Monday, March 16, 2009

The Space Renaissance Initiative

This organization represents ideals that I feel are important to positive and productive human space exploration and development. They are all about space exploration for the benefit and survival of humanity. This is a human issue, not a political or economic issue, and although those and many more factors will be necessary to make it all happen, we cannot lose sight of the fact that humanity must explore and expand to the stars if we expect for the species to survive.


Patrick D said...

Good blog. When I find more time I'll read up on some of your posts. Time... The one thing I can't get enough of...

Constructive feedback... White text on black background looks good but hard to read with this font. Keep the colors and enlarge the font.

Keep up the good work!


Gordon said...

You are quiet the writer Douglas (referring to your previous entry). I pop by your blog every day or two but never quiet get the time / energy to post comments.

I was turned cold by the spacerenaissance web site. It sounds like it has pseudo religious ambitions to me which don't sit well with its stated scientific goals.

Gordon UK

Douglas Mallette said...

Patrick D. - The font has been enlarged and thank you for your interest. I really do appreciate it.

Gordon - And thank you as well. I understand what you mean with respect to the pseudo-religious nature of the Space Renaissance Initiative. The one thing they need to do is make sure they don't sound like a space cult.

They do lean more towards the philosophical and social aspects of space exploration and development, rather than the pure scientific and technical, but there are plenty of websites out there to cover that. I do agree with them that this subject does need to be addressed, so that we treat space with more reverence than we have Earth up to this point.


For the both of you, are you following the blog, so that you receive notices when I post something new?

Also, please DIGG the articles you think are of value, so that hopefully others will find them and be able to read them. I thank you in advance for this.

Patrick D. said...

Quick response. :-) I can read it too!

Regarding the Space Renaissance Initiative, I agree with you that social, cultural and religious aspects will need to be factored in at some point, but to what extent?

For now it works because of rank and order among crew members. What about further down the road with a space colony with civilians? I know I'm getting a bit off track but I've pondered this for some time and may be its worth a debate. What is the most suitable social structure for a space colony when dealing with a few hundred people?

This is assuming the other topics about physical needs have been solved (long term medical, family, sexuality, etc...).

One hot topic would be religion. Since not all religions can be practiced in the same manner, should some types of religions be excluded? Extreme examples... Body piercing Hindus? Snake handling Christians?

Anyway, thanks for the font size change. I'll stop by when I can.

Patrick D.

Douglas Mallette said...

Since all religions are Earth based, which makes sense of course, a significant number of them would have to rethink their worshipful practices if off world.

Think about Muslim. Which way is east if you're on Mars? Do you just face the Earth to pray and leave it at that?

On the other part of this, the reason why space travel is so structured now is because of the military aspect of how things are run. NASA is effectively run like the military, most astronauts are former military, and so there is a built in structure to how people interact.

Once you go civilian, that changes. So then you have to ask, why are you going to space in the first place? What's the goal? How do you organize in order to remain safe?

I'm certain for the most part the interests and answers to those questions are uniform throughout most of the people going, but they are the kinds of things to be addressed.

I also don't believe SRI is focused on religion at all, but humanity. They are not the same thing. Humanity uses religion for personal balance, and control if you want my honest opinion, but humanity is at the center of that.

The basic premise is that space exploration and development is for the greater good, not personal gain, and although personal gain can be a truth, it should not be the sole reason for the expansion.

Gordon said...

Well space exploration for profit seems like a fair motive to me.

Your pious notion of space exploration motivated by the goal of serving the common good worries me because it leaves our burgeoning space explorers operating within a structure vulnerable to the unaccountable whim of religious fad and the inevitable power games and political manipulation.

Give me the reassuringly honest motive of a gold rush and the promise that the pioneers get a stake in the Promised Land.

My problem is how can space exploration be profitable. I can't see anyway that we can come near to breaking even on a decades long space quest.

Norman Copeland said...

Gordon, truefully I have considered your opinion and beleive it to be valid and genuine, I have tried as I believe to ask myself how space exploration for profit can be wrong, adultally and commercially motivationally considered, after some thought I kept returning to a philosophical observation I wrote a thesis about some years ago...

Basically man as an upward mobile creature is upon a journey of self awareness, the value of hisself creating his paths to self fulfilment and possibly for some of the extraordinary characters ability, enlightenment.

I believe the euphemism we use commonly is 'the Human race', generally having considered your opinion which I consider fascinating because of its inate consumption of modern sociology, I have and must conclude that we are perhaps not generically applicable to the term 'human race' anymore, on the contrary the evidence you have rightly provided tells us that we are slowing to a degree of self comfortability.

I myself have checked my attitute looking for a dip in a thorough consistancy and trully, I have been walking through this journey as an observer.

Everything you have said is right and extensively true to its literal sense, but, as I am drawn to provide my conclusive analogy, I am dinstincly apparant of the explorers who populated America, the explorers who populated Australia, the Indians who sailed the oceans in wooden canoes, the Egyptians who sailed in papyrus boats, and the Pheonicians, more recently the Greeks and Venicians, the famous Vikings, the Spanish exploration of South America, the Mongols settling across eastern Europe and the travelling celts.

Though I do believe that we as a collective group of individuals seeking our own individuality need our personal fortuity, I believe that we generally share the inner desire to witness, I as a boy worshipped spaceships, I can't say why, but, I have a strong need to be near this expression.

I am not totally convinced that we, perhaps a lot of us belong somewhere else. Personal gain can be liberating and profit can be difficult to ''perhaps manage'', trufully I think though we have reach an abyss spacially obviously regarding the sheer size of what is ahead of us, I don't believe any unified cultural revolution will stop us from harboring the urge to 'have a look'.

And considering that it terrifies me that I won 't be going into space or be among those who do, everyone can keep my money.

I'm terified of it. Is that why explorers started?

I'm not sure, but, I have learnt a lot from your opinion.


Norman Copeland.

Douglas Mallette said...

Gordon - I ask you this, how much money do you think can be spread among the galaxy? We already have global inflation as it is. Eventually money will become obsolete.

And I don't say this to sound like some whack job, utopian minded, peace and love hippie. The fact is, there is only so much money to go around, there are plenty of those who hoard it, and as we grow (population and distances between) the pull of money will become less and less.

Initially, money and profit will drive the industry. That's fine, at first, but for example, a Mars colony who has the ability to make its own food and live unattached to Earthly bounds will not have a need for money or any of the like. Therefore what I said matters greatly.

Only with the right kind of mindset can one succeed in space in a situation like that. The rule of humanity, honorable justice, and humane law will become even more necessary.

As far as your other statement, religious fad, politics and power games will always be a factor. That's being human. The best you can do is outnumber the bastards and remove them from doing harm.

Anyone who explores will have a stake, and I do believe profits can be made because of resources. It all hinges on bringing down the cost of space travel, which is my main motivation right now. Once you can travel in space the same as you can jump in your car and go to work, then the playing field is ripe for profit.

Gordon said...

Norman you are thinking way more long term than me. These, thousands of years into the future, discussions are in the realm of science fiction. I like Science fiction. Stephen Baxter who specialises on exploring long term philosophical issues around how in the future humans will structure themselves is probably my favourite author but I am not sure it is practical to be planning for events we are only fantasising about.

“I as a boy worshipped spaceships” - Norman Copeland

I have always had a fascination with the future, I day dreamed about off world colonies from an early age. I always loved those history books which took you from way in the past to the present and then there were those last couple of pages which I couldn’t wait to study with illustrations of a proposed future.

So I have a strong urge to see humanity progress and develop, expanding to fill the solar system / galaxy / universe.

I have another strong view. I loath religion (ok that is overstating it a bit). The idea that I should be expected to believe something that can’t be proved in order to join a club is in my view ridiculous. I know the ideas being put forward are not specifically religious but my feeling is that is once "for profit" is stripped out of a such a huge undertaking then it becomes a crusade with religious teachings soon filling the motivation void.

Now you are putting together 2 things that I am interested in which is the reason I have stop lurking and struggled to put together some words (I am not much of a writer).

To be leading an organisation on such long long long term goals as the Space Renaissance Initiative is giving the image that it is not practical about doing anything real.

Out of time - I will get to you tomorrow Douglas.

Norman Copeland said...

I have the first several of Steven Baxter's book's personally signed and really enjoyed his sector of science fiction. I really must say though, are we Steven Baxter or the characters he portrays? A proverb of much experience... ''Good things come to those who wait''...

Another saying ''Ideas are out there''...

and... ''don't throw good money after bad''...

Based upon that morality I believe we may of transended religion using science fiction as our progenitor. It really is a beautiful world with the science fiction literature available...

Perhaps these men/women will become deities of the future...

Yes, I'm ready to go, here right here, with my library, but, truelly, my spaceship must have a library... [of books].

Douglas Mallette said...

Gordon - Yes, SRI is very long term minded, but they do have short term goals as well. I also am not a fan of organized religion either, and I can only hope that space won't become a holy war battlefield either, but let's take the first few steps first and then see what happens.

If nothing else, the space frontier will be overtly populated by people who loath the violent past of Earth, leaving the violent bastards behind.

Gordon said...

I have left it a bit late to retort but just to tie up the loose ends I will say I have no beef with you guys. It is actually nice to find a corner of the internet that makes me feel cosy. Nice to find people who like reading Stephen Baxter.

The press release PDF on the Space Renaissance Initiative web site comes over reasonably well. This is more than I can say about the awful home page. With lines like “Our founding concepts are New Humanism and Astro Humanism.” most folk will dismiss the organisation as fanatical.

I hope the London press conference goes well. I will be listening out to see if the media report anything. There is not much I will give away my hard earned cash for but I could see myself supporting this initiative provided it is kept professional and I don’t get a whiff of religion sneaking in or any individual using the platform to parade their ego.

Douglas Mallette said...

Gordon - I completely agree. The moment this sounds more like some astro-religious cult thing, I'm out. I only hope their focus stays well grounded with a nice 50/50 split of philosophy and tech/science.