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T Rogers, May 6th 1999, "Dreams - About Space", International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Regional Meeting Washington D.C., USA. Thursday May 6th 1999.
Also downloadable from about space.shtml

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Dreams - About Space
Thomas F Rogers

A Talk Made To
At Its Meeting Concerned With "Making the Space Future Happen"

Thank you for inviting me here today.

I have been asked to speak to you about "Dreams" with respect to "Making the Space Future Happen."

Earlier, Mike asked me if I would speak about "space tourism," and I agreed to do so.

Subsequently, as I thought more about the professional interests of the International Academy of Astronautics, I decided to speak about two other Dreams as well, all of which, in my mind, are related to each other in "Making the Space Future Happen."

At the outset, please note that I am speaking here about Dreams of my own -- Dreams that I hope you would share with me.

But please note that they are truly Dreams, not predictions. For my ability to predict the space future in any detail is poor.

For instance, with respect to "space tourism":

A third of a century ago, I held a senior position in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. At one moment there, in 1966, I had just seen the space segment of the first worldwide satellite communications system placed into Earth orbit. At that time I had a discussion with Herman Kahn, then of the Rand Corporation, and one of the world's greatest strategic thinkers regarding nuclear war. He had written a book with the title (as I remember it) "Thinking About The Unthinkable."

During the conversation, I fully agreed with Herman that:

  1. I would not live long enough to see the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union;

  2. But that, when that day came, all of the technology being developed, and operating experience being gathered, in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs would be used to see space opened up to the general public.

Wrong! -- and Wrong!

So much for my ability to make space-related predictions.

A few decades ago, the mathematician George Gamow [*] wrote a book entitled "One, Two, Three, ... Infinity."

I can interpret this progression to mean that a Dream of today, on "page Zero", can become a clear possibility tomorrow on "page One," and a reality on "page Two" the following day.

I have spent most of my professional life since about 1975 in trying to move certain space-related Dreams from "page Zero" to "page One." That is, from the stage of rumination to the point where they are being taken seriously enough to attract significant resources to the conduct of those R&D activities needed to see if they can become real.

Today I will speak of:

  1. A first Dream, "space tourism," which the IAA should have a serious interest in, a Dream that is just now moving on from "page Zero" to "page One";

  2. A second Dream that the IAA is certainly interested in: "human Moon-Mars activities," a Dream which continues to be stuck on "page Zero"; and

  3. A third Dream of mine, not yet even on "page Zero" -- a Dream which I call "The Compact," and which I would hope to see become of interest to the IAA and others.
My First Dream is that of "Space Tourism".

In the conduct of the cooperative NASA-Space Transportation Association "space tourism" study that was reported upon a year ago, it was discovered that a large "space tourism" market already exists -- it is all terrestrial "space tourism."

Well over 10,000,000 people per year visit our Air and Space Museum, the NASA Kennedy launch Center, space camps, etc.

Inasmuch as each person spends $100 to $1,000 on such trips, this is a market with annual revenues of $1-10 billion per year. And, undoubtedly, a very large number of such terrestrial tourists dream of becoming "space tourists."

Indeed, Appendix A of the NASA-STA "space tourism" study report [1] presents the findings of a professional "space tourism" market study made in the United States by the well known Yankelovich polling organization.

They determined that over 30% of our 130 million travelling public, some 40 million people in the U.S. alone, would like to take a trip on the Shuttle. And, in the aggregate, these people would be willing to pay several $10s of billions each year to do so. This would be a revenue stream that is larger than is generated by today's U.S. satellite communications business.

Well known U.S. tourism companies are already offering space-related tours, trips on aircraft that provide a zero-g experience, and on MIG aircraft to altitudes of over 70,000 feet. And they are planning to take people to higher and higher altitudes in vehicles now in development that will allow them to do so -- at first up to 100 km, then into orbit, etc.

Robert Bigelow heads STA's latest member organization, Bigelow Aerospace. He has created housing organizations that have designed, constructed and in some cases managed 1,000s of living units in the southwestern part of the United States, and the national Budget Suites of America. He is now at work preparing to provide habitable volume, hotels, in LEO.

And now Richard Bransom, who heads the U.K.'s Virgin Airlines, has just organized a space tourism company. He is talking with space transportation vehicle entrepreneurs.

Late last year NASA found it possible to have a 77 year-old grandfather take a trip to LEO on the Shuttle.

Last month the second European "space tourism" conference was held in Bremen, Germany. And next month, on June 23-24th, the Space Transportation Association is holding the first U.S. "space tourism" Conference in Washington, D.C.

So, the "space tourism" Dream is definitely moving from "page Zero" to "page One." And relatively soon, we should begin to see people able to take trips up to the edge of space.

I would note in passing that, when this Dream begins to be realized, the implications thereof for all kinds of other space activities -- commercial, civil and military -- will be seen to be simply enormous. Enormous! [2]

My Second Dream is that of "Human Moon-Mars Activities"

Many more civil space leaders have thought about seeing people return to the Moon and exploring Mars, and seeing the beginnings of human settlement on both, than have thought about "space tourism."

They believe that our doing so is important for many reasons -- reasons which I need not enumerate to this audience. Indeed, they believe that such activities should form the backbone of our civil space program now and far into the future.

My particular Dream in this regard is to see a small settlement on either the Moon or Mars devoted to maintaining another place in the solar system, remote from our planet, where our Earth's life, and knowledge of our human history and values, are maintained -- maintained "just in case." For instance, "Recently, the inhabitants of Earth have become aware that our planet is exposed to occasional impacts of asteroids and comets that may cause worldwide devastation." [3]

Nevertheless, the chances of our general public providing the amounts required for such activities are small.

Many in the civil space area decry our public's unwillingness to provide tax money for such activities. For instance, a well-known astronaut is recently quoted [4] as saying that Americans are "... unwilling to take risks.. .", a view oftentimes expressed by civil space leaders in chiding their fellow Americans.

And recently, a NASA Associate Administrator noted that "... there is not a lot of commercial application to looking for life on other planets, so hopefully our society will continue to support [attainment of] such goals. There are a lot of examples in history to show that once a culture stops looking outward, it does not survive too well." [5]

But, of course, there are many ways that the people of the United States are "looking outward," even though going to the Moon and/or Mars is now not one of them.

I hold the view that the fundamental problems are yet to be appreciated by human Moon/Mars protagonists. As of now, the problems are threefold:

  1. Of course we cannot cite national security concerns for support, as was the case in the 1960s, '70s and '80s;

  2. Rather, human Moon/Mars activities would be cultural ones -- not social or economic ones.

    But, while we do support museums, symphony orchestras, parks, etc., very few of us would be able to participate in Moon/Mars activities except vicariously, and there are many other much more clear and pressing demands upon the public purse.

    And, after spending $100s of billions in the human space flight area, after four decades there is still no business going on involving people in space with other than the Federal government as the customer.

  3. Also, human Moon/Mars activities, especially Mars ones, would be very costly.

    It was only a decade ago that a people-to-Mars program was costed out at $1/2 trillion. President Bush asked for such a public commitment and he was refused.

    We have since seen a Space Station program, originally described as costing $8 billion, now expected to cost well more than $100 billion over its planned 10-year lifetime -- and this only 200 miles away from the Earth's surface, not 200,000 miles (the Moon) or 200,000,000 miles (Mars).

In brief, all of the arguments that can be honestly made by civil space intellectual and government leaders have been made, again and again. But, in the face of these problems they have failed to be persuasive.

In my judgement, given the character of the problems that it faces, and its great and the nearly unknowable cost, this Dream will continue to languish on "page Zero" for as far ahead as I can see.

Unless ... . Unless ... .

And thus my Third Dream: "The Compact"

This Dream, which is not yet even on "page Zero," brings together important elements of the other two Dreams in a novel way.

Our civil space leaders are quite comfortable in pursuing space programs that address our understanding of the entire universe and the changing of our planet and its human functioning thereon in very fundamental ways.

Yet, they are doing so in an institutional setting that is not too much different from that of the Departments of Defense, or Energy, or Transportation, ... .

I suggest that, if we wish to go back to the Moon and/or on to Mars, we should consider making a creative change in this institutional setting in the same kind of imaginative fashion as we have organized to study the universe.

Let me suggest that a novel "Compact" be constructed between our civil space leaders and our general public. The "Compact" would have three parts:

  1. For the first time, a NASA human Moon/Mars activities budget line item would be established;

  2. In return, NASA would pledge to exert itself to work, energetically and imaginatively, with our private sector to see non-government businesses involving people in space created and grow; and

  3. The human Moon/Mars activities line item would be funded annually in proportion to the revenues generated by these new businesses.

In one way or another our Federal government collects 20% of our gross domestic product in taxes annually. This "Compact" would see, say, 2/3 of the tax revenue stream derived from businesses involving people in space flow, as usual, to the U.S. Treasury. But the other, say, 1/3 would be used to fund the NASA human Moon/Mars budget line item.

Thereby, our space-related cultural and our economic interests would both be served.

Then the reason for our going to the Moon and/or Mars would become explicitly economic -- economic here in the United States.

The wealth required to allow human Moon/Mars activities would be created by opening up space to the general public -- "space tourism." And such other business activities involving people in space as space sports; aging-related life science research; biomedical R&D; assembling, operating and maintaining Solar Power Satellites; etc.

As the economic potential of "space tourism" alone is realized, I can see $billions flowing into human Moon/Mars programs.

By creating a large space tourism business, a business that 10s of millions of us would like to see serving our space-related personal interests, the "Compact" outlined here would see the "hope" of funding in the human space flight area replaced by agreed upon "expectation."

In brief, returning to the NASA Associate Administrator's remark that: "... hopefully our society will continue to support [attainment of] such goals [as] looking for life on other planets ... .," I suggest that our civil space leaders should now keep in mind, as well, what President John Kennedy said in 1962: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

And, lest we think that such an institutional change is too great, I would note, for instance, that:

  1. Peter F. Drucker, an expert in business management, asserts that "There will be no [radical improvement in effectiveness] unless there is a marked change in the way the Federal government and its agencies are managed and paid. ... any organization, whether a business, a non-profit, or a government agency, needs to rethink itself once it is more than forty or fifty years old. It has outgrown its policies and rules of behavior." [6]

  2. "... The United States Military Academy at West Point today is announcing the first major private fund raising campaign in the history of the service academies. West Point, which gets nearly all its money from the Defense Department ... hopes to raise $150 million to endow professorships, and to pay from ... athletic buildings and equipment." [7]
So, these are my three space Dreams

  1. "Space tourism", now moving off of "page Zero," i.e., becoming a reality;

  2. Any Human Moon/Mars program still stuck on "page Zero"; and

  3. A novel space "Compact" that should now be added to "page Zero" and given attention by the IAA and others -- a "Compact" that would use some of the wealth created by the "space tourism" business to pay for a NASA human Moon/Mars program.

How will all of this work out?

"The time that these things take will depend on unforeseeable accidents of history, [finance] and politics." [8]

I've given you my Dreams.

I'll leave the predictions up to you!

Again, thank you.

  1. "General Public Space Travel and Tourism - Volume 1 Executive Summary"; NASA and STA; NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
  2. "Fostering Space Tourism"; T. F. Rogers; Space News; February 22, 1999; page 21.
  3. "The sun, the genome, the internet"; Freeman J. Dyson; Oxford University Press; New York, Oxford; 1999; page 103.
  4. Eugene Cernan; America West; April, 1999; page 53.
  5. Edward Weiler; Space News; February 1, 1999; page 22.
  6. "Really Reinventing Government"; Peter F. Drucker; The Atlantic Monthly; February, 1995; page 49... .
  7. "West Point Decides It Should Seek Private Funds"; The New York Times; May 7, 1999; page A23.
  8. See reference 3., page 99.
T Rogers, May 6th 1999, "Dreams - About Space", International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Regional Meeting Washington D.C., USA. Thursday May 6th 1999.
Also downloadable from about space.shtml

 Bibliographic Index
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