Have you seen this? Bet you have, but not this way. 1976 MIT Space Colony Systems Design

October 5, 2023

Author: Smith

To a Librarian, every protocol-followed, clinically-cataloged, environmentally-protected and filed-away asset has a real Human story. The asset on this page has many Human stories.

There is one story for each of its original contributors and one for every work day from before its first draft to this day when it is being released in its entirety in a format and on a place befitting its historical – And Future – importance.

We will tell only one of those stories here, because we know you want to just get to it. This is the shortest, the most recent and the one with the smallest cast of characters.

About a week ago on his way out to Idaho to see his friend Burt, Space Studies Institute President Gary C Hudson etroduced me to a man named Cameron Wiese. Mr. Wiese had told Gary that he had recently gone “down the rabbit hole” after discovering and actually reading The High Frontier, and then reading 2081 and then finding out about the Space Studies Institute. He wanted to know more.

Mr. Wiese mentioned that his passion is to bring back the face-to-face excitement for the future and he was out to do this by what he had found to be a commonality in the lives of Big Future, Big Positives people: The World’s Fair.

He was interested to see if there was any linkage between the Big Future Big Positives of SSI and his work focus. He also mentioned, almost in passing, that he had a podcast showcasing people working on bringing tangible positives into today that would have legs into the future. When I received this email I looked up Mr. Wiese and found an essay that he wrote: (see it at https://www.cameronwiese.com/blog/worlds-fair) and also the episodes of his podcast at https://www.buildthefuturepodcast.com/

If you click that link but don’t click the Episodes menu item to go over to Spotify for all of the releases, you may think that this is just yet another person with a couple of Me-Me-Me’s, but go click that link and you will see that:

1) You usually can get to Spotify a few times without signing up, so you may not need to have a Spotify account upfront to get to all of the episodes

2) There are a lot more than just a few episodes there

and 3) If you scroll down to the very first one you will see along the way a number of High Frontier Concept related technologies being discussed with real people and real companies. And once you get to that very first “Welcome” one you will see that it is short, so your time will not be wasted getting to the heart of Mr. Wiese’s personal and professional point of view.

Since Mr. Wiese is living in the Bay Area I asked him about a face-to-face for a quick coffee. I got the feeling that he wanted to know if those SSI people are crazy, and we wanted to know the same about him. As I walked into the CoffeeBar on Chestnut, I set my phone alarm to 30 minutes as a way out just in case (and because once you to really get to talking about The High Frontier Concept it can be difficult to close the floodgates – Space is Deep, Improving the Human Condition is Wide and both are loaded for bear with tangents).

In the end, I didn’t hear the alarm go off and that 30 minute professional-people sit-down-with-serious-faces turned out to be a 3 hour arms-waving walk up Valparaiso, over to Santa Cruz, along El Camino, a grand tour of the the Menlo downtown. In the end my personal conclusion was that if the man is crazy it is, at least at the moment, exactly the right kind of crazy. I hoped that I presented SSI in its best possible, and most true, light, but I didn’t know. Like some of you, I can tend to get excited about the hard work done and so much yet to be done towards The High Frontier Concept.

A couple of nights later, Mr. Wiese texted to say that he was hoping to connect with someone I had mentioned in the O’Neillian history and could he use me to possibly help that contact. I replied that in all honesty the man would not likely remember me as my interaction with him had been on background research with limited scope, and in any case Cameron’s passion and his real work already done should be enough to open the door if the man was smart – and this guy is very smart.

Happily, I didn’t hit send on a follow-up joke text saying that ‘but he might remember me because while he is really BIG, he has an interest in the very smallest of things. hahaha’ Happily because my jokes never seem to work over text (or in web pages, probably), and also because at that same second I remembered that I had once mentioned to the man that I had in my collection a pristine physical copy of document from a project that he had worked on in his earliest M.I.T. days. I had asked him if I could release it via the Space Studies Institute if I could make it into a format that would give it the readability that it deserved, not just a fast-scan pdf dump.

I thought that not only would some who have personally read The High Frontier see it and instantly do a Keanu-Neo “Whoah!”, but more importantly that it was one of the best examples of major team project documentation and that smart university level people could use it as a quality bar to shoot for in their own work.

He had said, essentially, ‘Oh that? Sure. I’m not the only person who worked on it and others might have opinions but it’s probably out on the internet already anyway.’ Thing is, I had been checking and at the time no googles had ever brought it up. He was correct that he was not the only person who might want to have a say and I could not track all of them down, so it was held in the wings.

Then last year, while I was working on an off-off-broadway project to test online document display technologies, I wanted to use this document; It’s got text, it’s got lineart… and I so much wanted to take it out to the park for just a little peek at the sun. And this time when I checked google I found that there WAS now a pdf, released by Professor David L. Akin of the University of Maryland. He was on the original team and he put his personal copy out as a pdf at the bottom of the very long list of his excellent resources on this page: https://spacecraft.ssl.umd.edu/publications/pub_index.html. I emailed Professor Akin, offering him a cleaner copy and the compiled viewer, and those probably went to his spam folder.

But. He released it. So now we can. On-Broadway.

And, as seems to be the common saying around here lately: Here it is.


Directly to Cameron: Perhaps if you point the gentleman to this page, he will see his early work and recall its time and all of his times knowing that big things could be done, and doing all he could was – is – the way to make them really happen. Maybe that might help open your research door just a little bit. Best.

Directly to Dr. Drexler: Thank you, for all things great and small. That is not a joke. As I’d mentioned years back, my neighbor Jerry pointed me to your L5 Society writings and some of us around here internally know your voice quite well from recordings of your parts – and your clarifications of points in other presenter’s parts – of the Princeton gatherings. And more up to datedly, Radical Abundance was an awesome read. You’ve nailed it every time that I have seen on the subjects that you care about deeply, but Radical Abundance was very good writing for helping a lot more people see where you’re coming from and many of the exciting places we may be going. Best.

Directly to all the rest of us: Big build-up, yes? Well, crack this one open. You’ll get something usable out of it, and we think you will just plain enjoy it on a number of different levels. SSI’s sincerest best to you who do the work, always.


(play with the buttons on the viewer, they’re there to help you. On a mobile device, the book will open in a new tab.)

From Nigel Calder’s book Spaceships of the Mind, copyright 1978 Nigel Calder. No photo credit given so we assume Mr. Calder took it himself. And SSI Executive Director Robin says that that is Bill Snow behind O’Neill on the right, she also says he’s a nice guy.

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