thanks for your message.
I thought that Prof. Van Allen deserved a reply at philosophic level, more
than at the politic level.
That's why in my message I didn't touch the topic of the space agencies
What I tried to figure, with my small "exercise", was the extreme fragility
of our cosmic home. I made the example of a colliding asteroid or comet,
only because this concern is known, by the public opinion.
But, our knowledge about universe is so small, that other cosmic dangers
could exist, just around the corner: an unexpected "cosmic broom" could
strike us in any moment.
Furthermore, but the discussion is more difficult and long to demonstrate,
the "broom" could also be a terrestrial one. The real danger is to keep
growing up in a closed system, and sticking on all the possible alternatives
that don't include the opening of the system and go outside. Since some
years I am saying around that we do need a philosophic discussion, to focus
some basic concepts, starting from humanist principles, and from the basic
individual freedom values. This is very important, because we do need to
form a new generation of politicians and journalists, based on solid
humanist principles, and not on the ethic vacuum of the last quarter of the
XXth century. We do need to found a new ideology, because without a valid
ideology we will not go faraway.
There are many excellent economic motivations, that can be resumed in this
space tourism can be the strong industrial development line of this century;
and it can re-launch, in the next 30 years, the economic growth for all the
I think this moment is very exciting and critical: historical events are
occurring, there is an election in the US, people is acceping to discuss on
the big addresses, reasoning on wide horizons.
Yes, agencies seem not to accept at all the advent of a merchant
astronautics. They can't go over their military-statist culture, and someone
started to write that the only way to get another policy is to dismantle
agencies and re-assemble them in another configuration (I don't agree that
they should simply disappear, because a precious know-how would be
dispersed). And, worse, ESA (which never had before a military setup, since
European Union up to know was little more than an economic agreement) is
preparing to turn to a military strategic line, in order to keep alive the
big space industry, orphan of the telecommunication launches.
I wrote a small paper, that will be online in the next weeks, titled "The
ideologic failure of the space agencies", where I discuss the main points of
what we can finally call an ideologic failure (evidenced by the success of
Scaled Composites and other facts):
1) as Dr. Patrick Collins pointed out in several papers, from the Gagarin's
flight to nowadays, agencies spent 1 trillion $, without decreasing of 1
cent the cost of 1kg to orbit;
2) the percentage of failures progressively increased during last 30 years
(2 shuttles on 5 were lost, Ariane 5 has 21% of failures, vs. 2,6% Ariane 4,
just to mention the most relevant cases), so quality is getting worse;
3) as I wrote in my paper for 2003 IAF Congress, the quality standards --
born in the public environment, aerospace and defense -- grew up as a
gigantic ensemble of self-targeted rules, more an more specialized, made by
quality specialists, and not by expert project managers and technicians; the
result is that none private industry, in space community nor outside, can
afford quality; and the result, in the space industry, is anyway the
worsening of quality, as one shown in point 2).
I think that we should try to organize an international symposium, on the
space age philosophy.
This could be the right time to do it. Do you think we could find any
sponsors, to finance such initiative?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Harris" <tharris@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "Robert Dick" <rdick@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>; "Sandi Marie"
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 5:01 AM
> Hi Adriano,
> I agree with the below of course but do you think the space agency and
> politicians could really "sell" the human expansion into space these
> arguments? Sadly, I doubt it unless there was a near miss with a very
> visible comet or asteroid or something. As you know, I ahve found the
> Canadian Space Agency unbelievably resistant even to the more pedestrian
> social science arguments I promote.
> From: A. Autino - TdF <adriano.autino@xxxxxx>
> To: jeff@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Cc: Larry Kellogg <lkellogg@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>; Lista TdF Inglese
> <tdf-elist@xxxxxxxx>; dlivings@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx;
> Subject: Reply to James Van Allen on the motivation of human spaceflight
> Date: Monday, August 02, 2004 5:12 PM
> Dear Prof. Van Allen, and dear Co-planetaries,
> Prof. Van Allen -- the discoverer of radiation belts encircling Earth --
> said "the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is
> ideology of adventure."
> The above is absolutely false. I have nothing against the ideology of
> adventure, but we have many other motivations. There are economic
> motivations and ethic motivations (of course I'm speaking about humanist
> ethics and not of other, very popular, so-called ethics).
> But maybe the first priority motivation is not economic, and neither
> May I suggest a small exercise? OK, it's short.
> First point of view. You are sitting in front of your computer, reading
> message: image to observe yourself from outside, yes, you are sitting
> drinking your coffee or tea...
> Second point of view. Floating at 100 meters above your home, observe it:
> there are other houses around, hundreds and thousands of other people,
> making many things.
> Third point of view. From an ISS' window, you see Earth passing under you.
> There are 6.5 billion pepole over there. You can't see your home, but it
> there, and inside it you are always sitting at your pc. You think about
> beautiful planet as your home.
> Fourth point of view. From Juppiter orbit. Can you see the Earth? Not
> without a telescope. But it is there, and in your house -- somewhere in
> universe -- you are sitting in front of your computer.
> Fifth point of view. Outside the Solar System. OK, we are far away enough.
> Look at that solar system. Can you call it home? Not yet. Anyway all
> there not other homes. All around there is absolutely _nothing_, for
> thousands of light years. Inside the solar system there are many planets,
> moons and asteroids, but none of them you can call home.
> There is only one blue planet, with an athmosphere we can breath: Earth.
> Are you sure that Earth is still there?
> Realize the reality: you and me (and other 6.5 billion people) live on a
> sand grain, lost in the universe.
> Should any "cosmic broom" (an asteroid, a comet, a sun flare stronger than
> usual) decide to give a sweep, our beloved blue home-planet would be
> away in the dark in few minutes: a poor dead grey thing, where the traces
> the only intelligent (and stupid) life of the known universe will be
> in few decades.
> Now: how can you sit there, peacefully disputing about the "ideology of
> adventure" and other similar fables??
> Probably you are a very reasonable people, and when you buy a piece of
> software or hardware you check attentively to have a second source, in
> to have maintenance and spare parts for a good number of years.
> But you absolutely don't care about a "second source" for your (and my)
> cosmic home!
> Believe me: we -- as humankind, before than as nations -- need at least a
> second source. This is the main reason for human space flight. And it is
> definitely not an option: it is an imperative, for an intelligent species.
> Since nature didn't provide a second earth-like planet, we will have to
> build artificial environments outside. But we can do it: we are endowed
> intelligence (even if sometimes it seems we aren't :-), we have science,
> technologic know-how, and the hugest working potential we never had: 6.5
> billion pepole. What we only need is to find water, but water seems to
> exist, ouside Earth.
> So, what are money? Money are only an accounting mean, while the real
> richness is the potential of work. Humankind was never so rich before. We
> think we are poor, only because we are stingy and greedy, we think that
> people are problems, while they are under-used resources, we are not able
> solve the conflicts without wars, and we keep on giving too much power to
> oil and military lobbies.
> What are nations? Nations are politic aggregations, that people built up
> order to unify their efforts. But what do nations serve, if they don't
> to realize the people's goals?
> The first goal of our kind is to survive and continue to grow up our
> civilization: 6.5 billion people cannot keep on growing up in a closed
> system (but this is already another motivation, and I said I had spoken
> about one only this night!).
> US are the most technologically advanced country of this small blue
> all the other people of the world hope they will keep on showing us the
> to the stars!
> And Scaled Composites, whit its great success of SpaceShipOne the June
> is a wonderful sample of the american free enterprise spirit.
> We all -- human earthlings -- have to support it, and to help and compete,
> to reach the goal!
> Aim high!
> Adriano Autino
> PS: TdF 2/2004 is on the way! You are the welcome to visit Technologies of
> the Frontier http://www.tdf.it/ and leaving your comments and thoughts in
> the public forum, it's free and open.
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