Imágenes de páginas

and to perfect Earth-orbiting satellite systems to gather and disseminate information and for all forms of communication, thus building systematically on the pioneering results already achieved by our space programs in recent years.

(3) As longer range, high priority national goals, it is anticipated that by the year 2000 these explorations will have opened the of exand environment resources as yet intraterrestrial space to an calculable range of other positive uses, including, but not limited to, international cooperation for the maintenance of peace, the discovery and development of new sources of energy and materials, industrial processing and manufacturing, food and chemical production, health benefits, recreation, and, conceivably, the establishing of self-sustaining communities space.


(4) The Congress hereby encourages and instructs all pertinent legislative committees and executive agencies to determine how they may most effectively act in cooperation with each other and with the leadership of both Houses and with the President to achieve these urgent national goals.

To assist in these efforts the Office of Technology Assessment specifically is requested to organize and manage a thorough study and analysis to determine the feasibility, potential consequences, advantages and disadvantages of developing as a national goal for the year 2000 the first manned structures in space for the conversion of solar energy and other extraterrestrial resources to the peaceable and practical use of human beings everywhere.

That initiative came from a citizen's group in cooperation with members of the House of Representatives. They sought language that would include not only manufacturing in nearby space, but also the longer-term goal of human movement into the new "High Frontier."

The timing of the Resolution may be premature; it may fail; or even if it passes, its effect may be diluted and diverted by the forces of reaction with which every new movement must contend; but as one of my good friends in the government put it, "You can't put the genie back in the bottle."

To many of us who have struggled through the past several months of Washington politics, however, it does seem that we are in the midst of an attempt to "put the genie back into the bottle." Fortunately, that attempt has come too late. If it had come three years earlier, and been supported by independent, non-governmental organizations like the AIAA, the "High Frontier" concept could have been discredited before it had time to develop its conferences, its NASA studies, and the rest of the solid, professional literature that has now given it a hold on reality. In the behind-the-scenes attempts

Whereas historically it is an inherent genius of the American people that we vigorously reach out to explore, to fulfill and enhance the resources of new and challenging frontiers, for the benefit of all humanity; and

Whereas the magnificent achievements of our explorations into space in the past twenty years have proved decisively that this tiny Earth is not humanity's prison, is not a closed and dwindling resource, but is in fact only part of a vast, expanding system rich in extraterrestrial opportunities as yet far beyond our comprehension, a "high frontier" which irresistibly beckons and challenges the American genius; and Whereas our ventures into space, though daring, have not been rash, but have in fact succeeded only because of rigorous, disciplined, careful analysis, planning. training and skilled performance, thus establishing standards

and precedents which must continue to guide all further national policy decisions and efforts in space, and

Whereas in 1977, as we cross the threshold into our Nation's third century, because many Americans seem for the moment beset and confused by complex problems, discouraged by alleged "limits to growth" and by careless waste of this Earth's resources, there is thus a crucial need to identify and enunciate both immediate and long-term national goals which shall unite and inspire the free, competitive American people. guiding and galvanizing our inherent genius to explore, to innovate, to learn, to achieve; and

Whereas the "High Frontier" of Space
does provide valid opportunities whereby


H. CON. RES. 451


Directing the Congress and executive agencies to determine how they may aid in achieving national goals in outer space.


DECEMBER 15, 1977

Referred to the Committee on Science and Technology


and enhance we can help humanity's existence on Earth, including but not limited to such social and economic benefits as greater employment, new energy a cleaner environment, sources, new knowledge and understanding, improved health, education, living standards, and international cooper. ation as inspiring goals for our third century: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representa tives (the Senate concurring). That the Congress hereby finds and declares the following national policy:

(1) It is vital to the well-being of the American people, and all the people of this Earth, that every feasible means now shall be mobilized to explore and assess the resources of the "high frontier" of outer space, to better understand and to make practical, beneficial uses of these re


(2) As immediate priorities, research efforts shall be intensified to reveal and to better understand the solar system and the universe beyond it, to develop a practical, efficient transportation system in space,

greatest significance is new opportunity for people. Again and again I have done interviews, spending hours to lead writers or hosts through the logic of manufacturing from nonterrestrial sources-only to see editors or producers, with sure instincts for public interest, zero in on the excitement of a new frontier movement for ordinary people.

That lesson was reinforced a few months ago by the extraordinary set of events that led to the introduction by Congressman Olin Teague of House Concurrent Resolution 451:

"That the Congress hereby finds and declares the following national policy: . . . that every feasible means now shall be mobilized to explore and assess the resources of the "high frontier" of outer space, to better understand and to make practical beneficial uses of these resources....

"To determine the feasibility, potential consequences, advantages and disadvantages of developing as a national goal for the year 2000 the first manned structures in space for the conversion of solar energy and other extraterrestrial resources to the peaceable and practical use of human beings everywhere."

24-215 O-78-62

by highly placed officials to block or deflect the Teague resolution, the AIAA publications were vital as evidence that the new concepts were more than Sunday-supplement entertainment.

Now that its first year is past and it has a chance to find its feet, the new Administration will have an opportunity to do solid homework on the "High Frontier" concept. Good work can be done under Federal sponsorship in the next few years--if the Administration can overcome the no-growth philosophy it entered with. That philosophy was based on the old-fashioned idea that wealth can only flow from resources within the Earth's biosphere-that space beyond spy-satellite altitude will be an arena only for scientific observation.

If these educational attempts fail, what then? In the past months, a number of people, especially students, have asked me fearfully if I would give up and turn to easier, less controversial topics if the Executive Branch made a determined effort to stamp out research into the “High Frontier." I say, no, and so do friends to whom this work owes so much. Those of us intimately involved in the research feel sure that we are on the right track, that we are carrying on an activity that will benefit humanity immensely, either soon or a little later. To walk away from that, whatever the environment, would be an act of cowardice. As long as we can keep the work going, in any way that we can, we will. If funding from the Executive Branch ceases (it was suspended for two months in the autumn of '77), we will keep the work going from other sources, either from Washington, from state capitals, or from private funds.

To that end a small, independent institute has been set up, the Space Studies Institute, Box 82, Princeton, N.J. 08540. A few friends and I operate it without drawing salaries, and it depends for its life on tax-deductible private donations. Already it has served a vital role, permitting us to keep research going while no money was flowing from Washington. It will be the only source of funds for materials to build the second mass-driver model, described briefly in the following article. Friends within the aerospace profession who feel that our work should go on can insure that it will by supporting the Institute.

How should the “High Frontier" concept be linked to the overall body of aerospace research?

First, the time for "summer studies" clearly has passed. The 1977 study, based on the general logic of the "Low (Profile)" article, went about as far as any group can reasonably expect to go within the limits of a short-term, intensive review. The group leaders of that study agreed unanimously that the work should be continued full-time. Essential elements like mass-drivers and chemical processing

plants must be tested in model form; minimuminvestment scenarios like that of the following article must be raised from an individual, intuitive level to the objectivity of computer programs flexible enough to accept and measure sensitivities to various guesses on R&D costs and time-scales.

In its “Low (Profile)" version, the "High Frontier" concept should be a salable, common-sense item of national research. The most severe physical problems now facing this country and the world are the limits on available energy and materials. The Shuttle opens up routine access to virtually limitless materials and energy. Never mind, for the moment, the question of what will be the first large-scale use of non-terrestrial materials. Building satellite power stations may be the first use, but the satellite-power concept could die before being realized, whether because of some flaw in the concept itself, or because some alternative energy technology may be developed that appears more economical. Bypassing satellite power stations could slow but need not stop a well-thought-out space-based manufacturing program, if the basic thrust of the program is to open up the nonterrestrial reserves for use in space.

A space-based manufacturing program based on the Shuttle as the carrier of equipment to low orbit makes sense because the Sun shines full time in space, the lunar gravitational potential is only onetwenty-second that of the Earth, and there are materials resources vastly greater than we could use even in hundreds of years reachable in the inner part of the solar system without our having to fight strong gravitational fields. In the long run, those unalterable facts are going to determine the arena of our activity-whatever the particular products first made in large tonnages in space, and whenever large-scale practical returns come, in the 1990s or only in the next century.

We tend to forget that there is more than a hundred-year mark soon to be passed. There is also a millenium. Unless we remain forever planetbound, the new millenium will surely see the emigration of humanity not only to the far reaches of our solar system but beyond. Now that we realize the possibility of Earthlike habitation in space, all star systems become potential sites for colonies, whether or not those systems have planets.

Governmental myopia may delay for a while the movement into the “High Frontier," but we should not be discouraged. Governments have the habit of being myopic. Perhaps also we should not feel too badly if some other nation than our own seizes the initiative. Several have the technological ability given a decade or so of intensive effort. As scientist and engineers we can take comfort in the fact that the numbers in our favor are constants of nature; time is on their side, and on ours.


Copyright © 1978 by the American lastitute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

As an outgrowth of the 1977 NASA-Ames Summer Study, artist R. Guidice was asked to paint the most recent engineering concepts depicting the building block phases of a program of space-based manufacturing from non-terrestrial materials. The paintings on this issue of A/A's cover, and on the opening pages of the following article, were produced in close consultation with the study group. For example, the paintings of the mass-driver reaction engines and the modular habitats are based on engineering sketches drawn by one of the study participants, J. Shettler of General Motors.

The paintings depict two of the scenarios treated in the summer study: retrieval of lunar materials and retrieval of asteroidal materials. Both scenarios assume mass drivers used for low-to-high orbit transportation along the lines described in G. K. O'Neill's article following here. Mass drivers would also propel lunar materials into free space for processing and pull Earthapproaching asteroids on gravity-assisted retrieval missions into high Earth orbit. In his article, O'Neill describes a "low-road," bootstrap program based on the lunar option.

The summer study also made considerable progress in exploring the asteroid alternative. An asteroid study

group found that the retrieval of asteroidal material may be cost-competitive with the retrieval of lunar material. Some Earth-approaching asteroids, if gravityassisted by Venus, Earth and Moon, were calculated to be as accessible (in terms of energy) to space manufacturing sites as the lunar surface.

Scientists and engineers at both the 1977 summer study and at a NASA Office of Space Science-funded workshop on near-Earth resources held later in the summer of 1977 in La Jolla unanimously recommended an increased effort in the telescopic search for Earthapproaching asteroids, follow-up work in determining their orbits and chemical classification, and a Fiscal Year 1980 new start on a program of rendezvous missions for the mid-Eighties to prime asteroid candidates for chemical assay.

Advantages of the asteroid case include the probable availability of water, carbon and free metals, the availability of continuous solar energy and freedom from the need for soft landings. Disadvantages include poorer knowledge of available materials and greater distances and times required for retrieval. At this early stage it seems wise to keep both options alive by vigorous research.

Optical flying-spot scanners measure the position and velocity of sacks of lunar material as they pass through correctors downrange of the mass-driver before launch into space. Sequences of payload-charging/electrostatic deflection/payload discharge downrange are calculated to yield a targeting accuracy of 1 meter at the collection point in space. The sacks will be collected near the Lagrange stability point, L2, about 63,000 km beyond the Moon, and will be transferred subsequently to the space-manufacturing site in high Earth orbit. The astronaut is shown inside the "safety fence" only for scale.


This interior view of a habitat module shows the living accommodations and office of a crew member. A cylindrical liquid-hydrogen container from a Shuttle external tank forms the pressure shell of each module. In this design, generated by a 1977 NASA. Ames Summer Study group. modules are divided into some seven levels, with three pieshaped living accommodations on each level. These modules would be clustered, shielded. tethered by cables, and rotated to provide Earth-normal gravity during the buildup period of space-based manufacturing from non-terrestrial materials. All illustrations in this section courtesy of NASA.


At the lunar base's operations center, controllers monitor the mining of lunar soil and its emplacement into mass-driver buckets. The mass-driver accelerates the lunar material to the Moon's escape velocity of 2.3 km/sec. The throughput of material, estimated to be initially tens of thousands of tons per year, and later hundreds of thousands of tons per year, would permit constructing several satellite power stations and space habitats per year.

[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

Plant and animal agricultural areas, shown in this cross-sectional view, occupy toroidal rings at the ends of an early space settlement fabricated from nonterrestrial materials. The rings supply food for 10,000 residents of the settlement, a sphere about 500 meters in diameter.

In the final leg of the journey, the mass-driver and asteroid encounter the Moon for

a gravity assist into a high orbit above the Earth. There the payload will rendezvous with a manufacturing facility, and be fabricated into components for large space structures such as satellite power stations, habitats, and ships of exploration. During the trip as much as 200,000 tons of water and 30,000 tons of carbon could be recovered from the asteroid for use at this high-orbit manufacturing site.

« AnteriorContinuar »