Issue #4(10) 2016 Opinion

Opening up the infinite frontier

A habitat design for future living on Mars, by artist Bryan Versteeg.
A habitat design for future living on Mars, by artist Bryan Versteeg.
Rick Tumlinson The Space Fund, Austin, Texas, USA

Rick Tumlinson recently spoke at a high level United Nations forum designed to feed into the 50th anniversary of the first UNispace Conference, taking place in 2018. Filled with policy makers, representatives from governments and others, he was one of only a couple of people from what he calls the ‘Frontier Movement’. While it is variously referred to as new space, commercial space or private sector space, many outside this cause-based movement have trouble actually understanding it. In a provocative ‘opinion’ article for ROOM, he urges us all to embrace a movement that will ultimately see the human settlement of outer space.

There is an old Indian fable about six blind men describing an elephant, each coming to a different conclusion as to what it is they are describing. And thus it is today as world leaders, legislators, policymakers and academics try to understand what is happening in the Frontier Movement. Often well-meaning, each seems to be describing something that is different or merely part of a much larger whole that is looming over them and whose powerful momentum is about to change everything.

Some say it is about commercial space. Some describe it as New Space versus Old Space. Some see it as a new gold rush led by the wealthy. It is neither and it is all. The danger is that, based on partial understanding and wrong information, wrong actions can be taken, actions that might be useless, or even harm this amazing cause.

What is happening right now is not simply about commercial business - although it requires the successful application of the rules of commerce and business - or about the new versus old. It is a transformation built on the first 50 to 60 years of space investment by states and companies around the world - simply approached and applied in new ways.

Read more about Rick Tumlinson's vision of the “Frontier Movement” in this ROOM:Opinion article, available now to our subscribers.

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