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have been 1967, instead of 1969. With worse luck, it might


have been 1971. Setting a goal is important and I mean

a huran not merely a technical goal. The overall human

goal in this case: ending all war and poverty. The timetable: before 2050.

The "people program" I have cuggested is idealistic, realistic, and unprecedented. In the words of a song popular in the 60s: "All we are saying is give peace a chance".


In the words of Albert Einstein: "Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age".

One of the most important decisions in the history of the human species is now before this committee. Don't think too hard or too long or it will be too late.

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High FrontierTechnical Progress, A Resolution, Commitments

By GERARD K. O'NEILL Princeton University

Unless we remain forever planet-bound, the new millenium will surely see the emigration of humanity not only to the far reaches of our own solar system but beyond

This special' section of Astronautics & Aeronautics follows by only a few months the second of two summer studies in which well-qualified groups of professionals subjected to detailed review the "High Frontier" concept: the opening of nonterrestrial material and energy resources for human benefit. The special section also comes at a time when a Congressional Resolution on the "High Frontier" has been introduced and is under consideration (see boxed item). And it arrives just after publication of Volume 57 in the AIAA Series, Progress in Aeronautics and Astronautics, a book presenting the results of the 1976 NASA-Ames study, "Space-Based Manufacturing from NonTerrestrial Materials," as peer-reviewed papers on the application of near-term technology to the transport, processing, and use in space of lunar materials. The past few months have also seen publication by AIAA of the proceedings of three conferences held at Princeton on space-based manufacturing-one volume covers the 1974 and 1975 conferences and a second covers 1977's. Moreover, popular books (five, by my last count) on the new possibilities are now available, and recently a Nova television special introduced a still wider public to the possibility of large-scale productive human activity in space.

Some nine years have now passed since I began exploring the possibility that our generation might open a new ecological range for humanity; a range of unlimited volume, three-dimensional rather than Earth's two, and blessed with unlimited clean solar energy and a reservoir of materials vastly greater than our beleaguered Earth could ever provide. In the first several years, I became convinced of the inevitability of a large-scale movement of humanity into space, not for mystical reasons but rather for the same ones that have always pushed us toward new ecological ranges: because whenever a new range opens there is a burst of growth in wealth and opportunity, and the species that makes the transition is-for a time at least-free of the restrictions imposed by Darwinian competition.

The article that follows, on "The Low (Profile) Road to Space Manufacturing," represents the line of thinking I have been pursuing for nearly two years. It is engineering- and economics-oriented, and makes no concession to popular interest-for example, to interest in large Earthlike space colonies. Yet I have gradually come to realize that we in engineering and science, who feel so much more comfortable with this nuts-and-bolts reasoning, are missing entirely a lesson that everyday experience teaches: The public grasps instinctively the significance of a new ecological range, because such a move has so many parallels in Earth's history. Like the 19th Century's westward movement, its

Copyright 1978 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


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

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

Resolved by the House of Representatives (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 resources.

(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,

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 resources and environment of extraterrestrial space to an as yet incalculable 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 in space.

(4) The Congress hereby encourages and instructs all pertinent legislative committees and executive agencies to deter mine 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.

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."

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

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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.

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