SPACE STUDIES INSTITUTE
195 NASSAU STREET, P.O.Box 82
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY 08540
[[librarian note: This address is here, as it was in the original printed newsletter, for historical reasons. It is no longer the physical address of SSI. For contributions, please see this page]]
THE HIGH FRONTIER(sm) NEWSLETTER
VOLUME X ISSUE 3
SSI is now in a five-year research program, targeted for completion in 1987. The program is designed to bring us well along the way to SSI’s central goal: to establish at the earliest possible time a productive, peaceful industrial facility and associated human colonies in space. All that we have learned convinces us that when that goal is reached, humanity will never again tum back. It will be our first step onto The High Frontier, the principal domain of humanity from that time on.
This is an appropriate time to reflect on fifteen years of work and progress. My own first thoughts regarding space as the logical ultimate environment for humanity occurred in 1969. The time since then divides itself into three intervals, each of five years. In the first, from 1969 to 1974, I worked alone on designs and calculations. It took all of those five years before the first article on the modem concept of space colonies was accepted by a reviewed scientific journal. Then, when acceptance occurred, two things happened. The first was a splash of publicity: a front-page story in the New York Times, articles in major magazines and wire services, and a wave of information and understanding that quickly spread throughout the world. As a scientist I had always shunned publicity, but that experience, ten years ago this May, taught me that in the world outside of science, popular publicity is a powerful force. As a direct consequence, I believe, of that publicity, in the next five years the developmental work was carried on under NASA sponsorship. Much good work was done in that period, but by the end of it our decision was made: to free ourselves from the restrictions, the short time horizon and the frequent illogic of government funding by going it alone, and supporting the basic, essential research through citizen donations to the Space Studies Institute. The Institute, founded originally by my wife and myself in 1977, had by 1979 grown strong enough to take on that major challenge.
The past five years have shown clearly that our decision was correct. SSI has outlasted presidents, agency officials and elected representatives, and has remained the only coherent, consistent force in support of the essential scientific and engineering research vital to our reaching The High Frontier. Now we find high officials of the Federal government coming to us for information and recommendations on the future course of the governmental space program.
Our intensive research program, begun during the third five-year period in the short history of space manufacturing and space colonies, is designed to answer in a scientifically responsible way every fundamental technical question that stands between us and The High Frontier. Each of those answers can be thought of as a link in a chain, and only when every link is complete will the chain bear our weight. The first link is the Mass-Driver. With the success of Mass-Driver III, on which we will build with a period of computer-aided design, that link is well on the way toward completion. The second link is the chemical processing of lunar soils to the pure metals, silicon, and oxygen that we will need for all large-scale construction in space. With the completion of the Rockwell International contract for experimental verification, that link will also be well started.
As we had expected when our research program was begun, much of the necessary infrastructure of hardware space suits, launch vehicles, early dwelling modules -that we want is being developed for us in the course of the national space programs of the U.S. and foreign governments. The next link of the chain that we must build ourselves is the design of solar power satellites out of lunar materials. Following a Request For Proposals which was sent out by SSI in November 1983, there have been negotiations with bidders, and we are close to a contract for that design.
In summary, the SSI research program, wholly supported by your gifts to the Institute, is on track, on target and on schedule. Looking back on the fifteen years of work so far, and looking ahead at the promise of the future, I feel very fortunate to be a part of the program in which we are all coworkers, very fortunate in the high quality and dedication of the SSI Staff, Directors and Advisors, and very pleased with the prospect ahead.
-Gerard K. O’Neill
FROM THE PRINCETON HEADQUARTERS
As was mentioned in the President’s Column, SSI is starting another five-year round of activities, marked by renewal of Senior Associate pledges. The response by our earliest major supporters has been enthusiastic. A large percentage of Senior Associates with completed pledges are upgrading or renewing pledges for the next five years. Special thanks go to these Associates, whose decade of support is SSI’s most important building block.
This month the SSI staff welcomes 80 new Members and 50 new Senior Associates in their support of our reach for the High Frontier. The Institute’s growth is exciting for all of us.
That growth is starting to burst SSI’s seams, as a matter of fact. Executive Vice-President Gregg Maryniak has authorized the staff to begin looking for an Intern for this summer, to help organize the Institute’s library and media. The duties of the Intern will be to review and catalog SSI’s technical papers and articles, catalog the video and audio cassette tapes of Dr. O’Neill’s lectures and appearances, and prepare one-page summaries of SSI’s research projects (including the Mass-Driver, chemical processing, Bernal Sphere design and solar power satellite). This is an opportunity to help out the Institute and catch up on your technical reading as well. The Internship lasts for eight weeks (approximately six hours per day) during the summer of 1984. Dates depend on the flexibility of applicants’ schedules. A stipend of $50.00 per week has been approved for the position. Required qualifications include organizing skills, familiarity with categorizing and filing papers, and general office and writing skills (word processing would be especially helpful).
Anyone interested in the Internship should send a resume and samples of writing to: Bettie Greber, Space Studies Institute, Box 82, Princeton, New Jersey, 08540.
The annual Board of Trustees meeting will take place May I 0 and 11 this year. On the agenda are discussions of the Institute’s plan and timeline, support by local corporations, the 1985 Conference, and this year’s expected growth. Results of this (closed) meeting will be in the next issue of UPDATE.
SEND A SASE: As a new feature to appear in each issue of UPDATE, the SSI staff will be searching out multiple copies of information that may be of interest to our Members and Associates. This issue’s offering is a copy of the catalog of NASA publications. Included in the booklet are details for ordering NASA’s educational publications, NASA Facts leaflets, posters, decals and special publications. To receive this catalog, send a business-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope to Stephanie Crandall, Space Studies Institute, Box 82, Princeton, New Jersey, 08540.
Several of our Members and Associates have written asking about videotapes for use in presentations they are giving about the Institute. The Chicago Society for Space Studies has produced a videotape, about ten minutes in length, that discusses space industrialization and SSI’s role in that venture. The tapes are $50.00 each, in VHS, Beta, or 3/4″ format. To order a tape, send a check or money order to Chicago Society for Space Studies, Attention: Video Department, 4Nl86 Walter Drive, Addison, Illinois, 60101, and please allow about six weeks for delivery.
Since pictures of the EPCOT Expedition from the February Shuttle launch were squeezed out of the March/ April issue of UPDATE, the staff has added them here. It was a delight meeting all of you who were able to make it, and to share the excitement of a Shuttle lift-off.
An unforeseen delay prompted project director Dr. Robert Waldron to contribute this note about the chemical processing project at the end of March:
“Work on the project had essentially come to a standstill in the last two months due to a protracted delay in shipment of some plastic labware needed to complete the ion exchange steps of the process. The local laboratory of U. S. Testing Company, which is performing the actual tests, has advised me that receipt of the equipment and resumption of the tests is expected next week. I fully anticipate that the laboratory phase should be completed within four weeks.”
T. Stephen Cheston was Vice President of the Space Studies Institute from 1981 to 1982, and currently serves as a Trustee. From 1972-1983, Dr. Cheston was Assistant Dean and later served as Acting Dean of the Graduate School of Georgetown University, and was later in its Department of History. At the end of March, Dr. Cheston spoke at a Space Manufacturing Conference at Princeton University’s School of Engineering. This article is excerpts from that presentation.
The human factors of living in space are now receiving increased attention from NASA scientists and engineers, but it was much different during the 1960’s and 1970’s when they studied Mercury/Gemini/ Apollo astronauts. That was a “heroic” time, where missions lasted from 15 minutes to two weeks, and had no more than a three-man crew, usually test pilots or scientists with pilot experience. To survive and succeed at all personal costs under pressure of heavy workloads was to mean having “the right stuff.” Their limited time spent in space, combined with constant media attention, enhanced their overall mission success.
Later, Skylab crews still had “the right stuff’ and plenty of media attention, with the added benefit of much larger living quarters. However, the length of their missions (28 to 84 days), combined with exceptionally heavy workloads sparked, at one point, a breakdown in relations between the crew and NASA’s ground control. The Spacelab and Shuttle missions have moved astronauts back to more crowded living conditions, but the short-term flights have made human relations easier to manage.
For future residents of a space station, several new factors will be vital to effective handling of human relations. In a six-to-eight person facility, there will be males and females of mixed nationalities, each working a 90-day shift. Missing will be the “celebrity” status of earlier crews, and they won’t be competing to accomplish “firsts”; their work will often be monotonous and repetitive. Unlike their predecessors, this crew will not necessarily have the benefit of having trained together as a group prior to working in space. They will be selected for their scientific research, skilled labor or management credentials. These combined factors will spearhead new challenges for the selection and training processes of these future space workers.
In screening space station personnel, the selection process will seek to uncover any overt or covert behavior problems, how a candidate functions in a particular type of group, and how well each will work in an assigned role. Performance in spaceflight under stress is very important, and the selection criteria will include reactions to stress caused by lack of privacy and noise levels of equipment.
Because of these concerns, extra attention will be devoted to human behavior in the space station. The prime objectives in planning for success will be to prevent damage to the facility because of human error, and to maximize individual and group productivity. Specialized training will concentrate not only on technical skills but adaptive competence as well.
These space workers must make adjustment to their new physical environment while maintaining effective work performance. And physical changes do occur after an extended time in space. For example, blood flows to the face, and an expression on an individual looks different on Earth than it does in space. Visual distortions can affect how the crew adapts to critical situations and how well they communicate.
As now, they will also be trained to develop rapid and precise communications among themselves and with the ground crew, so that they can respond at a moment’s notice.
Another aspect of training will be to maximize effectiveness of person-to-person and person-to-machine communication.
Space station crew members will need to be able to communicate with individuals of different races, cultures and age groups, and this will be an important part of their jobs, because people with divergent views may interpret ideas and events differently. They will also be trained to identify any anxieties affecting their work and bring them out into the open. Their group performance skills, such as being a leader or a follower. or working in different roles at different times, will be a crucial part of their training. A safe and effective space station, with attention to individual autonomy, must be dealt with during the training period. On-board procedures will deal with such issues as privacy, leisure, authority (appointed and
real) and legal aspects.
“The human factors of living in space are now receiving increased attention from NASA scientists and engineers..”
As we move out into space, we’ll eventually inhabit “partial colonies.” These will be large space stations, a portion of whose occupants will work for multi-year periods, having their families with them. These would be similar to some oil communities in the Saudi Arabian desert, in which U.S. citizens live in suburban-like conditions found in America. The workers’ environment exists for a specific economic purpose, and there is no capacity for independent political or social growth. This partial colony would nonetheless cause changes in working habits and conditions.
“Full colonies” would offer permanent lifetime living with the capacity for raising children, and would promote economic and political growth. Often, colonies of this kind are established by alienated social groups who are out of touch with mainstream society. Technologies developed for specific economic purposes (e.g. large space stations) are then used for new avenues of social change.
Space station crew members will need to be able to communicate with individuals of different races, cu1tures and age groups… “
Rapid growth of the colonies would probably mean the development of new psychological, social, economic and political ideas, and could lead to independence. In these encapsulated, disciplined environments, social and behavioral scientists will pay strict attention to human factors, and not, as previously thought, solely to the safety of the space station.
Executive Vice-President Gregg Maryniak reports that our Washington lawyers are preparing contracts for signature by the research groups that will participate in the Institute’s solar power satellite design study. It is anticipated that signing and official start-up of the project will be at the beginning of May. Senior Associates will be receiving a special advance mailing at that time.
Solar-thermal designs (such as the one in the diagram below) were previously excluded from advanced study because of weight restrictions. The use of extraterrestrial materials to construct the heaviest parts of solar power satellites, the radiators, allow reconsideration of those designs.
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