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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -      January 3, 2002     -         Vol. 2 No.1

The 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.”



The Spacefaring Web 1.18:
Finance and Freedom
in L5

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 settlement.


Tough Year in Space
But Not All Bad

Dennis Tito signals a successful flight.

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:

2001 Ups

  • Activism
    • Mars Society carries out arctic Mars station simulation and initiates several other projects.
  • Business
    • The number of Direct-to-home TV subscribers in the US passes 15 million.
    • Digital satellite radio in the US begins service.
    • Satellite telephony proves its value for emergency and remote location communcations in Sept.11 aftermath.
    • Successful launch of the commercial Quickbird high resolution (~0.6m) imaging satellite. Lockheed-Martins Ikonos satellite reportedly provides positive return on its investment.
  • Collecting
  • GPS
    • Popularity of GPS grows, especially for games such as geocaching.
  • Living Space
    • Mars Odyssey arrives safely in orbit and soon finds strong evidence for water on Mars.
    • Mars Surveyor continues to return spectacular images.
  • Music
    • Vangelis releases his Mythodea album in tribute to the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission.
  • Rocketry, Reusable Launchers & Spacecraft
  • Satellite Building
    • Several student satellites sent to orbit including two Starshine spacecraft.
    • 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.
  • Tourism:

2001 Downs

  • Activism
  • Business
    • Number of launches and commercial payloads drops significantly
    • Several broadband constellation projects - e.g. Astrolink, Skybridge - postponed or canceled..
    • Globalstar continues service but declares bankruptcy.
  • Rocketry, Reusable Launchers & Spacecraft
    • X-33, X34 projects canceled.
    • X-43 and Australian Hyshot hypersonic flight tests fail
    • Crew Return Vehicle projects postponed due to ISS overruns.
    • The small RLV startup companies either disappeared or struggled for funding.
  • Tourism:
    • NASA strongly opposes Tito's flight and tourist visitors to ISS in general.

Find previous space news in
Articles Index 1999-2002


See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links

The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
NewSpace Watch at NSG

Interesting Days Ahead

The coming year will, of course, have its own space ups and downs but we can hope for more of the former than the latter.

We list here some promising developments to watch in 2002:

Armadillo Aerospace will continue development of increasingly ambitious rocket vehicles.

Some X-Prize competitors to begin serious flight tests.

XCOR may begin demo flights of the EZ-Rocket at air shows.

Mark Shuttleworth will travel to the ISS as the second space tourist.

XM Radio is meeting its early subscriber goals. Sirius begins operation in early spring. If satellite radio succeeds it will provide a big boost to space business in general.


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