Search Results for "asian arms race"

Feb 12 2011

The Cold War-style Arms Race in Asia and the New Space Age

As the U.S. downsizes its defense budget, many countries — from the Arabian Sea to the Pacific ocean — feel the need to respond to China’s surging economy and its expanding high-tech military.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal (2/12/11),

Together these efforts amount to a simultaneous buildup of advanced weaponry in the Asian-Pacific region on a scale and at a speed not seen since the Cold War arms race between America and the Soviet Union.

The Cold War arms race led directly to the first Space Race. Here John Glenn ascends to orbit in 1962 on a modified Atlas missile.

The U.S.-Soviet Cold War arms race got into high gear in ~1950 when the USSR obtained the atomic bomb. U.S. developments included the H-bomb, intercontinetal bombers under the Strategic Air Command, and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) for delivery of nuclear warheads.

The 1960s Space Race was a direct outgrowth of the Cold War arms race. Early modified ICBMs were used to launch satellites and even humans into space; for example, the first American (John Glenn) was launched into orbit in 1962 on a General Dynamics Atlas missile.

According to William E. Burrows (1999) ,

The cold war would become the great engine, the supreme catalyst, that sent rockets and their cargoes far above Earth and worlds away.

The current Asia-Pacific arms race is reminiscent of the 1950s Cold War U.S.-Soviet arms race that triggered the first Space Race to the Moon. The fact that it’s occurring now among China and other vibrant asian economies — one long business cycle after the original Space Race — suggests the stage is being set for a new Space Age by 2015. By then the U.S. economy should also be booming.

The current asian arms race is a serious development. An Australian report notes that the “scale, pattern, and speed…” of the Chinese military buildup is “dead serious stuff” not experienced since WW II.

It is potentially the most demanding security situation faced since the Second World War … (and) is altering security in the Western Pacific.

In its “New Military Strategy” report released last Tuesday, the Pentagon sees connections between China’s growing military and its aspirations in space and elsewhere,

We remain concerned about the extent and strategic intent of China’s military modernization, and its assertiveness in space, cyberspace, in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and the South China Sea.

Although China’s impressive military buildup has triggered the current Cold War-style arms race in asia, it does not necessarily imply that we are headed for a 1960’s-style Space Race. Indeed, China’s near-term economic challenges and the possibility of liberal political reforms may lead instead to a Grand Alliance for Space.

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Aug 03 2009

South Korea — Preparing For the New Global Space Race

Special thanks to Kumhee, a Seoul native, for encouraging this topic.

South Korea continues to aggressively, but carefully pursue its long-term vision of joining the top 10 space powers in the world within a decade. Unlike its neighbor to the north — which has used burgeoning international interest in space exploration, as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, as an unconvincing cover for its attempted development of a long-range missile capability — South Korea has played skillfully and carefully by the rules.

Next week, South Korea expects to become the 9th nation to launch a home-built satellite from its own territory. Click kslv.jpg

Aerospace America, in its Asia Update for July-August, 2009 (M. Westlake), notes that South Korea joined the Missile Technology Control Regime in 2001, which allows it to seek technology transfer from space-faring nations for use in their peaceful space program. And recently, with the help of Russia, South Korea has built a brand new space launch complex at Naro, on an island about 500 km south of Seoul.

The Russian connection was an interesting outgrowth of South Korea’s early experience with U.S. tactical missiles (e.g., Nike) and the establishment in 1990 of the Korea space agency (Korea Aerospace Research Institute; KARI) featuring their development of 1 and 2-stage sounding rockets (KSR-1 & 2) and a small lox/kerosene U.S. Vanguard-class rocket motor.

The idea was to launch their own satellite. But requests for assistance from the U.S. were unwisely refused on geopolitical grounds. According to Aerospace America,

Anxiety in Washington about Seoul’s possible military use of rockets against neighboring North Korea had the effect of driving South Korea’s scientists into the arms of Russia.

KARI has announced that it will launch its first rocket from the Naro Space Center next week on August 11; the launch window is from the 11th to the 18th. The $ 400 M, 140 ton KSLV-1 launch vehicle will insert into orbit a small (220 lb) scientific satellite with dual channel radiometers and a laser reflecter array.

If successful, it will make South Korea the 9th nation to launch a domestically-built satellite from its home country. According to senior KARI researcher Cho Gwang-rae,

You can’t be expecting much from such a simple device…The real test will be in 2017, when we will be attempting to send a real-purpose satellite with a fully domestically developed rocket. If we succeed in that, we can then say we have a space industry.

If a KSLV successfully delivers the planned 1.5 ton Korean satellite to orbit in 2017, the prospects for South Korea’s own manned space program will be good. As of now, one Korean has already been in space: bioengineer Yi So-yeon went to the International Space Station via a Russian Soyuz in April, 2008.

Yi So-yeon, the 49th woman in space but just the 2nd female asian astronaut, sees great benefits from space exploration. Click yi2.jpg

Yi sees great benefits not only for commercial and scientific development, but for motivating youth to prepare for the 2015 Maslow Window:

Before becoming an astronaut I was not as aware of the strides that we need to bring in our educational system, and how important it really is to provide the young people — students in schools and colleges — with the right tools and, above all, inspiration.

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Feb 13 2013

State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2013 — Featuring the Approach of the New International Space Age

2012’s bright spots included NASA’s hugely popular Curiosity rover on Mars and the impressive expansion of current activities and future plans for the commercial space arena. As expected, 2012 also featured continuing economic difficulties, and — with the re-election of President Obama and the Republicans in the House — the promise of continuing political sparring through the coming year.

The space-related world remains firmly on track with trends identified here early last year ( “State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2012“) — e.g., increasing global evidence for the approaching 1960s-style “critical state” — as well as the expected directions sketched almost three years ago for the coming decade (“DecaState of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020“).

2013 will be a “Year of Uncertainty” in space especially regarding the lack of direction for NASA, plus a slow economy and events in the Middle East and elsewhere that will impact our trajectory toward prosperity, the impending Maslow Window, and the new international Space Age — all expected to begin emerging by mid-decade.
For a brief intro to how space exploration is likely to go ballistic in the near-term, see my 2012 Ad Astra article; Click: A New Apollo Level Space Age.

Here are 10 key Space-related Trends for 2013:

10. NASA’s $ 2.4 B Curiosity Rover Points the Way to Mars:
Billed as “the most complex spacecraft ever landed on another planet,” the one-ton Curiosity Rover has been a challenge to operate on the surface of Mars. “Everything is taking longer then we had hoped,” according to chief engineer Rob Manning.

Curiosity rover is becoming known as a “scientist’s dream,” and recently became the first robot on Mars to extract a sample by drilling into a local rock.

The immediate goal is to find evidence for life — past or present — in Gale crater. Such locales may present the best chance for Martian microbial life because impact craters exhume rocks that show evidence of being altered by water below the surface; and this is where bacteria would be shielded from the hard radiation on Mars’ surface.

Although funding for future robotic Mars exploration remains uncertain, in the coming year Curiosity will “Follow the Water” to better understand the present, past, and future of Mars’ climate, surface, and its possible biology, including preparing for human exploration and settlement.

At the Annual International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena last August 5, just before Curiosity landed on Mars, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on “Our Future in Space” with former astronaut Story Musgrave, astrophysicist Richard Gott (Princeton Univ), and Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society.

You can see the Mars Convention video HERE.

Current global trends suggest that near-term human spaceflight to Mars is doable before the mid-2020s and in fact may become geopolitically leveraged like Apollo in the 1960s.

9. Private Commercial Space Begins to Surge
Perhaps the most stimulating words spoken by candidate Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign were, “We must unleash the genius of private enterprise to secure the United States’ leadership in space.” And as president in 2010 he canceled the development of NASA’s Aries 1 and V heavy-lift rockets and the Moon program.

“This was a crucial step. It makes the things in the future, and the ultimate path toward humanity becoming a multi-planet species, much, much more likely,” remarked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in reference to his unmanned Dragon space capsule launched on a Falcon-9 rocket becoming the first private spacecraft ever to dock with the International Space Station (5/25/12).

Regular cargo missions to ISS began last October and manned flights of Dragon are planned within a few years.

Recently, Robert Walker and Charles Miller (Wall Street Journal, 1/28/13) interpreted Obama’s positive approach to commercial space as part of a “30-year arc” of space policy that originated with Reagan in 1982 when he created the Office of Commercial Space Transportation and encouraged “the fullest commercial use of space.”

Walker and Miller now recommend that Obama relaunch his commercial space policy by completing “the privatization of all U.S. Space Transportation.” They assert that, “Just as the government does not design or build automobiles, ships, trains or airplanes, NASA should not be designing, building or launching rockets to go to low Earth orbit.”

Not everyone agrees. Former NASA boss Mike Griffin comments (WSJ, 2/4/13) that NASA’s planned heavy lift vehicle (the Space Launch System) will carry more than 10x the payload to orbit than any commercial vehicle and that “no commercial program is positioned to tackle” the deep space challenges of a return to the Moon or humans to Mars.

Things are jumping at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. According to the February Spaceport Newsletter, “We achieved a major milestone — we gave Virgin Galactic the keys to the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space on January 15 and correspondingly they started paying rent.”

If you haven’t seen their recent construction, check out my images taken January 6. The word is that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will do its first flight — with paying passengers and Branson himself — late this year, and given the increasing readiness of the Spaceport and the SpaceShips, this may be it!

“We have ambitions to go to the Moon someday, have a base there,” the visionary real estate and hotel magnate Robert Bigelow indicated recently.

On January 16, 2013 Bigelow Aerospace and NASA announced their plan to attach a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to the ISS in 2015 to test the viability of inflatables in space.

By 2016, Bigelow hopes to attract tourists, private companies, and small countries seeking an inexpensive space program to his inflatable orbital outpost for 2 weeks to 2 months of orbital bliss with a per-seat tab between $ 25 – 35 M.

And for the first time ever, two private companies — Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries — announced they intend to commercially develop near Earth asteroids for water and platinum-group metals, to provide propellants for access to space and to directly enrich Earth’s economy.

Appropriate technologists, entrepreneurs, and billionaire-investors appear to be involved and both companies plan to fly initial spacecraft by 2015 as they seek the new “Gold Rush” in space.

8. The Panic of 2008 and Slow Recovery Point Toward a 1960s-Style, Transformative Decade, Including a New International Apollo-level Space Age by Mid-Decade
It’s not a coincidence that about 45-50 years after Lewis and Clark drew international attention to the American northwest, the California Gold Rush became symbolic of its commercial potential.

Likewise, it’s no surprise that a “gold rush” into space — symbolized now by Planetary Resources and DSI — will materialize 45-50 years after the Apollo Moon program initially introduced the international community to the resources and commercial potential of space.

All four of these seemingly unrelated seminal events were (and are) fundamentally driven by twice-per-century JFK-style booms (>4%) apparently triggered by self-organized “critical states” in the international economic system, known as Maslow Windows. The most recent one featured the Apollo program and the first Space Age, and the next transformative 1960s-style decade is expected by mid-decade and should trigger an international renaissance in space.

The first economic precursor of a typical Maslow Window is easy to recognize. It’s a financial Panic which is followed by a multi-year great recession, like that of 1893 or 1837 – both of which led to transformative Maslow Windows.

Based on macroeconomic patterns of the last 200+ years, the financial Panic of 2008 signaled that we were within about 6-7 years of the opening of the next Maslow Window. The slow recovery since the Great Recession (2008-10) is also consistent with a 200-year pattern.

U.S. economic trends continue to be very daunting:
a) Unsustainable Fiscal Path:
The Government Accounting Office (GAO), in its recent (1/17/2013) audit of the U.S. Government, concluded that, “…absent policy changes, the federal government continues to face an unsustainable fiscal path.” So unless government spending is brought under control and entitlement programs are reformed, the value of the U.S. dollar will decline rapidly.
b) Our Debt is a National Security Imperative:
The U.S. national debt is now about $ 16.5 T – an all-time record – and increasing rapidly. To show their concern for the future stability of the U.S., fifteen former leaders from government and military explained why “Addressing our Debt is a National Security Imperative…” (WSJ, 12/5/12). The bipartisan list included Michael Mullen, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, and George Schultz.
c) Slow Growth and High Unemployment Continue:
The slow recovery since 2010 has featured consistently high unemployment (recently up again to 7.9%) and low GDP growth; indeed, the last quarter of 2012 actually contracted by 0.1 %.

Historically, slow post-Panic/Great Recession recoveries are usually remedied by political realignments such as those in the national elections of 2008 and 2010. However, in 2012 — the first post-Great Recession national election — the American people voted for the status quo which suggests we can expect a resolution by 2014.

Current economic trends indicate that the anticipated twice-per-century JFK-style expansion – like that of the early 1960s and early 1900s – has not yet arrived. However, this observation is completely consistent with the timing of the Panic of 2008, our political trajectory, and with long-term trends that point to a new, transformative Maslow Window opening by mid-decade.

7. The Secret X-37B Suggests a Possible Roadmap to a National Security Moon Base
One of the most interesting space programs is one that we know very little about: the USAF X-37B spaceplane.

It’s missions are secret and the third successful X-37B launch occurred on December 11, 2012. A previous X-37B technology development mission ended on June 18, 2012 after 469 days in orbit! Thus the current X-37B mission may last beyond 2013.

Built by Boeing, the X-37B is an unmanned, reusable, winged, Mach 25 spaceplane, about 1/4 the size of NASA’s Space Shuttle. It’s launched on an Atlas V in Florida and lands like an airplane at Vandenberg AFB in California.

It’s well-known that a vehicle like the X-37B could change the world. For example, it could deliver weapons systems or civilian passengers (whatever you need!) anywhere in the world, very fast.

According to former NASA executive Charles Miller, reusable spaceplanes are also the key to commercial space.

The nation that builds the first true reusable spaceplace will be in a position to dominate the much broader commercial space industry…such as satellite servicing, tourism, and medical breakthroughs from zero-gravity research.

And as our strategic space assets like surveillance satellites and comsats become increasingly vulnerable to anti-sat weapons being developed by China (successfully tested in 2007) and even North Korea and Iran, an X-37B-style spaceplane would transform national security by their ability to rapidly replace such orbiting assets, and thus reduce the incentive to attack them in the first place.

Traditionally, the Moon has been viewed as the most secure location for Earth surveillance, as expressed in 1984 by the famous physicist Edward Teller at the Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century Conference. (I also spoke at this event on importing water from the moons of Mars for use in the Earth-Moon system.)

Teller stated he would like to see an outpost on the Moon (~12 people) as soon as possible. As a “special proposal” he recommended that,

Surveillance of the Earth — permanent continuous surveillance that is hard to interfere with — is an extremely important question, important to us, important to the international community, important for peace-keeping … It is in everyone’s best interest to have observation stations that are not easy to interfere with.

Miller suggests a Moon base would become cost-effective by reducing Earth-launch costs by a factor of ~10 to $ 500 per pound and achieves this by development of a totally reusable spaceplane.

Given the geopolitical significance of the Moon in the coming mid-decade Maslow Window, I searched for recent studies of potential national security applications of a Moon base.

The closest I could come was a chilling Moon-related military scenario in George Friedman’s ( book The Next Hundred Years (2009); he agrees with Teller’s opinion of the value of Earth surveillance from the Moon and suggests that, “Sustaining and defending a base on the Moon will actually be easier than doing the same for orbital systems.”

In Friedman’s mid-21st century fictional scenario, both Japan and Turkey — two key space powers by then — become understandably threatened by powerful U.S. command and control “battlestars” in Geostationary orbits that can very rapidly direct a variety of weapons — advanced versions of the X-37, lasers, hypersonic missiles — at any point on Earth or in space.

By this time many nations will have bases on the Moon, however Japan and Turkey build an underground base on the Moon’s farside where they secretly use lunar materials to develop, build, and launch missiles to attack the Battlestars in Earth orbit.

I won’t give away how the story ends here. However, it is unlikely that “secret” military activities could go unnoticed for long on the anti-Earth side of the Moon. For example, many astronomers have already chosen the Moon’s farside as the best location for a radio observatory in this part of the solar system.

6. Geopolitical Events Accelerate Toward a 1960s-style global “Critical State”
A surprise during 2012 was North Korea’s December launch of its first satellite into orbit. The South Koreans warned that, for the first time, the North might be able to deliver a warhead to the U.S. West Coast, and the Wall Street Journal (12/13/12) echoed that “the nuclear threat to Japan and the U.S. will soon be real.”

The tragic irrationality of North Korea’s $ 1.3 B (estimated) missile program is that instead it could have bought millions of tons of food for its starving population, especially amid reports of cannibalism and a variety of other human rights atrocities. reports that Pyongyang’s brutal treatment of its own people and plans for another nuclear test suggest it may be inclined toward “engaging in military aggression.”

Apparently not wanting to be left behind as the world approaches another 1960s-style transformative decade, Iran reportedly sent a live monkey into suborbital space last month and recovered it. “This success is the first step towards man conquering the space and it paves the way for other moves…” claimed Iran’s Defense Minister.

Analysts in the West naturally warn against Iran’s missile technology providing the capability to launch nuclear warheads against targets in the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned recently at the World Economic Forum that an Iran nuclear crisis is close.

Unilateral intervention by Israel would be a desperate last resort, but the Iranians have to understand that if they keep using the negotiations to gain time to complete a nuclear program then the situation will become exteemely dangerous.

It’s estimated that the “Red Line” will be crossed by Iran, in late spring, 2013, as it gets nuclear weapons, thus changing the balance of power in the region forever.

Our recent discovery that NASA space programs, over the history of the agency, are “fractal,” — as are wars and financial systems — implies that all three are attracted to “critical states” due to decades of self-organization of the international economic system. They are extraordinary because during the critical state almost anything can occur — both good and bad — and often does.

For example, the most recent critical state was in the 1960s. It featured the Cuban missile crisis (1962) which almost triggered a nuclear war, but was over almost as fast as it began. And instead it stimulated the intense Space Race that resulted in the first humans on the Moon in 1969.

The Cold War-style Asian arms race stimulated by China’s impressive expansion as a military and space power is also a key part of this picture.

For example, China announced its first jet landing on its new carrier in November, a classified US study last year cited China’s increasing ability to disrupt US strategic space assets (e.g., military communication satellites), China will expand its nuclear missile capability with rail-based ICBMs that can disappear in tunnels (, and China’s manned space program and plans for the Moon continue to enhance its national prestige.

Current economic and geopolitical trends — as well as the history of the last 200+ years — suggest we are moving into a new 1960s-style critical state featuring the potential for major, but short-lived international conflict, a stunning economic and technology boom, and unprecedented great explorations in space.

5. The Sun Takes Center-Stage in 2013
Our DayStar is expected to reach the maximum of its current 11-year Sunspot Cycle (#24) in 2013. The latest official NASA forecast — as of 2/1/2013 — is for a maximum sunspot number of about 69 in the Fall, 2013.

Are sunspots, as plotted in this NASA diagram, going out of style?
Click .

As can be seen in the Figure above, the current cycle is much smaller than the previous one (#23) and, in fact, will be the smallest solar max since 1906.

Nevertheless, even a weak solar cycle can produce spectacular solar weather, as occurred in 1859 with the increasingly famous Carrington Event. If a Carrington-like solar flare occurred today the National Academy of Sciences estimates damages could reach $ 1 – 2 T, mostly due to our high-tech infrastructure (e.g., power grids, transformers, communications); for comparison, Hurricane Katrina cost around $ 125 B.

About 18 months ago Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory announced that “The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus.”

In fact, based on their extensive observations of sunspot magnetic fields in both Cycles 23 (previous) and 24 (current), Matthew Penn and William Livingston (NSO) concluded in 2010 that Cycle 24 should have only about 1/2 the number of sunspots of Cycle 23 — broadly consistent with the above NASA plot — and after 2020 (Cycle 25) there would be “virtually no sunspots.”

Low sunspot numbers are historically associated with global coolings on Earth; e.g., the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age. Indeed, the international CLOUD Experiment at CERN continues to reveal how galactic cosmic rays — which are modulated by solar activity — may stimulate cloud formation in Earth’s low atmosphere, and thus enable either global cooling or warming depending on the solar cycle.

In this developing solar context, it’s interesting that British environmental guru James Lovelock — author of the iconic “Gaia” model of the Earth as a living organism — recently admitted that he “made a mistake” about man-made CO2 global warming, and indeed was an “alarmist” about climate change.

The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.

Lovelock added that as an “independent and a loner” it was easier for him to admit a mistake than for a university or government scientist who might fear loss of funding.

Oxford-trained biologist and author Matt Ridley recently explained (Wall Street Journal, 12/19/12) that new analyses of observational data related to the sensitivity of global climate to CO2, reduce our reliance on unverified global climate models. His observation-based estimate is that a doubling of CO2 will lead to an increase in global temperatures of 1.6 – 1.7 degrees C. — much less that the IPCC’s best estimate of 3 degrees C. Other independent, observation-based estimates from the Norwegian Computing Center and the University of Illinois also converge on 1.6 degrees C.

Ridley concludes that,

A cumulative change of less than 2°C by the end of this century will do no net harm. It will actually do net good … Rainfall will increase slightly, growing seasons will lengthen, Greenland’s ice cap will melt only very slowly, and so on.

As our observation-based understanding of climate change — including the Sun-climate link — increases, replacing an ideology-based approach to tax and energy policy with one based on observational science will promote economic growth and accelerate the approach of the new international, Apollo-level Space Age.

4. The Coming Boom
As noted previously, all the expected geopolitical and economic precursors of our near-term Maslow Window featuring the new international, Apollo-level Space Age can be seen except for the final one: the major, JFK-style economic boom.

Historically, the Boom provides financial resources that enable large technology and exploration projects (e.g., the Panama Canal, Apollo), and it also creates a widespread, buoyant sense of getting ahead in the public as real wages rapidly increase. Indeed, prosperity is both a technological and a moral imperative.

There are many potential sources of the next JFK-style U.S. Boom:

a) The North American Gusher
The U.S. Boom will be powered by abundant, cheap oil and gas, and the Wall Street Journal (1/19/13) reports that the oil boom is already on.

U.S. oil production grew more in 2012 than in any year in the history of the domestic industry , which began in 1859, and is set to surge even more in 2013.

Application of the technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) have opened up deposits previously thought to be non-commercial, such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale region.

Daniel Yergen of IHS (WSJ, 10/23/12) points out that the energy revolution in the U.S. is “already providing a foundation for a domestic renaissance in manufacturing.” Even California could decide to become “the next shale boom state”!

In their report “Energy Outlook 2030” the London-based energy company BP forecasts that the U.S. will be 99% energy self-sufficient by 2030 due to the shale oil and gas boom enabled by hydraulic fracturing, which will trigger “a reindustrialization of the U.S.”

The U.S. will likely surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia in 2013 as the largest liquids producer in the world (crude and biofuels).

b) The Tech-led Boom
Several breakthrough technologies are poised to transform our future as telephony and electricity changed the past.

Physicist Mark Mills and Northwestern engineering dean Julio Ottino (WSJ, 2/10/13) highlight three transformative technologies: 1) Big data, 2) smart manufacturing, and 3) wireless communications.

Because processing power and data storage are “virtually free” and due to innovations including “cloud” computing, Mills and Ottino assert “we are on the cusp of unimaginable markets.” According to Michael Malone (WSJ, 7/5/12) big data will,

have an impact as great as mass production did more than a century ago — creating a new world of mass personalization of products and services.

New materials will be designed from the molecular level up (nanotechnology) and will possess properties “not possible in nature.” When combined with 3-D printing — which is already being studied for bases on the Moon — it could revitalize manufacturing and bring jobs back to the U.S..

Wireless communications will soon allow billions of people around the world to “communicate, socialize and trade in real time.” Billions of humans will be stimulated to learn, problem-solve, and innovate as never before.

c) The Green-Plus Boom
William Halal (emeritus, George Washington University) forecasts a major economic boom by 2015, based on his work with the TechCast Project (, which he describes as a “virtual thinktank” that tracks potential breakthroughs in a wide variety of technologies.

Entrepreneurs are working on alternative energy sources – wind turbines, biofuels, nuclear plants, and solar cells. This entire “green revolution” is growing 30-50% per year, roughly the same rate of the famous Moore’s Law that drives information technology to double every 2 years.

He argues that all sectors of the economy will be revitalized by a high-technology boom, and — because it is connected with cycles that affect U.S. markets — that a “global boom” is likely to erupt in 2015.

A number of other sources will contribute to the mid-decade Boom, but it’s clear the American economy is ready.

Negative animal spirits that currently afflict the economy can be overcome with tax and immigration polices that promote innovation, a regulatory environment that enables business expansion, and liquid financial markets.

In the near-term these objectives will be achieved as current (and future) politicians evolve in favor of economic growth and prosperity as the expected political realignment forms by 2014.

As Mills and Ottino point out,

America’s success isn’t preordained. But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound. They will engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy. All the forces are in place. It’s just a matter of when.

3. Have NASA and America Lost Their Pioneering Spirit or just Their “Ebullience”?
Dr. Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut and ISS commander, asked recently, in the post-Shuttle world,

Did America somehow lose, or see a diminished pioneer spirit?

He blames NASA’s organizational atrophy as it grew larger and became more complex for the problem, and recommends that NASA be de-politicized, stabilized, and streamlined back to its original vitality.

While NASA has indeed become more bureaucratic, it also suffers from generational changes that are symptomatic of something deeper.

In fact, the history of the last 200+ years reveals that great explorations (like Apollo, and Lewis and Clark) and the largest macro engineering projects (like Panama Canal and Apollo) are triggered by twice-per-century JFK-style (>4%) booms and sustained by what we call “ebullience”.

As the boom causes affluence to surge through the population, many become “ebullient” and ascend to elevated states in Maslow’s Hierarchy where their momentarily expanded worldviews make great explorations and MEPs seem not just intriguing, but almost irresistible. But as “ebullience” weakens due to a war or the slowing boom — as it did during the late 1960s with Apollo — space program support declines (as when the last 3 Apollo Moon missions were canceled by President Nixon).

To see why President Obama’s $ 800 B Stimulus package did not trigger “ebullience” in 2009, Click: “Why No One’s Been to the Moon in 40 years — How Soon We’ll Go Again”

Today we are in “counter-ebullient” times much like people experienced a few years after the financial Panics of 1893 and 1837, and many investors suffer from a related effect called negative animal spirits.

For example, late last month Gallup recorded that American optimism — closely related to “ebullience” — hit its lowest point since the Carter Administration; i.e., only 39% rated the U.S. in a positive manner, the most negative self-feedback since 1979.

And for the first time, the U.S. slipped out of the top 10 (to #12) in the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index, an annual ranking of 142 countries based on 89 indicators from several categories affecting happiness, affluence, and safety.

The bottom-line is: Until the arrival of the next JFK-like Boom — expected by mid-decade — the lack of ebullience will slow the development of the new international Apollo-like Space Age.

2. Our Sputnik Moment Expands
The first “Sputnik Moment” occurred in 1957 when – in the context of an intense Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and attempts to work together in the International Geophysical Year – the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, without warning. It was called the “Shock of the Century.” Americans who had provided leadership during W. W. II and promoted international economic growth in the post-War world suddenly experienced a crisis of confidence in their educational system, their ability to compete in technology development and space, and even in their ability to guarantee national security.

It seemed that the U.S. trend was down while others were headed up.

Something similar may be occurring today, and the trends have intensified since last year. For example:

NASA’s Strategic Direction is Up In the Air —
The National Research Council finds that NASA is adrift in their recent report: “NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus” (2012):

There is no strong, compelling national vision for the human spaceflight program … The lack of national consensus on NASA’s most publicly visible mission, along with out-year budget uncertainty, has resulted in the lack of strategic focus necessary for national agencies …”

Defense Cuts Leave the U.S. Vulnerable
Douglas Schoen, a Democratic strategist and author (Newsmax, February, 2013), expands on the rarely-mentioned critical point that U.S. national security is “inexorably linked” to its economic strength, as emphasized by the bipartisan group, the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security.

We lack credibility in terms of national security across the board. We do not have a strategy on the budget, or a strategy on upgrading our weapons systems, or an overall vision for who we are as a nation and how we provide for our national security.

Americans are Losing Trust in Their Institutions and it’s Hurting the Economy
Jon Hilsenrath (Wall Street Journal, 1/28/13) cites the importance of trust in society to economic growth and good government.

Only a third of Americans trust banks, and about one in six trust the stock market or large corporations … Gallup found that only 25% of Americans had much confidence in newspapers, while only 21% trusted television news or organized labor. Congress got a vote of confidence from just 13% of the population … A September Gallup poll showed that only half of Americans trusted the government to solve domestic problems.

A Possible “Financial Pearl Harbor” Looms
Just prior to the last “critical state”/Maslow Window of the 1960s, a “Cold War” set the stage for their Sputnik Moment; and as we approach the new mid-decade Maslow Window the new context may be a “Currency War”. Investment banker and DoD advisor James Rickards believes that a Currency War could strike unexpectedly and be devastating to Americans, much like the 1957 Sputnik Moment.

A currency war, fought by one country through competitive devaluations of its currency against others, is one of the most destructive and feared outcomes in international economics.

1. There’s No Shortage Today of Wildcards With Global Strategic Implications
One feature of an approaching 1960s-style “critical state” is an unusually dynamic and highly interactive international environment, particularly as manifested by a large number of “wildcards.”

Here are just a few wildcards – and potential tipping points — that face the U.S. and the world in 2013:

a. A deep recession in the Eurozone triggers a global depression.
b. The threat of nuclear weapons triggers a war with Iran.
c. A potentially hazardous asteroid is discovered on an Earth-impact trajectory.
d. A major currency war erupts.
e. A Carrington-level solar flare produces blackouts and other EMP-related effects on Earth, resulting in economic stress and strategic uncertainty.

As I pointed out last year,

After a list like this it’s comforting to contemplate the good news: Over the last 200+ years – that included the Great Depression, several financial panics and great recessions, the Civil War and two world wars — no Critical State/Maslow Window renaissance has ever been delayed or diminished in any observable way.

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Mar 10 2014

State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2014 – Getting Our Ducks in a Row for the New Space Age

2014 will be a “Year of Decision” in the U.S as a mid-term election will influence how rapidly the anticipated new Apollo-level international Space Age will arrive. Specifically, U.S. voters will decide if the status quo will continue for two more years or if a new balance of power will set the stage for a transformative, 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology.

The new face of space? Supermodel Kate Upton suggests how exciting zero-g can be!

For a brief intro to how space exploration is likely to go ballistic in the near-term, see my 2012 Ad Astra article; Click: A New Apollo Level Space Age.

Ironically, our weak recovery and global turmoil indicate that our multi-century “ducks — economic, geopolitical, technology — are nearly in a row”, signaling the rapid approach of a 1960s-style “critical state” as described here last year in “State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2013“, as well as four years ago for the coming decade, “DecaState of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020.”

Here are 10 key Space-related Trends for 2014:

10. China Triumphantly Joins the Moon Landing Club
In December China became first in the 21st Century to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon! No one had achieved this since 1976 when the Russians last did it; indeed Russia was first to accomplish an unmanned soft landing on the Moon in 1966. The first manned landing on the Moon was by the U.S. in 1969, followed by 5 more U.S. manned lunar landings (3 with manned rovers) through December, 1972.

This nearly 4-decade long hiatus of manned and robotic exploration on the lunar surface is apparently due to the Maslow Effect, involving multi-decade self organization of the international economic system into twice-per-century, transformative, “critical states”; the most recent one in the 1960s triggered the race to the Moon and changed the world during the first space age.

The end of the Moon hiatus is signaling the approaching new Space Age.

China’s new rover on the Moon is farther away than the Senkaku Islands, but is its geopolitical meaning the same?

China’s spectacular achievement is not just of scientific significance, as most recently pointed out to me by planetary scientist Paul Spudis in a comment on my December post:

The real geopolitical threat is not necessarily from a base on the Moon but rather from China’s clear acquisition of the ability to routinely and freely move throughout cislunar space … (where) all of our national security space assets and economic space assets reside. … They have already shown their proclivity for anti-satellite activities. concurs with the above point but also sees the possibility of an “asian space race” in both the civilian and military arenas. For example, if the U.S. abstains from the Moon …

The absence of a pre-eminent power on the Moon could turn into a Wild-West style land rush for the lunar surface.

By analogy with the 1960s, also a time of increasing geopolitical tension, will China “spur the U.S. into action?” asks Forbes columnist Alex Berezow.

China is now envisioning the very same sort of ambitious megaprojects that the U.S. once dreamt of more than 50 years ago, when President John F. Kennedy urged America to commit itself to achieving the goal of landing a man on the Moon..

China reminds Americans of the days of JFK when we thought we could do anything. It’s called “ebullience” and is coming soon to a country near you, as the new Maslow Window approaches this decade.

9. NASA’s Mars Fleet and Kepler Continue to Dazzle Fans of Earth-like Planets
Mars is awash in evidence suggesting the Red Planet had a large, ancient ocean of liquid water. “Oceanus Borealis” would have covered 1/3 of the Mars surface in its northern lowlands. This increases the odds of martian life as well as offering a key resource to future Mars astronauts.

Using new high resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) a Caltech team recently found ridge-like features called “inverted channels” that are believed to be the eroded remains of coarse, heavy material deposited in deltas when rivers poured into the Mars ocean. Recently, a University of Texas geologist suggested large boulders seen in MRO images of Arcadia Planitia (the ocean’s presumed location) are the result of catastrophic underwater landslides.

Sedimentary deposits imaged by Curiosity in Yellowknife Bay of Gale Crater on Mars suggest that an ancient water lake lasted tens of millions of years as recently as 3.7 billion years ago.

The car-sized Curiosity Rover touring Gale Crater has discovered lake and stream deposits that could have supported simple life. Last March NASA announced evidence of pH-neutral water in Gale Crater, which increases the odds for ancient martian life. And future Mars explorers welcomed the news that Curiosity found 2% of the martian soil was water.

One of the most important NASA science missions of all time, Kepler is the first spacecraft specifically designed to detect habitable planets, which traditionally equates with having liquid water on its surface. Currently its website lists 961 confirmed finds, including Kepler – 69c, about 2700 light years from Earth, which was the first super-Earth (1.5 Earth masses) discovered around a Sun-like star that’s in its habitable zone and might have water.

Although a reaction wheel failed last August which limits Kepler’s pointing capability, scientists are still confident they can do a reduced schedule of planet hunting.

Recent in situ radiation measurements by Curiosity en route to Mars and on its surface suggest to some that human Mars missions would represent a large fraction of the lifetime exposure allowed by NASA for an astronaut. However, the actual increase in cancer risk is only a few percent which, compared to other Mars mission risks, is very manageable. Although NASA has no current plans to send humans to Mars, Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society states that,

We are much closer to being able to send humans to Mars today than we were being able to send men to the Moon in 1961, and we were there eight years later.

However, Apollo-level space initiatives do not happen in a vacuum or by accident, and Zubrin’s insightful assertion will only be true if the 1960s (the Apollo Maslow Window) is analogous — economically, geopolitically, technologically — to the next 10-15 years. And the message of current and long-term global trends is yes: the opening of the new Maslow Window/Critical State is likely to occur very soon.

8. No New Flagship Missions for NASA: Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
According to The Huntsville (AL) Times, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden indicated to the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee in early December that,

We have to stop thinking about flagship missions … The budget doesn’t support that.

Bolden also reportedly indicated that Congress could “force” one (e.g., Space Launch System) onto NASA, but “that may be the only way to get one in the future.”

Does that mean we should forget about starting major Apollo-level space initiatives now that could culminate in the 2020s, like human spaceflight to Mars, international development of the Moon, and/or large-scale space-based solar power systems?

Under normal circumstances, the answer is yes. But with the near-term approach of a new 1960s-style critical state, these are not normal circumstances!

As in the late 1950s when NASA originated, dramatic transformations will occur to enable new, unprecedented macro engineering projects in space and on Earth. In 1989 Yale professor Garry Brewer characterized JFK’s NASA in the context of a complex system as a “perfect place”:

(NASA) came close to being the best organization human beings could create to accomplish selected goals. If not the best or perfect, they were nearly so … close enough. Ironically, this very success ensured their eventual demise.

Like the critical state itself, NASA’s residence in the “perfect place” was relatively brief. To get back there, or close to it, and to do great things again, one of the pieces of the puzzle that NASA will naturally require was mentioned by Bolden: an increased budget. And, interestingly, the complementary geopolitical and technology trends are visible all around us.

7. Geopolitical Tensions Point to the Approaching 1960s-style “Critical State”
Over the last 2 centuries, great human explorations (e.g., Apollo) and huge macro engineering projects (e.g., the Panama Canal) have clustered together in decade-long, twice-per-century Maslow Windows. The Windows are apparently triggered by critical states in the international economic system that self organize over decades.

Invariably Maslow Windows start off with a bang: early in the Window (or just before it) there is either a war or an international crisis with war potential. A famous example is the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 involving Russia and the U.S. who together nearly ignited a nuclear war before it was rapidly resolved. Ironically, the CMC actually intensified the Space Race to the Moon between the two countries.

In 1998 National Academy of Sciences member Donald Turcotte (then at Cornell) and a colleague published their discovery that the frequency/intensity (measured in deaths) statistics of wars over the last 5 centuries displayed the clear signature (i.e., called “fractal”) of a complex system subject to self-organized critical states. In their summary:

World order behaves as a self-organized critical system independent of the efforts made to control and stabilize interactions between people and countries.

In other words, surging geopolitical tensions are harbingers of the approaching new critical state.

Last spring when the U.S. scrambled a stealth bomber to Korea in response to provocations by North Korea, it appeared that the crisis had parallels with the Cuban Missile Crisis of the previous Maslow Window.

Last fall the rapidly evolving Syrian crisis had all the earmarks of an early Maslow Window crisis suggesting the arrival of the 1960s-style critical state was just around the corner. Click: “Syria reveals that the 1960s-style “Critical State” is Imminent

Perhaps of greatest concern, the current high-stakes crisis surrounding Iran and its nuclear program continues to intensify. Reaction to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was immediate. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz called it a “cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions” and Israeli PM Netanyahu said it was a “historic mistake.” Even NY Senator Chuck Schumer was “disappointed” because the deal was not “proportional”; “Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions.”

A January, 2014 poll revealed that nearly 2/3 of Israelis believe Obama will let Iran go nuclear. More recently reported that the Iranian Supreme Leader essentially agreed with the Israelis when he remarked, “Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program will go nowhere.”

All of this is in the context of an UN report last October that Iran may need as little as one month to produce enough uranium for a nuclear bomb, which might motivate Israel to consider a strike before that occurs.

As global tensions escalate toward unprecedented levels reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it’s reasonable to see the imminent approach of a new, 1960s-style critical state. The Iran crisis is particularly dangerous, however even with all the bad news, multicentury historical patterns suggest we are not approaching a WW I analog. Instead the geopolitical chaos reminds us we can expect major space and technology initiatives to develop sooner than you think.

6. New, Game-Changing Technologies Are Setting the Stage for the New Space Age
In my December interview on The Space Show hosted by Dr. David Livingston, one of our live callers asked a compelling question: If we believe for a moment that a new, near-term Space Age is in the cards, shouldn’t we see more government and private technology development to support it?

The answer, of course, is yes. And we do.

During the early 1960s the X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft that became the world’s first spaceplane. It set speed records (4520 mph, Mach 6.72), flew into space officially (above 100 km) twice, and its pilots included Neil Armstrong (1st on the Moon in 1969) for whom NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center is being renamed.

In 1961 the X-15 was glamorized by Hollywood in a full-length theatrical movie of the same name that used real flight footage. Stars included Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore.

Today we’re not so lucky because the Air Force X-37b is a Mach 25 spaceplane whose technology development missions are secret. It’s public knowledge that it’s unmanned and reusable, essentially an advanced, miniature version of the Shuttle. It launches on a Atlas V in Florida and lands like an airplane at Vandenberg AFB in California although that may change soon.

The X-37b is famous for its long missions. Its current orbital mission began on December 12, 2013, and it’s still in orbit! Boeing advertises that the X-37b has advanced silica tiles, totally automated de-orbit and landing operations, and electromechanical actuators for all flight control surfaces.

DARPA is planning to build an Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) that will begin flight testing in 2017. It will place 3000-5000 lb payloads in LEO for under $ 5M per launch, and is envisioned as a true hypersonic and space access vehicle that could contribute eventually to a broad range of advanced military, commercial, and NASA missions.

Although initial U.S. work on hypersonic missile weapon systems dates back to the 1960s, it is accelerating today according to The “boost-glide” concept involves a boost by a ballistic missile followed by a very rapid glide path to target — up to ~Mach 20 — culminating in a flat, low trajectory that could evade defensive systems.

U.S. hypersonic vehicles could become operational in 10 years (during the next Maslow Window) and are potentially destabilizing. Russia and China are reportedly pursuing similar systems. China recently confirmed a test of its hypersonic strike vehicle, the WU-14.

One captivating, and much less secret technology is 3-D printing which NASA and the European Space Agency believe could build a lunar base. 3-D printing has been identified as potentially having a very broad and profound influence on global business during the next decade.

The European Space Agency believes that 3D printing could facilitate the development of a Moon base leaving astronauts to just manage the process.

An attractive idea is to mix lunar material with magnesium oxide to make a “paper” the 3-D printer can use. Engineers believe that a next gen 3-D printer could create an entire lunar building in only a week.

A variety of game-changing technologies are being developed with an eye toward facilitating human operations in space and on other worlds in the coming decade. This is consistent with the broad awareness that we are nearly ready to take a giant step in that direction.

5. Observation-based Models of the Sun and Climate Point to A Positive, Expansive View of the Future
Both the scientific community and the public are moving toward an observation-based view of climatic change as our scientific understanding expands.

For example, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in January asked a scientific sample of U.S. adults to prioritize 13 key domestic and foreign policy issues in terms of their importance to the national agenda. The number one issue was job creation (91%), followed by issues including trimming the federal budget and Iran’s nuclear program. Addressing climate change was dead last on the list (advocated by 27%).

The unfortunate irony, of course, was Secretary Kerry’s recent speech on climate change where he referred to those who disagree with him as “shoddy scientists” and “extreme ideologues.” Two atmospheric science professors (both fellows of the American Meteorological Society) from the University of Alabama in Huntsville — Richard McNider and John Christy — replied in the Wall Street Journal. The basic problem is predictions from complex climate models since the 1980s have not been able to match observational temperature data from satellites and balloons of the deep atmosphere (surface up to 75,000 feet); see their figure.

In fact according to McNider and Christy, NASA and NOAA satellites since 1978 have measured a warming of the deep atmosphere of only 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, per 100 years, while the models (which cannot model the physical effects of clouds, etc.) forecast much larger values.

The “science is settled” crowd — which sadly includes some who hold scientific positions — is willing to ignore significant observational data which does not support their naive and/or politically-motivated beliefs. McNider and Christy see a parallel with the 18th century British sailors who died of scurvy when many sea captains and doctors knew the cure, and yet this information was officially withheld for over 50 years because it didn’t fit the “consensus science” of their time. In the 21st century, climate science that is not observation-based could potentially reduce economic growth, distort government policy, and promote continued fear-mongering, even of young children in school.

A rather remarkable European physicist at the Technical University of Denmark (Copenhagen), Henrik Svensmark, has stated openly that,

In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth — quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable.

Svensmark and his colleagues have authored an ascending theory linking variable activity on the Sun with warmings and coolings on Earth. Currently the CLOUD Experiment at the European facility CERN — conducted by an international team of scientists — continues to generate experimental data supporting the idea that some low clouds (which cause global coolings) are nucleated by the effects of galactic cosmic rays, which are naturally modulated by solar activity.

Over the last two centuries, critical states in the international economic system have led to transformative, twice-per-century Maslow Windows that have featured 1960s-style golden ages of prosperity, exploration, and technology. Evidence — some cited here — suggests the public and many scientists are recovering from fear-mongering of the past and are moving toward a more positive, observation-based view of the human future, facilitating the likelihood of near-term prosperity.

4. SpaceX Shakes the Commercial Satellite Industry To Its Roots
SpaceX, “The World’s Fastest Growing Launch Services Provider” of Hawthorne, CA launched its first satellite into geostationary transfer orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket on December 3.

The SES-8 telecommunications satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, VA will use its internal systems to circularize its orbit at nearly 36,000 km above the equator so it can provide direct-to-home tv broadcasts to India and Southeast Asia.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on December 3 launches it first commercial satellite to geo transfer orbit.

According to Space News, the launch solidifies SpaceX’s market credibility that “it will now use to attack the global commercial market.” In the next year or so, SpaceX will compete with Arianespace for at least 15 small geostationary orbit satellites.

Since achieving its first delivery of payloads using its Dragon spacecraft to ISS in May, 2012 it has made several cargo flights to ISS. SpaceX is modifying Dragon to carry crew to the ISS and is developing the Falcon Heavy, which they expect will become “the world’s most powerful rocket.”

On the other hand, someone still waiting to make private space headlines is Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic; Aerospace America (Feb, 2014) calls it “Prove-it time for space tourism.” Last month Branson indicated that Virgin Galactic will make its first commercial flight this year, although he has indicated the same in previous years. Beginning commercial operations this year will involve a “tough schedule.”

In January SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its third test flight, this time up to 71,000 feet and a max speed of Mach 1.4. However, Branson intends to take his customers much higher than that — into space officially at 62 miles — and reports indicate subsequent engine tests in the Mojave Desert.

Branson reportedly has 650 customers signed up who have already paid deposits of $ 80 M, and he has repeatedly pledged to personally be on the first commercial flight.

What’s even more interesting is that Steven Isakowitz, president of Virgin Galactic finds that university students are excited about commercial space (Space News, 12/9/13).

What inspired me was the Apollo program. But now we have new generation of young people who are saying it was SpaceShipOne.

Given today’s economic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions, many young people today are looking for a reason to get excited about space, their studies, and the future in general. Imagine what they will be like when the Maslow Window arrives and someone somewhere — maybe SpaceX+… — is leaving for Mars!

3. The Panama Canal Expansion Project Radiates an “Ebullient Spirit” Characteristic of the Approaching New International Space Age
Prior to the First Space Age of the 1960s, Maslow Windows always featured at least one monumental, non-space macro engineering project (MEP) and usually a few secondary ones. During the early 20th Century Roosevelt Maslow Window, the Panama Canal was the big one and secondary MEPs included the celebrated Titanic ship.

According to historian David McCullough, Panama Canal “was one of the supreme human achievements of all time.” It was the most expensive construction project in U.S. history — ~$ 8.5 B in 2012 USD or about 5% of the 1960s Apollo program — and consumed about 0.1% of U.S. GDP compared to 0.25% for the Apollo program.

For more, click: “10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space.”

The Panama Canal Expansion Project was initially estimated to cost $ 5.25 B, about 2/3 as much as the original Canal! In 2006 in an ebullient vote, the people of Panama approved this project by 76.2%. According to the Panama Canal Authority, the Third Set of Locks project will respond to sustained increases in international trade by allowing more and larger ships through the Canal.

Because of disputes and cost overruns the Panama Canal Expansion final cost may eventually approach that of the original Canal and completion could be delayed for years, possibly even until 2020.

According to the Wall Street Journal (2/18/14),

There are many cities, countries, and port authorities who are spending billions of dollars in anticipation of the traffic that will come from the newly expanded canal.

Yet ironically, even with all its current concerns, the PC Expansion Project is a spectacular, expensive, exciting, complicated, international project that countries and companies all over the world are eagerly awaiting. It remains a shining example of “early ebullience” — much like the original Canal was a century ago — that points to the near-term arrival of a new golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology.

This is important because — over the last 200+ years — large macro-engineering projects (e.g., Panama Canal) and great explorations (e.g., discovery of the N and S poles) appear to be triggered by large economic booms, but are fundamentally driven by “ebullience” (e.g., “Panama fever”, “pole mania”) — a somewhat irrational, but highly positive view of the future.

For example, In the 1960s Apollo program and Peace Corps of John F. Kennedy it was the ebullient feeling that we could do almost anything; in the early 20th century it was Theodore Roosevelt’s Panama fever and (north & south) pole mania; in the mid-19th century it was manifest destiny of James Polk and the central Africa adventures of Dr. Livingstone, I presume; and about 200 years ago it began auspiciously with Jefferson, Napoleon, and Lewis & Clark.

In the powerfully ebullient environment of the coming Maslow Window almost anything can happen. The only remaining question is: Where’s the Boom?

2. It Takes a Maslow Window To Go To Mars, but It Takes a Boom to Make a Maslow Window
Everybody agrees that any new major space initiative like sending people to Mars needs more budget than NASA has now. And NASA is fairly criticized for developing its Space Launch System (SLS) ahead of requirements for a specific, major exploration path.

The Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has recently encouraged Congress to develop “a long-term, committed and stable strategic plan for the U.S. space program.”

As an AIAA member myself, I appreciate her leadership on this hugely important issue…but let’s get serious for a second. The U.S. Congress: Long-term? Committed? Stable? Wow…

Even charismatic JFK during “Camelot” in the early 1960s didn’t attempt that, and his ducks — economic, geopolitical, technology — were all in a row!

Ducks matter! Only 15 years later in the mid-1980s the equally charismatic Ronald Reagan couldn’t sell a space station to Congress or the public within a decade of his proposal — and it cost a lot less than Apollo! That’s because his ducks — mainly economic ones (e.g., “Black Monday”, 1987) — were not lined up.

JFK inherited the post-W.W. II Boom and then made it even better through his economic policies. Here’s what a Maslow Window looks like: rapid economic growth (>4 %), unemployment approaches zero, and the poverty rate falls like a stone, until the Maslow Window ended around 1970.

And what happened to post-Apollo plans for humans to Mars? As widespread ebullience sagged in the late 1960s, due to geopolitical (Vietnam) and economic (slowing economy) ducks becoming seriously misaligned, serious consideration of human spaceflight to Mars disappeared, until recently — as we approach the new Maslow Window.

In our current counter-ebullient country, where polls indicate 80% think the American dream is over because it’s much harder now than in previous generations to get ahead, will prosperity in the form of a JFK-style boom actually return?

In fact, over the last 200 years that’s the way it usually happens. For example, following the financial Panic of 1893 the U.S. was afflicted with a serious double-dip great recession that’s has parallels with the Panic/Great Recession of 2008-10+. Recovery took off like a rocket in 1899 when growth went ballistic with a JFK-style boom that resulted in one of the most ebullient decades in U.S. history.

In fact, the current slow economic recovery is part of a 200-year pattern that, over the last 2 centuries, has always culminated in a transformational Maslow Window. Can you imagine the pent up consumer demand that will explode when the economy turns around, negative animal spirits are reversed, and an expansion reminiscent of the 1960s begins?

Last year in this space I suggested that the trigger for the next Maslow Window — a JFK-style economic boom — would be associated with: 1) the U.S. oil boom, 2) the tech-led boom, and 3) the green-plus boom.

All three trends and others have remained in play and are strengthening the prospects for prosperity. In particular, the International Energy Agency says the U.S. will overtake Russia this year as the top oil producer in the world. According to WSJ (1/31/14), “The shale boom is greasing the wheels of the U.S. economy,” although 4th quarter GDP for 2013 was recently revised down from 3.2% to 2.4%.

For details I’d recommend Jack Plunkett’s book, The Next Boom, which addresses America’s favorable demographics, the next billion new consumers emerging soon globally, and how trends from energy to health care and new technologies suggest we’re “on the verge of a period of major economic growth.”

Also, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler — in Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think — show how innovations in energy, education, health care, freedom, and a variety of high technologies will provide us with “the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet.”

President Kennedy provided us with a powerful economic model that stimulated economic growth and prosperity at the highest level up to that time, and triggered the widespread ebullience that drove the transformative 1960s Maslow Window, including the world-altering Apollo program.

In today’s world, it might surprise some to hear that JFK’s highest priority was to lower tax rates, including personal and corporate, and to control government spending, which through “free market processes” would create new jobs, higher income, and more tax revenues. Given JFK’s extraordinary success, should we give it a try again?

1. “History, said Mark Twain, never repeats itself but it rhymes.” Noted Historian Margaret MacMillan
A professor of international history at Oxford University, Margaret MacMillan is also an acclaimed author, including her recent The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, which collects her wisdom on the origins of World War I.

The difficulty of this task, now in its 96th year (since the end of The Great War), is exacerbated by the fact that it appears to be the result of a complex system in its critical state — such as that which apparently existed near the end of the early 20th Century Maslow Window — where a minor event can have large, unexpected system-wide effects.

Will a new JFK-style U.S. President be elected in 2016?

However, the following brief list of key space-related events to watch for (with brief comments) adopts Professor MacMillan’s guideline above that the best view we can have of the future is a rhyme of the past, not a repetition.

It’s based on long-term cycles, historical patterns, and current global trends, which are interpreted here in the context of the 1960s-style critical states that great human explorations, the international economic system, and wars have exhibited over the last two centuries.

Key space-related events converge on the expectation that a new 1960s-style critical state is imminent and a new Maslow Window is expected to open by 2017:

1. The appearance of the financial Panic of 2008 is a clear, multicentury, near-term harbinger of the coming JFK-style boom.

2. Over the last 2 centuries, Maslow Windows are always triggered by a JFK-level economic boom. Current U.S. growth remains sluggish suggesting the boom may be 1-3 years away, but it is coming. For example, in 2013 the Wall Street Journal (2/10) observed,

America’s success isn’t preordained. But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound. They will engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy. All the forces are in place. It’s just a matter of when.

3. The current Iran crisis and that of North Korea — each potentially nuclear — have the potential to rise to the level of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and indicate the critical state is imminent.

4. The landing of China’s rover on the Moon ends the nearly 4-decade hiatus of robotic and/or human exploration directly on the lunar surface. This major milestone has the potential to trigger events which could lead to a future Sputnik moment for the U.S.

5. The general lack of direction for NASA’s human exploration program coupled with economic uncertainty, geopolitical stress, and unsettling performance of K-12 education, suggest the U.S. would be psychologically vulnerable to a Sputnik moment within the next few years.

6. The 2014 midterm election in the U.S. may play a pivotal albeit indirect role in NASA’s exploration plans by either creating a realignment of power that will ignite growth and trigger the new Maslow Window, or continue the status quo which might delay a move toward prosperity for 1-3 years.

7. Will the new JFK-style “Space President” be elected in 2016? This would be a MacMillan-style “rhyme” of JFK’s election in 1960 just prior to the opening of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

It’s intriguing to imagine potential candidates.

No responses yet

Mar 06 2010

DecaState of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020

Space-related global trends for the next decade are summarized here utilizing a long-term, empirical approach that focuses on patterns — over the last 200 years — in the economy, technology, and society. This unique approach to multi-decade space and technology forecasting was first sketched in Cordell (1996) and Cordell (2006), and further developed with colleagues in subsequent articles and essays, including the last 21+ months here at

The Decade 2010-2020, will feature the opening of potentially the most transformative, 1960s-style decade — in space and on Earth — of the 21st Century. CLICK .
In honor of Robert McCall, the great space artist who passed away on 2/26/2010.

The basic 4-part approach is as follows:
1)  Sketch the economic framework for the decade based on long-term macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200+ years,
2) Identify recent trends in economics, technology, and geopolitics, that are likely to drive major directions — especially involving great explorations and MEPs — of the decade,
3) Where appropriate, insert specific forecasts from experts with special knowledge of key countries and/or potential events etc. (e.g., China collapse by 2015) that suggest possible scenarios, and
4) Identify Wildcards and evaluate their potential effects on the space-related trends and forecasts.

The success of this technique in providing significant insights into current and past space-related global trends and events — which you are invited to judge for yourself by perusing either the Categories or Readers’ Favorites lists — is encouraging, and has motivated this attempt to sketch major trends for the entire decade.

So, here are 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020.

10. Long-term Economic Trends Point to the Opening of Potentially the Most Transformative Decade of the 21st Century
Trends in the economy, technology, and society – over the last 200 years – show that we’re within a few years of potentially the most transformative decade of the 21st century: the 2015 Maslow Window.
Featuring clusters of great human explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark), macro-engineering projects (e.g., Panama Canal), and major wars (e.g., WWI), Maslow Windows are extraordinary 1960s-style decades driven by rhythmic, twice-per-century major economic booms. Powered by widespread affluence-induced ebullience, many people ascend Maslow’s hierarchy where their expanded worldviews make Apollo-style engineering projects and explorations seem not only intriguing, but momentarily almost irresistible.

Initially in 1996, I forecasted that “the decade from 2015 to 2025 will be the analog of the 1960s; it will involve major activities in technology, engineering, and human exploration … the focus will be on large-scale human operations in space and they will be spectacular.”

The 5 years immediately preceding a Maslow Window are typically challenging times of recovery from major financial panics and great recessions, like that which began in 2008; only the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window escaped this fate. The Panic of 2008 signaled that we have returned to the more “normal” pattern of pre-Maslow Window decades over the last 200 years.

Indeed, macroeconomic data over the last 200 years shows that we are on a similar GDP trajectory to that of previous Maslow Windows including the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window and the especially ebullient early 20th century Peary/Panama Maslow Window.

The first 5 years of any Maslow Window — e.g., 2015 to 2020 for the next one — are typically very active as the golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology is launched. For example, the early Apollo Maslow Window (circa 1957 – 1965) featured the Cold War, International Geophysical Year, Sputnik, the formation of NASA, Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. Apollo Moon program, and President Kennedy’s ‘to the Moon in this decade’ speech to Congress. See “Fred Kaplan’s “1959 — The Year Everything Changed” Points to the New Space Age.

Over the last 200 years, repetitive geopolitical and economic trends associated with the long economic wave indicate that the 5+ years before and after the opening of any Maslow Window are stunningly dynamic times, as the major economic boom gains momentum and international tensions increase, and as international events associated with great human explorations and macro-engineering projects (MEP) begin to unfold and dominate global headlines.

In general outline, that’s the next 10 years for space.

9. A Significant Military Crisis May Develop Early in the Decade (e.g., Iran) … but like usual, it will be rapidly resolved, and indeed may accelerate the world toward the 2015 Maslow Window.
The year of Obama – 2009, along with the years especially since 2005, have clearly set the stage for the 2015 Maslow Window. Please see, State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2010, and State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2009.

While preparing for a return to the Moon by 2020 with our international partners (and competitors) and strategizing about the Shuttle 5-year gap, we enjoyed basking in the “greatest global boom ever” (the hallmark of approaching Maslow Windows); see Fortune magazine, July, 2007. However, global prosperity came to a screeching halt as the current great recession began in December, 2007 and the financial Panic of 2008 gained momentum.

These and other factors triggered a continuing major political realignment in the U.S., including: the Year of Obama, concerns about economic sustainability, rebirth of the War on Terror, and a new approach to NASA and the human future in space. Similarities between current and previous macroeconomic, geopolitical, and technology trends over the last 200 years signal our approach to the 2015 Maslow Window and the new international Space Age.

For example, a possible war with a nuclear Iran and its potential effects on world (including China) energy supplies has parallels with the extremely dangerous Cuban Missile Crisis that intensified the U.S.-Soviet Moon race early in the Apollo Maslow Window. And the potential future political effects of a lingering or unsuccessful war in Afghanistan have some warning of parallels with LBJ’s Vietnam, that eventually ended the Apollo Maslow Window.

On the other hand, assuming — by analogy with the 1960s and all previous Maslow Windows — that we are able to control our early 2015 Maslow Window international crises, the spectacular foreign policy and technology success known as the International Space Station highlights a potential direction available to humanity as we contemplate the possibility of global, united human settlement of the solar system.

Current space-related trends associated with the global recession, a possible Sputnik event, the new NASA, a space commercialism boom, political realignments in the U.S. and elsewhere, global economic and demographic challenges, state-of-the-art technology and education, and possible wildcards, support the 2015 Maslow Window and are explored below.

8. The Financial Panic of 2008 Signaled That We Were Within 6 years of a New, Apollo-Style, Global Space Age
The Panic of 2008 and its Great Recession (see #9 above) devastated any lingering ebullience from the great global boom of 2007 and ultimately became a rationale for scaling back U.S. 2020 Moon plans.

Although predicted by a few — see Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts — the Panic of 2008/Great Recession nevertheless highlighted the limitations of current macroeconomic models, especially when unassisted by a long-term, empirical approach like that of

The severity and historical sequence of pre-Maslow Window financial panics and great recessions is documented. For example, the spectacular mid-19th century Maslow Window featured the stunning ebullience of “manifest destiny” in the U.S., Dr. Livingstone’s still-celebrated central Africa explorations, and the “technological jewel” of the 19th century: the Suez Canal. It was preceded by the financial Panic of 1837 that triggered a great recession lasting until 1843. And it was no rose garden. According to Nobel economist Milton Friedman (writing in 1960), “It is the only depression on record comparable in severity and scope to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and its monetary concomitants largely duplicate those of its later mate.”

Likewise, the ultra-ebullient early 20th century Peary/Panama Maslow Window was preceded by the Panic of 1893 followed by a great recession. The economy began to recover in 1896 with the election of President McKinley, but unemployment did not drop below 10% until 1899.

The historical record of both 19th and 20th century pre-Maslow Window panic/recessions suggests the current great recession should run no more than 6 years. Even better news is Harvard economist Robert Barro’s study of 59 international, non-war depressions since 1870 that shows they average only 4 years in duration. This data implies that the 2015 Maslow Window will easily open on time. It should be even easier assuming the Obama administration leverages the lessons of economic history and government policy accrued over the last 200 years. But what do current economists say?

Optimists remind us that most recessions are “V-shaped” and recover like tennis balls: a deep recession produces a robust recovery, which we should see in 2010. But many others forecast only a gradual recovery, including some experts at Davos who expect another “global dip” (New York Times; 1/28/10). Despite signs of recovery, the New York Times (2/21/10) warns of an increase in chronic joblessness, and of the perils of a “Japanese decade” (1/3/10). Prominent Keynesians complain that Obama’s stimulus/bailout packages are too small, while others warn of a “Keynesian hangover.” Still others worry about expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2010, the potential for inflation, record debt, and the general lack of public confidence in the recovery. This situation should remind us of Stanford economist Russ Roberts’ recent column (WSJ, 2/27/10) where he seriously asks if economics is “really a science?” The economy may be far too complex for our imperfect data and limited models to routinely produce reliable forecasts.

However, what is known is that no Maslow Window over the last 200+ years has ever been delayed or diminished in any observable way by a financial panic/great recession in the decade immediately preceding it. In particular, current economic circumstances resemble the great recession of the 1890s more than the post-war boom of the 1950s, and yet the 1890s resulted in perhaps the most ebullient Maslow Window in the history of the United States. That’s a reasonable expectation for 2015.

7. The Cancellation of Constellation will Create New Worlds for Space Commercialization and for NASA
President Obama’s recent budget terminates NASA’s Constellation program that was to launch astronauts to the Moon by 2020, and after this year proposes to launch American astronauts to ISS on Russian Soyuz launch vehicles until American companies develop man-rated Earth-to-orbit vehicles. Although some Congressional opposition to this plan has materialized (e.g., WSJ, 3/1/10; A. Pasztor), we assume that it will be substantially adopted at least for the short-term.

This will be the first time in 60 years that NASA has no capability or specific plans for its own manned launch vehicle. And NASA Administrator Bolden has emphasized a new style of international cooperation in space where NASA treats its international partners as “equals” and with “respect.”

This new paradigm for NASA supports forecasts made here based on long-term macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200 years, and suggests that the new global Space Age is not far away. For example, 1) in 1996, I suggested that the next major thrust into space will occur between 2015 and 2025 (see point 10 above) and suggested this might trigger the formation of an organization in which the major space nations share power equally in program planning and management, 2) in 1992 I described an ESA-like concept for a global space organization (“Interspace”) that features “equality” among the major international partners and opportunities for others to participate based on their human, technology, or financial resources (Cordell, 1992), and 3) based on long-wave timing, in 2006 I identified 2014 as the likely timeframe when NASA would undergo a significant transformation (although I did not imagine NASA as being removed from the launch vehicle business).

For the first time the U.S. government will be subsidizing the efforts of private companies to develop a reliable manned launch vehicle to ISS, while not developing their own successor to the Shuttle. Several grants have already been awarded to private space companies.

History shows repeatedly that when you combine adequate capital with technologically sophisticated entrepreneurs that are driven by the profit motive, a mighty force will be unleashed into the marketplace. Although it will take years for them to develop a safe vehicle to send astronauts to ISS, it is highly likely that — thanks to President Obama — the space commercialization boom has finally begun.

But what of the Moon and Mars as near-term destinations for human settlers? Apollo 11 Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin (WSJ, 2/26/10) praises Obama for removing the U.S. from a puzzling Moon race (which Buzz and Neil Armstrong won for the U.S. 40+ years ago) and refocuses NASA on technology development for deep space human missions like Mars as our “long-term objective.” He then quotes President Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade…” as the type of “bold initiative” offered by Obama.

Unfortunately, unlike JFK’s Moon speech, there is currently no specific plan or timeline to go to Mars and there may not be any for many years to come. Based on long wave timing, we have only until the end of this decade until it becomes very difficult to initiate any major space program. This suggests that under Obama’s plan, a manned Mars initiative might not occur until the next Maslow Window that opens near 2071.

6. Affluence-Induced Ebullience will Drive Space-Related Expenditures to ~ $ 1 T (2007 USD) during 2015 to 2025
I estimate space-related MEP and exploration expenditures during the 2015 Maslow Window will reach between $ 1 T and 3 T (2007 USD), compared to about $ 150 B (2007 USD) for the 1960s Apollo Moon program. This is based on: 1) MEP cost extrapolations during successive Maslow Windows, and 2) ratios between previous primary-to-secondary MEP costs. Two examples of primary MEPs are the Panama Canal and the Apollo/Saturn V infrastructure, and secondary MEPs include, the Titanic and Great Eastern ships, the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, and the Large Hadron Collider. All are very expensive, state-of-the-art projects (for their time) that caught the public’s imagination. This is affordable and pro-ebullient (see below) assuming that GDP in 2025 culminates between $ 29 and 35 T (2007 USD) as projected based on GDP trends of the last 200 years.

Such expensive endeavors are only politically feasible because of a powerful psychological phenomenon called “ebullience,” that over the last 200 years occurs exclusively during Maslow Windows separated typically by 55 to 60 years. Triggered by major, twice-per-century economic booms, affluence-induced ebullience becomes widespread and catapults many to higher levels in Maslow’s hierarchy where their expanded worldviews make Apollo-style explorations and MEPs seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible. See The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age.

Over the last 200 years, widespread ebullience typically collapses rapidly in response to public perceptions of financial contractions and/or wars, not necessarily the facts. And since ebullience is not a totally rational condition, it’s onset and collapse are not necessarily rational either. But the important point is that ebullience actually drives Maslow Windows, not just economics.

Currently, we’re still recovering from a great recession and the public is anti-ebullient, as expected. There is no political incentive for Obama to plan Mars missions. But as the recovery begins to revive the economy over the next few years, it’s likely the U.S. will respond much like it did in the ebullient Peary/Panama Maslow Window led by Theodore Roosevelt.

However, even now there are signs of “early ebullience” around the world that remind us of what’s just over the horizon for space and technology development. It’s typical of the approach to a Maslow Window when certain elements of society — e.g., high-end clientele, dynamic societies, and/or groups especially excited about a particular MEP, — anticipate the ebullience that eventually engulfs society during the height of a Maslow Window. Since we apparently are only ~5 years from the opening of the 2015 Maslow Window, early ebullience is expected.

5.  B-R-I-Cs are the Solid Foundation for a Grand Alliance for Space
The BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India, and China are demonstrating multi-decade long wave trends as well as the style of ebullience that points directly toward the 2015 Maslow Window.

China is the biggest economic questionmark of the decade. Some forecasters see it eventually taking over the world economically, while Stratfor believes China will experience a major, Japan-like economic collapse by 2015. Barnett (2/13/10) asserts that China must switch to democracy soon because “democracies simply perform better–not by how they run things but by how they get the hell out of the way of those who really need to run things, aka the private sector.” But Stratfor sees China in a quadruple economic bind, including: giving employment primacy, stagnating Western imports, aging demographics, and internal income tensions. This is important because an economically robust China is often assumed to be a major space competitor of the U.S. during the coming decade. See 10 Reasons China is Good for Space.

According to Harvard’s Richard Pipes, “Russia is obsessed with being recognized as a ‘Great Power’.” This is partly due to their success in WW II and their “success in sending the first human into space.” Currently, Russia is not only playing a central role in ISS, it is expanding its domestic space infrastructure (the $ 13.5 B Vostochny Cosmodrome), anticipates a joint Phobos robotic sample-return mission with China in 2011-12, and speaks openly of possible joint manned Mars expeditions with the U.S. and others. However, its continuing leadership in space is complicated by its vulnerability to the global recession and its recent Cold War-like actions. See The New Cuban Space Center and Vladimir Bonaparte.

India may have the most ebullient space program in the world. It’s first Moon mission (Chandrayaan I) recently discovered water on the Moon, and advanced propulsion will drive their first robotic probe to Mars after 2013. According to the Indian President their manned orbital program will start near 2014, and will “electrify” young people in India. India’s economy has suffered “no crisis” during the global recession — growth dropped from 10% to 6.5% — which suggests not even the sky’s the limit in India as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window.

Brazil is one of the most ebullient countries in the world and has a growing space program to match. Selection as the first-ever South American site for the Olympics (in 2016) is symbolic of its “arrival on the world stage.” In 2006 Brazil’s first astronaut trained with NASA, flew a Russian Soyuz, and enjoyed a week-long stay on ISS. Then he became an instant celebrity. In 1992 I suggested that Rio de Janeiro would be an ideal headquarters city for a new global space organization (“Interspace”) that we forecasted would form by 2014. Brazil rapidly exited the global recession with a 1.9% GDP surge in 2009 Q2 and expects to grow 5% in 2010. They’re well-positioned to be an ebullient, global player in the 2015 Maslow Window.

Although not a BRIC, the #2 economy in the world is currently suffering from a debt/GDP ratio of more than 2 and is scrambling “to avoid being the next Greece” (WSJ, 3/1/10). The last half century of both Japan’s economic and political history are strongly consistent with the long economic wave. For example, Japan’s “lost decade” from 1991 to 2000 is centered on the trough (1997) of the 56 year energy cycle, and Japan’s historical election in 2009 — giving it a new government — occurred after 54 years (one long wave) of almost continuous rule by the LDP. Japan’s new strategy for growth during the next decade suggests it will retain its position as a major global leader in space, including current projects like ISS as well as major new initiatives such as its planned $ 21 B space-based solar power MEP.

All the major space powers enter the decade with significant economic and demographic challenges. This makes it appear that a Grand Alliance for Space — that would be promoted by a new global space agency like Interspace — would be highly likely, because no country would have the economic flexibility to do otherwise. However, our current economic trajectory is more like that of the late 1890s great recession than the pre-Apollo 1950s, and thus an unparalleled economic boom is probable as the drive toward prosperity gains momentum in the next 3-5 years. Therefore, a 21st century version of the late 1950s International Geophysical Year scenario is still realistic, and the possibility of a Sputnik-style surprise cannot be ruled out.

4. We are the Beneficiaries of 60+ Years of Space Technology Development, and Are Capable of going to Mars, Developing the Moon, and/or Utilizing Space Resources in the Next Decade

It is incorrect to say that we do not have the technology to go to Mars.

We already have the basic technology to go to Mars and ISS can help resolve issues related to long duration human spaceflight before 2020. While advanced propulsion is always preferred on Mars missions, it is not required. Split mission concepts — where return propellants, consumables, and other cargo — are sent first to Mars orbit before the crew leaves Earth improve performance and safety for the crew vehicles. In situ resource utilization is an important technology that is needed to process propellants from water (or other substances) on Phobos and/or Mars. It needs to be developed but is hardly a showstopper. The modern technical literature on human spaceflight to Mars is extensive and goes back 50 years; a good place to start is the Case For Mars volumes that began in the 1980s.

Great explorations always involve significant risk. The risk must be identified, quantified, managed, and then accepted. In essence, you are ready to go exploring when you think you are.

Columbus and his descendants could have waited until the 747 was invented to make the trip to America — it would have been a lot safer and more comfortable — but they chose to go in 1492. There were many unknowns (a pre-mission cost/benefit analysis was difficult) and the crew suffered casualties, but the mission of exploration was a success and the world was changed. In their 1963 EMPIRE study for NASA, German rocket scientist Krafft Ehricke and his staff at General Dynamics concluded that “Preliminary schedule analysis strongly indicates that a 1975 (manned) mission…to Mars is in the realm of realistic technological planning…” It was 6 years before the Moon landing, and Krafft Ehricke, Bill Strobl, and the other authors of the document calculated we were nearly ready to go to Mars. Even bolder was the pulsed nuclear propulsion system of Project Orion. Begun in 1958 at General Atomics by Ted Taylor and Freeman Dyson, the goal was inexpensive, fast, near-term travel throughout the solar system, and every available technological assessment of the system shows that it would have worked. Larger, classified versions would have made good star-ships, but the project lost funding due to the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

Post-Apollo Mars plans were canceled by President Nixon near the end of the Apollo Maslow Window, and no human has ventured beyond Earth orbit since the last Apollo mission in 1972. But the point is that serious plans and capability for manned Mars missions existed in the 1970s. To claim that manned Mars missions cannot be done in the next decade suggests NASA needs to be reminded of this superlative technological legacy and also needs to grow a pair — both of which will happen naturally as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window and become globally enthused by its surging ebullience.

3. The U.S. is Approaching Another Sputnik-style Crisis of Confidence in Education
In 1957, only 10 days after the surprise Soviet launch of Sputnik — the world’s first artificial satellite — the New York Times identified U.S. education as the problem, because Soviet science students were better motivated and given more prestige. Scholastic Magazine chimed in by announcing a “classroom Cold War” with the Soviets. Indeed, within a few months a Gallup poll reported that 70% of respondents believed that U.S. high school students should become more educationally competitive with their Soviet counterparts! Well they did. And 12 quick years later an American stepped onto the Moon.

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, legitimate public concerns about the state of education will skyrocket because of anxiety over America’s ability to compete with the rest of the world in space and technology. And it’s already begun.

According to The Space Foundation, “The basic problem is that the U.S. education system is not producing students in quantity and at a level of achievement to be globally competitive.” This is because of “declining interest and achievement in the math, science, and technology subjects that are critical to the space industry.”

Due to a shortage of teachers prepared in science and math, the U.S. K-12 system produces a decline in the capability of our students in these crucial subjects. For example, 29% of 4th graders are rated as proficient in science and 39% were good in math. But by the time they reach 12th grade, students have declined to 23% proficient in math and 18% in science.

International comparisons for U.S. students are also uninspiring. In 2007, U.S. 8th grade math students ranked 9th after several asian countries (e.g., Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan), and 11th behind a similar group in science.

The impending retirement of Boomers fuels concerns about declines over the last 20 years in science and engineering B.S. graduates in the U.S.; even math and computer science graduates have remained only level during that time.

With or even without another Sputnik-style event in the next few years, concerns about the state of U.S. science, math, and engineering education will become more intense during the coming decade, possibly even reminiscent of one long wave ago in the 1950s.

2. President Obama is Creating the New Space Age — Another Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology
There is a political realignment taking place in the U.S. that began with President Obama’s election in 2008 and is continuing. It’s fundamentally about a return to prosperity. And while not always fully aware of it, President Obama is the prime motivator in America’s return to prosperity and leadership in the new Space Age. For details, see How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age.

Typically, during the twice-per-century upswings of the long economic wave and within a decade after a major financial panic (such as the Panic of 2008) and its major recession, we emerge into an ebullient, transformative decade known as a Maslow Window. Perhaps the most ebullient one followed the Panic of 1893 and was led by Theodore Roosevelt: the Peary/Panama Maslow Window from 1903 to 1913. But before that the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window produced the “technological jewel of the 18th century,” the Suez Canal, and the famous Lewis and Clark Maslow Window opened the Great Northwest to the world in 1805.

One key lesson of the last 200 years is: The Panic of 2008 supports our expectation that the next Maslow Window will open near 2015. So the key question becomes: How will Obama create the exceptional prosperity that is the hallmark of such Camelot-like times?

There are basically 2 options:

OPTION I: Obama becomes a 2-term President: He becomes the new John F. Kennedy without the Vietnam-style baggage of LBJ.
Historical/Economic Model: The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.
, or…

OPTION II: Obama becomes a 1-term president: He becomes the new Grover Cleveland (and possibly LBJ), and leads to a pro-prosperity Republican presidency.
Historical/Economic Model: The Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-13).

A Democratic Party insider on a cable TV news program recently admitted that either Obama will bring back the economy and be reelected, or he won’t and will become a one-term president. It’s that simple.

Obama’s record fall in the polls has been reflected in recent elections including the historical “Massachusetts Massacre” — referring to the election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s long-time Senate seat — according to liberal columnist Frank Rich (New York Times, 1/24/10) who worries that Obama’s “populist rhetoric” is not enough. And a February CNN poll reports that anti-incumbent fever is at an all-time high. Only 34% of voters think most members of Congress should be re-elected, and 52% do not think Obama deserves a second term. On August 21 Robert Gibbs said that Obama is “quite comfortable” with the idea that sticking to his agenda might make him a 1-termer. But polls show the political realignment is not all about Obama, it’s about prosperity.

Despite the fact that Mr. Obama is currently setting the stage for a robust, transformative new Space Age — e.g., triggering a new boom in commercial space, discouraging a questionable Moon race, rekindling Americans’ desire for prosperity — within the next 3-5 years, his presidential prospects remain uncertain.

Obama’s long wave timing and election circumstances (i.e., panic/recession) have more parallels with the 1893-1913 Peary/Panama Maslow Window — in which a 1-term Democrat (Grover Cleveland) was replaced by a pro-prosperity Republican — than with the 1949-1969 Apollo Maslow Window of John F. Kennedy. And Obama’s continuing challenges with high unemployment, record deficits, huge budgets, and Afghanistan, pose real dangers for him, although he is still capable of reversing course and being successful.

But whether Obama is a 1-termer or the new John F. Kennedy, he is still creating the new Space Age according to the trajectory of macroeconomic data and historical trends of the last 200 years; in fact, all realistic roads lead to a 2015 Maslow Window featuring another Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology, although wildcards are possible.

1. Potential Wildcards and the Bottomline for Space
The previous space-related trends –- based on macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200+ years — will strongly influence the human future in space during the 2010-2020 decade. However, other trends that are possible and important, but much harder to evaluate — the Wildcards — may also play a role, as they have in the past. Here are three.

A Major 2020s War:
Without exception, every Maslow Window of the last 200 years has been punctuated by a major war. A classic example is World War I that terminated the utopian ebullience of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window just as it was reaching its apex. The Apollo Moon program lost its last 3 planned Moon missions due to Vietnam, and might have been decimated if Vietnam had intensified just a few years earlier. Similar situations may occur in the 2020s, toward the end of the 2015 Maslow Window. If the expected 2020s major war occurs in the late 2020s, the Great Exploration and MEPs should be mature, but if it starts near 2020 or before, it might threaten the great Mars, Moon, or other space spectaculars possible in this decade. The exact timing of this Wildcard is unpredictable.

A Space Impactor Threatens Earth:
Sometime during this decade an Earth-crossing asteroid may be discovered that threatens Earth. Assuming there is time to react, this would trigger international planning — of the type currently advocated by Rusty Schweickart — and development of space systems and coordinated operations to deflect the object. This Wildcard would focus global attention on space, possibly lead to the development of a global space agency, and remind the world of the potential resource and exploration benefits of human settlement of the solar system. In short, it could be a very positive thing.

The Chinese and Russians Announce They Are Going to Mars Together:
Near 2014, in response to the booming global recovery, the Russians and Chinese announce plans for their joint manned mission to Mars during the 2015 Maslow Window. Because they are smart, they will do it the easy, safe, inexpensive way: Set up an initial manned outpost on the martian moon Phobos, because every two years it is easier to reach (energy-wise) than our Moon, and can process expected waters into propellants, as well as coordinate the scientific reconnaissance of Mars (using a huge fleet of small robotic surface rovers) in real-time from Mars orbit, with greater safety. If things go well, in a couple years they launch an unmanned mission carrying a Mars Lander to Phobos so they can send the first humans to the Mars surface whenever it’s convenient. This would be the natural outgrowth of their current collaboration on the anticipated joint China-Russia Phobos mission in 2011. While initially viewed as a Sputnik-like event by the U.S. and others, it might trigger a truly global approach to the human settlement of Mars.

In the powerfully ebullient environment of the 2015 Maslow Window — not seen since the 1960s Moon Race, the early 20th century “Panama-fever” of the Canal, the mid-19th century “manifest destiny” of the U.S., and the seminal exploits of Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago — almost anything is possible.

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