"We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians." --Edgar Mitchell

"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth." --William Anders

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Am Alt Space

As part of my self-betterment for 2013, I am going to be reading at least an article a week and writing a response to it. This is similar, but more structured, in approach to my original goal of "learn something new every day." That one didn't work out very well at all... Not that I didn't learn something new every day (I'm in engineering for chrissake!), but I had a hard time writing about it, which I think was mostly due to time constraints.

I've already picked out my first article! It's called "Architecture for Developing an Economically Viable International, Large-Scale Lunar Colony" by James R. Wertz. It's from some conference proceedings which are pretty impossible to find in a library (I tried for hours), but it's available on the internets! I will be reading this after I finish up this post, which should be pretty quickly.

I found this article in the book Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD. The first few chapters are just overviews of space engineering: the economics, history, and community. I was very sad when I read the chapter where it broke astro engineers into different communities and stated that human spaceflight was outside the scope of the book. Let me tell you, though: this is a huge book. And I have every intention of more or less reading all of it. Because I'm crazy like that.

The Human Spaceflight Community wasn't the only community that I was excited to read about, though. I saw this section titled "Alt Space" and I was confused. If you know what Alt Space is, don't laugh or spoil it for everyone else...  Everything else was self-explanatory, but I had no idea what this was. So I flipped to the end of the chapter, which is totally acceptable in this type of book, and read that section. Apparently New Space is a subset of Alt Space (or is Alt Space if you ask Wikipedia), but it more or less boils down to the people who think we should fully utilize space: its resources, space, and... space... Alt Space adherents view other members of the space community as having too narrow a focus and no passion, while everyone else views these crazies as... well... unrealistic and crazy. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Buzz Aldrin are, as best I can tell, part of this community. So was Wernher von Braun. Guess which one I am?

Pretty much a textbook case.

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