from the SSI Facebook page

you don’t need a facebook account to view the latest SSI posts.  just click and scroll past the nag banners.

Freeman Dyson on VSE

Question: Are the recent posts “official”?
Answer: The facebook posts are for anyone who isn’t up to their ears in taking care of the Office and Library or out there actively talking to people with expendable income who want to pitch in personally on the technical jobs required for Space Manufacturing and Off-Surface Human living. Your question looks like a polite way of saying that it would be good to clearly be aware of Opinion or personal perspectives versus Cold Facts and just neat links. If I read you right, you are absolutely right. Every day is for learning, Thank you!

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Opinion Or Personal Perspective:

I remember sitting in Dyson’s office and him telling me the story of O’Neill calling him and saying ‘I am just too sick, you have to do this for me. You know everything about it. Please.’ and how he drove over to his friend’s house and got the model and drove down to DC for the presentation. I asked Freeman why it didn’t work, WHY? The tech was (and is) sound and so helpful and even someone as slow as I am can understand it. And he said, with the glint of a tear showing in the corner of his left eye:

“I am no Gerard O’Neill.”

Primarily, the hope of this post is that you will look into V.S.E., the true background *and technical details* that are hard but not impossible to find if you start looking.

Secondarily, when you have nothing else to think about, consider the risks vs the benefits of great big ideas having, and possibly needing, “a face.”

I can’t tell you how many people over the years have made it clear that they think that they are “The Next Gerard K. O’Neill.” Some of them come right out and say those words, others have better legal and marketing crews. I don’t know, I just don’t know. Do we need a *Next* Gerard K. O’Neill? We already had one and those are big polymath shoes to try to fill. Legend says that GKON himself wasn’t into big huge spinning cities back when he stood at the front of the original 103 classes at Princeton hoping to just teach some Newton, it was when the numbers started coming up saying over and over to him: ‘You can’t ignore it anymore, this weird stuff that your own colleagues do not want you talking about after so many recent years of losing their funding to Apollo can actually work.’  That’s when it all started. The Numbers were the core that he couldn’t ignore. And they still are. But… without a Face…

We have to add, his was a Face, a nice face, that rode out in front of a very well trained speaker – a teacher – who could fit into any group of Humans, rich or poor, officially educated or passionately self-learning, at Congress or at the Rotary Club or at hole in the wall diners like the oft’ mentioned Dutch Goose. “Face” for a technical message does have to be deeper than just the paper holding the image on the magazine covers.

You are reading this because you are interested in Space. Space is more than rockets – at the colleges, community, junior and ivy, I see herds of rocket kids and often wonder how many actual jobs they will be killing each other over in 4 to 8 years, when perhaps Space Agriculturists and Plumbing and Sewage Recycling Engineers may end up with more demand than supply – on earth, as it may be in heaven.

Like many of us, I recently lost a hard working person who was dear to me. And it got me resetting. Life is truly short. If you are serious about your interest in Space then getting it to happen, to truly happen, is all on your shoulders and all about Now. You don’t have to be an existentialist bore at parties but How will you be a part of making good stuff happen? What is the best way? Does it take being or following a Face, or just getting to the very heart of the numbers and putting them in perspective so that they can tell their solutions to regular people all by themselves?

If this Space stuff is truly something that you think matters then Think about it, Ponder it as something bigger than just nozzle design that everyone and their brother are already working on, then Plot a course, and DO. Punt when you have to to survive but keep your pole star in your sight.

And let us all know how it goes because, while books about post mortems of accomplishments are just my tiny corner of the work, exposing and exploring the day to day minutia of the Business of getting beneficial Space done is truly a more important Study for the people, all of the Us together, who are The Space Studies Institute.


by the way, it’s January, good time for Senior Associates to pay in our pledges.  Use the yellow button at: Pay a goodly amount using the bottom button and maybe they can hire someone better than me to put stuff here!

4 thoughts on “from the SSI Facebook page”

  1. Well, since none of us are Gerard O’Neill, can SSI light a fire under Jeff Bezos to be the Face?

    Jeff may be the closest GKON acolyte with presence, having attended some of the original lectures at Princeton. His stated task for Blue Origin is to make real the access infrastructure for Gerry’s High Frontier vision for space settlement and industrialization. The vision continues as SSI’s mission.

    Still a young man, Jeff has no problem speaking creatively and eloquently before cameras and mixed audiences. He can back up words with numbers, hardware, flight results, and business strategies worthy of O’Neill.

    Any allied role with SSI should be rather tertiary for him in terms of his time, as the SSI mission dovetails nicely with what he’s already doing at BO.

    If you look closely at his slide at 2:40 in the 5/10/19 presentation “Going to Space to Benefit Earth”, below the yellow highlighted text, he says to an interviewer when he was still in high school: “As a space entrepreneur, I would construct solar power satellites that would make the world peaceful and affluent through abundant, cheap energy.”

    I rather like the photo of Jeff and Tasha together as he accepts the Gerard K. O’Neill award at the NSS ISDC 2018.

  2. Well, it’s not like folks don’t make attempts :-). You can write him a respectful letter in care of Blue Origin. His words had been that he was going to be personally spending more time there. But then he got that cool boat, so who knows. Between us, physical letters sometime do actually work better than emails. Physical humans tend to still have to go through them deciding whether to pass them up the chain. Emails are more AI spam filtered and I believe he has some good filters in play.

    Jeff Bezos c/o Blue Origin
    21218 76th Ave S
    Kent, WA 98032

    I have my fingers crossed for you Robert. He is way behind in his SSI Associate dues, maybe you can remind him that Elon still pays his Mars Society membership.

    I will say off the record that while Mr. Bezos has been wonderful in his tries to bring Space Manufacturing concepts to non-space folks, there has been a real unintended consequence that people have seen here on the ground. For many years some great people who don’t have lots of money paid into organizations like the Space Studies Institute because they wanted to truly help the future. When a very rich person – even one less polarizing than Mr. B. – says that they are into a similar set of goals (or exactly the same but innocently forgetting to give any due credit), those good folks who have other things that they can be putting their money into figure ‘well, he’s going to take care of it all now, so they don’t need me anymore.’ But the orgs that work on shoestrings go into working on threads. No good deed goes unpunished. Not complaining, it is what it is for any non-profit, but it’s something to be aware of when you get someone that you think you wished for.

    1. He may remember Tasha.

      Another suggestion, for my 2 cents, is Emily Carney. You may know the name. Younger and perhaps far less polarizing than Jeff, she is a very experienced and talented space historian, writer, podcaster, and speaker. Engaging sense of humor and already very “out front” on space stuff. In 2011, she created and still moderates Space Hipsters, a Facebook spaceflight group. She has recently expressed a desire to visit the GKON papers at the Udvar-Hazy Center. I’m not sure if she’s a current SSI SA.

  3. Robert, SSI isn’t looking for a new face, the post was a question of whether the Space communities need one at all to get things done, whether it is all about having or being followers or being individuals who do real things all by our/themselves.

    It’s a thought question.

    It came up recently during a general conversation with some folks and the point was made that IBM (faceless) held up against one of the longest monopoly lawsuits in the country’s history while just a few years later those same teams of lawyers had less problems going after Microsoft which had the smiling face of Bill Gates on the cover of Time as “The Master of the Universe” and stressing to ‘the people’ that that was the smile of the richest man in the world. Which was better?

    The talk then brought up that those companies were private and for profit (as are SpaceX and Blue Origin) and as such rightly but jealously hold their works private and proprietary, whereas in the non-profit citizen arena the works are, or should be, exposed and not only open for everyone to see but fundamentally about pushing regular people to take to heart that They can and must pitch in and make things that help everyone.

    You are a big fan of Carl Sagan, I may be wrong but I assume that you are a paying member of the Planetary Society. Do you think that more individuals were challenged and rewarded for their personal manual experiments in the days of Sagan or in the days of no big face, or since they hired Bill Nye?

    This leads into the point that All non-profits are competing for a piece of the same pie, should it be a war of Faces for dollars and winning of numbers or a coopetition effort for tangible results by individuals? The big orgs have been around a very long time but, speaking only for myself, after a couple of decades of ISDCs all ending with “Next Time On The Moon!” and still being in airport hotels, I start to wonder.

    A thought question.

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