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Who We Are
The Frontier Files were originally a series of e-mails that the Foundation sent out in 1995 to a select list of space activists. The series generated great interest and led to the creation of the Foundation web in 1996. Included are essays from Foundation Founders Rick Tumlinson and James A. Muncy, exerpts from Frank White's series on the Visionaries of the Open Frontier, quotes from Gerard K. O'Neill, an essay from Dr. George Friedman, and a contribution from Arthur C. Clarke.
Preface – Welcome to the Revolution
Message 1 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Rick Tumlinson / Space Frontier Foundation

We are a grass roots organization dedicated to the proposition that it is human destiny to expand beyond the Earth. We believe that this must occur within the next 50-100 years or it may never happen. Further, we hold that the current elitist nationalist space programs are not creating the conditions for a free and open frontier in space and must be replaced with ones that will.

We have been published and/or written about in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Aviation Week, CNN, the LA Times, Reason, Omni, and dozens of other publications.

We started in the United States less than ten years ago and have a track record in U.S. space policy and are taken very seriously by the space establishment, including NASA, Congress, and the White House. In fact, Foundation officers have been called on repeatedly to testify before Congress on space policy issues, and are helping form national space policy at many levels.

We are considered to be the most radical legitimate space group in the world.


We in the Space Frontier Foundation see our civilization at a crossroads. Down one path is a future of limits to growth, environmental degradation and ultimately extinction. Down the other path lie limitless growth, an environmentally pristine Earth and an open and free frontier in Space.

The problem is that what we are doing now in space is going down the wrong path.

We see this as a time of choices and change. Not incremental change but fundamental, revolutionary change. Change every bit as important as the Copernican revolution of the 16th century. At that time we learned that we didn't sit at the physical center of the Universe, that we had until then had an inflated view of our importance in that Universe. Now we are ready to take our place in our Galaxy as a Space Faring civilization. Or are we?

Our goal is to educate you about the issues facing the human breakout into space.

Welcome to the Revolution.
Introduction – Who We Are
Message 2 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Rick Tumlinson / Space Frontier Foundation

This is our Credo:

The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible.

Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space.

Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

Fairly high sounding, isn't it. Well, we take it seriously. When it comes to the Frontier, we fight for what we believe and against those things we see as diverting or wrong. This makes us unusual in the space field, where governments call the shots and create the plans.

That's because we believe that people open Frontiers, not governments. The Foundation stands for you and your children's right to do just that. We believe that given the right circumstances it could happen in your lifetime.

We can begin to open the Frontier of space right now!

Stay tuned. In future messages we will discuss (1) how it could happen; (2) the policies and technologies that can make it happen; (3) how governments are not only ignoring such innovations, but is in many cases responsible for their failure or destruction, and (4) what the Foundation is doing to change that.
Why Space?
Message 3 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Rick Tumlinson / Space Frontier Foundation

"Why space?"

When asked this question, some might answer with the traditional "Because it's there." Fine for a mountain; insufficient for a frontier. There are as many reasons to open the Space Frontier as there will be humans to go there -- and if history is our guide, that number will be large.

In the next few messages we will examine a few of these possible reasons. But the real reason, the one necessary and sufficient reason we are called to the Space Frontier, is buried deep within us. It is a feeling, a knowing in our hearts when we look starward on a clear night. The same feeling that some of our earliest ancestors had as they looked across a new valley, or stood upon the shores of oceans. First fear, then curiosity, and then, for some, a calling. A calling to go, to see, to do, to be "there."

We believe Homo Sapiens is a frontier creature. It is what we do, it defines what we are. This has been true from our very beginnings. Our progenitors wandered out of the first primordial valleys in search of more room, better hunting, or more fertile soil. They left home to escape the dominance of this or that tribal bully, or faced with over crowding, to find a place of their own. Each time this migration occurred, far more stayed and endured than sought the new, but it was the seekers who changed the world.

Each time pioneers expanded into new realms they discovered the old ways wouldn't work. Whenever a new domain was inhabited by humans old survival patterns were left behind, and new patterns created. History has repeatedly shown that these changes in behavior, technology and culture were necessary for the society as a whole to remain vital. As the new frontier communities grew, new social systems formed, systems more in tune with the fact that it was the individual who had to make the decisions and do the work of pioneering. New ways of perceiving the human condition and the universe we live in were born.

We choose this ancient path. In space we will continue to redefine ourselves, as hundreds, then thousands, then millions of us take their places at the edge of the human realm. The value of what it means to be human will grow, in part through facing the inevitable hardships. Life's worth will be the soul of such societies and the measure of a person will be what they can carve out of the frontier for themselves and their families.

Many are saying it is time to lower expectations for the future in general, and space in particular. But we believe a whole new class of optimism and expectation can be created. A child on Earth, previously forced to look to sports figures, flamboyant criminals and entertainers for their self-image will find new heroes to emulate. Our society's youth will grow up knowing that tomorrow can be better, that there are alternatives for the future, that there are living, breathing humans of all colors and creeds out there in the sky, building new worlds.

Your first homework assignment in this curriculum is to find a starry night, or a night when the Moon is bright, and show it to a child. Or, if you prefer, let yourself become a child for a few moments: wonder. Then ask yourself where the future lies.
Why Space – Life Reasons
Message 4 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Rick Tumlinson / Space Frontier Foundation

In this installment of the Space Frontier Essays we further discuss the reasons why we must open the frontier of space. To some of you these may be obvious. Patience.

Human history on this planet is one of filling every empty nook and cranny we can find. We always push out into the wilderness. As our technology has improved, more and more of the Earth has succumbed to our expansion. This has not been good news for the rest of the living things with whom we share this tiny bubble.

There are no more frontiers to be settled on this planet which will do it no harm. It is a fact of our species: we take materials and resources from the environment in which we live; we displace or kill local life forms we find there, and we produce waste products. This is true no matter where we go within the restriction of the Earth's atmosphere.

Some say the oceans are the next frontier, but that ignores the fact that they are already under extreme pressure from our activities on land, and the last thing they need is to be directly attacked.

Our only choice is to go where there are no living systems to harm. Those same machines with which we have so savaged this planet can now be turned outward, to carve new homes for life where there is no life.

Imagine. Someday there might be butterflies on Mars, trees on the Moon and eagles flying in the skies of miniature Earths floating between the worlds.

If nothing else, we owe it to our mother Earth to preserve her diversity in the face of a hostile universe. For as hard as it is to imagine, and as much as we want it to be otherwise, there may be no other place like Earth out there. We may be it. Sure, sure, billions of worlds mean billions of possibilities for life. Indeed, the odds are very high that we are not alone, but that's why they are only odds. We might just be life's one shot. And even if we aren't alone, the life on this planet is still unique. So why gamble. Each species that dies as result of our need for more room or resources or jobs is gone. Period.

Life is precious. The Space Frontier is wide, and what we've seen of it locally is fairly empty. Our choice for the future of life seems clear: stay locked into limits and continue to kill it – or break out into space and spread the Earth's seeds to worlds now dead.

We think the future of human life on Earth is clear: spread it, or let it die.
The Lie of Sustainable Growth
Message 5 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Rick Tumlinson / Space Frontier Foundation

We see the future as limitless, and our planet as part of a much larger Solar System that is rich in size, energy, materials and possibilities for invention and discovery.

Not so for those who are supposedly guiding us toward that future.

Our leaders have developed the 20th century's version of the Flat Earth concept. But this time, rather than placing us on a world flat as a pancake, they have trapped us in a bubble. Five hundred years after the beginning of Age of Enlightenment, society has merely expanded the size of its mental prison, and all current thinking is trapped in the cage of earth and its biosphere. This is a cage in our minds. It is this idea lurking behind such phrases as "limits to growth," or today's vogue term in social-planning circles: "sustainable growth."

Sustainable growth. On its face, the concept is admirable. And in fact we agree with most of its tenets. Our species must preserve, recycle and reuse whatever we can to protect our ecosphere. Space may be our future, but even the most optimistic of us realize the great majority of the human race will be right here on earth for some time. We must preserve it.

But without space included in the equation, "sustainable growth" is an oxymoron. Think about it a moment. It suggests a pattern of growth somehow continuing indefinitely within a closed bubble – but a bubble can only "sustain" so much growth before we bump into the walls. Proponents of this view plan for all of the world's people to live under a global set of rules designed to limit our inevitably increasing damage to the biosphere. They hope to "manage" human society through treaties and agreements that percolate down to the level of local laws.

Very few people have followed this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, especially those of us in the most technologically developed societies; yet it we who have the most to lose. We already consume and pollute far out of proportion to the small percentage of the world's population we comprise – and virtually everyone on Earth aspires to the same high-consumption lifestyle.

Even with huge improvements in clean technology and recycling, under the closed sustainable growth scenario, it is simply impossible for every human on the planet Earth to achieve the lifestyle of the average North American without destroying that same planet. Yet, morally, there is absolutely no reason they should not be as rich as we are. Who can blame them when they try?

It need not be us or them.

We can sustain the growth of the human species and the other life of planet Earth only by bursting the bubble. We must open the space frontier.
Why Space – Personal Freedom
Message 6 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Rick Tumlinson

In the last message we began a discussion of the concept of sustainable growth and its major fallacy - that continued growth and prosperity in the closed bubble of Earth's biosphere is sustainable.

So what will happen to you in the planned "sustainable" future?

As the planet's resources are managed in ever more detail to "sustain" the status quo you will slowly begin to lose your freedoms, because this thinking sees earth and human life upon it as a zero-sum game. Ultimately, nearly anything you want to do in a "sustainable" world will be something someone else cannot – and that will mean limits. Limits to when and where and how you travel, how much you consume, the size of your home, the foods you eat, the job where you work, even how long you are allowed to live. If the rest of the world is to become more wealthy in such a system, consuming more, you will be forced to consume less. Equilibrium will be the goal of the state and individual freedoms will become ever more expendable. Yet earth's population continues to grow.

Since the assumption of the sustainable point of view is that the Earth is all there is, the question must be asked: What happens then? What happens when we hit the limit? If there is only so much pie to go around and there are more of us who want a piece, each new born human being will have to be satisfied with a smaller slice of the pie than those before.

Thus we face a choice of futures. Do we continue on our spiral of consumption, pollution, waste and environmental destruction? Do we adopt Big Brother and accept an ever growing bureaucracy managing our lives as we spiral toward our inevitable dead end? Or do we blow open the cage and create a new frontier of ever-expanding possibility?

By opening the space frontier we toss out the limits. There is unlimited energy, resources and real estate to be had only a few hundred kilometers away: straight up.

The question before us is simple. Expanding choices or contracting freedoms.

Limits or life. Frontier or failure.

In the next messages we will begin to lay out the promise of the Frontier, why we are not realizing that promise, and how we can.
Why Space – Quote From The High Frontier
Message 7 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Rick Tumlinson / Space Frontier Foundation
Quote © 1988 Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill

In the early 1970's the late physics Professor G. K. O'Neill published his book "The High Frontier," in it he laid out a possible road map for human settlement beyond the Earth. The book also provided America and the world with clear cut alternative to our current Cold War space program (which is modeled on that of W.W.II Germany). To O'Neill the future was positive and exciting, and his astronauts looked like you and me. He believed in the power of individuals carving out pockets of life in a largely dead Solar System, and he basically told us how to do it. Although written in the 1970's and with its focus on a relatively specific path to large scale settlements in free space, his concepts and the type of thinking behind them are more relevant now than when first written.

The following is a 1988 GKO quote from a reprint of The High Frontier, pages 325-326.

"We need, I believe, to lift our eyes..... to remind ourselves of the shared vision for which our work is done. Ultimately that vision will expand our physical, political and mental boundaries from the confines of a single planet to the much broader limits of a race freely expanding its habitat throughout our solar system, and from there to the stars. Even the beginning of realization of that vision will bring profound benefits to our planet and its life:

"The sure survival of all races of humanity, and of the plant and animal life forms we cherish as part of our Earthly heritage, in colonies dispersed throughout our solar system and beyond it.

"The preservation of the Earth and its fragile biosphere, as a place of great beauty, deserving our care and our nurturing, as it has nurtured us through our evolution.

"Opening a hopeful future for individual human beings, with increasing personal and political freedoms, a wider range of choices, and greater opportunities to develop individual potentials.

"Reducing the incidence of wars and the constant threat of wars, by opening a new frontier with virtually unlimited new lands and new wealth.

"These are the worthiest of goals, and many of us have tried in our own ways to work toward them. We may take courage in the fact that by opening the High Frontier we will transform all four of those goals into reality."

The High Frontier is still seen as one of the most important books ever written on the subject of the human breakout into space. The Foundation, at Dr. O'Neill's request, intends to keep the High Frontier in print as long as the organization exists.
Some Commonly Asked Questions
Message 8 of the Frontier Files
© 1995, Space Frontier Foundation

In response to the first seven messages we've received a number of questions that might interest an audience wider than the people who asked them. So, we're taking a short break from proselytizing to answer some of them.

There are several people in my area who are not on-line, but might be interested in these essays. May I print them out and forward them (with proper credit, of course)?

Actually, we'd rather you didn't. The messages are designed to be read in a particular order and context. If you know anyone who you think would like to receive these "Frontier Files" please send us their internet address and we will be happy to add them to the list. If anyone wants to be removed from the list all they need do is send us a plain English message -- no special format or magic words required.

Are all the positions taken in all the Frontier Files the official positions of the Space Frontier Foundation?

No. If the message is copyrighted by an individual and the Space Frontier Foundation, any opinions expressed are personal. They are, however, consistent with the Space Frontier Foundation point of view. If the message is copyrighted only by the Space Frontier Foundation it is our official position.

There is nothing new here, I've heard all this stuff before.

Actually, there is much that is not new in the Frontier Files. Some of what we say is a retelling of history, or of the same arguments and discussions that occurred in every culture from ancient China to Britain as they confronted the unknown. A lot of what we have to say was worked out in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Other items you will encounter, are reporting and explaining technologies, policies and ideas that some people may not be familiar with.

Unfortunately, the ideas that lead to our call for a free and open frontier in space have not been heard by the vast majority of people -- it is for those people that the Frontier Files are primarily intended. We urge those readers to whom these ideas are old hat to read them anyway. We've spent a great deal of effort honing these ideas for a non-technical audience and the more of us who can speak persuasively of the subject, the better.
Space is a Place, Not a Program
Message 9 of the Frontier Files
© 1995 James A. Muncy, Space Frontier Foundation

This message is another in a series of Space Frontier Foundation essays designed to inform the Internet public about the incredible possibilities awaiting us in space.

The members of the Space Frontier Foundation are committed to a common vision of the human settlement of space. But just as importantly, we've all come to some very important conclusions about how that vision might be realized, and therefore what we need to do to make it a reality.

From different starting points, and along many different paths, we've all concluded that the current nationalist space programs will never get us space settlements. Even if the world's governments spent a lot more money. Even if all the world's space agencies "cooperated". Even if we waited a long, long time.

It's not a matter of scale or budgets or time. The problem is with the fundamental purpose and design of our space programs. The painful fact is that our space programs can't open the space frontier because they weren't and aren't designed to do that.

The current programs are what's left of our governments' crisis response to Sputnik during the Cold War and the USSR's counter response. Winning the Space Race required large powerful agencies that would do things in space on behalf of their country. Today, we have smaller, weaker agencies that is still trying to "do" space for us, rather than open up space for us .

The key problem is that bureaucrats see space as a thing to do, rather than a place to be. That worldview undergirds the very notion of a space "program" – an activity performed by the government "for us." With our money, but without our direct participation.

The fact is space is a place, not a program. Government's role is to help open space for the rest of us, not run it or do it. But understanding that requires a radical change in the way most people think about space, what space is about, even though it truly reflects and extends our human heritage.
The Frontier Enabling Test
Message 10 of the Frontier Files
© 1995 Space Frontier Foundation

This message is another in a series of Space Frontier Foundation essays designed to inform the Internet public about the incredible possibilities awaiting us in space.

For Foundationers, space is the next great human frontier. A frontier such as the so called "New Worlds" of the Americas and South Pacific represented for the last 500 hundred years. A frontier we have to take from no one. A frontier to which we can bring the gift of life. A frontier for all humanity. A frontier we believe is not being opened quickly enough.

Yet if one listens to the speeches or the sound bites of space officials in media, we are moving along just fine on our road to the frontier. The space field is cluttered with such high sounding rhetoric, which stretches credibility when contrasted with the achievements delivered.

Anyone attempting to pick out which space projects he or she should support can be driven mad. Such confusion acts to support the status quo of simply "doing space," rather than following any plan (hard to do, as there is no goal for which to plan.) Taxpayers are easily misled by the mystique and "shop talk" of a field as glamorous as space. In fact, there aren't many who are "against space" in a general sense. Debates about space thus usually devolve into those for VS. those against a certain approach, plan, or technology.

Seldom is the question asked: "What does this have to do with the goal?

Any organization truly committed to change needs a criteria by which to judge what it will and will not do to effectively advance its cause. Thus, the Foundation has a relatively simple litmus test for projects and/or initiatives on which we may choose to take a position. We call this "The Frontier Enabling Test", which we can apply to both government and commercial systems, technologies or policies:

Our definition of a "frontier enabling" technology or policy is one which has as its effect the acceleration of the creation of low cost access to the space frontier for private citizens and companies, enables or accelerates our use of space resources, and/or accelerates the rate at which wealth can be generated in space. In other words, is the project or policy going to provide a return on the national investment, if we define "return" to be the economically sustainable human habitation of space?
The Foundation Credo – Our View of the Frontier - Part 1
Message 11 of the Frontier Files
Message © Copyright 1995, Rick Tumlinson
Credo © Copyright 1989, Space Frontier Foundation

The Foundation's Credo explains who we are, our guiding principles and our overarching goals. It stands as a set of rules by which we can judge our actions, and by its tone indicates our commitment to achieve results. This is the first of four messages which will examine and explain what it means to us, and how this effects our world view and actions.

"The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible.

"Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space.

"Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System."

Who are the people that make up the Foundation?

The Space Frontier Foundation is made up of people of all types who believe it is up to us, the people, to make space a part of the human domain. Foundationers come from all cultures, and political beliefs. From environmentalists to players on Wall Street, Foundationers all share our vision of a better tomorrow, as free people move outward into the new frontier. The Foundation is made up of people who are goal oriented, largely professionals, and from a broad range of backgrounds. They are people like you, who believe in our shared dream that space can be a frontier in our lifetime, and are willing to contribute their time and/or financial support to making that dream a reality for our children. There are Foundationers spread throughout the space field, from policy makers to astronauts to entrepreneurs. Some Foundation members and supporters are working in government to make our changes occur and some are engineers and scientists. We also have a large number of individuals who are building new space companies, the Boeings and Fords of the new frontier. And we have regular working people from all walks of life who simply want to get involved in something important, who want to make a real difference in the shape of the future... and we would like to think that soon, you too will join our growing numbers.

Why the urgency?

Look around. For the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire and the onset of the "Dark Ages," we face the possibility that our children will face a more difficult tomorrow than their parents. From standards of living, to personal freedoms, to a clean environment – their lot does not look good. We believe that within the next 50 to 100 years this decline will be well underway. We also understand that any large scale opening of the frontier cannot happen overnight, and will take decades to even begin. We feel there is absolutely no time to lose. We must make the human breakout irreversible as soon as possible or it might not happen for a long, long time...
The Foundation Credo – Our View of the Frontier - Part 2
Message 12 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright 1994, Rick Tumlinson

The Foundation's Credo explains who we are, our guiding principles, and our overarching goals. It stands as a set of rules by which we can judge our actions, and by its tone indicates our commitment to achieve results. This is the second of three messages which will examine and explain what it means to us, and how this effects our world view and actions.

The second clause states:

"Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space."

* Why the environment
We love this planet. It is the only one we know that carries life. And frankly, we think she's taken about all the abuse she can. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past when it comes to how we treat the other life sharing our world. In fact, we want to use space to reverse some of the damage we've done to our home.

We support the cleanest possible space technologies, such as rockets which produce only water vapor as exhaust. We oppose all forms of space pollution – from the foul exhausts of traditional rockets, to the space debris caused by throwing away multi-million dollar "stages" (which could be recycled and used again).

Like many, we believe we can use space as a platform to study our environment. But the Foundation goes much further, for we see the space frontier as a large part of the permanent solution to our environment's problems.

For example, Foundationers feel it is time to seriously examine the incredible power of the sun in space to supply the ever-growing energy needs of the Earth's people, and as a replacement for burning fossil fuels.

We must also explore the uses of new fuels from space, such as Helium 3 – which is needed to create cleaner fusion power.

* Where will the "prosperity" come from?

Virtually, unlimited supplies of the materials our civilization needs to grow exist in space. Resources we now go to war over, or scrape from the skin of our mother Earth. We can also use space energy sources to power vast new industries using these materials. This means a job base with limitless potential growth as we expand outwards. That means opportunity, and more choices for our children.

For the first time in history, rather than gaining wealth by attacking our biosphere, we will be spreading life to worlds now dead. Imagine, someday we will even see forests on the Moon.
The Foundation Credo – Our View of the Frontier - Part 3
Message 13 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright 1995, Rick Tumlinson

The Foundation's Credo explains who we are, our guiding principles, and our overarching goals. It stands as a set of rules by which we can judge our actions, and by its tone indicates our commitment to achieve results. This is the third of four messages which will examine and explain what it means to us, and how this effects our world view and actions.

Clause 3 states:

" Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System."

* Why the free enterprise system?

Contrary to many space supporters (we call them cheerleaders), we believe we really are spending too much money on space. Too much taxpayer money. In fact, we should be making money from space. But government activities are not meant to be profitable, and space has been mainly a government activity – until now.

Taxpayer funds flow through a wasteful system – into a questionable space programs – which, like any institution, has one primary goal – its own preservation. Almost all of our "space eggs" are in a few fragile government programs, often characterized by waste, fraud, and abuse.

The budgets and bureaucracies involved in these projects are enormous, given their actual capabilities and returns. As in most government owned and operated programs, there is no need to be profitable or competitive with other systems, so why try to bring costs down? In fact, other, far more efficient means of traveling to, or living in space have often killed by government managers who must sit in front of lawmakers and explain why they need such large budgets, staffs and facilities.

Should taxpayers ever grow tired of this state of affairs, they could end even these programs, destroying any budding, yet still dependent industries, and dispersing those who carry the existing knowledge of space to the winds. (Would you have been able to use the machine on which you read this if there had been only one very large and expensive international computer....and what if it were shut down due to budget pressures?)

Our goal is to end this dependence on the fickle winds of politics and create an unstoppable human breakout from the Earth.
The Foundation Credo – Our View of the Frontier - Part 4
Message 14 of the Frontier Files
Message © Copyright 1995, Rick Tumlinson
Credo © Copyright 1989, Space Frontier Foundation

Here is the Credo one last time:

"The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible.

Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space.

Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System."

The Foundation believes that governments don't open frontiers, people do. It is free enterprise which gives individuals the power to realize their dreams. Free enterprise is how our global civilization was built. But we are restricted from space by exorbitant, government driven launch costs, confusing and restrictive regulations and a monopolistic "We'll do it for you." attitude in government.

It is time to let the proverbial "thousand flowers" bloom on the High Frontier. Governments must move from "doing space" for people, to enabling the people to do there what they do best – generating and trying out new ideas which create wealth. Then and only then will there be an explosion of human activity on the frontier. And just as in other frontier eras throughout history, a new renaissance will sweep the human domain, as new ideas, art forms and even social institutions begin to flood in from the endless frontier.

The children of Earth will have hefted themselves out of the cradle, working together based on their own survival and self interests, while expressing their own individuality through the millions of different activities of a new human society. This is what frontiers are all about.

This is our credo, and one interpretation of what it means. But it is our actions to achieve this vision that are important.
Message 15 of the Frontier Files
Contributed to the Space Frontier Foundation by Arthur C. Clarke

Since the previous half dozen messages were so serious we thought this would be a good place for a short announcement.

Nuclear Scientists at Harwell have discovered the heaviest element in the Universe, which they have named Bureaucratium. This extraordinary element has no protons or electrons, and its atomic number is zero. What it does have is one neutron, eight assistant neutrons, ten executive neutrons, 35 vice-neutrons and 256 assistant vice-neutrons. These particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called 'morons'. Bureaucratium is completely inert but can be detected since it impedes every reaction it comes into contact with.
Visionaries of the Open Frontier – Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Message 15 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Frank White, 1995, All Rights Reserved

The frontier has called to humanity for millennia. However, in the past two hundred years or so, a few humans have come to realize that the next real frontier is no longer on this planet, but in outer space. A few of these "visionaries of the open frontier" have seen that future human evolution will accelerate in the unbounded ecological range offered by the universe. Transformations in thought, behavior and social institutions will begin in the solar system beyond Earth, and continue as we move out into nearby star systems and the galaxy beyond.

In this series, we look at four of these visionaries, beginning with Konstantine Tsiolkovsky.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky: Prophet of the Frontier

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's place in the annals of human thought regarding space exploration is unique, because he so clearly understood that the primary issue was one of human evolution, and he saw it so early. It is becoming increasingly clear to us today that the universe is a near-infinite environment, the exploration of which will almost inevitably generate fundamental changes in human beings. Indeed, "homo sapiens " may well evolve into a new species, "homo spaciens," which is more suited to life on the frontier than on Earth.

Tsiolkovsky was an unlikely philosopher of the space movement, working, as he did, as a schoolteacher in rural nineteenth century Russia. However, he anticipated many of the technological elements of human expansion into space. Even more important is the fact that he also foresaw the philosophical issues raised by space exploration.

He had been influenced by another obscure philosopher of space, Nikolai Fyodorov, chief cataloger in the Moscow library. Fyodorov viewed human beings as fulfilling an important purpose within the universe as a whole, functioning as a kind of balancing mechanism of cosmic energies.

Tsiolkovsky turned Fyodorov's insights, and his own, into the first "space program" of modern times. He laid out fourteen steps that humanity might take into the universe, which included convincing descriptions of multi-staged spacecraft and orbiting space stations. In addition, however, he asserted that the final, fourteenth, step would be the "perfection of mankind." This link between space exploration and human progress is often implicit in the thinking of today's space philosophers, but rarely is it as explicit has Tsiolkovsky made it. It's hard to argue against the proposition that living on the Frontier, with high levels of radiation, reduced gravity, and other unknown environmental variables, will change humanity's physical makeup over time. Insofar as the brain is physical, it will transform thought processes as well. Will it, however, change humanity's ethical and moral architecture? Konstantin Tsiolkovsky argued that it will, while many opponents space exploration argue that it will not.

Human thought has already undergone significant shifts because of our initial forays onto the Frontier. "The Overview Effect," or experience of seeing the planet as a whole from Earth orbit and the moon, is rendering old ideas of human identity obsolete, for example. However, this is only the beginning. As humans continue to explore, we will see ourselves in new relationships with the solar system, galaxy and universe as a whole. Moreover, we may begin to see ourselves through the evolved, and even "alien" eyes of "homo spaciens".

Will we become better beings, or worse? Perhaps evolution does not hold the key to humanity's perfection, but only a simple return, in our current form, to a better relationship with Divine Will. There is, of course, one sure way to find out, and that is to explore the Frontier, as Tsiolkovsky advocated.
Werner von Braun, Rocket Man - Part 1
Message 17 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Frank White, 1995, All Rights Reserved

What are we to make of Werner von Braun, the prototypical "rocket scientist" whose determination and genius were embodied in both the V-2 rockets that brought death and destruction to Britain during World War II, and the Saturn V that took the first humans to the moon some twenty-five years later?

Like much of the early space programs in both the US and the USSR, we find that an effort that could contribute to peace is also inextricably intertwined with suffering and war.

Perhaps we must simply leave it at that, and note that if von Braun and his colleagues had been captured by the Red Army instead of American soldiers in the waning days of W.W.II, history would have been quite different. Indeed, the present era would not have the same shape and substance because the Soviets would have been far more likely to have won the space race with von Braun in their camp.

In the late 1950's, von Braun and his team were working with the US Army at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama. In 1957, the US was shocked into action by the successful launching of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. The initial efforts by the US to catch up, embodied in the Vanguard program, failed. It was only when the job was turned over to the von Braun team that the first American satellite made it into orbit.

Von Braun and his people continued to play a major role in the US manned space program, through Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. They were key to developing the Saturn V rocket that powered the lunar missions, a feat that we would be hard-pressed to match even today. In terms of the physical achievements of space exploration, then, we have to give credit to von Braun for taking humanity to the moon. However, his work also had a philosophical impact, which we will consider in Part Two of this essay.
Werner von Braun, Rocket Man - Part 2
Message 18 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Frank White, 1995, All Rights Reserved

Von Braun, like many of his contemporaries, had a vision of human exploration of the solar system, which he laid out for the public in the early 1950's. He saw a space station in Low Earth Orbit, and a presence on the moon, but Mars was his ultimate goal. In a very real sense, he gave reality to the whole concept of a "space program" as a logical series of steps out from the home planet and into the solar system.

With hindsight, we can see that in addition to his practical contributions to Apollo's landing on the moon, von Braun helped to set a specific image of human space exploration in our minds, i.e., the massive government-supported space venture. As we move away from that paradigm, we may well be able to re-think and re-evaluate von Braun's true contribution to the opening of the frontier.

Today, we are slowly but surely convincing policymakers that, while governments may have a role on the frontier, it should be that of opening the frontier for everyone, not monopolizing the entire exploration effort. If Apollo had begun a process of establishing a moon base, it would have been more consistent with not only today's open frontier vision, but perhaps with von Braun's as well.

Even if the overall paradigm shifts, there will still be major missions, such as going to Mars, that might require an Apollo-type program. If so, we should bear in mind that the program is intended to support a process, not to serve as an end in itself.
John F. Kennedy, Architect of Apollo - Part 1
Message 19 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Frank White, 1995, All Rights Reserved

The role of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States from 1961 to 1963, in the human movement onto the frontier, has been a matter of some debate within the space movement. In Part One of our consideration of former President Kennedy's contribution, we will look at the critical side of the equation and then at the positive view. In Part Two, we will try to reconcile these two perspectives.

On the one hand, then, there are those who see the Apollo program as a distraction that took us away from a more incremental movement off-planet, beginning with a presence in Low Earth Orbit or at one of the libration points, and then moving outward to the moon, Mars and beyond. These critics would also argue that Apollo forever inscribed in the minds of humanity a false image of what space exploration ought to be, i.e., a big, expensive, government program designed to serve terrestrial political purposes alone. The final rap against President Kennedy is that he didn't care particularly about opening the frontier. He was really interested in finding something spectacular that the United States could do to show American superiority to the Soviet Union. Apollo turned out to fit the bill, but it could have been something else, and the President would have been satisfied.

On the other hand, there are those who see Apollo as the crowning achievement of human space activity on the frontier, a benchmark, a standard against which all other efforts can be measured. These proponents of the Kennedy legacy would argue that Apollo gave us the view of the Earth from space, (which I have called "The Overview Effect") and that the value of the resulting shift in consciousness is itself worth all the money spent on Apollo. The program also showed what humans can do on the frontier when they are provided with a vision and clear goal, such as, "Put a man on the moon and bring him safely back to Earth by the end of the decade."

Finally, supporters of Kennedy's contribution might well note that he must have had some understanding of the meaning of space exploration, having dubbed his entire Administration "The New Frontier."

In Part Two of this essay, we will ask which of these two perspectives appears most valid with hindsight.
John F. Kennedy, Architect of Apollo - Part 2
Message 20 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Frank White, 1995, All Rights Reserved

Over thirty years after his untimely death, we must acknowledge, with the brilliance born of hindsight, that everything said about President Kennedy's contribution to our movement is at least partially true. The Apollo program was a detour and a benchmark, a distraction and a triumph. When Apollo 8 turned its cameras back and showed us the whole Earth, we knew, without a doubt, that we were all riding through the universe on a beautiful blue and white spaceship. When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, we knew, for the first time ever, what it felt like to be a multi-planet species. When Gene Cernan, the last human to walk on the moon, climbed into the lunar module and said good-bye, some of us felt that something unique was coming to an end. Thus, Apollo inspired us and left us feeling let down. Perhaps most of all, it filled us with a longing for what might have been – if we had simply continued.

At a recent Space Frontier Foundation meeting, Rick Tumlinson dubbed us "Apollo's Children," a phrase which also gave the event its name. In a way, he's right. For many of us who came of age in the 1960's, it was President Kennedy and Apollo that gave us the vision we still carry, no matter how it has altered and transformed itself with time.

Kennedy said that space was a sea on which we must sail, and he was right; because we can't stay in home port (on home planet) forever. He said we would do it not because it was easy, but because it was hard, and he was right, because that is the true spirit of the frontier. He also said that the price of freedom is high, but Americans have always been willing to pay it, and he was right, because ensuring human freedom is what opening the frontier is all about, and the price will, eventually, be paid.

In the end, opening the frontier will not be the story of any one person's contribution, but of the small and large contributions of thousands, even millions of people. Each of our stories will probably contain many of the ambiguities we find in the Kennedy legacy. With the brilliance born of hindsight, what will our descendants say of us?
Gerard K. O'Neill, Father of Space Settlements - Part 1
Message 21 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Frank White, 1995, All Rights Reserved

Not long after the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, a Princeton physics professor asked his class to think about the best place to construct large-scale human settlements beyond the planet Earth. Up until that moment, most people, working under the influence of generations of science fiction writers, had assumed that humans who moved off the Earth would live on the surface of the moon or on Mars.

The professor, Gerard K. O'Neill, and his students, may have started with those same preconceptions, but they concluded their analysis with a startling series of insights that has transformed our thinking about human evolution into the universe.

O'Neill and the class determined that a planetary surface would not be the optimum site for space settlements, largely because of the energy required to land on and take off from such a surface. They also realized that the best way to build a space settlement would be to "live off the land" like earlier terrestrial pioneers, using extraterrestrial materials for construction, rather than dragging those materials out from Earth.

What emerged was the visionary concept of space settlements built in free space, housing up to 10,000 people, powered by the unlimited and nonpolluting energy of the sun. The libration points between the Earth and the Moon were found to be the most stable places for such communities, and the fifth of these, L5, the best spot of all.

O'Neill and his students had transformed the paradigm of space settlement thinking.

While many observers would say that O'Neill's most important conceptual breakthroughs came in the distinctions between living in free space and on planetary surfaces, the most significant transformation in thinking was really the idea of the frontier as a place where all human beings could go and realize their full potential. O'Neill articulated his vision in a book, The High Frontier, which immediately became a popular antidote to the "limits to growth" thinking that came to permeate the 1970s.

O'Neill and his class spawned a movement that is likely to turn into a revolution.
Gerard K. O'Neill, Father of Space Settlements - Part 2
Message 22 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Frank White, 1995, All Rights Reserved

Consistent with his vision that the high frontier (a phrase he coined and popularized in his first book) should be an environment of opportunity for all, Gerard K. O'Neill founded the Space Studies Institute (SSI) in the 1970's. SSI soon became a rallying point for those interested in a space movement rather than a space program. It was privately supported by memberships, and took little or no government money.

O'Neill and SSI originally focused on the technical side of space settlements, i.e., how to mine extraterrestrial materials, transport them to Lagrange points and build space habitats. Soon, however, the Institute became a magnet for those interested in the human implications of opening up the frontier. Doctors, lawyers, management consultants, philosophers and sociologists all found a home under the large umbrella that had been opened up by O'Neill and SSI.

O'Neill himself was unique in that, from the beginning, he made a connection between space settlements and the betterment of humanity. The High Frontier is replete with analyses of the benefits of moving polluting industries into space, and the advantages of creating small human communities beyond Earth orbit.

During his lifetime, Gerard O'Neill rarely received the credit that was due him, but he always worked to have a positive impact, in whatever role came his way. Appointed to be a member of the President's National Commission on Space in 1985, he helped move that group toward his vision of an open frontier, and partly through his efforts, the commission's report, Pioneering the Space Frontier, advocated a vigorous and visionary US space program that may yet come into being.

As our world approaches the beginning of a new century and a new millennium, we are the keepers of the flame that was lit by Gerard O'Neill and his class nearly thirty years ago. It is our choice whether it becomes a beacon of hope throughout the universe or sputters and dies on a small planet at the edge of a spiral galaxy.
Asteroids, The Opportunity Within the Threat
Message 24 of the Frontier Files
© Copyright, Dr. George Friedman, 1995, All Rights Reserved

Since the days of the Apollo Moon landings, advances in four previously unrelated scientific fields have combined to give humanity a dramatically new view of a new global danger as well as a new path to the colonization of space.

The astronomers have discovered that the population of asteroids and comets whose orbits cross the orbit of the Earth – called "Near-Earth Objects" (NEOs) – is far larger than previously thought. Presently, it is estimated that the set of NEOs include 2000 asteroids larger than 1 km and 300,000 asteroids larger than 100m in diameter.

The geologists have discovered that the remnants of large craters which were formed over the past several hundred million years are generally not of volcanic origin, as previously thought. The vast majority of these craters are now agreed to have been the result of gigantic impacts of objects from space. In particular, the 160 km diameter crater in the northern Yucatan peninsula, appears to be the result of an impact of a 10 km object 65 million years ago.

The atmospheric physicists, working with the so called "nuclear winter" models, predicted that the effect on the biosphere of NEO impacts or nuclear weapons is incredibly more devastating than previously thought. As terrible as the immediate, local effects of such events are, they pale in comparison with the global effect: high altitude dust and opaque particles would circle the entire earth within months and prevent sunshine from reaching the earth for years. Plants would die, animals which eat plants and animals which eat animals which eat plants would starve. Most of earth's species would perish.

The paleontologists studying the history of life on earth have long been puzzled by the major extinctions which have punctuated evolution several times over the past several hundred million years. In particular, the age of the great dinosaurs – which lasted 200 million years – ended abruptly 65 million years ago when over 70% of all species then living perished. A layer of iridium was discovered at several sites worldwide at precisely the level between the dinosaur fossils below and the mammalian fossils above. Since iridium is commonly found on NEOs and is rare on the surface of the Earth, most scientists conclude that the great extinction of 65 million years ago was due to an NEO strike on the Yucatan peninsula.

This interdisciplinary display of detective work by these small, dedicated teams of scientists deserves our deepest respect. It displays the scientific method at its best.

But what do these new insights mean to humanity in general?

To some, our new understanding of NEOs represents a new and supremely dangerous threat to the continuation of our species. It is estimated that NEOs of 1 km or larger will trigger the global effect of high altitude particulates and cause the death of billions of humans as well as millions of other species. Although the annual likelihood of this event is as low as one in a million, the consequence is unprecedented and unthinkable. Major debate exists world wide as to the proper response to this threat.

To others, the existence of the projected NEO population as unexpectedly close neighbors to earth represents a wonderful new opportunity. These bodies can provide a far richer variety of material resources than the surface of the Moon, and in many cases require far less energy to reach. This provides a fundamentally new paradigm to augment our previous strategy of employing the lunar surface as our primary space headquarters and source of non-terrestrial material. NEOs may provide at least a major new dimension of humanity's path to the colonization of space.
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That's all for now...This message is the 25th and last in a series of Foundation essays designed to inform the Internet public about the incredible possibilities awaiting us in space.

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We will leave you with the following quote from The High Frontier by Gerard K. O'Neill © 1976:

"We are surely far from having found the best ways in which human beings can live together and govern themselves; surely far from having achieved freedom for all, or having explored all the talents of which the human mind is capable. What chance will we have, though, here on an Earth ever more crowded and more hungry for energy and materials, to allow for diversity, for experiment, for groups to try in isolation to find better lifestyles? What chance for rare talented individuals to create their own small worlds of home and family, as was so easy a century ago in our America as it expanded into a new frontier? For me the age-old dream of improvement, of change, of greater human freedom are the most poignant of all; and the most chilling prospect that I see for a planet-bound human race is that many of those dreams would be forever cut off for us."
The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

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