Reaching for the High Frontier: Chapter 14

Reaching for the High Frontier

by Michael A. G. Michaud

Copyright 1986 by Praeger Publishers and reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT. Read complete book here.

Table of Contents

Chapter 14: Conclusion

Today, at least, the space underground continues to work and dream without substantial support. The promises it commits to paper cannot be transposed into plastic and metal. The movement will live on; but its future is not under its control. — Richard Hutton, 1981 [1]   Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841 [2]   You can make history happen. — Klaus Heiss, 1983 [3]
There clearly was a major upsurge of organized interest in, and advocacy of, space activity between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s. The motivation to be associated with the space enterprise remained strong long after the first “Spaceflight Revolution” was achieved. People had responded to it in different ways, depending on the strength of that motivation, the skills they had to offer, and the opportunities they saw open to them. Why did this sudden broadening of interest in, and enthusiasm for, spaceflight occur when it did? The downturn in the fortunes of the space program may explain the reactions of those with an economic or professional stake in it, but what about the others?


A major underlying factor may have been that the years 1977 to 1981 — the years of rapid growth in the new space advocacy — marked a turning point in the maturing of the spaceflight revolution and its acceptance into the American cultural and intellectual heritage. When William S. Bainbridge published his book in 1976, the outcome of space advocacy still appeared to him to be in some doubt. “Either spaceflight will be proven a successful revolution that opened the heavens to human use and habitation,” he wrote, “or it will be proven an unsuccessful revolution that demonstrated in its failure the limits of technological advance.”[4] A year later, in 1977, when American space interest groups began to proliferate, 20 years had passed since Sputnik I. In the United States, spaceflight was passing out of its early adventurous years and pausing before entering a time of expanded, routine spaceflight operations. The first generation of spaceflight technology had achieved a plateau of technical maturity; the second was not yet in operation. Space concepts that once had seemed exotic, such as escaping a “gravity well” into “free space,” were being digested and assimilated by nonspecialists. The use of space for a broad range of human purposes — the utilization of this largest and, to us, newest environment — was being accepted by a growing number of Americans. This did not happen easily; there was cultural and intellectual resistance. The wave of reaction to spaceflight and other high technology ventures in the late 1960s and early 1970s receded slowly. Many critics in the 1970s still saw spaceflight as an aberration, a technological “stunt”; some regarded space as an alien and hostile environment, appropriate only for scientific investigation. Some Americans, including Walter Mondale, still seemed to associate space with heaven. The decline in public support for spaceflight reflected not only concern with other priorities but also a cultural lag in the acceptance of space as a place where humans belonged. Advocacy was needed to help overcome this resistance to a paradigm shift, which some advocates believe to be of Copernican proportions. At its grandest, that advocacy made urgent and probably premature claims for space colonies, satellite solar power stations, and space-based anti­ballistic missile (ABM) systems. The debates over these proposals have reflected not only disagreement over questions of feasibility and cost but also an intellectual struggle over the full incorporation of the space environment into human affairs. In part, the new space advocacy reflected a gathering of forces in defense of a paradigm shift. By the early 1980s, the balance appeared to have tilted toward the space advocates. One of the reasons was generational. In 1977, the first generation to have lived entirely in the Space Age began to enter its twenties; those who had been excited by the first space ventures while children were somewhat older and provided much of the leadership of the new space movement. Harrison Schmitt noted in 1985 that 80 million Americans (one third of the population) became intellectually aware during the Space Age.[5] Through film and television, these younger generations enjoyed vicarious adventure and achievement. Planetary exploration stimulated them with imagery of other worlds. Works of science fiction and science fact with space themes found a ready audience among the young. Many wanted to get involved in the space enterprise. However, those who sought employment in the space field often met frustration after the downturn in NASA’s fortunes. These generations are the core of the new space advocacy. “You’ve got a lot of young people who grew up with the space program and now they’re in responsible positions to do something about it,” said Howard Gluckman in 1980. “We’ve believed in space all the time.”[6] The emergence of these first “space generations” into maturity coincided with a “participation revolution” in American society. During the 1960s and the 1970s, citizen activism became an increasingly widespread and important feature of American political life. Loomis and Cigler have described an explosion of group formation, notably including public interest or citizens groups that lobbied for causes not necessarily related to the occupations of their members.[7] There was a desire to achieve a feeling of efficacy through some sort of action, even if that were nothing more than taking part in a telephone or letter campaign. New information technologies promoted grass-roots lobbying. Affluence created a larger potential for group membership by lowering the relative cost of participation. Organizations became more numerous with increasing education. Issue-oriented groups did especially well; for a modest membership fee, people could make a statement without the burden of more direct involvement. The new reform and citizens groups depended heavily on the educated white middle class for their membership — exactly the kind of people who formed the bulk of the new space advocacy. There was a large pool of group organizers, who tended to be young, well-educated, middle-class people caught up in the movement for change and inspired by ideas or doctrine. The conjunction of rising interest in space and citizen activism spurred organized space activism. In some cases, leading figures came from movements that had peaked or declined, such as the environmental movement and the anti-war movement; the role of space group leader defined some individual lives. Many pro-space people of younger generations shared the participatory vision in wanting to be part of the space enterprise, and to influence its course. Sometimes the appeal was direct. “Either you can be a spectator of Humankind’s greatest adventure,” wrote the American Society of Aerospace Pilots in May 1985, “or you can let your interest in spaceflight lead you to pio­neering the next frontier.”[8] Many were not content to see spaceflight remain an elite activity (as of January 1985, 249 people had gone into space).[9] The late 1960s and early 1970s also saw attempts to assert greater democratic control over technology, in part by technology assessment. Space advocates wanted to democratize space technology not just by controlling it but also by participating in the activities that it makes possible. Many wanted to take space activity out of the exclusive control of large government and corporate bureaucracies, to decentralize it and spread participation. Planetary Society Executive Director Louis D. Friedman wrote in early 1985, “The Planetary Society democratizes space. It gives you the chance to take part in Humanity’s most positive venture.”[10] But such appeals still were largely to vicarious participation. The most potent symbol of this “space populism” is the Space Shuttle, a major factor in reviving latent but frustrated interest in manned spaceflight. The Shuttle was not a cramped capsule but a truck to space, with a relatively roomy, liveable cab. The first launch of this vehicle in April 1981 implied not only an American return to space but also regular access by a larger number of people. To some space advocates, it was the symbolic beginning of the democratization of space. In January 1979, Space Age Review editor Steve Durst had complained about the “exclusion” of most people from space. Three years later, NASA Administrator James Beggs announced his agency’s intention to broaden the range of people going into space through what became the Spaceflight Participants Program. This stimulated Durst’ s Space Age Review Foundation (with the cosponsorship of Delta Vee and the Hypatia Cluster) to publish a “Space Shuttle Passenger Project,” which summarized proposals for turning the Shuttle orbiter into a passenger liner that could give large numbers of people the space experience.[11] “It had become possible to envision space as the province of some sort of transport vehicle (even looking vaguely like a commercial transport) which could carry anyone instead of the exclusive domain of supermen in capsules,” wrote Maxwell Hunter in 1984. “It is an absolute psychological triumph . . . in recasting the popular image of what space might be all about.”[12] The Shuttle also is an enabling technology for space industrialization and, possibly, space colonization. Landmarks in the emergence of the Shuttle — the first rollout in September 1976, the first drop test in August 1977, and the first flight in April 1981 — were major stimuli to the pro-space movement. President Reagan was on the mark when he said after the first flight that “the Space Shuttle did more than prove our technological abilities. It raised our expectations once more. It started us dreaming again.”[13] The new space advocacy also was inspired in part by a revival of technological optimism. New technologies can imply new power over the environment and the future. Nowhere is this more true than in spaceflight, a symbol of technological prowess that, with the assistance of mass media, has stirred visions of human power expanding throughout the solar system and beyond. Launch vehicle entrepreneur Gary Hudson expresses a belief widespread among space advocates when he rejects the idea that we are helpless to solve such problems as the threat of devastation by ballistic missiles; technology makes solutions possible. Satellite solar power stations, space colonies, and space-based missile defenses are proposed grand technological solutions to frustrating, large-scale problems. The generational connection with technological optimism is strong; surveys show that people under 35 are more inclined to think well of new technologies.[14] One intriguing index of the times is interest in engineering education. In parallel with the downturn, it bottomed out in the early 1970s, but it then rebounded sharply later in the decade, roughly in parallel with the surge in space interest group formation (Figure 14.1 [not included due to copyright]). Space missions also reflect collective achievement through the tools we have built. Anyone who has attended the launch of a manned space vehicle will recall the sense of audience participation, the shouts of encouragement to the rising rocket. There are associated physical sensations, such as the vibration and the rumbling noise, which cause the observer to feel the power of this technological instrument. If an automobile can be seen as an extension of individual power, a space launch can be seen as an extension of our collective power. New technologies also can imply opportunities to reorder society, even to create technological utopias. In his 1985 book Technological Utopianism in American Culture Howard Segal described how industrialization stimulated some late nineteenth century and early twentieth century Americans to advocate specific designs for engineered human communities. Segal briefly mentions Gerard K. O’Neill as an example of a modern technological utopian, commenting that space colonies look something like suburbs in space.[15] Perhaps the best analog to spaceflight is the technology of flight. In his 1983 book The Winged Gospel, Joseph J. Corn recounted how enthusiasm for the airplane between 1910 and 1950 was so strong that it became something akin to a secular religion for its adherents, and the airplane a kind of mechanical god that would usher in a milennium of peace and harmony.[16] Adherents to the cause, who consistently overestimated the ability of the airplane to cause social change, believed that aircraft would produce a democracy of the air, that it augured the expansion of freedom and the end of discrimination, and that it would not merely deter aggression but also bring humans closer together, thereby eliminating the conditions that cause wars. Corn placed this attitude within the context of American technological messianism and the age-old belief that flight was divine. But the winged gospel met its demise with the rise of strategic airpower, when Americans came to consider the airplane as an ambivalent, even malevolent agent. The parallels with space advocacy are striking. Space enthusiasts at one time or another have promised greater abundance, enhanced freedom, and the elimination of war. To some of them, space technology had the potential to bring a utopian future. Such themes were particularly visible in the early writings of Gerard O’Neill and his followers. Corn wrote:
If there is a latter-day religion of flight, it is to be found in the response of partisans of spaceflight. Many of their expectations for the space future recall the aviation gospel of the first half of this century. One of the most ardent and respected prophets of the space gospel is Gerard K. O’Neill. . . . In looking at his vision, it is helpful to know that Professor O’Neill for years has been a pilot, flying small planes and gliders.[17]
By 1984, ambivalent feelings about space technology were obvious, primarily because of the growing military uses of that technology. The rise and decline of space utopianism reflects not only a recurrent pattern in American history but also the maturing of spaceflight as a technology and a human activity. By 1984 the uses of space had shifted toward the prosaic. But the dream of the space utopians remains alive in some parts of the new space advocacy and drives some hopes for the future. Space rhetoric also is full of the imagery of the frontier, another powerful idea in American history. The frontier has promised Americans opportunities for exploration, adventure, success, new wealth, and a new start. With the loss of frontiers on Earth, space became the new frontier. “Space,” wrote a Spaceflight editorialist in 1985, “was like America must have seemed to the Pilgrim fathers — huge, open, and free.”[18] Gerard O’Neill made it the High Frontier, adding a transcendent element. Speaking to the 1979 Princeton Conference on Space Manufacturing, Freeman Dyson suggested a parallel between future space migrants and earlier colonists in the New World — the Pilgrims and the Mormons.[19] In part, the American space movement is a revival of the idea of the frontier. Like the American frontier, it has encouraged visions of opportunity and adventure, and a proliferation of entrepreneurial schemes, many of which will fail. There also has been a strong association with the American West, both in the historic sense and in terms of current interest in space. Some of the social and political ideas associated with the American West fit well with the ethos of much of the new space advocacy; Joel Garreau has reported that the political culture of the West is characterized by optimism and by the absence of a sense of limits.[20] Science writer Dennis Overbye suggests that “space is the extension of the rovings of a restless people.”[21] Not everyone finds the frontier model attractive. “Those with a positive space program succumb to the old frontier illusion that an Eden of abundance and harmony awaits us in space,” writes Daniel Deudney. “The urge to pick up and move to a new land when things start getting bad in the old country has taken on a new high-technology character.”[22] Many of the new space advocates are libertarians or other individualists who hope that space will offer new opportunities for freedom, liberty, and voluntarism. “A lot of people who want to go into space have trouble with authority,” observes Carolyn Meinel.[23] Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, one of the grandfathers of the new space movement, emphasizes voluntarism in his novels and abhors the atrophy of the will.[24] These tendencies may help explain the fractiousness of the new space movement. This craving for freedom has a strong political element. “Space was the only area in our world left where governments could not control and coerce their citizens,” wrote one student of aerospace engineering.[25] In late 1984, Gerard O’Neill commented that the Space Studies Institute “looks forward to an open future, in which the free choice of individuals, rather than the dictates of governments, will shape individual human destinies.”[26] In 1983 and 1984, “Freeland” conferences were held in Southern California to discuss possible habitats (such as unclaimed islands and space colonies) outside the reach of “uncontrollable” national governments. Speakers at Freeland II included science fiction writer Poul Anderson, space entrepreneur Gary Hudson, and L-5 Society activist Conrad Schnelker.[27] Hudson has written that “space offers a political frontier, where people can live as they like, do as they like. . . . I think that technology is a great freer of human beings.”[28] The relative lack of legal restrictions is one of the attractions of space both to potential colonists and to entrepreneurs and was a major reason for the L-5 Society’s passionate opposition to the Moon treaty. In their 1978 book Space Trek , Jerome Glenn and George Robinson wrote “Another facet of the emerging new perceptions of reality is that future Spacekind should be free from, and independent of, the political bonds of Earthkind.” Their book closed with a proposed “Declaration of Independence” by space migrants.[29] This theme is especially congenial to some space activists with a conservative political orientation. “Our highest destiny,” said James Muncy in April 1985, “is to spread free people throughout the Cosmos.”[30] The late 1970s and early 1980s also witnessed a revival of entrepreneurship in the American economy, typically associated with younger people and with high technology industries. This coincided. nicely with the ideological stance of the Reagan administration, which publicly endorsed the idea of space commercialization and encouraged entrepreneurial space ventures. It also reflected the ethos of some new pro-space groups, such as the American Society of Aerospace Pilots. Said James Muncy, “We want space to be a frontier for free enterprise.”[31] The sense of personal liberation also has an important physical dimension. “Your support of the L-5 Society is your declaration of independence from the restrictions of planetary surfaces,” wrote the L-5 News in 1985, over a painting of a man and a woman moving ballet-like in space.[32] Many space advocates have on their walls a picture of astronaut Bruce McCandless floating free and untethered in space, an independent satellite of the Earth. A fundamental reason for pro-space activity is that many advocates want to have this experience themselves. Another driving force was a revival of the old idea of alternate worlds. Some space advocates, notably in the Planetary Society, clearly wish to participate in a new age of discovery. For others, the appeal of new worlds goes farther. They want not only adventure but also alternatives to the familiarity and frustrations of the Earth. On new worlds, one might enjoy freedom from conventional restraints. New societies might be formed, independent of their ancestors, free of Earthly faults, offering opportunities for social experiment. Planetary exploration initially made the nearest potential alternate worlds (the Moon, Mars, and Venus) look less attractive than some had hoped, bringing the new worlds idea into temporary disrepute. But O’Neill’s space colonies — artificial biospheres that could be anywhere in the solar system — revived it. The resurgence of space activism also was part of a broader reaction to the cultural pessimism and hostility toward technology of the late 1960s and early 1970s, a revived belief in progress through science and technology. The questioning of the idea of progress, the dystopian view of the future, was unpalatable to many Americans. There also was concern that American power and economic competitiveness had declined. To many, the downturn in American space activity was a symbol of these negative times. For many space advocates, what was threatened was not only economic and professional interests but also a vision of the future. The wish to escape the limits to growth, to believe in progress and in the strength and rightness of American culture, found a visible rallying point in the revival of American manned spaceflight in 1981. “Space,” wrote Aviation Week three years later, “is in the good news department.”[33] The concurrent revival of publicly expresssed patriotism, of a desire to strengthen American defenses and to match foreign economic and commercial competition, all were congruent with a revival of support for spaceflight. American faith in growth and technological progress were reasserted. The spring 1981 report of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy concluded, “The rediscovery of progress is a reasonable and feasible goal for the United States in the 1980s.”[34] In part, the new space movement was a reflection of what Time magazine called “American Renewal.”[35] Since the earliest days of thinking about spaceflight, there have been transcendental elements in its advocacy, even hints of a secular, humanistic religion. In the Spaceflight Revolution, Bainbridge wrote that the initial urges that brought the spaceflight movement into existence were “non-economic, impractical, personal, and primitive desires.” They could be described either in psychiatric or religious terms.[36] Like early aeronautical literature, space literature is liberally sprinkled with noneconomic justifications; both aircraft and spacecraft have been vehicles for transcendental aspirations, however ill defined they may be. Clearly, such motivations were a factor in the revival of spaceflight advocacy in the United States. There were technological transcendentalists, who seemed to believe that whatever was scientifically and technologically possible would be done; Richard Hutton, in his 1981 book The Cosmic Chase, called them the “radical fringe” of the Space Underground.[37] There were others who saw a reformation of humanity in the space environment. Many space advocates are unembarrassed by the idea that they are driven by a dream. Nowhere was the transcendental element seen better than in the space colonization movement. In a remarkable act of self-recognition, H. Keith Henson published an article entitled “Memes, L-5, and the Religion of the Space Colonies” in the September 1985 L-5 News.[38] Drawing on memetic theory, Henson suggested that the space colony concept is a meme with religious characteristics. Memes (information patterns that influence an organism to pass the meme on to other brains) lose their intense hold on people with the passage of time, especially when the promises of the meme are at great variance with reality. Henson sees the gradual replacement of human habitation with a general pro-space theme in the L-5 Society, and its loss of a clear goal, as byproducts of this process. For many space advocates, there also is a sense of being part of a larger enterprise, of historic importance. Spaceweek’s Dennis Stone put it well when he said, “We are not in it for ourselves.”[39] Different advocates may define that historic enterprise in different terms. However, the underlying fact is that our generations are opening to humanity the largest of all environments, an act some compare to the emergence of sea life on to the land. The space “movement” is, in part, a symptom of that historic event.


As they approached the end of their first decade, the new space interest groups were becoming a mature phenomenon, a relatively permanent part of the American interest group scene. In her third report on the space movement, published early in 1985, Trudy E. Bell found that the number of space interest groups had stabilized at about 48. Their aggregate total memberships topped 300,000, and their aggregate budgets exceeded $30 million. The leadership of the groups had become increasingly professional. Bell speculated that the advent of corporate funding to various space interest groups might be an indication that the groups were finally being recognized as legitimate entities whose work was worthy of support.[40] After a burst of organizational formation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the space advocacy began to coalesce in the mid-1980s through increased cooperation and the weeding out of the less stable and more personalistic groups. There appeared to be movement toward the center. Relatively radical groups like the L-5 Society reconciled themselves increasingly with the classic agenda for manned spaceflight. Some older space interest groups, notably the American Astronautical Society, became more advocacy oriented and enjoyed an upturn in membership. The gap between professionals and enthusiasts narrowed; older and younger generations of spaceflight advocates, once separated by differences in cultural assumptions and style, seemed to draw closer after a period of standing off. There was some movement toward a consensus on a modified form of the classic agenda, with the Planetary Society being a major exception until 1984. Above all, there seemed to be a regained confidence in the future of spaceflight and a lessening of the sense of urgency that had prevailed a few years before. Perhaps as a consequence, most space interest groups appeared to be near the top of their sine curves in 1984. The rate of organizational formation had declined sharply, and membership had leveled off or declined in most groups. Bell noted that the “flaky” groups were gone, but some initially credible organizations, such as the Institute for the Social Science Study of Space, also had vanished from the scene by 1984. The one major exception to this trend was the Young Astronaut Council, whose membership continued to climb through the end of the year. One of the staffers in that organization’s Washington headquarters was Todd C. Hawley of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, a successful migrant from citizens activism to a paying space-group position. The space “movement” remained a diverse, eclectic, fragmented phenomenon, without a dominant leader or an agreed-on agenda. “The citizens groups are still too disorganized, and need to find more areas of agreement,” observed the AIAA’s Jerry Grey in 1983.[41] Coordinating mechanisms remained weak; the National Coordinating Committee on Space appeared to be inactive as of 1985. There remained the strains of differing priorities and the tension between grass-roots activism and professional credibility. Some citizens groups continued to try to play several roles instead of accepting a division of labor within the movement. The advocacy also seemed more divided by political partisanship than in the past; a new conservative space consensus, including suport for the Strategic Defense Initiative, was emerging by 1982, while liberal space advocates tended to emphasize international cooperation, including joint U.S.-Soviet exploration of Mars. The fragmentation of the space movement probably was inevitable because of the board, inclusive, positive, and future-oriented nature of the space dream. “The big disadvantage of the space movement,” said the National Space Institute’s Mark R. Chartrand in 1983, “is that it is arguing for something abstract and future, instead of against something here and now.”[42] Agrees the L-5 Society’s Gary Oleson, “The positive nature of the space agenda is the most serious organizing problem.”[43] Despite these problems, the space advocacy was held together loosely by many interconnections — shared concerns, overlapping board memberships, frequent contact at conferences, shared media, and personal friendships. At some deeper level, it is held together by vague and often unarticulated ideas about the importance of the broad space enterprise, the sense that it is something new and of historic significance.


In looking at the earlier spaceflight advocacy, Bainbridge found it to be outside normal science, and thus explicable only in terms of social processes that operate outside the conventional market mechanism – that is, a social movement.[44] In 1980, Trudy E. Bell found that “a space movement is in the air – a palpable excitement, almost a kind of euphoria in the proliferation of new groups, the discovery of one another’s existence, the creation of new types of groups, and a sense of promise, direction, destiny.”[45] Does the post-1972 space advocacy meet the criteria for social movements? Certainly, the new space advocacy reflected a broad community of belief in the importance of space, held together less by shared economic interests than by shared ideas. It also demonstrated a rapid growth of organized activity, often by volunteers. However, this was a very fractious coalition, including individuals ranging from conservative aerospace engineers to former environmentalists and anti-war protesters. The advocacy also included very different types of organizations. Behavior ranged from conservative to radical. “You need some groups over the edge,” says space writer James E. Oberg, “because they make the more moderate ones seem reasonable by comparison.”[46] This phenomenon is not unusual in social movements, particularly in their early years. Ralph Turner and Lewis Killian, in their book Collective Behavior, defined a social movement as “a collectivity acting with some continuity to promote or resist change in the society or group of which it is a part.”[47] By this criterion, the results are mixed. Most of the older, established space groups behave more like traditional economic interest and professional groups, seeking to protect and advance the economic and professional interests of their members. Other space interest groups are basically enthusiast organizations, in which members want to communicate with others who share their interests. But the leaders of some of the newer pro-space organizations (particularly the L-5 Society and the Space Studies Institute) would argue that they and their supporters are in fact seeking significant change. They may indeed reflect a social movement. Robert D. McWilliams argued in 1981 that space exploration supporters (particularly proponents of space industrialization) were rapidly evolving the organizational characteristics typical of social movements, such as common ideology, organized strategy and tactics, and the differentiation of roles and the distribution of power, and cited the L-5 Society as an example.[48] Bell’s interviews suggested that within the citizen-support space-interest movement, the necessity for these additional factors was dawning.[49] McWilliams also found that persons who wish to see more money spent on space exploration scored higher on indexes of social and moral liberalism than did those who opposed the space program; this fit with people involved in other social movements. They also scored higher on indexes of socioeconomic backgrounds, intellectualism, and attitudes toward organized religion. These indexes are comparable with those seen in the civil rights movement and the women’s movement, for example. McWilliams concluded that “evidence such as this suggests strongly that the minority of Americans who wish to see more federal money allocated to space exploration are the sort of people who comprise social movements.”[50] Bell concluded in 1980 that “all of the signs indicate that by the mid-1980s an American space-interest movement could be as powerful as some of the major special interest movements existing today.”[51] Two years later, however, she wrote that the spirits of leaders of space interest groups seemed notably dampened about whether or not there had been an evolution of a space interest movement since 1980; a good portion of the optimism expressed then had been based on the groups’ discovery of each other.[52] By 1985, when she wrote an editorial on the subject in Space World, Bell had concluded that the space community was too fragmented and had too diverse an agenda to be called a movement.[53] Perhaps it is most accurate to describe the new space advocacy as a set of overlapping social and political phenomena — partly a social movement and partly a set of interest groups, with the trend toward the latter. The L-5 Society had its roots in one kind of space-related social movement, having to do with space migration and the creation of new societies in space. The American Society of Aerospace Pilots emerged from another social ideology, concerned with free enterprise, voluntarism, and the re-creation of the American frontier in space. However, most other space interest organizations are not nearly so visionary and are more properly called interest groups. The space “movement” also is relatively small by the standards of modern American social movements. Richard Hutton pointed out in 1981 that there were 20,000 environmental public interest groups, bringing in about $1.5 million a week from a constituency of about 4 million people.[54] This is more than ten times the membership – and more than twice the claimed budget – of the organized space advocacy in 1984. But the environmental movement is instructive in another way. It never coalesced into a single organization under a single leader, yet it often has been effective through its use of coalition politics.


If the new space advocacy is as much a set of interest groups as a social movement, what kinds of interest groups? Some, such as the Aerospace Industries Association and organizations of aerospace professionals and space scientists, have behaved in ways reasonably congruent with the economic model of interest group behavior. That model assumes an “economic man,” a rational actor pursuing his own self-interest.[55] However, most members of citizens pro-space groups have no direct economic or professional stake in the space program. Despite this, many have devoted substantial personal time and effort (and, in some cases, money) to working for space. They seem to fit better with the theoretical revision of Olson’s model offered by Terry Moe in 1980, in which he posited a “bounded rationality.” Moe argued that citizens act not only on the basis of their economic interests but also on the basis of their values, their limited information, and their personal calculation of their influence. They form not only groups that offer “economic” and “selective” incentives but also groups that offer “purposive” incentives, such as ideological or moral satisfaction, or even solidarity.[56] Political scientists Nathan C. Goldman and Michael Fulda have proposed a useful taxonomy of space interest groups.[57] The chart in Figure 14.2 [not included due to copyright] is organized along two axes: degree of economic motivation and degree of purposive motivation. According to Fulda and Goldman, examples of high purposive but low economic groups would include the Hypatia Cluster and Write Now!; high purposive and high economic, the National Space Club and the Universities Space Research Association; high economic but low purposive, the Aerospace Industries Association and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; and low purposive and low economic, UFO groups and mystical cults. (There is, of course, some overlapping membership among space interest groups in different categories.) Orenstein and Elder have observed that purposive groups are by nature unstable; they attract splinter groups and have difficulty in maintaining membership interest. Material benefit groups, once established, tend to be stable.[58] These principles are supported by the experience of many space interest groups. Yet both the National Space Institute and the L-5 Society, examples of new, high purposive groups, are now over ten years old. The space advocacy also provides examples of both the “staff” and “grass-roots” models of American interest groups, with others along the spectrum between these extremes. The Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space and the Institute for Space and Security Studies, for example, are pure staff organizations, with no real grass­roots base. Spaceweek, by contrast, is an extreme example of grass-roots decentralization. There have been many motivations for forming space interest groups, such as protecting economic and professional interests, proselytizing for an idea, and seeking an application of knowledge and skills. However, many of the recent groups fit the entrepreneurial model of interest group formation described by Moe. The new space advocacy includes several groups founded by a single individual that often continued to revolve around that individual, with some collapsing when that indi­vidual went on to other pursuits (for example, Delta Vee). Howard Gluckman has observed that many space advocates who reacted to the downturn in the space program sought like-minded groups; when existing space interest organizations seemed inadequate, some of these people founded others.[59] David Koch, who co-founded Spaceweek and who founded the American Society of Aerospace Pilots, and David C. Webb, active in the formation of Campaign for Space and U.S. Space 82, seem excellent examples of organizational entrepreneurs. James Muncy, who founded the Action Committee for Technology and Using Space for America, describes himself as a political entrepreneur.[60] The multiplication of space interest groups also may reflect a democratic society’s response to important new technologies; defaulting to a technological elite is not sufficient. Goldman and Fulda, addressing the space interest group example, have commented that the pluralist solution to technology may be more interest groups.[61] Loomis and Cigler note the formal penetration of interest groups into the federal bureaucracy (advisory groups), the Congress (caucuses), and the Presidency (White House group representatives).[62] Parts of the space advocacy have achieved the first two of these. But the advocacy’s pur­poses also have been advanced significantly by informal penetration of the administration, the Congress, and the Executive Office of the Presi­dent. The space advocacy has allies (and sometimes formal members) within both the executive and legislative arms of the federal government. NASA, the United States Air Force, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and congressional staffs have been “infiltrated” by people who share the space dream, who belong to that broad community of belief that underlies the pro-space phenomenon. Perhaps political science needs an interest group model that more formally recognizes that alliances across the rather artificial dividing line between government and interest group can be purposive in motivation and that such alliances are not limited to the classic “iron triangles” composed of federal agencies, their authorizing committees, and related economic interest groups.


Writing in 1982, Bell concluded that space interest groups had failed in terms of their original expectations.[63] If we use the influencing of policy, budgets, and legislation as our main criterion, pro-space groups have not played a significant role in most major space policy and program decisions taken since 1972, except for the defeat of the Moon treaty. That lobbying effort succeeded in part because it was allied to more powerful interests, whose primary concern was the Law of the Sea. It also was directed against a proposal, not in support of a new program that would have cost the taxpayers large sums of money. The record is less impressive in other cases:
  • Despite claims that they influenced the outcome on the Jupiter Orbiter Probe, former House Committee Staffer James Wilson says flatly that the citizens groups did not play a major role in the decision.[64] Former NASA Associate Administrator for Legislative Affairs Joseph Allen agrees that JOP was not saved by such groups.[65]
  • Advocates of satellite solar power stations were unable to keep studies going, and none of the pro-SSPS legislation introduced into Congress as a result of their efforts after 1977 resulted in the appropriation of funds, despite lobbying by the L-5 Society and the SUNSAT Energy Council.
  • It has been claimed that the space movement saved the space program from extinction at the time of the Reagan administration’s 1981 budget cuts.[66] While the scale of budget cuts may have been reduced, significant cuts were made and new starts were delayed. The Planetary Society’s attempt to get funding for a Halley’s comet mission failed completely. It is not clear that the continued existence of NASA was ever under more than rhetorical threat.
  • The coalition behind space commercialization included established figures, such as the aerospace executives who met with President Reagan in August 1983, as well as graduates from pro-space citizens groups. In the case of private launch vehicles, citizen groups graduates and other space advocates did achieve success in getting both administration and congressional endorsement. However, they suffered a defeat when the Department of Transportation rather than the Department of Commerce was chosen to be the “lead agency” for regulating launches and later on pricing policy for Space Shuttle launch services.
  • Although space advocates played a role in proposing space-based anti­ballistic missile systems, the President’s 1983 decision was the result of defense-related arguments, rather than the borrowed ideas about space industrialization included by High Frontier.
  • Although some space interest groups had endorsed the space station for a long time, the President’s decision to endorse it was largely the result of NASA lobbying, aerospace industry support, and the President’s personal convictions.
All this suggests that major space program and policy decisions in the late 1970s and early 1980s continued to be made largely by the internal processes of government, supplemented by industry information and lobbying. Interviews show nearly unanimous agreement that the principal influences on such decisions are (l) the administration, particularly the President and his advisers, the Office of Management and Budget, NASA, and the Department of Defense, with the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Security Council staff sometimes playing important roles, and (2) aerospace companies. Congressional members and staff, aerospace professionals, and space scientists generally were considered intermittently influential. Pro-space citizens groups were seldom mentioned. The L-5 Society’s part-time lobbyist in Washington, Gary Oleson, agrees that the citizen group impact is not at the point of decision. “They can’t go in and swing votes,” he says.[67] His colleague from Spacepac, Gary Paiste, acknowledges that Congress has not had reason to take pro-space citizens groups seriously.[68] House Space Subcommittee Staff Director Darrell Branscome says that citizens groups rarely are the first on the doorstep; they follow up.[69] John Loosbrock, the experienced public relations officer of the Aerospace Industries Association, noted in 1983 that 200,000 members is not much when distributed over 435 congressional districts; pro-space groups are spread thin.[70] Such groups may have access to individual members of Congress or state delegations (as the L-5 Society did with the Arizona delegation) but not across the board. Space writer David Dooling noted in 1984 that all of the space interest groups together then had a membership smaller than that of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Pro-space citizens groups generally have even less impact on the administration; the September 1981 National Coordinating Committee for Space policy statement reportedly had no impact on policy (a possible exception is the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, some of whose members were well connected in the Reagan administration). Yet it was the President and his advisers who made the major decisions that are defining the next decade of space activity: the space station, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and space commercialization. One would think that a natural point of contact for pro-space groups would be NASA itself. Although that agency has institutionalized channels for working with aerospace companies, aerospace professionals, and space scientists, as of 1984 it had no mechanism for regular liaison with pro-space citizens groups. Associate Administrator Patrick Templeton said in February of that year that the agency appreciates the support that citizens groups give but acknowledged that NASA does not have an official responsible for maintaining contact with them.[71] Such access as pro-space groups have enjoyed has tended to be through a few sympathetic individuals. One is tempted to conclude that the belief of some pro-space citizens groups that they have had significant political influence confirms John Kenneth Galbraith’s observation that “resort to an instrument of power is widely confused in our time with an exercise of power.”[72] Given the dependence of citizens groups on unpaid volunteers, one also could argue that the need to believe that one is having an effect on the policy process is inevitable. However, these conclusions would dismiss the modern pro-space advocacy too lightly. Although pro-space groups are not powerful in themselves, they play other important roles, indirectly influencing the process by which space decisions are made.


It is clear that pro-space citizens groups do not rank with the American Dairy Association and the National Rifle Association as effective lobbying organizations. However, they do have influences of more subtle, indirect, and long-term kinds:
  • By their existence. Pro-space citizens groups are a visible demonstration of public interest in (and by implication support for) the civil space program. If they were not there, decision makers and opinion formers might be even more inclined than they sometimes are to see that program as an exercise in cynical self-interest by NASA and its contractors. The fact that nearly 300,000 Americans pay dues to pro-space organizations shows grass-roots, constituent support. They remind decision makers that space is popular.
  • By amplifying other space interests. Pro-space groups tend to reflect more than originate. “They are backstoppers, not initiators,” says Courtney Stadd.[73] They are amplifiers for the concerns of NASA, the aerospace industry, aerospace professionals, and space scientists — and, more recently, space entrepreneurs — about the future of the space enterprise. Most of their speakers, much of the material they publish, and most of the quotes they use come from those sources. Yet it is notable that NASA has not made good use of most citizens pro-space groups to amplify its messages.
  • By circulating and legitimizing ideas. Most of the scientific and technological ideas in the spaceflight field come from individual professionals, whether they work in NASA, in aerospace companies, or in universities. Many of those ideas would remain confined to obscure journals and narrow interest groups if they were not picked up and spread around by nonexperts interested in space. Government officials and company executives often are reluctant to endorse ideas that seem “far out,” and professionals and academics may find it difficult to get a hearing for new concepts in respectable circles. Space buffs in the media play an important role in helping to circulate the more comprehensible ideas. (Walter Cronkite is a good example from the recent past.) Space interest groups also provide a medium in which those ideas can circulate, acquire adherents, and get broader attention. Trudy Bell describes them as “a market-like testing ground for astronautical concepts.”[74] Pro-space groups clearly had something to do with increasing the acceptability of space industrialization and the idea of large numbers of people living beyond the Earth. “There was a time when O’Neill could not get the attention of NASA headquarters,” said Universities Space Research Association Executive Director David Cummings in 1983. “Now, attitudes are shifting.”[75] As of late 1984, the same process seemed to be occurring in the case of extraterrestrial resources, as least partly because pro-space groups had acted as amplifiers for the concepts of space visionaries. “The idea of using lunar resources is gaining wide acceptance in the aerospace community,” wrote the Space Studies Institute’s Gregg Maryniak in early 1985.[76] Once far-out ideas are being taken more seriously by decision makers, and pro-space rhetoric has infiltrated into the language of those who would not have used it five years before. Space interest groups have contributed to that process.
  • Educating the public. Many citizens groups have the education of the public about space as their primary aim. They not only encourage membership and publication readership but also conduct public programs and place materials in the media to reach wider audiences. Over time, this helps to create a more favorable opinion environment for future program decisions. Their biggest effect may be on younger generations. “Citizens groups have not been successful with the sophisticated elite,” observes space law and policy expert Irwin Pikus, “but with young people.”[77]
  • Holding the community together. Most of the widespread support for space activity is inchoate and has no outlet for expression. Enthusiasts need rallying points: organizations, meetings, magazines. The citizens groups bring together the pro-space constituency and give it some coherence, a set of focal points for activism. Publications and conferences play the major role in creating a nervous system for the pro-space community. They encourage self-recognition by the space advocacy. The discovery that many pro-space citizens organizations existed, in part the result of Trudy Bell’s late 1980 and early 1981 articles, may have given space activists greater confidence and spurred their efforts.
  • Outlets for idealism. One is struck by the power of noneconomic motivations in the space advocacy. Other motivations, which could be described as idealistic or transcendental, clearly drive many of those involved. The citizens groups have provided useful outlets for this idealism, particularly among generations that suffer from high expectations and frustrated ambitions.
  • Alternatives to big organizations. For those who want to do something about space but are unwilling or unable to work their way up through a government or corporate bureaucracy, space interest groups can provide an alternative route. Trudy Bell comments that “Perhaps one third of the groups have evolved into an additional legitimate environment for the training and recognition of rising talent.”[78] They provide a way for ordinary people to get involved and for leaders to get recognition. Space interest groups also can provide an alternate means of getting things done. Of particular note are those organizations that are doing technology development work themselves, such as the Space Studies Institute, the World Space Foundation, and the Independent Space Research Group.
  • Political and organizational training. Being in a pro-space group is a learning experience, not just about space but also about politics and organizations. Many enthusiasts have improved their political and organizational skills by working with citizens groups. They have been “incubated” before moving on to other walks of life, where they may rise to positions of influence and see their pro-space views have real impact. In a sense, the groups are transmission belts for activists.
  • Creating a network. Space enthusiasts establish a wide variety of contacts through their organizations and through conferences and informal meetings. There are extensive overlaps among groups, both at the leadership and ordinary member levels; former American Astronautical Society President Charles Sheffield, for example, was on the boards of both the L-5 Society and the National Space Institute in 1984 and also served as one of many links to the science fiction community. There are interconnections among pro-space citizens groups, professional groups, entrepreneurs, the aerospace industry, academia, and NASA; David Hannah, for example, was on the boards of the Space Studies Institute and the Institute for the Social Science Study of Space as well as being the head of Space Services Incorporated. Many pro-space people stay in touch even after they “graduate” from the citizens groups, forming a network that already has begun to operate in the case of the new launch vehicle companies, both as an employment exchange and as a political communications channel (Trudy Bell calls it a “new boys network”).[79] Space advocates also are filtering into a variety of institutions of American society outside the aerospace community. Space interest groups help to hold this network together.
  • Changing the political culture. In the short term, major space policy decisions are made primarily by the internal processes of government, marginally affected by industry and professional lobbying. In the longer term, however, space interest groups influence future events by helping to change the context for policy — the intellectual and political culture. They do this not by overnight conversion but by eroding assumptions about what can not be done.
  • Stimulating interest in science and technology. In a broader sense, space interest groups help to attract more people (particularly young ones) to science and technology. The space enterprise has higher visibility than any other technological activity. This clearly was recognized by the founders of Project Liftoff, whose main component is the Young Astronaut Program.


Bainbridge wrote in 1976:
My overall contention is that the next 20 to 50 years will be marked by a gradual upward coasting of space technology capabilities — a period of normal technological change. Somewhere soon after the turn of the century there is the real possibility of a Second Spaceflight Revolution, or at least very rapid progress of the normal type.[80]
The new space advocacy has a complex agenda. At the center of it, however, is the idea that many people, not just a few, can and should go into space to explore, to work, and to live. Many want the experience and the adventure of going into space. For some, the goal is an old one — to explore new worlds. For others, the goal is a space-based civilization, the extension of human activity of all kinds into a new environment, and the permanent incorporation of nearby space into the human realm. Gerard O’Neill speaks of the attraction of establishing small-scale, manageable social units in space, reviving cultural diversity.[81] The L-5 Society states explicitly that it seeks “an independent society in space.” [82] These people want a second spaceflight revolution: the permanent human occupation of space. NASA officials have advocated this for some years, although in more cautious, bureaucratic language. In the mid-1970s, senior NASA official John Yardley stated that “NASA’s principal long-term manned space goal is the achievement of permanent occupancy and limited self-sufficiency in space.”[83] The Space Shuttle and the space station are the first, necessary steps, the first enabling technologies. The Campaign for Space wrote in 1984, “President Reagan’s space station initiative represents the beginning of a new era for NASA, an era that will culminate in the permanent habitation of a totally new environment for Mankind.”[84] If the spaceflight movement of the 1920s and the 1930s laid the groundwork for our first, exploratory ventures into space, the new space advocacy is laying the groundwork for permanent human occupancy. The modern spaceflight movement is establishing the culture for a “Second Spaceflight Revolution.” Its leaders are attempting to build the constituency for a paradigm shift that they believe is as profound as the Copernican revolution in astronomy. Those who want a “Second Spaceflight Revolution” face a continuing challenge. Space involves big ideas, which take a long time to sell. The space movement has long time horizons; the bureaucracy, the Congress, and the industry do not. Those institutions are dominated by incrementalists not revolutionaries.


By 1984, old divisions within the space advocacy were becoming more visible, heightened by recent events. Familiar issues were revived, with some scientists, for example, criticizing manned spaceflight, and with many liberals criticizing the military uses of space technology. Political scientist Nathan C. Goldman sees phases in the development of the new space advocacy. In the first phase of “mass consensus,” we saw widespread backing for the naming of the Shuttle Orbiter Enterprise and for the Jupiter Orbiter Probe. In the second, we saw a breakdown of the coalition over the Moon treaty and the satellite solar power station, with a split between spaceflight advocates and environmentalists. In the third phase, new divisive issues arose, notably the space station and the Strategic Defense Initiative.[85] These splits appear to reflect a deeper rift that goes back to the beginning of the Space Age. At the extremes, there are two identifiable schools of thought, one one each side of the fault line. Most people interested in space probably do not line up entirely on one side or the other. But a model divided along the following lines suggests the underlying strain:
Space Development  Space Exploration
Manned spaceflight Unmanned spacecraft
Space commercialization Space science
Aerospace industry University researchers
Space defense Space arms control
American pre-eminence International cooperation
Outward migration Public service
Limitless resources Limits to growth
There are, of course, reasons of self-interest underlying this division. For example, NASA and the aerospace industry have very practical reasons to favor large, complex, long-duration projects, while individual scientists may be more advantaged by a diversity of smaller projects that enables more researchers to achieve individual recognition. There also appear to be deeper reasons. Among those interested in space, there may be a difference in world view between those who study the environment (whose scientific training is to see celestial bodies as ob­jects) and those who see them as fields for action, as worlds. There may be a difference in ethos between those who enjoy the pleasure of finding out, knowing, and telling others, plus the vicarious adventure of remote exploration, and those who enjoy the extension of individual and collective human power and influence through technology. And there may be a division between those who see space exploration and its findings as ends in themselves and those who see them as means to other ends. Nathan Goldman comments that there are two paradigms of the future in space, but that the pro-space movement thinks of itself as the reflection of one paradigm.[86] Are these different world views permanent features? Or does one reflect the true future of space advocacy, while the other is a temporary, even reactionary phenomenon? We may need the perspective of another generation to tell.


Some experts comment that space policy is just the space dimension of other policies. However, this does not take into account a deeper motivation for the space advocacy, one whose roots reach far back before the present. Although not always stated explicitly, that motivation is shared by many of those involved in the new spaceflight movement. It is expansion. In both science fiction and speculative fact writings about the future in space, the outward expansion of humanity is a recurrent theme. At the end of the 1936 film Things to Come, H. G. Wells has one of his characters express this in an extreme form:
But for Man no rest and no ending. He must go on — conquest beyond conquest. This little planet and its winds and its ways, and all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him, and at last out across immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the deeps of space and all the mysteries of time — still he will be beginning.[87]
There may be an historic connection with cultural dynamism. “In human records,” wrote the anthropologist J. D. Unwin, “there is no trace of a display of productive energy which was not preceded by a display of expansive energy.”[88] As pragmatic a man as NASA Administrator James Beggs has recognized the significance of this theme. “I believe that one of the indisputable truths of our time is that humanity is slowly but surely expanding into space,” he said in 1985.[89] Although few would wish to be so labeled, many space advocates are human expansionists. They wish to break out of the limits of the Earth and to extend human power and presence outward as far as it can reach. However impractical or uneconomic that may seem, it does much to explain the frequent hints of transcendental aspiration in the space literature. The division between expansionists and nonexpansionists is one of the elements underlying the schism in the space community. Yet by 1984, even the Planetary Society had begun to recognize the appeal of the expansionist motivation by endorsing a Moon base and manned missions to Mars and the asteroids.[90]


Looking backward over the history of the astronautical movement, we find a kind of rough continuity reaching at least as far back as the nineteenth century. Originally, small groups of people who shared an insight and a passion formed a kind of friendly conspiracy, an open cabal advocating the use of the rocket to reach into space. Bainbridge categorized the revolutionaries as dreamers, practical visionaries, and implementers.[91] Periodically, someone catalyzed the spaceflight idea. Space societies rose and fell with changes in leaders and generations. People independently rediscovered the promise of space. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, rocketry became a mature technology, reaching a symbolic climax as a means of exploration with the Apollo expeditions to the Moon. The rocket advocacy was no longer an underground. To some extent, history is repeating itself. In the new space advocacy, we have seen dreamers and pragmatic visionaries; the implementers of the “Second Spaceflight Revolution” may be indentifiable in the 1990s. Some space advocates have made their peace with the classic agenda. But those with the greatest dream — massive human migration away from Earth — may be falling into the pattern of the first spaceflight revolution: first a proselytizing advocacy that meets frustration, then a military or political detour, then civil and private uses of the new technology. In the 1970s we saw the elaboration of a new underground, seeking to democratize space, to establish a space-based economy, and to build permanent space settlements. This flowered in organizational form in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a resurgence of the space advocacy on an unprecedented scale. But much remained to be done. In his 1981 book The Cosmic Chase, Richard Hutton wrote that the “space underground” was more like a loose federation than a tightly knit group of like-minded people.[92] That remained true four years later. But some things had changed. The underground had grown significantly; it had become more diversified, more open, more visible, more political. No longer just a friendly conspiracy, it aspired to be a social movement. By 1985, it was successfully co-opting a growing number of established figures who did not originally belong to it. Its organizations, while they may have conventional roles, also were arms of the space dream being turned into action. The organizations may change, but the dream goes on. The conspiracy continues in an altered way, composed of overlapping subunits of people dedicated to exploring the cosmos, to expanding the human uses of space, to extending the human reach outward, and to spreading humanity beyond the Earth. The agenda has become more complex and diversified; there are several schools of thought as to what the next step should be, presenting the space advocacy with an organizational challenge. The specifics, the tactics, and the justifications change, but the idea of humans going into space does not. Pursuers of the space dream have adjusted their appeal to the issues of the times, arguing that new ventures in space would be solutions to current social, economic, military, or political problems:
  • Long-range rockets in World War II and the Cold War
  • A race with the Soviet Union for international prestige in the late 1950s and 1960s
  • Practical, Earth-oriented applications in the early 1970s
  • Space industrialization in the late 1970s, including a response to the energy problem and the limits to growth
  • Space-based defenses and space commercialization in the 1980s
The space underground continued to live in 1985. Even with space activity revived, it continued to plan and advocate further steps, seeking to coalesce around new goals, searching for new justifications. What mattered to the space advocacy was not so much the solution of specific Earthly problems but the continuation of outward exploration and expansion by the human species. By 1985, William Bainbridge’s 1976 question about whether the spaceflight revolution would succeed or not had been answered. Despite predictions of its demise a decade ago, the American space program had survived and had been revitalized. The political climate for incrementally increasing American activity in space was generally good. Space activity, once the exclusive province of U.S. and Soviet government civil and military space organizations, had more diverse and widespread bases; space power was decentralizing, with more nations, government agencies, and independent companies becoming directly involved. Powerful new forces supporting increased activity in space were increasingly visible by 1984 in the form of defense and commercial interests, which seemed likely to create expanded, long-lasting constituencies. The means of access appeared to be diversifying, much in keeping with the ethos of a pro-space movement that wants more people to go. Strikingly, there was virtually no organized opposition; only sniping about priorities from budget cutters and some scientists. As long ago as 1982, the National Space Institute’s Leonard David had poked a little fun at the term “pro-space,” pointing mockingly to “the invisible anti-space program invaders.”[93] The space enterprise had become a permanent fact of our lives; “space” was here to stay.


  1. Richard Hutton, The Cosmic Chase (New York: New American Library, 1981), p. 181.
  2. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series (1841): Circles, as quoted in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, 15th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980), p. 497.
  3. Interview with Klaus Heiss.
  4. William S. Bainbridge, The Spaceflight Revolution (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1976), p. 3.
  5. Harrison Schmitt, “A Milennium Project: Mars 2000,” ASF News, Summer 1985, pp. 6-7, 7.
  6. As quoted in Joel Kotchin, “Reaching for the Last Frontier,” Washington Post, August 3, 1980.
  7. Burdett A. Loomis and Allan J. Cigler, “Introduction: The Changing Nature of Interest Group Politics,” in Allan J. Cigler and Burdett A. Loomis, eds., Interest Group Politics (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1983), pp. 1-28.
  8. “Who and What is ASAP?” ASAP Update, May 1985, p. 1.
  9. According to a letter from astronomer Yaron Sheffer in Sky and Telescope, May 1985, p. 388.
  10. Undated Planetary Society circular letter from Louis D. Friedman.
  11. The Space Shuttle Passenger Project: A Design Study (Santa Clara, Calif.: Space Age Review Foundation, 1983). Durst’s complaint was in “America’s Space Shuttle: For What? For Whom?” Space Age Review, January 1979, p. 3.
  12. Letter from Maxwell Hunter II to the author, August 14, 1984.
  13. Remarks by President Reagan to a joint session of Congress, April 28, 1981, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1981 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982), p. 394.
  14. See Eliot Marshall, “Public Attitudes to Technological Progress,” Science 205 (1979): 281-85.
  15. Howard P. Segal, Technological Utopianism in American Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), p. 152.
  16. Joseph J. Corn, The Winged Gospel: America’s Romance with Aviation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).
  17. Ibid., pp. 143-44. See also the excerpt from Corn’s book in “Seeking Salvation in the Stars,” Aerospace America, March 1984, pp. 98-99.
  18. “The Exploration of Space,” Spaceflight 27 (1985):241.
  19. See Richard Hutton, Cosmic Chase, p. 179 and Freeman J. Dyson, “Pilgrims, Saints, and Spacemen,” L-5 News, August 1979, pp. 1-4.
  20. Joel Garreau, “The Solid West Is More Than Votes: It’s a State of Mind,” Washington Post, February 9, 1984.
  21. Dennis Overbye, “The Last Frontier,” Discover, April 1984, pp. 30-31.
  22. Daniel Deudney, “Space: The High Frontier in Perspective,” p. 52. Richard Slotkin has written that the frontier was the source of a myth that men could regenerate themselves by conquering virgin lands and destroying savage Indians. See his book The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890 (New York: Atheneum, 1985).
  23. Interview with Carolyn Meinel.
  24. See Curt Suplee, “In the Strange Land of Robert Heinlein,” Washington Post, September 5, 1984.
  25. Letter from Jon F. Snyder, Aerospace America, June 1984, p. 9.
  26. Gerard K. O’Neill, “President’s Column,” SSI Update, September/October 1984, p. 1.
  27. Brochure on Freeland II, obtained at the L-5 Society’s Space Development Conference, San Francisco, April 1984.
  28. Gary C. Hudson, “Some Commercial Possibilities in Space,” in Larry Geis and Fabrice Florin, eds., Moving into Space (New York: Perennial Library, 1978), pp. 96-104, 102.
  29. Jerome C. Glenn and George S. Robinson, Space Trek: The Endless Migration (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1978), p. 203. For a related argument, see Michael A. G. Michaud, “Spaceflight, Colonization, and Independence: A Synthesis,” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 30 (1977):83-95, 203-12, 323-31.
  30. Remarks by James Muncy during a panel discussion at the Space Development Conference, Washington, D.C., April 27, 1985.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Back cover of the L-5 News, October 1985.
  33. William H. Gregory, “The Next Four Years,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, November 19, 1984, p. 11.
  34. Space: The Crucial Frontier, p. 1.
  35. See the Special Project Issue entitled “American Renewal,” February 23, 1981. New York Times/CBS polls showed American optimism rising after 1981. See also Howell Raines, “Optimism in Nation is Increasing,” New York Times, January 21, 1985. A similar upturn between 1979 and 1984 is reported in “What Makes America Keep on Smiling,” U.S. News and World Report, January 13, 1986, p. 77.
  36. Bainbridge, The Spaceflight Revolution, p. 197.
  37. Hutton, The Cosmic Chase, p. 166.
  38. H. Keith Henson, “Memes, L-5, and the Religion of the Space Colonies,” 5 News, September 1985, pp. 5-8.
  39. Interview with Dennis Stone, December 17, 1983.
  40. Trudy E. Bell, Upward: Status Report and Directory of the American Space Interest Movement, 1984-1985, available from the author.
  41. Interview with Jerry Grey.
  42. Interview with Mark R. Chartrand III.
  43. Interview with Gary Oleson.
  44. See Walter A McDougall, “Technocracy and Statecraft in the Space Age,” p. 1013.
  45. Trudy E. Bell, “From Little Acorns . . . : American Space Interest Groups, 1980-1982,” unpublished paper.
  46. Interview with James E. Oberg.
  47. Ralph Turner and Lewis Killian, Collective Behavior, 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, 1972), p. 246.
  48. Robert D. McWilliams, “An Analysis of the Socio-Political Status of Efforts Toward the Development of Space Manufacturing Facilities,” in Jerry Grey and Christine Krop, eds., Space Manufacturing III: Proceedings of the Fourth Princeton/AIAA Conference, May 14-17, 1979 (New York: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1979), p. 178.
  49. Trudy E. Bell, “Space Activists on Rise,” p. 10.
  50. McWilliams, “Analysis of Socio-Political Status,” p. 178.
  51. Trudy E. Bell, “Space Activists on Rise,” p. 10.
  52. Trudy E. Bell, “From Little Acorns. . .”
  53. Trudy E. Bell, “Know Thyself: The Myth of the Space Movement,” Space World, June 1985, p. 2.
  54. Hutton, Cosmic Chase, p. 177.
  55. A classic statement is in Mancur Olson, Jr., The Logic of Collective Action (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965).
  56. Terry M. Moe, The Organization of Interests: Incentives and the Dynamics of Political Interest Groups (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).
  57. Nathan C. Goldman and Michael Fulda, “Space Interest Groups: Galaxies of Interests, Galaxies of Groups,” unpublished paper, to be published in Volume 2 of the Space Humanization Series.
  58. Norman J. Ornstein and Shirley Elder, Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Policymaking (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1978).
  59. Interview with Howard and Janelle Gluckman.
  60. Interview with James Muncy, November 18, 1983.
  61. Goldman and Fulda, “Space Interest Groups.”
  62. Loomis and Cigler, “Introduction,” p. 1.
  63. Trudy E. Bell, “From Little Acorns.. .”
  64. Interview with James Wilson.
  65. Interview with Joseph Allen.
  66. See, for example, Ben Bova, The High Road (New York: Pocket Books, 1983), p. 272.
  67. Interview with Gary Oleson.
  68. Interview with Gary Paiste.
  69. Interview with Darrell Branscome.
  70. Interview with John Loosbrock and James J. Haggerty.
  71. Interview with Patrick Templeton and Russell Ritchie, February 22, 1984.
  72. John Kenneth Galbraith, The Anatomy of Power (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983), p. 149.
  73. Interview with Courtney Stadd.
  74. Trudy E. Bell, “From Little Acorns . . . “
  75. Interview with David Cummings.
  76. Gregg Maryniak, “Return to the Moon,” SSI Update, March/April 1985, p. 1.
  77. Interview with Irwin Pikus.
  78. Trudy E. Bell, “From Little Acorns . . .”
  79. Ibid.
  80. Bainbridge, The Spaceflight Revolution, p. 236.
  81. Gerard K. O’Neill, “President’s Column” SSI Update, second quarter 1982, p. 2.
  82. In 1985 issues of the L-5 News.
  83. Glenn and Robinson, Space Trek, p. 34. See also Jesco von Puttkamer, “Developing Space Occupancy: Perspectives on NASA Future Space Program Planning,” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 29 (1976):147-73.
  84. Undated Campaign for Space circular letter from Thomas J. Frieling, 1984.
  85. Remarks by Nathan C. Goldman during a panel discussion at the Space Development Conference, Washington, D.C., April 26, 1985.
  86. Conversation with Nathan C. Goldman, April 26, 1985. Von R. Eshelman presented a space scientist’s critique of these two sets of assertions in “Deciding on Means and Ends in Space,” Space World, June 1984, p. 2.
  87. As quoted by Scott Holton and Ed Naha in “The Shape of Things to Come,” Future, May 1978, pp. 30-33, 33.
  88. As quoted by Arthur C. Clarke in The Promise of Space (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), p. 310.
  89. Speech by James Beggs to the Society of Automotive Engineers, May 21, 1985, as quoted in the American Astronautical Society News Letter, September 1985.
  90. See Louis D. Friedman, “Visions of 2010: Human Missions to Mars, the Moon, and the Asteroids,” The Planetary Report, March/April 1985, pp. 4-6, 22.
  91. Bainbridge, Spaceflight Revolution, chapter 2.
  92. Hutton, Cosmic Chase, p. 166.
  93. Leonard W. David, “Are You Pro-Space?” Space World, November 1982, p. 2.

Reaching for the High Frontier:     Table of Contents     Chapter 15