

Freeman Dyson and The High Frontier
Freeman Dyson and The High Frontier

Ok, let’s list the Professor’s credits: http://www.sns.ias.edu/dyson

And let him encourage you to enjoy some summer reading: http://www.nybooks.com/contributors/freeman-dyson/

Congratulations Team SSI! NIAC Phase II

NIAC

SSI Exotic Propulsion Initiative News from SSI President Gary C Hudson:

The Space Studies Institute is proud to announce that the SSI NIAC Team has been selected for a Phase 2 grant for continuing support of the research and development of Mach Effect Gravitational Assist (MEGA) Drive project.

The NIAC Team, Professor Heidi Fearn (CalState University Fullerton), Dr. José Rodal, Dr. Marshall Eubanks, Mr. Paul March, and Emeritus Professor James F. Woodward (Principal Investigator) have been dedicated to advancing the understanding and implementation of this technology that has, truly, civilization-changing potential. We are very happy for this funding that will be a boost to the project over the next two years.

For more information on the Phase 2 award, see the official NASA NIAC Press release at: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-invests-in-shapeshifters-biobots-other-visionary-technology

And our Phase 2 proposal at: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/2018_Phase_I_Phase_II/Mach_Effect_for_In_Space_Propulsion_Interstellar_Mission

And if all of this is new to you, see the SSI Project page at: http://ssi.org/programs/ssi-exoticpropulsioninitiative/ which gives full background, links to the 38 videos of the Advanced Propulsion Workshops and NIAC presentations, a free 330+ page pdf of the 2016 Workshop and a direct link to SSI SA Jim Woodward’s book “Making Starships and Stargates: The Science of Interstellar Transport and Absurdly Benign Wormholes”

Making Starships and Stargates by Dr. James Woodward
Making Starships and Stargates by Dr. James Woodward

Many thanks to the entire SSI NIAC Team and the many supporters who have selflessly pitched in with contributions over the years. Great job everyone… again!

– Gary C Hudson
President, Space Studies Institute