Category Archives: The High Frontier

99 Percent Invisible Radio/Podcast on Gerard K. O’Neill

99 Percent Invisible, the very popular podcast production company, has just released a wonderful audio episode about Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill titled “Home On LaGrange.”

Producer Katie Mingle spoke with SSI co-founder Tasha O’Neill, SSI’s second president Dr. Freeman Dyson and “The Visioneers” author Patrick McCray, assembled a wide collection of audio pieces from the history of The High Frontier concept and blended together a story that flows smoothly, touching both the technical and personal aspects of what NewSpace Industry insiders call “The Vision.”

The first link below will take you to that episode’s page where a bit of text and many classic Don Davis and Rick Guidice images are presented.  Along with viewing that page, please make sure that you click the link to play the audio episode.   It is very nicely done.

We know that many SSI Associates and Alumni come from Engineering backgrounds but remember the target audience of this piece is folks who may be just dipping their toes into the limitless potential of The High Frontier.  That is to be encouraged.  Listen to the audio and, if you are so inclined, leave a comment on the episode page pointing to the good that you hear.  Producers and writers should be thanked for their efforts and encouraged by the experts in their audiences.  As software people say “there’s always V2… but only if V1 gets some positive response.”

This is a very nice piece.

direct to the episode page:

If your device has difficulty playing the audio from that page, try the iTunes download (the episode is on this list as “217 Home on LaGrange”)

And you can get the audio via soundcloud also, using this link:

New Shepard and Shepherding to The High Frontier

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, 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

Business Insider

SSI Associate Doug Messier’s Parabolic Arc

Space News

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 March 2016

How Stuff Works June 2016

The Vision – Uncut – Now on YouTube

A special video for the Space Studies Institute membership, this is the complete and uncut version of “The Vision” from Gerard K. O’Neill.

Produced by SSI Senior Associates Rick Tumlinson, Morris Hornik and Andrew Lindberg, this is a direct copy from the O’Neill family’s original (Thank you Tasha and Ed!). The lower quality segments that we allow others to post on YouTube came from the cd accompanying the 3rd edition of The High Frontier book.

Sections and start times:

Survival 00:00
Hopeful Future 02:50
Relief for the Earth 06:00
An Obvious Idea 08:30
1969-1979 09:50
The Founding of SSI 11:55
Who is SSI 13:45
The Space Program 14:55
The National Commission on Space 19:46
Scientists, Citizens and Space 25:25
The Moon 27:50
Space Colonies 33:35
To the Stars 40:51
We are the Pioneers 43:35

Note: If you view the YouTube page for the video with a computer browser, the start times are links that jump to the exact position in the video.  To jump out of this page into that page, select the video above and click the “YouTube” logo that pops up at the lower right.

Pass this on, give it a thumbs up, support The High Frontier!

Make Something, Make The High Frontier

Space Studies Institute Newsletter 1986 JanFeb Freeman Dyson mass driverA while back SSI released the Kindle Edition of The High Frontier on as a way to get The Vision out to new eyes in an inexpensive way.  The cost of this edition is very low ($6.99), and even less to folks with a Kindle Unlimited Prime account (Free-ish).

We have some plans for The High Frontier for this year too… currently written in pencil.  It all comes  down to TANSTAAFL (“there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” – Heinlein) and if we all stay up to date with SSI Associate dues and if additional contributions work out then we hope to be letting you in on some interesting information soon.

But back to this story…

SSI released The High Frontier Kindle edition at the low price to get The High Frontier read by new people and re-read in a fresh way by its long-time fans,  and we are happy to see that it is being read.

When you look at the Amazon reviews of The High Frontier you see that for the most part they are glowing, but occasionally they bring up points that, due to the time and events that have passed since Professor O’Neill originally sat down at his typewriter, require some “reading between the lines” in the book.

For instance, there was a review thread that said: Continue reading Make Something, Make The High Frontier