« AnteriorContinuar »
It is vital that democracies throughout the world join in closer cooperation to pioneer this frontier. The new basis of unity of free people is not in conflict with cooperation with the Soviet Union. But it will remagnetize and enhance the idea of freedom in the human. mind, where the fundamental revolutions occur.
What will make it happen? How is a goal of this magnitude established? Some say only catastrophe or extreme competition will move people to new action.
I believe we can decide on our own free will. But this has yet to be tested. A democracy has never been required consciously to commit to a consciously positive social goal of this long range benefit and potential.
Others say it is inevitable that we will go into space, and we are so proceeding, and nothing more need to be done. I fear this is not so. As far as I can see the present administration does not seem to see value in the high frontier goal. It is common knowledge that the President has set up a committee to establish national goals in space. I urge the committee on Science and Technology to bring to the President as much as possible the new information from those who fully understand it before he commits to a public goal.
Furthermore, while there is substantial NASA support for the high frontier goal at the working level, there does not appear to be active support for it at the NASA administrative level. Therefore, support tends to go underground.
The aerospace industries are dependent on the attitude of their prime customer, NASA, as far as establishing new goals. To overcome this inertia we can only look to the people and to the Congress, which is sensitive to new ideas.
A citizen movement for the High Frontier is now forming with networks of concerned citizens in major fields of endeavor. New citizens groups are appearing, joining with the "ancient" Committee for the Future (1970) in this great task.
The advocates for the future have been given their first instrument for political action in the resolution introduced by Olin Teague, with a companion resolution introduced by Barbara Mikulski, Lindy Boggs, and David Stockman.
The resolution calls:
*** the Office of Technology Assessment 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.
For this study to have real meaning and to provide results which would actually permit the Congress to commit to such a national goal, it should include both a comprehensive evaluation of the social desirability and the initial critical technological research and develop
There is great value in the soft sciences part of the study. We must learn to look at long-range goals in a "wholistic" way, involving all impacted sectors of society, seeking "synergistic" benefits. We cannot
solve critical problems of energy, environment, economy, on a shortterm, single-issue basis. This study could serve as a new model of future-oriented decisionmaking. In that alone, it would make a real contribution.
In summation, I specifically urge the Committee on Science and Technology to:
1. Vigorously support the Shuttle, resisting any effort by the administration to cut it back.
2. Increase NASA's capacity for long-range planning.
3. Take expeditious action on Resolutions 451 and 447 by calling for hearings on it. I believe it would be of vital importance for the committee to hear the full case for the development of the High Frontier. It has never been fully brought together, and what can be done in a few moments is not sufficient for your judgment at all. 4. Call together immediately following this hearing a task force of members of the Committee on Science and Technology, along with interested competent citizens and appropriate members of OTA and other interested Members of Congress, to design the study which the resolution requests.
If the high frontier resolution is acted upon favorably, I believe it will become a seed of a Magna Carta for the Future, extending the freedom of humanity.
Let those who came before us be an inspiration to us. The torch of freedom has been passed generation to generation-from Pericles Funeral Oration, to the Magna Carta, to the Declaration of Independence, to the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Four Freedoms. Now it is our turn to carry forward with the High Frontier Resolution, which may become a next step for freedom.
Mr. TEAGUE. Thank you, Barbara. I think there is no question that time will come in space, just as in the aerospace industry, that civilians will be involved. When that time will come, I do not know. But I know our committee is interested, and we want to try to accomplish this goal.
Ms. HUBBARD. Thank you very much, Mr. Teague.
Mr. TEAGUE. Mr. O'Neill.
[The prepared statement of Dr. O'Neill follows:]
Testimony of Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill,
before the Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives, Jan. 25th, 1978
in support of House Concurrent Resolution 451
Thank you for the opportunity to present these views. I'm here to report to you on great progress that's been made, on a unique opportunity that we now have to benefit this country and the world, and finally to point to a very big job still to be done. At the start I want to thank the several Congressional committees that have recognized the significance of this work from the start; and the hundreds of scientists and engineers in government, the universities and industry that have brought the paper study phase to a most successful conclusion; and the private citizens' groups, of which Mrs. Hubbard's is an outstanding example, that have supported this work from its first public discussion.
Humanity is now faced with urgent problems that far transcend in scope and timescale the duration of one American presidency. How to solve growing shortages of energy, how to reverse the present worldwide sink toward poverty, hunger, and military confrontation over diminishing resources. There are two alternative approaches:
One is to accept the inevitability of catastrophe, and do nothing except to monitor global resources, slow the pace of decline by conservation, and be ready to accept the harsh limits on human freedoms that an eventual global steady-state will impose. That is the counsel of the "limits-togrowth" apologists. It was expressed well in the article "After the Deluge, the Covenant" in Saturday Review-orld. That article imagines as a good solution a history of these next decades in which 65 million people die by starvation, many millions more die in nuclear wars, and ultimately nations such as our own surrender sovreignty to a worldwide Authority with control over all our nuclear weapons and power to equalize world food supplies by shipping American food abroad with or without our consent. Let me emphasize that I share with many people a belief that a reduction of population growth rates is a good thing. The fact is, though, that the only peaceful way that reduction has ever come about is by individual free choice, in an affluent, well-educated society. No one who calls himself human could regard as an acceptable alternative the enforced death of millions of children by famine.
The second approach to the global problems is, I believe, far more in keeping with our American tradition. That is to use all the science and engineering knowledge we now have in a vigorous, immediate attack on these urgent problems, in a way that will leave us the individual freedoms we have fought for during the past two hundred years. And in the course of that solution, to preserve and protect the fragile biosphere of our Earth.
The fatalism of the limits-to-growth alternative is reasonable only if one ignores all the resources beyond our atmosphere, resources thousands of times greater than we could ever obtain from our beleaguered Earth. As expressed very beautifully in the language of House Concurrent Pesolution 451, "this tiny Earth is not humanity's prison, is not a closed and dwindling resource, but is in fact only part of a vast system rich in opportunities, a "high frontier" which irresistibly beckons and challenges the American genius."
My own background is in pure science, in the search for scientific truth such as the measurement of the size of the electron. Yet I believe that efforts of pure science, with no practical application for many decades, must be accompanied by the immediate application of science wherever possible to humanity's urgent problems.
I'm reporting on an apparent solution to the limits-to-growth problem, based on fundamental facts of science that will never change: First, that while we search desperately for new energy resources here on the Earth, a few thousand miles above our heads there streams by constantly, night and day, a flood of high-intensity solar energy far greater than we could ever need.
Second, that already we know of materials resources, for large-scale industrial activities in space, thousands of times greater than we could ever obtain from the Earth without despoiling it completely. We spent, in todays dollars, fifty billions on the Apollo project. As a result we know that the lunar surface is one third metals, usable for manufactured products, one fifth silicon, ideal for solar cells and electronics, and more than forty percent oxygen, essential in life-support. I say we should use that knowledge, not throw it away or ignore it.
Already we know that there are special groups of asteroids, with orbits close to the Earth, that are rich not only in the minerals found on the Moon but also in the organic-chemistry building-blocks needed for a complete industrial economy.
Last of three basic scientific facts, we know that the cost in energy to transport materials from the lunar surface into free space, where it can be used by a totally solar-powered industry, is less than a twentieth as large as the energy cost to transport similar materials up from the Earth.
It makes sense to put at least a small fraction of our total national effort, perhaps one part in ten thousand of our federal budget, into exploring over the next several years how we can use these basic scientific facts to break through the limits to growth and solve the urgent worldwide problems.
In addition to the eternal truths of science, there are facts of current events, that must be heeded in any practical program.
First, the Shuttle is the only vehicle system that will be operational for at least the next decade, and that can give us a toe-hold on the High
24-215 - 78 - 12
Frontier. If used efficiently, as an airline uses its aircraft, the Shuttle could transport a little less than two thousand tons of equipment per year into orbit.
Second, events are changing much too rapidly for us to forsee now just which industrial products will be the first to benefit from a program of manufacturing in space from non terrestrial materials. Right now the idea of satellite solar power stations, in synchronous orbit where the sun always shines, beaming down low-density microwave energy for conversion to ordinary electricity on Earth, looks like an ideal candidate. The need is great, and the demand can be estimated as a worldwide market of over 200 billion dollars by the turn of the century. Clearly the use of materials already at the top of Earth's gravitational mountain could reduce transport costs by a large factor, as well as avoiding environmental impact questions that would be raised by the alternative of launching rockets through the atmosphere from Earth, with a total traffic that would be two thousand times larger in tons per year than the shuttle traffic.
But it may be that by the time the High Frontier is opened the satellite power concept will be dead, either because of some insoluble problem in the engineering, or because of environmental impact, or because during its development some other energy technology will have become less expensive. It makes sense therefore to preserve generality in the assault on the High Frontier, to develop the fastest, least expensive approach to nonterrestrial resources of energy and materials for use in space. By the time we have broken through the limits to growth, it will be clearer how first to exploit the breakthrough.
In the past three years there has been great progress in the scientific and engineering studies of the High Frontier concept, and that progress is now well documented, in proceedings of conferences
published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in publications of the Edison Electric Institute, and in a disarmingly slim volume with the technical articles from a 1976 NASA study. These articles
have gone through the entire scientific process of peer-review. Last summer a massive study more than four times as large as this one was completed, and its results, in 16 peer-reviewed technical articles, will shortly be published by NASA.
Our present best estimate of the quickest, most economical road to follow is contained in that final study, and is condensed in a special section of the journal "Astronautics and Aeronautics" to be published this March. To show you how much has been accomplished with very little, here are a few pictures of one special device that may be a key to reaching the High Frontier within the limitations of the Shuttle. The device is a new type of electric motor called a mass-driver
It would be used initially as a reaction engine, a tugboat to lift accumulated shuttle payloads of equipment to geosynchronous and lunar orbit. A first working model has already been built, by a group of student volunteers under the direction of Dr. Henry Kolm.
The machine was demonstrated at several locations, one of them the final