In Princeton in the 1980’s Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill’s Space Studies Institute became a custodian of the reports from ongoing United States Government Solar Power Satellite research studies. The hundreds of them.
Over the years professional researchers have travelled to the SSI offices in Princeton, Mojave and Los Angeles to look closely at these physical documents because most of the originals in other vaults had succumbed to the sad realities of lowest-bidder digitization.
Now, thanks to the personal support of a few SSI Senior Associates, we are proud to be releasing these technical, environmental and ecological, geopolitical, economic and military reports back to the taxpayers who paid for the original studies. Newly hand-restored cross-platform versions made directly from the original printed volumes.
Do we expect that all of these documents will actually be read? Well, we expect that there will be some engineers who will read most of the reports cover to cover because that is just how some of us engineers are. But that’s not really the goal, and engineers are not the only people who can benefit from these documents.
Here’s the real reason for the many hours of added work that SSI is putting into these releases: Rather than just a dumb dump of low quality pdfs, the format we have chosen provides the available-from-anywhere ability to search for topics and concepts by keywords, has memory-jolting image thumbnails of every page and offers easily skimmable tables of contents. We do this because professional researchers worth their salt know that you don’t have to read everything, but you should scan everything with your own Human eyes to know where the details are when you do need them. The best research format is one that allows for that easy skimming.
Will the online collection grow to include the complete physical collection? That is up to two factors: Time and Money. SSI people are not currently paid. We would like to have the ability to compensate people enough to dedicate themselves to the important projects that we have on our plate, to get more work done more quickly, but the truth is that right now every one of us pays IN to SSI for the privilege of working when we can. So our time is limited by the realities of our day jobs. Plus, while we are releasing these documents For Free, there is no Free… web storage has costs and these viewers are up to ten times larger than their equivalent pdf file size. Without financial support from fellow citizens, there are limits to how many reports we can afford to make available.
The Space Studies Institute is not funded by famous billionaires – not that we would mind a few solid donations from folks who say that they see the advantages of O’Neill’s SSI things :-). Since 1977 the Space Studies Institute has survived and kept working solely by the personal support and dedication of and, many times, the personal sacrifices of people just like you. You are Us. Dues-paying and donation-giving SSI Associates have our deepest and most sincere, heartfelt thanks.
The Space Studies Institute is a non-proﬁt 501(c)(3) organization and contributions to SSI are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. If you are not yet a part of the SSI work and you feel the time is right to make a tangible positive change, you can do your part by joining, or helpfully supporting, the Space Studies Institute. Right here, right now.
And with that… you are invited to be our guest, here in the SSI Online SPS Library.
Just one more thing, a real-world question from a university-aged Space person:
‘There’s a new generation and everything has changed, what could I learn from any old paper documents?’
Answer: By our research – and yes, in our experience – great, important, expensive things are more easily done by standing on the shoulders of giants, not continually starting all over from scratch. Knowing the work – and the mistakes – of the past is going to be your career’s biggest time saver. SPS is one of those big, expensive, civilization-changing things… if it were only about tech it would be done by now. In these documents you will see not only engineering and science but the still-inescapable process, and you will come to appreciate the multitude of actual battlefronts that need to be addressed along the way from a good idea for insiders to a major, positive, profitable breakthrough for everyone.