Archive for the 'Wave Guide 6: Entrepreneurs' Category

Jun 04 2014

New USC astronautics course “Human Spaceflight” for Fall 2014

Happy to announce that I’m teaching a new graduate course for the Department of Astronautical Engineering at USC this Fall on “Human Spaceflight.”

University of Southern California
New for FALL 2014ASTE 599, Human Spaceflight
Instructor: Dr. Bruce Cordell

Human spaceflight has become a dynamic international and commercial activity that promises to exceed even the 50-year old transformational space vision of President John F. Kennedy, which led to the first humans on the Moon in 1969. Engineers, scientists, and managers need to stay abreast of this arena as global needs and aspirations surge to new heights.

For example, the International Space Station has won approval from the White House and the International Partners (Russia, Japan, ESA, Canada) to extend operations to 2024. In 2012, the Dragon spacecraft (SpaceX) made history when it became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to ISS; Dragon is also designed to deliver crew.

In 2014, China became the first country in the 21st century to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. Human missions to its space station (Tiangong-1) since 2011 are well-known as are its plans to expand this human orbital infrastructure to the Moon. NASA continues with development of the Space Launch System, a heavy-lift vehicle that could support human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars, as could SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.

At USC in Fall Semester 2014, ASTE 599 Human Spaceflight will explore a variety of attractive systems and technologies used in current and future human space missions. This includes environmental control and life support, human factors and space environments, and crew accommodations. For missions to Earth orbit and beyond we’ll examine orbit selection and astrodynamics, as well as mission operations and safety, and communications. Applications will include launch vehicles and transfer vehicles, space stations, and surface bases.

For off-campus enrollment options:

No responses yet

May 26 2014

Bruce’s ISDC 2014 Presentation — The New Apollo-level Space Age

It was a pleasure to be an invited speaker at the recent meeting of the International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2014) of the National Space Society on May 15 in Los Angeles.

The Conference theme was A Space Renaissance, and my presentation — “The New Apollo-level Space Age” — was definitely in that spirit!

For the ppt version CLICK: ISDC.2014.Cordell.

The key points include:

1. A variety of long-term and current global indicators point to a new, international, Apollo-level Space Age (i.e., a Maslow Window) that is just around the corner.

2. Great Explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and the largest Macro Engineering Projects (e.g., Panama Canal) cluster together about twice-per-century during transformative JFK-style booms; the most recent was in the 1960s featuring Apollo.

3. During the booms, widespread real income gains result in momentary “ebullience” as many ascend Maslow’s Hierarchy; their expanded worldviews make Apollo-style initiatives seem almost irresistible.

4. An approaching “critical state” suggests the Maslow Window is imminent because of macroeconomic precursors, including the financial Panic of 2008, and increasing geopolitical stress points (e.g., Iran, North Korea) that could develop parallels with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

5. China’s recent soft-landing of a spacecraft on the Moon — the first in the 21st century — suggests we are within 1-3 years of a JFK-style economic boom that traditionally launches the unprecedented activities of the new technology and space renaissance.

For more information, CLICK: “The Maslow Window – Intro”

No responses yet

Apr 10 2013

New at “The Space Show” and in Space Policy journal

Dr. David Livingston has archived my recent (3/29/13) appearance on The Space Show at:

After introducing the Maslow Window concept I reviewed my annual summary of space-related trends which highlights the approach of the new international Space Age.

For example, the widespread excitement associated with Curiosity rover on Mars is reflected in a recent national poll on human Mars exploration by Explore Mars and Boeing.

This type of “early ebullience” — including that associated with Dennis Tito’s proposed 2018 manned free return mission to Mars — suggests the new Maslow Window is just around the corner.

Likewise, geopolitical and macroeconomic precursors also point to the near-term arrival of a 1960s-style “critical state.” For example, escalating conflicts in nuclearized North Korea and Iran remind us, in some ways, of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which played a role in accelerating the race to the Moon.

And the financial Panic of 2008 indicated we can expect the new Maslow Window to open by mid-decade; it’ll be triggered by a JFK-style boom powered by development of US energy resources and led by high-technology innovations, and will feature pent-up demand that you can’t believe.

Our new article — Economic rhythms, Maslow Windows and the new space frontier — happily written with my UT Dallas colleagues Kruti Dholakia-Lehenbauer and Euel Elliott, appeared in Volume 28, Issue 4 of the UK journal Space Policy and is available HERE. (The Preprint is HERE.)

Here is the Abstract:

This paper explores the possible relationship between space exploration and long swings in the economy and socio-technical systems. We posit that the early phases of long upswings are characterized by periods of optimism and the spirit of adventure that provided a motivation for large-scale explorations and other great infrastructure projects in the past. These Maslow Windows help us understand prior eras of exploration and cultural dynamism, and offer a hopeful scenario for space exploration in the next two decades. We offer some observations as to what the exploratory thrust might look like, including a return to the lunar surface combined with other activities. Of course, we also point out that the next great wave of space exploration will almost certainly have a much more international flavor than has heretofore been the case.

No responses yet

Mar 27 2013

Dennis Tito and the Essence of “Ebullience”

Dennis Tito wants to send humans to Mars, and he wants to do it before 2020, not in the misty, fuzzy future after 2030! Tito and other ebullient leaders point to a rapidly approaching 1960s-style “critical state” where unprecedented space adventures are just around the corner.

Tito is a world-class example of what we call “early ebullience.” And NASA agrees (2/27/13), “It’s a testament to the audacity of America’s commercial aerospace industry and the adventurous spirit of America’s citizen-explorers.”

“Ebullience” — a highly positive, almost giddy view of the future — is always associated with the approach of transformative, twice-per-century Maslow Windows over the last 200 years.

Although not seen since JFK and the 1960s Apollo Moon program, when Walter Cronkite predicted that after Apollo 11, “everything else that has happened in our time is going to be an asterisk,” this level of extraordinary excitement has been the fundamental driver of great explorations back to Lewis and Clark, as well as the largest macro-engineering projects, such as the Panama Canal and Apollo.

Tito is the former rocket scientist/businessman who ironically paid a hefty fee to the Russians for a ticket to the International Space Station back in 2001, when the U.S. was officially uninterested in fostering space tourism.

This time Tito wants to send a middle-aged married couple, who may have already have had children, on a 501 day mission to Mars using the free-return trajectory available in 2018. With no Mars landing or orbital goals, the mission costs less, is safer, and can be done sooner.

For you Apollo fans this would be like 1968’s Apollo 8 — the first human mission to the Moon’s vicinity — without the orbits, so the Tito mission is obviously not about Mars science. It’s operational focus is cruise science, which features the biggest remaining unknowns: i.e., the mental, physical, and social health of a Mars crew.

In my memory, the idea of using married couples on Mars missions goes back to a suggestion by sociologist Betty Halliwell, Ph.D. in the late 1980s. I remember seeing her paper in 1988 at NASA’s 2nd Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century in Houston. After 25 years, I located her and she promised to send me the paper so I could highlight it here.

But what’s really driving the quintessentially ebullient, 72-year-old Tito?

We have not sent humans beyond the Moon in more than 40 years. I’ve been waiting, and a lot of people my age have been waiting. And I think it’s time to put an end to that lapse.

This giant step in human expansion into the Cosmos “is very symbolic, and we need it to represent humanity with a man and woman.”

No responses yet

Feb 02 2013

Deep Space Industries Joins the New Gold Rush into Space

Last week Deep Space Industries of McLean, VA publicly announced their mission, as a new space company formed only six months earlier, to commercially develop the resources of space. They’re reminiscent of another new company, Planetary Resources of Seattle, that promised last April to also seek its fortune in the stars.

DSI believes it’s time “to begin harvesting the resources of space — including asteroids, sunlight, low gravity — both for their use in space and to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people of Earth.”

In August, 2008 I suggested that based on the last 200 years of macroeconomic trends and the history of exploration and technology development, that a “gold rush” into space was likely to emerge by 2015 as part of a 1960s-style transformative decade called a Maslow Window.

Click on “10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space.”

For example, 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/are fundamentally driven by twice-per-century JFK-style booms 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 next transformative 1960s-style decade is expected by mid-decade.

Importantly, both asteroid mining companies expect to be operating during the approaching Maslow Window (~2015 to 2025). For example, DSI’s public business plan features initial asteroid explorations using it’s off-the-shelf, cubesat-based systems (“Fireflies”) by 2015, while larger “Dragonflies” will do asteroid sample-returns in 2016.

They also speak of supporting Solar Power Satellites and human spaceflight to Mars by 2025.

There are, of course, great financial, scientific, technological and other risks associated with such an ambitious endeavor. For example, it might take years to identify commercial-level asteroid targets — not to mention the initial requirements for significant investor capital.

However, I was impressed with DSI’s vision, direction, and human resources. Indeed, one of my closest colleagues during General Dynamics days — Chris Cassell, Ph.D. — is a Founder of the company.

No responses yet

Jan 13 2013

A Visit to Spaceport America

What a great way to start the New Year with a peek at the future in space at Spaceport America just north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.

The Spaceport bills itself as: The world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport, designed to enable affordable, efficient and effective space access and unlock the potential of space for everyone.
(All images by Bruce Cordell on 1/6/2013.)

Designed, built, and operated by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, the $200+M Spaceport is home to the world’s first commercial passenger spaceline company, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

The word is that the first group — including Branson himself — of the several hundred aspiring future private astronauts who’ve booked their reservation with Virgin Galactic will be launched into suborbital space by the end of 2013.

Spaceport America provides some of the most spectacular evidence that we are indeed just around the corner from the next transformational, 1960s-style Maslow Window, expected by mid-decade.

This view to the east from the security station shows the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building — a 120,000 sq ft combined hangar and terminal — with the San Andres Mountains in the distance. White Sands National Monument and the Space History Museum in Alamogordo are to the southeast over this range.

Just north of the Gateway building is the Spaceport Operations Center dome.

We’ve pulled up to the front door and are looking north.

On the second floor of the Ops Center the “Eye” window allows us to survey all activities on the runway officially known as the “Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway,” visible to the east.

Here we look south to the Gateway building from inside the Ops Center (through the glass).

In this north view we’re experiencing breathtaking (!) speeds along the 10,000 foot runway. It’s currently being lengthened by about 2000 feet (too late for us!).

After Branson and his guests and crew land following their first trip into space, they’ll taxi back to the Gateway much like this (looking west).

This close-up of the Gateway building’s east side reveals the third-floor balcony where passengers and guests will gather to contemplate how life-altering it is to become a private astronaut and venture 100 km above the Earth!

At the end of our Spaceport America tour in front of the Gateway, we experienced a “reflective” moment ourselves (look closely below) …
… and realized that Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have the potential to not only trigger a quantum leap in commercial spaceflight all over the world, but to transform the state of New Mexico into a new, global center for space-related informal education and tourism.

With New Mexico’s impressive space-related assets and history (e.g., Alamogordo Space Museum, White Sands, Holloman AFB, NASA and NMSU facilities, VLA), expected hordes of tourists drawn to the Spaceport for a glimpse of the future, and world-class investors taking notice (e.g., Ted Turner’s major ranch nearby) — isn’t it possible we could see the birth of a new Disney-style space-related theme park in southern New Mexico to complement the anticipated success of Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America, and to celebrate our expansion into the new international Space Age?

Time will tell.

No responses yet

Jun 05 2012

Mars One: World-Class Ebullience and a Maslow-Friendly Schedule

According to the old Dutch saying: “God made the Earth but the Dutch made Holland.” And now a Netherlands-based group proposes to do it again, but this time on Mars.

“Mars One … seems to me to be the only way to fulfill dreams of mankind’s expansion into space,” according to 1999 Nobel physics winner Gerard ‘t Hooft.

Last week Mars One made public its intention to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2023! And to simplify the mission, lower program costs, and demonstrate their total commitment to the settlement of Mars, the Mars One astronauts do not intend to come back.

Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One, asks:

Who would be able to look away from an adventure such as this one? Who wouldn’t be compelled to watch, talk about, get involved in the biggest undertaking mankind has ever made?

This ebullient tone is echoed by Mars One team member physicist Arno Wielders who speaks of

…the need to make mankind a multi-planet species and because it is the most exciting project ever to be undertaken by humans.

This is the language of “ebullience” — a highly positive view of the future — always associated with the approach of Maslow Windows over the last 200 years.

Although not seen since the 1960s Apollo Moon program, this type of excitement has been the fundamental driver of great explorations back to Lewis and Clark, as well as the largest macro-engineering projects, such as the Panama Canal.

The recent kick-offs of two of the most exciting commercial projects of all time — asteroid mining by Planetary Resources and now the colonization of Mars by Mars One — support the forecast of that we are approaching another transformative, 1960s-style Maslow Window … by mid-decade.

For a brief survey of early ebullience as it erupts around the world today, Click: Did the New Space Age Begin This Week with Space Resources?

Mars One intends to finance its multi-billion dollar program by creating “the greatest media event ever,” — in essence leveraging the natural ebullience of this coming Maslow Window.

The entire world will be able to watch and help with decisions as the teams of settlers are selected, follow their extensive training and preparation for the mission and of course observe their settling on Mars once arrived. The emigrated astronauts will share their experiences with us as they build their new home, conduct experiments and explore Mars. The mission itself will provide us with invaluable scientific and social knowledge that will be accessible to everyone, not just an elite select few.

One of the most extraordinary aspects of Mars One is its schedule: the first 4 astronauts will be delivered to their new home on Mars by April, 2023. After that, every two years 4 more astronauts will join the group to form a sustainable extraterrestrial community.

To establish Club Mars by 2023 requires significant R&D and design work by their “Suppliers” which include Paragon and SpaceX (which just completed its historic mission to ISS).

According to their plan, the first actual mission will deliver supplies and a communications satellite to Mars in 2016, followed in 2018 by a large rover which will explore locations for the initial settlement. By 2020 the elements of the initial base will arrive and be ready for their first residents in 2023.

Compared to President Obama’s suggestion of manned Mars missions in the 2030s, the Mars One plan sounds accelerated, however President John F. Kennedy announced the Apollo program goal in 1961 and only 8 years later the first Moon landing occurred.

That was 40+ years ago and in addition to the six manned Moon landings, we have benefited from the Shuttle program, the International Space Station, and numerous robotic spacecraft studying Mars.

Importantly, the Mars One near-term schedule is compatible with persistent 200-year patterns in Maslow Window timing; i.e., assuming the next Maslow Window opens near 2015, it is unlikely to be viable beyond 2025.

For example, the Apollo Maslow Window opened in 1959 with Project Mercury (in response to the surprise launch of Sputnik) and slammed shut in 1970 when the last 3 Apollo Moon landing missions were canceled due to budget issues and the Vietnam War. How much more of Apollo would have been lost if Vietnam had intensified a few years earlier instead of when it did in 1968 (the Tet offensive)?

Because the “critical states” associated with Maslow Windows are short-lived and close abruptly, I suggested recently in Ad Astra that one solution is to establish self-sufficiency in deep space.

To avoid another 40 years trapped in Earth orbit, it’s important to establish human bases on the Moon and/or near Mars that can operate without frequent re-supply from Earth. This should be a high priority during the new international Space Age because of the window’s likely short lifetime.

If fund development for Mars One proceeds as planned, their schedule is Maslow-friendly. However, if it slips appreciably their program could be threatened.

One of the lessons of the last 200+ years of great explorations (e.g., the Apollo experience) is that counter-ebullient attitudes begin to appear midway into a Maslow Window. So after 2020, fund development, even for a continuing program like Mars One, is likely to become more difficult than before.

One response so far

Apr 26 2012

Did the New Space Age Begin This Week with Planetary Resources?

The world changed this week.

Planetary Resources (PR) finally announced their intent to create a “gold rush” to the asteroids, for both water and platinum group metals. The water will fuel an interplanetary highway and the precious metals will create prosperity on Earth.

Like the California Gold Rush ~150 years ago, a new asteroid “gold rush” may change the world.

Never before has a technologically sophisticated and well-capitalized private group publicly announced their intention to mine the riches of space!

It appears the world took a giant step, at least symbolically, toward the new international Space Age, and the long-anticipated, 1960s-style Maslow Window.

Regardless of their ultimate success or failure, no group in recent memory has provided a more world-class display of ebullience — an exceptionally positive view of the future — than PR’s leaders this week.

For example, co-founder Peter Diamandis exclaimed that they intend to create “abundance” (also the title of his new book) on Earth, while co-founder Eric Anderson indicated that this “seminal event…is fun!” and that their goals are “so audacious, we may fail.” Technology chief, Chris Lewicki concurred that the innovations required would be “bold, crazy!”

This is the language of ebullience that historically signals the rapid approach of a new golden age in technology, exploration, and prosperity.

For example, two centuries ago during their Maslow Window, not only Lewis and Clark but Thomas Jefferson himself was overwhelmed by the ebullient thrill of discovery and opened up the American northwest. Half a century later, during the mid-19th century Maslow Window, the California Gold Rush drew many ebullient people to the new frontier. Today’s proposal of an asteroid “gold rush” by PR displays an eerily similar historical rhythm and ebullient style with the Apollo Moon program of the 1960s.

Despite continuing economic challenges, early ebullience is evident around the world today — e.g., booming Antarctic tourism, architectural projects such as the Shanghai Tower, the Panama Canal Expansion Project, Spaceport America and the birth of the space tourism industry, the International Space Station (an “international marvel”), international plans for bases on the Moon., and most recently, the stunning deep ocean adventures of James Cameron, also a featured PR investor and team member.

However, the PR crew indicated clearly that initially there are no humans in this vision (except on the ground) and this is definitely not a JFK-like thrust featuring humans to the Moon or Mars. Indeed Lewicki specifically cited Failure is Not an Option — the famous book title by Apollo-era flight controller Gene Kranz — as an outmoded notion for PR because of redundancies provided by robotic convoys.

This is a totally unprecedented type of space program whose fundamental goal is to shower the Earth with precious metals … and eventually provide greater access to space.

It’s easy to attack the boldness of this group, and their presentation did (self-admittedly) have a sophisticated infomercial feel to it — i.e., they are looking for new investors and engineers.

However win or lose, Planetary Resources will stimulate a cascade of other visionary leaders, investors, and even governments to think and act seriously about near-term opportunities in space.

That’s how the new, international Space Age begins.

2 responses so far

Apr 15 2011

Yuri Gargarin and the Coming Golden Age of Commercial Space

Congratulations to Yuri Gargarin’s family and friends, and the Russians for their magnificent achievement on April 12, 1961, when Gargarin (1934 -1968) became the first human to venture beyond Earth’s armosphere into outer space.

Cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin was the first human to go into space, and so began the Modern Age in the early 1960s.

It’s hard to overstate its significance. The Wall Street Journal (4/12/11) called it

the start of the modern age … that astonished the world.

In the framework of, this transformative event is a spectacular slam dunk: It kicked off the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window in grand style. Indeed, its singular importance and precise timing was one of the key factors that initially suggested to us the existence of Maslow Windows.

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window — by analogy with Gargarin’s start of the “Modern Age” almost one long wave ago, and similar rhythmic, twice-per-century epochal events over the last 200+ years — we expect to enter a new Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology at least comparable to the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

In addition to a Grand Alliance for Space , the new Space Age may also feature a commercial race to space!

For example, Clara Moskowitz (, 4/11/11) suggests that space tourism may be the ticket.

Fifty years after the Soviet Union beat the United States to send the first human into space, a new space race is heating up. This time, the players are not nations — rather, they’re commercial companies that aim to send the first paying passengers to space on private spaceships.

In an impressive demonstration of early ebullience, George Whitesides of British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic , agrees that we’re approaching a new Golden Age.

I really believe that we’re at the edge of an extraordinary period of innovation which will radically change our world.

For $200 K per person you can join over 400 others who have reserved their suborbital adventure into space (about 100 km up). Virgin Galactic says regular tourist launches will begin in 2012; Branson and his family intend to be on the first one.

If you’d like a career flying tourists to the edge of space as a Pilot – Astronaut during the new Space Age, Branson is hiring right now.

No responses yet

Feb 27 2011

Commercialization of the Moon — How Soon and Who?

The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (Vol. 63, No. 2, 2010) highlights a fresh perspective on near-term lunar development. In fact, the authors assert that

Action taken in the next few years can lead to the gradual, steady expansion of commercial, market-based activity on the Moon and in the neighborhood between the Earth and the Moon.

How soon will lunar hotels accommodate serious fun-seekers from Earth?
Click .

Economists Wei Lin (Xiamen Univ., China) and Kruti Dholakia and Euel Elliott (both of UT at Dallas) imagine a bright future for international development of the Moon — potentially including lunar resources, human colonization, space-based solar power, asteroid mining, fusion energy — but wisely counsel that such endeavors,

…require a long-term perspective.

This is good advice, not only because of their multi-century timeline — 2020 to 2150 — estimated from NASA and other sources, but because of predictable long-term economic trends as well as wildcards.

For example, they list 2020-2030 as the time when human flights resume to the Moon and scientific explorations expand. But the first permanent lunar base (including first colonization and in situ resource use) dos not occur until after 2030 (-2050).

This creates a potentially serous timing issue because the 2015 Maslow Window is likely to end abuptly by the mid-2020s due to long-term economic and geopolitical forces. The last time this happened was in the late 1960s when 3 Apollo Moon missions were canceled by President Nixon in response to

…budget exigencies during a time of rising domestic turmoil over the Vietnam War…

Unfortunately, over the last 200+ years (back to Lewis and Clark), this is the typical pattern for termination of an Apollo-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology: a rapid economic downturn accompanied by a major, international war.

Every effort should be made to accelerate initial colonization activities on the Moon. Because unless a human outpost can be established in deep space (i.e., a Moonbase or Mars system colony) by the early-to-mid 2020s, we risk being trapped in LEO for several decades after 2025, like we have been since 1972.

Citing the International Space Station as an admirable model for international cooperation in space, and the continuing effects of the 2008-10 financial crisis, the authors suggest that,

Rising powers like China and India are seemingly well placed to assume a more prominent role given their growth rates and their ability to weather the economic crisis compared to the West.

For example, China is apparently moving ahead with landing humans on the Moon by the early 2020s. And while the authors neglect the stunning global boom expected near 2015, they do suggest an intriguing “paradigm shift” regarding the increasing fraction of commercial versus government (as during the 1960s Cold War) activities in 21st century space.

Whether our next “Sputnik Moment” will be triggered by expanding international commercial activities in space rather than a 1960s-stye geopolitical compettion acted out in space, is not clear. But it will likely begin with smaller Sputnik Moments in education, international economics, and in military technology that are already taking shape.

No responses yet

Next »