Because the vision or
"image of the future" works in the present, very soon after the
acceptance of the vision by a society changes begin to happen. Research is
begun that will enable the vision to be realized, investments are made in
"new" technologies, people are put to work, discoveries are
made. What we soon see happening is that people begin to innovate to find
ways to use the discoveries that had not been originally planned, ways to
benefit individuals and sections of society that were not even considered
in the original plans.
A program like the space program leads to many of these serendipity,
"spin-off," benefits, ways our lives will improve because of the
advances in technology we will experience learning how to live and work in
space? To begin to understand how our lives will improve because of these
advances, we need only look at a few of the many ways that our lives are
already better because of space research.
Do any of you have, or know of someone who has, a cardiac pacemaker?
Without the development of miniaturized solid state circuitry for
spacecraft, the pacemaker would not be available.
A very effective fire retardant material now being used in office
buildings, plants, and schools was developed because of the research into
heat shields for spacecraft.
Have you heard of the device called the Optacon which enables the blind to
read the printed page? Again, this is a spin-off of the original research
done for the space program.
Solar energy devices, improved insulation materials, safer football
helmets, warmer and lighter weight outdoor clothing for skiers and hikers,
computer analysis of everything from our automobiles to our bodies,
medical detection techniques, help for children with cerebral palsy, and
spoil-proof packaging and methods to provide nutritious meals for day care
centers and the elderly. These are only a small fraction of the many ways
that space research has affected our daily lives; the list goes on and on.
And then there is the potential for the development of an unlimited
pollution-free energy source, readily available to all areas of the Earth.
Within our region of the solar system, possibly as far out as the asteroid
belt, unlimited energy is readily available. This is, of course, solar
energy and, within the limits of our technology, it is "free"
for the taking. What I mean is, that the investment needed to effectively
utilize this energy will only be a small fraction of the value of the
energy produced. Once the energy has been produced it will need to be sent
to the Earth. Research is being done now to develop effective, safe
methods of delivery; early results suggest the use of microwaves or
Additionally, large deposits of hydrogen 3 have been discovered on the
moon. Hydrogen 3 makes it possible to seriously considered fusion as a
potential energy source here on the Earth. Fusion is essentially a
"clean" method of producing energy that doesn't create the
nuclear waste associated with fission. However, initial tests of the
process showed that there would be radioactive by-products when
"fuels" available here on the Earth were used. Hydrogen 3 could
be a solution to this problem. It would be mined and processed on the Moon
and then shipped to the Earth for use in fusion power plants. There is
enough hydrogen 3 available on the moon to meet our energy needs here on
the Earth for hundreds of years.
What if we were to run out of energy or were forced to dramatically cut
back on energy usage? What if political tensions in the Middle East were
to escalate to the point that would dramatically curtail oil resources?
How many of you remember the long lines waiting at the gas pumps a few
years ago? Do you remember the heating oil shortages? Do you know what it
costs per month to heat a one bedroom apartment in an area of the country
where it gets real cold? What if prices were to double, triple, or more?
What if sufficient gasoline weren't available? What if we never had hope
of supplying sufficient energy to the underdeveloped nations of the world?
Can you think of a single area of your life that is not affected by
- Food Production and Preparation
Can you imagine a world without energy problems? Picture sufficient food
for all grown in parts of the world, heating and lighting available to
everyone, adequate housing, efficient mass transit systems in metropolitan
areas, unlimited communication potential. What would a world without
energy problems be like? I think it would be a different world. I believe
it would be a better world. I know that it is a world within our grasp.
Is the development of space technology worthwhile if it will help to
achieve energy independence not only for the United States but for the
world? Is it? Think about it. Answer this question to yourself. Is the
potential of complete energy independence worth the investment needed for
the industrialization of space and ultimately for space settlement? It
seems so to me.
Of the reasons for accepting
the challenge of space settlement as a goal for our nation, the effect it
will have on our image of ourselves and our belief in the future is the
most important one. All else will come from that image. The vision of a
positive, challenging future for all of humanity will create the wealth
and knowledge to accomplish all we can dream of and more. This vision is
essential to the health and future of our society.
Humanity has been given a warning by the closeness to which we have come
to destroying ourselves and our planet, that we must work in partnership
with nature and forget any thought of conquering it. We must go into space
with a new consciousness, one that has concern for all of creation,
including our fellow humans. We must develop a new attitude in harmony
with the universe as we find it. This, too, must be part of our vision of
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