Yesterday morning Blue Origin’s New Shepard performed yet another excellent test flight. This time landing both launcher and crew capsule safely in the Texas desert even with one of the three capsule chutes intentionally not deployed.
This is historic news and the Blue Origin team deserves a standing ovation.
While that feat and its exciting videos receive the lion’s share of media attention, it is just as exciting to keep up on Mr. Bezos’ goals beyond the launcher – or rather, for the launcher and it’s progeny: Space Manufacturing.
Many SSI Associates have been following the growing hints and announcements from Mr. Bezos concerning the O’Neill/SSI Space Manufacturing end-game, and to see that side of the story starting to break through to the mass media is very encouraging.
It is also a time for careful and considered action.
As the discussion of Space Manufacturing continues to make popular culture news, there will always be some folks (or a lot) who haven’t yet done their own due dilligence on Space Manufacturing and so have not yet begun to see the actual potentials. Thanks to the internet making it easy for anyone to make instant comments and forum posts on any news item, negative opinions can seem to outweigh positives as regular folks see for their first times the individual events but haven’t yet invested the required personal time to let the big picture develop itself in their minds. Frankly, there is a very good chance that most casual readers and internet opinion writers never will see the big picture at all because some other shiny news headline will come along and distract them away, and also because “Space is Big” and things related to beyond-Earth concepts aren’t as simple to fully grasp as reports of what the starlett du jour is wearing to a club that night ;-).
This is not a fault, this is normal human action. If it weren’t the case then the interviews and articles in magazines from People to Science, Look to Time, Penthouse to OMNI to Physics Today to National Geographic and the hundreds of newspapers and all of the radio and television reports and documentaries from the 1970s, 80s and 90’s would have given us all here today low cost energy to spare, thousands of amazing jobs, a better educated world population and more than a few beautiful Islands in Space.
When we all see the reports and the occassional off-target opinions and are tempted to do our own replies to try to help ‘set the record straight’ we should remain aware of our own human drives and emotions and try not to get caught in any weeds of complexity with folks new to these big, important ideas. The Space Age is older than most of us and obvious to many in our own ranks but it’s still very new to the majority of people outside of our spheres of associates. Think back to your own days before you “got it” and consider how getting to that point may have been enhanced by someone listening very well to your objections first and thoughtfully guiding from a common ground.
Remember how The High Frontier book was written by a world renowned Nuclear Physicist but it was completely understandable and easily digestible by just about everyone. O’Neill had the gift of being able to make the complex fit together and make sense without ‘dumbing down’. It’s a talent that for most of us takes practice but it is learnable and it is required if the big goals are ever to be realized. Hard-core engineering details need working on and getting people passionate about that required minutia can be easier after the general message of how it all helps people here on Earth is crystal clear.
The High Frontier and its core of Space Manufacturing is personal to many of us but it is also far, far bigger than any one of us. Let’s look to these new opportunities where brand new people are being exposed to the spark and try to find ways to gently fan that passing interest into the same fact-fueled flame that burns within our membership. Ignore the trolls and posts that are obviously being made just to start arguments, look for specific points and address them with clear respect given to their authors, point to SSI.org, give a gift of The High Frontier Kindle Edition. The net is being widely cast right now, in it among the many are the few who may have what it takes to make a big difference for everyone. It’s every SSI Member and Associate’s responsibility to look for them and support their growth.
With your help online and face to face more good people can find their way to The High Frontier.
Some links about the Blue Origin flight:
Blue Origin YouTube of Sunday’s test
SSI Associate Doug Messier’s Parabolic Arc
AP via KOMO news Seattle
Some links about Mr. Bezos’ interest in the O’Neillian Space Manufacturing, SPS and other High Frontier concepts:
Washington Post (which he owns) April 2016
Popular Science June 2016
recode conference with video June 2016
CNBC June 2016
Al.com March 2016
How Stuff Works June 2016