Spacefaring Web 1.17:
The Spacefaring Ethic
John Carter McKnight
We live in a new era, one
with different rules from those of the past Industrial
Age. In previous columns, I’ve sketched the outlines
of what Manuel Castells calls the Network Society. “Informationalism,”
to use his term, has replaced industrialism as the primary
mode of production. Following from that, the network
has replaced the centralized authority atop a pyramid
as the primary means of organization. It should not
be too much of a stretch to recognize that the new era
brings with it a change in values. Values, in a sense,
act as a personal operating system, a set of fundamental
algorithms. Good sets allow an individual to thrive
and reproduce; bad ones don’t.
The space movement was,
until very recently, a product of the Industrial Age,
and actors in it tended to act in accordance with an
Industrial Age value set. If we are to build a spacefaring
civilization in the Information Age, we will need network
institutions. We will also need for our behavior to
be guided by network values. Pekka Himmanen, writing
with Castells and Linux founder Linus Torvalds, calls
those values “the Hacker Ethic.”
Spacefaring Web 1.18:
Finance and Freedom
John Carter McKnight
In a previous column I
asserted that planetary settlements could be more conducive
to freedom than Earth orbital (L5) colonies. The desirability
of L5 versus planetary settlements was once highly contentious
within the space movement. The last generation's arguments
have largely escaped critical re-examination, causing
a question ripe for interdisciplinary study to have
ossified into the foundation of unexamined factionalism,
with partisans entrenched in inherited positions.
As this column will draw
on sources and perspectives not previously utilized
in analyzing the subject, I hope that it will stimulate
fresh thinking about the political economy of space
Year in Space
But Not All Bad
Dennis Tito signals a successful
The past year brought a number
of disappointments in the space arena. The continuing challenge
of reducing the cost to orbit was highlighted by the cancellation
of NASA's X-33 and X-34 projects. The aftereffects of the
failures of the satellite telephone constellation projects
- Iridium, Globalstar, ICO - continued to cast a pall over
all commercial space projects. The number of launches and
commercial payloads dropped and few new projects proposed.
However, there were a number
of positive developments - the most dramatic being Tito's
tourist flight the the ISS. Another includes the premier of
XCOR's EZ-Rocket plane that it will use to develop high altitude
sub-orbital and orbital vehicles.
Here follow lists of ups and downs in areas of
interest to HobbySpacers:
- Mars Society carries out arctic Mars
station simulation and initiates several other projects.
- The number of Direct-to-home TV subscribers
in the US passes 15 million.
- Digital satellite radio in the US begins
- Satellite telephony proves its value
for emergency and remote location communcations in Sept.11
- Successful launch of the commercial
Quickbird high resolution (~0.6m) imaging satellite.
Lockheed-Martins Ikonos satellite reportedly provides
positive return on its investment.
- Popularity of GPS grows, especially
for games such as geocaching.
- Mars Odyssey arrives safely in orbit
and soon finds strong evidence for water on Mars.
- Mars Surveyor continues to return spectacular
- Vangelis releases his Mythodea album
in tribute to the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission.
Launchers & Spacecraft
- Several student satellites sent to
orbit including two Starshine
- The AMSAT
AO-40, the most ambitious amateur satellite
ever orbited, continued to recover from near death after
a failed engine firing soon after launch.