This presentation took place in the summer of 1975, when Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill (1927-1992) briefed Congress about a plan he was working on with NASA.
The description of O’Neill’s presentation, though, could apply note for note to a talk that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gave on May 9 in D.
O’Neill’s book about this work, Jeff Bezos was one of Gerard O’Neill’s students at Princeton in the mid-1980s.
By then, cultural interest, and NASA funding, for O’Neill’s ideas had peaked.
O’Neill asked an advanced group of students to study a direct question: “Is the surface of a planet really the right place for an expanding technological civilization?
” The “O’Neill colonies” that he designed in response to this question, first with his students, and later with teams of architects, planners, engineers, and artists, were huge cylinders, spheres, and toruses with new surfaces for new kinds of civilizations inside.In the 2000s, the People’s Republic of China initiated a successful manned spaceflight program, while the European Union, Japan, and India have also planned future manned space missions.China, Russia, Japan, and India have advocated manned missions to the Moon during the 21st century, while the European Union has advocated manned missions to both the Moon and Mars during the 21st century.With so many similarities evident between these two visions, it’s worth asking: Have we really learned anything in the past 50 years about how to plan for a better human future? Despite the success of the Apollo moon landing, his physics students at Princeton were becoming disillusioned about the prospects of engineering to change the world for the better.The Vietnam War was dragging on, and persistent social and racial inequality made technology seem inadequate to address political change.It was a turbulent time: Cultural change had seemed to slow down, and people were newly aware that resources on Earth were shrinking, while pollution and environmental destruction were growing.If our horizons didn’t expand, the man warned, they might end up limited forever.The Obama Administration proposed a revision of Constellation in 2010 to focus on the development of the capability for crewed missions beyond low earth orbit (LEO), envisioning extending the operation of the ISS beyond 2020, transferring the development of launch vehicles for human crews from NASA to the private sector, and developing technology to enable missions to beyond LEO, such as Earth/Moon L1, the Moon, Earth/Sun L2, near-earth asteroids, and Phobos or Mars orbit.As of March 2011, the US Senate and House of Representatives are still working towards a compromise NASA funding bill, which will probably terminate Constellation and fund development of a heavy lift launch vehicle (HLLV).While the observation of objects in space, known as astronomy, predates reliable recorded history, it was the development of large and relatively efficient rockets during the early 20th century that allowed physical space exploration to become a reality.Common rationales for exploring space include advancing scientific research, uniting different nations, ensuring the future survival of humanity and developing military and strategic advantages against other countries.