Feb 21 2012

Glenn’s 1962 Flight Points to a New International Space Age

Yesterday we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first American to orbit the Earth. On February 20, 1962, John Glenn carried the hopes of Americans with him as he did 3 revs, inspired the Australians in Perth to turn their lights on as he passed over them, survived a faulty sensor indicating his heat shield might be loose, and became a national hero at the level of Charles Lindbergh.

John Glenn and JFK (right) admire the Mercury capsule which Glenn rode into orbit in 1962.
Click

Earlier as a Marine pilot, Glenn completed the first transcontinental supersonic flight from California to New York in 3 hours 23 minutes. And in 1959 he became one of the original 7 NASA astronauts.

Glenn’s orbital flight in 1962 got the U.S. back ino the Space Race, but it came after 2 Soviet cosmonauts had already orbited in 1961. This international competition had been noted by Missiles and Rockets, The Missile/Space Weekly in their year-end editorial for December, 1961:

With still a long way to go, we now are back in the race with the Russians with the avowed intent of catching and passing them.

Eventually the U.S. did reach the Moon first (in 1969), but the irony of the current situation, where the U.S. must hitch a ride with the Russians to send its astronauts to the International Space Station, is not lost on Glenn:

Back in those days, one of the major driving forces in support of the program was the fact that we were in competition with the Soviets.

And yet here we are these 50 years later, (paying) 60-some million dollars per astronaut to go up there and back. And this is supposed to be the world’s greatest space-faring nation.

That part of how we’ve developed I don’t agree with at all. I don’t think the shuttle should have been canceled until we had a replacement for it.

The 1961-2 geopolitical chronology is amazing for its intensity and juxtaposition of several powerful wildcards and soon-to-be tipping points:
Click Geopolitical.Chron.1961.62

For example, the founding of the Peace Corps, the first human in space, and the Bay of Pigs invasion all occurred within about 6 weeks of each other. Within only 3 months of establishment of the Peace Corps the first American had gone into space, and JFK committed the U.S. to send men to the Moon and had offered to cooperate with the Soviets in a joint Moon program.

Six months after Glenn’s flight the Russians were building secret missile bases in Cuba which triggered the Cuban Mission Crisis in October, 1962. During this event Khruschev threatened a “world nuclear missile war.”

This type of rapid-fire, potentially threatening action is to be expected from a “critical state” after decades of self-organization of the international economic system. Something analogous to the early 1960s critical state — involving the Middle East, North Korea, and others — is apparently rippling through the world today.

Just as the 1960s Cold War led to the first Space Age, 200+ years of macroeconomic and technology development patterns suggest it’s likely the currently approaching “critical state” will trigger the new international Space Age.
CLICK: Are Stratfor’s “Generational Shifts” like “Falling Grains of Sand”?

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Apr 25 2010

Obama’s New Space Policy — An Encore!

My initial post on Obama’s new policy is visible here: Obama’s New Space Policy and the Spirit of Apollo

Frank Sowa’s insightful comments on my post are copied below for you, along with a few more of mine (in bold). Frank is CEO of The Xavier Group, Ltd. near Pittsburgh, PA. Along with first-American-to-orbit John Glenn, Frank is a graduate of Muskingum College in Ohio, and his interest in space was nurtured as a teen by his NASA engineer father who invented the J2H engine ablation system for the Saturn V Booster rockets. In the 1980s, Frank worked with Deke Slayton, one of the original NASA Mercury 7 astronauts, on the SSI commercial space payload concepts, and more recently with well-known futurist Marvin Cetron on DARPA, DoD, and other projects.

Here are Frank’s thoughts and a few more of mine (in bold):

Obama’s new space policy is not a ‘good one.’ While I somewhat disagree with Armstrong, Lovell, and Cernan — that is I do not believe “it is devastating.” I do believe it will have negative effects on the future viability of NASA as even “a premier space agency.” It certainly will lose its “superstar” status — probably within four years. In terms of policy, I think Obama sought a pragmatic middle ground that “saved” NASA as a “sustainable” agency with a “sustainable” future budget. The policy’s effects will limit NASA bureaucracy, and will support the political and media pundits who are chastising the US spending policies and deficits …

BC: Frank’s point about the “sustainability” of NASA relates to our great recession. Although many economists claim we are in for a slow recovery, I think it will probably be accelerated by U.S. political pressures that will be expressed later this year and in 2012. Not incidentally, that’s the pattern that occurred after the Panic of 1893 during the 1890s great recession. Their rapid turnaround led to possibly the most ebullient decade in U.S. history — the Peary/Panama/T.Roosevelt Maslow Window (1901-13) — and has implications for our prospects today.

Politicizing the decisions about the future of NASA, is much like politicizing the futures of the intelligence communities last year, and the cave-in to special interests on healthcare this year. They reflect on Obama and his administration poorly, but they DO get the job done, create incremental progress, and achieve some form of politically expedient compromise. The public sees little value in STEM, technological innovation, science, science literacy, etc. — much less space. That should be expected.

BC: The casual attitudes of some in the public today toward science and technology remind me of the mid-1950s before Sputnik. After the “shock of the century” the revitalization of science in the U.S. was immediate, including more money for all levels of education and the formation of NASA in 1958. Whether due to increasing cooperation in space with our international partners, or because of Apollo-like competition with others, it’s likely we’ll see a similar transition in the next 3 – 4 years.

Since Reagan, we’ve chosen as a nation to “refine and benchmark”, to “socially-engineer”, and to focus on brain-dead opinion polling rather than “exploring the unknown”, “seeking where no man had ventured before,” “truly exploring for the future of mankind.” We’ve dumbed-down our educational support systems by “trying to fix education” through a worn-out secular bureaucracy that performs best by never changing its precepts, challenging the given or status-quo, shaking things up instead of conforming, and championing new “out-of-the-box” thinking. We’ve bought into “supply-side” (voodoo) economics driven by finance, services, and consumption — as opposed to production, innovating to solve problems and meet demands, and using technology and the scientific method as the underpinnings of good growth. We’ve skewed capitalism to support me-ism and greed at the expense of people while peddling propaganda to say we were seeking an all-inclusive, kinder-gentler, less-violent society.

BC: Frank makes several strong points here, and these are typical of the negative long wave-related influences on society in the decades between Maslow Windows over the last 200 years (i.e., since Lewis and Clark). Another way to think of it is that since Reagan — in the context of great explorations and MEPs — the U.S. has experienced weak self organized criticality, and is only now moving toward a more fractal, self organized critical state characteristic of previous Maslow Windows (e.g., the 1960s), and expected again near 2015.

What does this mean to the new space policy?

It means we should no longer look to NASA as the driver of the US Space Program. NASA will continue to serve a policy role, and provide refinements on research to help facilitate private-sector and/or international options. It further means that all of NASA’s work and technologies since the 1950′s will be further divided between defense (national security) and civilian (sold to private sector contractors and interests), in sum — I believe NASA’s future will serve primarily as a policy-clearinghouse driven by legal eagles and acting much more in regulating US space like the FAA than exploring space as it had. This is sad and devastating to NASA’s Federal Labs, as well as to future governmental STEM employment that has much meaning. This won’t occur right away, but unless public opinion changes radically — it will be the normal view of and within NASA by 2030 …

BC: As Frank points out, if NASA’s trajectory remains as in Obama’s model, NASA will be dramatically changed. But big change for NASA at this time is not a surprise. Almost one long wave ago in 1958, NASA was formed from NACA to emphasize manned spaceflight (ultimately to the Moon). And today as we approach a new international space age, NASA should be expected to change again — most likely in the direction of more ISS-style international cooperation with a focus on human spaceflight into deep space (e.g., near-Earth asteroids, Moon, Phobos, Mars).

The US role in space if it accepts this tectonic shift in NASA’s role, and if the private-sector contractors that are domestically based are willing and able to take on the role of growing a domestic space program seeking and meeting long-term gains. The new US space program will be radically altered but may be bright. Will the private-sector live up to and take on this domestic challenge? It depends on how much we’ve dumbed down our society chasing short-term futures and “bling” at the expense of growing great through exploration. The odds are currently against a good outcome, but the same could have been said in the 60′s after JFK’s challenge. The scientists and engineers who want something good to be achieved will have to take on the responsibilities, as they did in the 60′s Space Race, to achieve beyond expectations. For those — “failure is not an option.”

BC: Frank is wise to see JFK’s Apollo Moon program as a positive analog, because 2015 is the portal to a similarly transformative decade in space and on Earth. Although it concerns me to hear canonical figures like Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan insist that it will take a decade before private industry can safely deliver astronauts to ISS and beyond, it’s likely that Obama will ultimately be remembered as the “father of commercial space”. In any case, the return of prosperity and the convergence of geopolitical forces within a few years will probably drive NASA back into the launch vehicle business sooner than most people expect.

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Mar 23 2010

“The Greatest International Space Project of All Time”

The European Space Agency’s online newsletter today notes that:

The International Space Station has won two prizes as the greatest international space project of all time. Aviation Week’s Laureate Award and the Collier Trophy are two of the most prestigious awards in the aerospace realm.

It’s simply the greatest of all time.
Click
.

On 17 March, Aviation Week magazine announced the winners of the 53rd Annual Laureate Awards, which recognise the extraordinary achievements of individuals and teams in aerospace, aviation and defence.

Aviation Week has honoured the International Space Station (ISS) programme managers: Pierre Jean, Canadian Space Agency; Bernardo Patti, ESA; Yoshiyuki Hasegawa, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Alexey Krasnov, Roscosmos; and Michael Suffredini, NASA.

The award is for “completing the project in 2009 with the addition of the last major modules (European-built Node-3 and Cupola) and the expansion of the crew to six. The ISS is arguably the signature engineering achievement of the last 60 years.

The last 60 years encompass the Apollo Moon program. If we limit it to international space projects I would agree, but if it refers to all space projects I’d still hold out for the Saturn V infrastructure, that delivered astronauts to the Moon in 1969, as the greatest. But forgive my quibbling: ISS is an extraordinary engineering achievement and points the way toward the unprecedented global space spectaculars expected during the 2015 Maslow Window.

The ISS has been also recognised by the National Aeronautic Association with the Robert J. Collier Trophy “for the design, development, and assembly of the world’s largest spacecraft, an orbiting laboratory that promises new discoveries for mankind and sets new standards for international cooperation in space.

By working together, partner agencies demonstrated that the station is as much an achievement in foreign relations as it is in aerospace engineering.

ISS’ importance as an engineering “miracle” is only equaled as a symbol of unparalleled international cooperation in space. It heralds a stunningly expansive and prosperous human future that could feature coordinated, global, human settlement of the solar system. (See: “A United, Global Effort for Long-Term Human Space Exploration?” — Why Not?)

Despite our justified superlatives about ISS’ extraordinary past and shining future, one question still lingers: Why has ISS — “the greatest international space project of all time” — not caught on with the American public … like Apollo did?

There has been no Apollo-style “Camelot” excitement associated with it. And history buffs know there has been no “Panama fever” as there was for the Canal, no “pole mania” like that for the intrepid discoverers of the north and south poles, nor anything like the mid-19th century “Manifest Destiny” feeling for the U.S.. (In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives came within one vote of canceling Space Station Freedom in 1993.)

So why no widespread American excitement for a program that truly deserves it?

This question involves an intriguing case study in the history of major technology projects and geopolitics. But in brief, ISS — plus two other spectacular MEPs, the Panama Canal and Apollo — illuminate the power of the long economic wave to enable — or to inhibit — great explorations and macro-engineering projects over the last 200 years.

Why did the Great Leaders de Lesseps and Reagan Both Fail?
By the time he began plans for the Panama Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps’ credentials as a great leader were already secure. He had created the “technological jewel” of the 19th century: The Suez Canal. He brought the same extraordinary ability to obtain and marshal resources, focus technology on an engineering challenge, and provide inspirational MEP leadership with him to Panama. It should have worked. But it didn’t. (See: 10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space.)

Likewise, President Ronald Reagan had it all. One of the most charismatic leaders in U.S. history, in 1984 he recognized a manned Earth orbit space station as “the next logical step” into space, and his judgment continues to be validated by the success of its descendant: the International Space Station. But not even Reagan could make Space Station Freedom materialize within a decade of his proposal. And surprisingly there is no mention of it in his official presidential library in Simi Valley, CA. Why didn’t it work for the president credited with winning the Cold War and who, while in Berlin in 1987, successfully issued the challenge, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (See: The Shocking Truth About the Father of the Space Station.)

Why did the Great Leaders Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy Both Succeed?
In 1907, perhaps the most ebullient president in U.S. history — Theodore Roosevelt — decided that construction of the Panama Canal was essential for the U.S. to become a true global power. It was completed in 1914. (In the same period TR also supported Adm. Peary’s discovery of the north pole, and became the first and only president ever to personally support both his era’s Great Exploration and its primary Macro-Engineering Project; by JFK’s time Apollo had, for the first time, unified the Great Exploration and MEP into one superproject: the Apollo program.)

Likewise, in 1962 President John F. Kennedy publicly announced that …

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win …

And only 7 years later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed at Tranquility Base.

What Was the Difference Between Success and Failure?
Given the famous leaders involved, it is unlikely that inadequate leadership or determination led to failure. In reality, neither de Lesseps nor Reagan actually failed; I have suggested previously that they were just somewhat ahead of their time. They initiated major plans and activities for MEPs during a downward portion of the long wave — a counter-ebullient time historically known to be antithetical to spectacular macro-projects. (See: The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age)

The initial Panama Canal phase was run by de Lesseps and began (in 1881) 22 years before the opening of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window in 1903, and only 4 years before the LW trough in 1885. Likewise, the initial ISS Phase was proposed by President Reagan in 1984, 31 years before the 2015 Maslow Window and a full 13 years before the LW trough in 1997.

Based on long wave considerations, it’s hard to say which project should have suffered most — de Lesseps’ Canal from the Victorian Long Depression or Reagan’s Station from economic weakness indicated by the Crash of 1987 — but both projects should have been DOA. And they were.

On the other hand, JFK’s Apollo program began during the greatest economic boom in history (up to that time) and TR’s Panama Canal likewise benefited from the stratospheric economic rebound from the Panic of 1893 and the 1890s great recession (a situation with parallels to today). Both projects were sensational successes, and due to perfect long wave timing and great leadership, they should have been.

However, the ISS recent phase began under President Bill Clinton (in 1993) 22 years before the 2015 Maslow Window and 4 years before the long wave trough — the identical long wave circumstances of de Lesseps’ initial Canal project; the one that failed!

With identical long wave circumstances, why did de Lesseps’ Canal project fail and the Clinton/Bush II Station succeed?

Globalization? The broad, robust international cooperation flavor of ISS is consistent with the post-WW II, and especially post-Cold War, trends toward increased globalization in technology and science. The space station has picked up momentum ever since it became international …

In short, ISS is both an extraordinary engineering and foreign policy accomplishment that is historically comparable to both the Saturn V and the Panama Canal.

And yet despite its success, ISS is anomalous because it hasn’t yet generated “Panama Fever” or Apollo-style ebullience! ISS has apparently been able to temporarily survive low public ebullience, by surfing on the accelerating wave of “globalization.”

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, it’s very likely that American and global public appreciation and excitement about ISS will greatly increase.

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Jan 31 2010

Does Obama’s New Space Policy Indicate He is JFK, Richard Nixon, or (god forbid) Grover Cleveland?

This is an elaboration of my recent post: “State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2010,” which appeared before Obama’s state of the union address. Reports that NASA’s Moon program will be discontinued raise questions about U.S. leadership in space. And much of the current chatter in blogs and news reports ignores long-term trends in the economy, geopolitics, and politics — that have governed large-scale technology and exploration projects for the last 200+ years — and thus presents a somewhat confused picture.

When will an American astronaut see this view — Earthrise from lunar orbit — again? Click

Florida Today reports today (1/30/10) that the adminstration will kill the Constellation program designed to send astronauts to the Moon by 2020, but still provide funds for development of a new Saturn V class launch vehicle, favored by the Augustine committee. According to Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida,

My concern is that if all that $6 billion goes just to commercial rockets, then that’s going to push the development of (a new NASA heavy-lift) rocket well into the next decade, and that just means we get behind China and Russia. I think they will announce on Monday (a research-and-development) program to develop the new (heavy-lift) rocket. I just hope that it is not a puny R-and-D development that will push us off well into the next decade before we have the new rocket.

Pushing the heavy lifter “well into the next decade” would not only help China and Russia get ahead in space, it would also push our luck with Maslow Window timing; i.e., the 2015 Window should extend to 2025 but is subject to wildcards. For example, imagine what would have happened if the Vietnam War had intensified a year or two earlier than 1968. We might have lost all of Apollo instead of just the last 3 missions (Apollo 18, 19, and 20).

NASA will reveal the details of its proposed budget Monday.

Is President Obama really “worse” than Richard Nixon?

On January 27, former NASA boss Mike Griffin asserted that President Nixon’s termination of the Apollo Moon program was “one of the most significant, yet strategically bankrupt, decisions in human history.” But that President Obama’s anticipated ending of human spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit is “even worse.” Despite the tens of thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians who lost their jobs in 1972 due to Nixon, at least he “left us with the Space Shuttle,” According to Griffin, Obama’s action would leave “NASA and the nation with no program, no plan, and no commitment to any human spaceflight program beyond that of today.”

Griffin believes that the nearly complete International Space Station will be held …

… hostage to the hope that presently nonexistent commercial spaceflight capability can be brought into being in a timely way. The president has chosen to recommend that the nation abandon its leadership on the space frontier.

While it’s tempting to assign Obama an even lower place in the space history hierarchy than Nixon, it’s not entirely justified and may be premature. We need to consider the long-term economic and political context. For example, Obama was elected during the Panic of 2008 and has had to contend with the current great recession. This anti-ebullient time plus Obama’s growing political difficulties make it difficult for him to support visionary space programs. And history shows this is not the time anyway. When prosperity and affluence-induced ebullience return, the next Maslow Window will appear to open almost automatically.

Is Obama the next John F. Kennedy?

Here at 21stCenturyWaves.com, we’ve been asking this question since before the election, and still believe it’s possible but is not without speedbumps. For example, in his National Review Online (1/29/20) column — “Obama is No JFK” — Jeffrey H. Anderson states that,

at a time when the president claims his focus is on jobs, scrapping these (Moon-related) programs — on which we’ve already spent nearly $10 billion — would cut public spending in one area that actually creates jobs.

You know those great pictures of Earth from outer space … No (astronaut) has seen that view since the Apollo program ended 38 years ago … Now, unless Congress rejects the president’s recommendations, the next people to see that view will likely be the Chinese.

Whether it’s tax cuts or defense spending; or whether it’s the courage, ambition, and sense of wonder that combine to lead great souls to great feats of exploration and discovery; one can surely say this much about Barack Obama: Mr. President, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

Again, these comments cry out for context. President Kennedy was fortunate to lead the nation during the greatest economic boom up to then. Plus the surprise launch of Sputnik (1957) by the Soviets mobilized the country into founding NASA (1958), revitalizing support for education, and providing a slam dunk in Congress for anything JFK wanted in space. Obama and the nation are experiencing a 180 from JFK’s 1960s-style Camelot. But a world-altering Sputnik-like event — especially within the next few years — cannot be ruled out.

Could Obama become another Grover Cleveland?

I include the Cleveland link above for all of us history-challenged Americans (and others) who may not have read the 24th (and 22nd, by the way) U.S. president’s biography lately. To make a long story short, Cleveland was basically a principled guy who got caught up in the vicissitudes of the financial Panic of 1893 and the 1890s great recession. His economic policies were ineffective, the people lost faith in him, and he was replaced by William McKinley 4 years later.

The point is that the Panic of 1893 and the 1890s great recession have real parallels with the Panic of 2008 and our current financial difficulties. In fact, our current economic trajectory seems to have more in common with the 1890s than with the (post-World War II boom) 1950s just prior to the Apollo Maslow Window.

If Obama cannot reverse his record 20 point approval rating collapse in 2010, he could become the next Grover Cleveland. Polls reveal the public’s growing concern with unemployment, government spending, and deficits, and show the economic challenges facing the president. The public wants to see light at the end of the financial tunnel; i.e., signs that the current recession will soon begin its transformation into the next major economic boom.

All this is consistent with the long-awaited 2015 Maslow Window being a golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology, as they all have been over the last 200+ years.

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Aug 07 2009

State of the Wave — Public Support For Space is Robust

Recent opinion polls suggest the American public’s support for the space program is remarkably resilient, especially considering the current global recession.

Gallup shows that public support for space has increased since 1979. Click gallup1.doc.

Just prior to Apollo 11′s 40th anniversary (July 10-12) Gallup found that 58% of respondents believe “the space program has brought enough benefits to justify its costs,” while only 28% did not. This number has increased since the late 1970s when, 10 years after the first Moon landing, only 41% agreed with Gallup’s statement; it was 47% in 1994 and increased to 55% in 1999.

This positive progression is what we’d expect as we approach the excitement of the 2015 Maslow Window, but it is especially impressive given that we’re apparently at the bottom of the worst global contraction since the Great Depression.

Dan Cano, a consultant and former political appointee in NASA, recently summarized the attitudes of many toward space costs (Space News 8/3/09),

While I fully appreciate that the international space station is a technological marvel and necessary steppingstone to learn how to live and work in space for longer trips to Mars than the Moon, it is not necessary and sufficient by itself. We need to be going somewhere. And when I hear that our nation cannot afford such journeys, I have to ask: Why can our government afford so many other things? Look at how little is spent in space exploration today compared to 40 years ago, and compare that investment and what the achievement meant to our nation and the world, even 40 years later.

Gallup also found that the fading memories of some Baby Boomers are not quite as fired up as the imaginations of those too young to have witnessed the Moon landing themselves. While 63% of those 18-49 think the space program’s costs are justified, only 53% of those 50 and over concur. Here we are beginning to see the support of 80 million Millennials (born 1980 to 1995) — who love technology and progress — for space.

Gallup’s July summary is revealing.

Americans remain broadly supportive of space exploration and government funding of it. In fact, Americans are somewhat more likely to believe the benefits of the space program justify its costs at the 40th anniversary of the moon landing than they were at the 10th, 25th, and 30th anniversaries.

Although support for keeping NASA funding at its present level or increasing it is lower now than it has been in the past, the fact that 6 in 10 Americans hold this view in the midst of a recession suggests the public is firmly committed to the space program.

This is particularly interesting in light of the Rasmussen 7/21/09 poll about a U.S. manned mission to Mars, in response to a proposal by Buzz Aldrin, where only 51% opposed it. It’s likely as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window and our current economic dstress subsides, that support for manned Mars will soar.

Today I received a comment from Chris in North Carolina that is characteristic of those somewhat unsure about our space program. I appreciate his sending it and wanted to share his comment and my response.

From Chris in North Carolina:

I think, if we can come through the problems we have now (like our over-reliance on fossil fuels), then we’ll have a chance of making meaningful progress in space sometime in the next century or so. It definitely won’t be 2020.

There’s only one thing we can say “definitely” about the future: It definitely cannot be predicted with certainty!

That’s why I use a technique based on 200+ years of global economic, technology, and political trends. When you see patterns popping up repeatedly over 2+ centuries you have to be impressed. The media and most commentators have us so saturated with ultra-short term thinking that it’s hard for most to identify with a long-term perspective — that’s one reason 21stCenturyWaves.com was created.

But I think you’ve got it a little backwards, we aren’t waiting to solve all our problems on Earth before we go into space; that’s like waiting until we get well before we go to the doctor!

In reality, we’re going into space to help solve our problems on Earth !! A very important point. Energy is a perfect example of how this will work.

It’s 2009. By 2025 — within 16 years or so of right now, based on the Maslow Windows on the past 200 years — we should have international bases on the Moon, solar power satellites near Earth, and maybe the first folks on Mars. But asserting this is like time-traveling back to 1953 and walking up to someone and saying, “Do you realize that in 16 years or so the first men will land on the Moon?” But of course it happened! And it’s getting ready to happen again for the same economic and psychological reasons it did before.

That’s why this website exists: To show how how these brief, but magnificent Maslow Windows originate and how they enable unprecedented exploration and technology programs that transform the world. And that it’s starting again, right now. Even our current global recession is a typical part of this picture; please check my archived posts on this topic.

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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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Jul 11 2009

Young People, Long Waves, and a Glimpse of Their Coming Space Age

Thanks to Aron Sora, a recent high school graduate who blogs at habitationintention.blogspot.com for his intriguing comment about his and other young people’s future:

I’m going to graduate from college in 2013, just in time for the Maslow window. I want to be an active participant in the next window … I just feel really lucky about my birth date since it will lead to me having a undergrad degree two years before the window or a doctoral degree about mid-way.

The next Maslow Window should open near 2015, and trigger a New Space Age for young people! Click mars_base.jpg.

1) Let me reiterate that there is every reason to believe that the 2015 Maslow Window will open approximately on time, based on the last 200 years of Maslow Window timings and current data. I’ll give a brief summary here with more to come soon.

U.S. unemployment recently reached 9.5% and the prediction market Intrade projects, at the 80% level (up from 50% in April), that it will surpass 10% by December, 2009. Although “casting doubt on prospects for the U.S. economy to soon rebound,” (Wall Street Journal, 7/3/09), this is still a long way from the devastating unemployment rates during the Great Depression (25% in 1933 to 17% in 1939).

Although Jeffrey Frankel, a Harvard economist, is “expecting the recovery to be a slow one,” (WSJ, 7/3/09), another Harvard economist — Robert Barro — who has examined data on recessions back to 1870 for the U.S. and 33 other countries, says there is only a 20% chance that our current crisis will result in a GDP decline of 10% or more (a major depression has 25% decline).

Akerloff and Shiller (2009) see current parallels with the Panic of 1893 and its major recession; e.g., “U.S. unemployment rose to 12.3% in 1894, peaked at 12.4% in 1897, and did not fall below 10% untill 1899.” However, the 1890s recession was followed by a time of “sustained prosperity” (Fischer, 1996) that we know of as the Peary/Panama Maslow Window (~1903-1913), one of the most ebullient decades in the history of the United States.

The fact that — over the last 200+ years — no Maslow Window has ever been delayed or in any observable way diminshed by a financial panic or recession, plus the special parallels with the “1893 to 1913 Panic – Recession – Maslow Window” experience , suggest the 2015 Maslow Window will open on time. (More to come in future posts.)

2) 1930 was a good birth year for future Apollo astronauts. What about the first Mars explorers?

It’s true. The entire Apollo 11 crew — Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins — was born in 1930, as were many others. An incomplete list includes Tom Stafford (Apollo 10), Pete Conrad (Apollo 12), Ed Mitchell (Apollo 14), Jim Irwin (Apollo 15), and John Young (Apollo 16), etc.

The irony is that they had to be born during the Great Depression to be chronologically positioned for the long wave as it ascended into the unparalleled economic boom of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window. These and most other Apollo astronauts were born about 40 years before they went to the Moon (1969-72).

Using this model, and assuming the 2015 Maslow Window will culminate near 2025, the Apollo astronaut analogs — possibly the first Mars explorers — were born near 1985; they’re called “Millennials.” They graduated from high school near 2002 and college near 2006; some will get PhDs soon.

Like their Apollo analogs, the Millennials are positioned for their approaching Maslow Window (near 2015) but have less in common with them than you might expect. For example,
a) the Millennials have not experienced a major international war as destructive as WW II or Vietnam, and
b) the Millennials are affected by the Panic of 2008 and the current major recession in the decade before their Maslow Window, which did not occur prior to the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

Thus it’s interesting that the Millennials’ general life experience, as we approach their Maslow Window during a major recession, may have some key elements more in common with the polar explorers of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window than with the Apollo explorers of the 1960s. Remember also that although pre-Maslow Window financial panic/recessions are the rule over the last 200 years, they are not required to produce a Maslow Window as shown by the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

3) When’s the best time to be born?

Many good things and bad things happen near peaks of the energy cycle, about a decade after the Maslow Window begins. The exact timing varies with the specific Maslow Window over the last 200 years but, in general, Maslow Windows are usually terminated by a rapid decline in the economy and/or a major war.

The biggest challenges will be experienced by young people who leave school and come into the world looking for their first real economic opportunity (i.e., job) near the culmination of the Maslow Window. That often occurs around the age of 20. So based on this Maslow Window model, a good rule of thumb is: Think twice about being born about 20 years before an energy cycle peak.

At the most vulnerable time in your professional life, you will be impacted by the abrupt end of a major economic boom and you may be caught up in a major war. Although many are able to “turn lemons into lemonade” you should be aware that these twice-per-century challenges can be formidable. Perhaps the worst aspect is that you’ll be too young to personally participate in the great explorations or MEPs of your Window. And after 10 years of watching them, when you finally are old enough to join the fun, it will all end. We’re talking here about people born between about 2000 and 2010 (they may not be reading this yet!), between 1945 and 1955, and between about 1888 and 1898 (also probably not reading this).

It’s much better to be 20 years or older as the Maslow Window begins. As you emerge into the economic world the long boom will be fully warmed up. Almost anything you do will be profitable. And the ebullience of the Maslow Window will make you feel like it will never end. Of course it always does in about 10 years, but by then you’ll be better established in your career and less vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune — of the economy and the world. Remember the Apollo astronauts were about 30 as their Maslow Window opened, and as more mature people go into space, even being 40+ might be OK; e.g., in 1971 Alan Shepard became the oldest person to walk on the Moon at 47, and in 1998 John Glenn became the oldest human to fly into space at 77. To optimally participate and prosper from the last 3 Maslow Windows (including the 2015 Window), it was best to be born between about 1975 – 2000, 1920 – 1945, and 1863 – 1888.

Although these rules of thumb are broadly consistent with the last 200 years of macroeconomic data and historical trends, they are only approximate and are subject to many exceptions. For example, if you were born during “sub-optimal times,” having supportive parents or being a resourceful person can make up for many challenges associated with the long wave.

But if you’re secretly holding out hope that the lessons of the last 200+ years regarding Maslow Windows and long waves will magically melt away, don’t bet on it. For example, the stunning MEP trio of the Panama Canal, Apollo program, and the International Space Station illustrate the power of the long wave. Amazingly, neither Ferdinand de Lesseps nor President Ronald Reagan — both brilliant leaders about 100 years apart — could make their MEPs materialize during unfavorable portions of the long wave. While Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and John Kennedy became heroes for successfully initiating the Panama Canal and Apollo program during their respective Maslow Windows. And even the Clinton/Bush ISS has recently become known as an “international marvel” as we approach another Maslow Window. The moral of the last 200+ years regarding great explorations and macro-engineering projects is: “great leaders help, but the economy rules.”

In any case, if you’re thinking about having kids this year, and plan to be supportive parents … go ahead!! The economic recovery should begin next year and, although it may be followed by a few years of sluggish growth, we should return to the rapid growth levels of 2007 relatively soon. The long-awaited 2015 Maslow Window will open on time. And remember, history shows that whether you do experience a financial panic/recession just before your Maslow Window (e.g., 1903-1913; or 2015-2025) or whether you don’t (e.g., 1959-1969), your Maslow Window will be spectacular.

As for Mr. Sora, who just graduated from high school and was born in 1991, he is a Millennial and is well chronologically positioned to be about 24 when the next Maslow Window begins. Nice birthdate Aron, work hard and enjoy your Maslow Window!

2 responses so far

Jul 05 2009

Buzz Aldrin — A Man For All Maslow Windows!

Special thanks to Eric Rybarczyk for his interesting emailed comments on Maslow Windows and for suggesting that I take a closer look at Buzz’ comments.

In addition to being the 2nd man to walk on the Moon in 1969, Dr. Buzz Aldrin is one of the most intelligent, energetic individuals you will ever meet, and recently, he became a “Man for All Maslow Windows!” Click buzz.jpg.

Congratulations to Buzz for his brilliant synthesis of a stunningly positive vision of the human future in space. In today’s world of major global recession, asymmetric conflict, and a brewing new Cold War, a positive vision is hugely important. As pointed out at the beginning of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window by Dutch sociologist Fred Polak in The Image of the Future,

The rise and fall of images of the future precedes or accompanies the rise and fall of cultures. As long as society’s image of the future is positive and flourishing, the flower of culture is in full blossom. Once the image of the future begins to decay and lose its vitality, however, the culture cannot long survive.

Although the details of his plan are certainly open for debate, Buzz — truly an icon of the 1960s — has provided us with an ebullient vision worthy of the 2015 Maslow Window.

The Maslow Window Model

About twice per century over the last 200+ years there are extraordinary pulses of great explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and macro-engineering projects (e.g., Panama Canal) that resonate around the world. These “Maslow Windows” are times of extraordinary affluence-induced ebullience similar to “animal spirits” theorized to drive business cycles by British economist John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s. In response to ebullience, many in society ascend Maslow’s Hierarchy and, as their world view expands, find that great explorations and MEPs are not only intriguing, but seem momentarily irresistible. This captivating, but short-lived ebullience is triggered by major, twice-per-century economic booms over the last 200+ years that were first described by Kondratieff in the 1920s.

Thus the classic ideas of Maslow, Keynes, and Kondratieff — synthesized into this Maslow Window model — can explain the transformative pulses of great explorations and MEPs over the last 200+ years, including our 1960s fascination with Apollo and its rapid demise in the early 1970s. This model also points to the 2015 Maslow Window as the most likely time that visions like Buzz Aldrin’s will to come to fruition and revitalize society.

The Phobos Connection

I first met Buzz Aldrin in the late 1980s at General Dynamics in San Diego. He would come down from LA to share ideas about manned Mars missions, and the morning briefings would usually culminate with lunch at a local restaurant. His interests centered on Earth-Mars Cyclers — a concept for routine interplanetary transportation that he was developing with JPL — and mine were in using Phobos and Deimos (moons of Mars) as service stations for interplanetary vehicles and as manned orbital science stations.

Buzz now advocates a manned station on Phobos by 2025 to “monitor and control the robots that will build the infrastructure on the Martian surface, in preparation for the first human visitors.” I suspect his Phobos thrust is partly driven by the Russian Phobos mission scheduled to be launched in October, 2009, but now possibly delayed 2 years. In any case, Buzz’ manned Phobos base (or even an international lunar base) is exactly what we need before the 2015 Maslow Window slams shut on or before 2025. If we cannot achieve a human outpost in deep space by that time, we could be trapped in Earth orbit as the global economy slides for decades to the long wave trough (e.g., like ~1975-1995) and eventually recovers for the next Maslow Window near 2070. Keep in mind that nobody’s been beyond Earth orbit since the last Apollo mission in 1972, and that could occur again after 2025 unless we begin to colonize space.

Instant Martians

Some may be surprised that Buzz suggests one-way missions as a way of jump-starting the colonization of Mars. In fact, during the 1960s, according to historian Matthew Hersch, competition with the Soviets for Moon firsts became so desperate that some suggested 1-way suicide missions, just so the first man on the Moon wouldn’t be a Soviet. But not surprisingly, NASA wasn’t interested.

However, Buzz isn’t suggesting 1-way Mars suicide missions, he’s advocating 1-way “pilgrim” missions. This makes more sense for Mars than the Moon because while it takes 3 days to get to the Moon, a manned Mars mission may take 3 years.

According to Buzz,

One-way tickets to Mars will make the missions technically easier and less expensive and get us there sooner. More importantly, they will ensure that our Martian outpost steadily grows as more homesteaders arrive.

Instead of explorers, one-way Mars travelers will be 21st-century pilgrims, pioneering a new way of life. It will take a special kind of person. Instead of the traditional pilot/ scientist/engineer, Martian homesteaders will be selected more for their personalities—flexible, inventive and determined in the face of unpredictability. In short, survivors.

Buzz’ Mars pilgrims would also have several other positive effects:
1) They would prevent the “Apollo-ization” of Mars. A dreaded effect that space advocates used to fret about where the “been there…done that” syndrome after a few landings would preclude our ever going back.
2) They would provide a planetary beachhead in space that would stimulate multi-decade plans for colonization of the Solar System even between Maslow Windows, when human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit has never occurred (see “The Phobos Connection” above). And…
3) They would provide an incentive to eventually develop interplanetary vehicles for routine transportation between Earth and Mars (e.g., Earth-Mars Cyclers) including the establishment of an interplanetary economy.

Going to Mars Together
I am on record for over 20 years as advocating an international approach to manned Mars missions, including even a specific macro-management concept for a global space agency (“Interspace”).

However, Buzz appears to be advocating a more-or-less U.S.-alone program for manned exploration of Mars, although he does propose an international program for the Moon.

This appears to contradict our spectacular foreign policy success with the International Space Station, known as an “international marvel.” As a major participant in the race to space during the Cold War, Buzz appears to favor an Apollo model for Mars over the more recent ISS experience. And there are fundamental differences between the two programs: Apollo was about space transportation and lunar exploration, while ISS is an Earth orbit MEP devoted to laboratory and space science. To be bluntly honest, the geopolitical impact of ISS is much lower than it was for Apollo.

As I’ve often written here and elsewhere, I would still like to see the U.S. achieve a “Grand Alliance for Space” with all other nations, including plenty of opportunities for cooperation and competition built in to the human expansion into the cosmos. But I have to admit, history doesn’t support such optimism. It isn’t just the story of the 1950s International Geophysical Year and the surprise Soviet launch of Sputnik, it also includes Amundsen’s deliberate deception of Scott so he could be the first to the South Pole in 1911. When the historical and/or geopolitical stakes are high, humans sometimes will deceive their competition to reach their goal first.
Near-Term Issues

Buzz has conceived a vision for the near-term human future in space that is thrilling and highly motivating, but it’s certainly not without issues. These include continuing Shuttle to 2015, abandoning lunar science to a commercial-only emphasis, human rating of Atlas V, canceling Ares I, China joining ISS, and several others.

These would have to be worked out, but Buzz’ basic idea is compelling. He believes that the next major space initiative should be Goal-oriented, not focused on Infrastructure. As in the days of Apollo, if we can agree on a compelling enough goal in space, the public support and required infrastructure will quickly follow. On the other hand, bureaucrats usually favor an infrastructure approach because it’s more like a regular government program.

However, the last 200 years — including especially the 1960s — suggest that things happen fast because Maslow Windows seem to open unexpectedly (unless you understand the Maslow Window model above) and evolve quickly. Indeed, Maslow Windows don’t leave much time for extensive infrastructure development and are subject to wildcards (e.g., Vietnam).

Buzz’ genius is to apply an Apollo model for a 21st Century Mars Initiative to a multipolar space world. It’s certainly more consistent with the typical ebullience exhibited during Maslow Windows of the last 200 years than working hard to repeat a 40-year-old space feat on the Moon.

Lunar commercial development begins, Mars is reached and colonization starts, and everybody gets to play. All by 2025. It’s exciting and historically realistic.

Sounds like a lot of fun!

3 responses so far

Jun 12 2009

Nereus, Mohole, Apollo and the New Race to Space

Last week the Nereus — an unmanned submersible — ebulliently plunged to the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench near Guam in the western Pacific (Baltimore Sun, 6/5/09; F. Roylance). At 35,761 feet below sea level (SL), the Deep’s more than a mile farther below SL than the summit of Mt. Everest is above it, and the weight of the overlying water produces pressures 1100 times those at SL — “like having the weight of 3 SUVs on your big toe.”

Does Nereus point to a new race to “inner space”? Click nereus3.doc.

Indeed, “the deepest ocean trenches are cold and dark and hostile places, visited by humans even less often than the surface of the Moon,” (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/3/09; S. Liewer). The last time the Deep’s frigid privacy was violated was in 1998 by a Japanese robotic craft, the Kaiko. But the ocean got its revenge in 2003 when Kaiko’s control cable snapped and it was lost. Although Nereus also has a cable, it can voluntarily separate from it and swim independently or float to the surface.

According to Andy Bowen, Nereus’ developer from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “With a robot like Nereus, we can now explore virtually anywhere in the ocean… I believe it marks the start of a new era in ocean exploration.”

Although Nereus is officially a scientific and engineering project, it’s also evidence of increasing “early ebullience” as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window. Despite the global recession, 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 itself (an “international marvel”), international plans for bases on the Moon. Widespread ebullience will fundamentally drive public interest in Apollo-style space spectaculars and MEPs and briefly become the dominant global zeitgeist from 2015 to 2025, as it did during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

Despite its ebullience, or maybe because of it (!), Nereus has its critics. For example, well-known deep ocean explorer Robert Ballard — best known for discovering the remains of the Titanic in 1985 — thinks that “reaching the bottom of the ocean isn’t worth the effort,” (San Diego U-T, 6/3/09), because other submersibles can already reach 95% of the ocean floor.

But Chris German, also of Woods Hole, offers an ebullient reply to Ballard, clearly reminiscent of past Apollo astronauts on the Moon, “It’s not just a matter of planting a flag and saying ‘Aren’t we clever?’…Going to the deepest parts of the ocean means there’s no place on Earth we can’t go,” (italics mine).

And although Bowen insists that the Nereus team doesn’t aim to break the depth record of the Trieste and Kaiko, in a revealing ebullient moment, Bowen admits that indeed “we may be looking for that extra meter.”

Project Mohole was supposed to be Earth Science’s answer to the Apollo Moon program. Click mohole.jpg.

Nereus reminds us that about one long wave ago, the ebullient race to “inner space” was closely linked to the race to outer space.

1960, January 23: The Trieste. Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh — the ocean’s most daring explorers — took the Trieste 35,813 feet straight down into the Challenger Deep. It was the first and only time that humans have made the trip. Bowen, Ballard, and others still regard the Trieste mission with awe (and a little envy)!

1961, March: Project Mohole. After this ebullient brainchild of Scripps Institute of Oceanography geophysicist Walter Munk — to drill through the crust to the upper mantle and return samples — was funded by National Science Foundation in 1958, the first test drills in spring, 1961 were very successful. Drill holes reached about 600 feet into the crust through a record 11,700 feet of water, off the west coast of Mexico.

Some ebullient geophysicists envision Project Mohole returning samples from the Earth’s mantle about the same time as Apollo astronauts arrive on the Moon. Mantle rocks and Moon rocks would provide clues to the origin of the Earth and Moon.

1961, April 9: President Kennedy Congratulates Mohole. The ebullient icon of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window admired the Mohole team: “The success of the drilling in almost 12,000 feet of water…and the penetration of the ocean crust… constitute a remarkable achievement and an historic landmark…” (New York Times, 4/9/61).

1961, May 25: JFK’s To the Moon Speech. Before a joint session of Congress, President Kennedy announces that the U.S. will send an astronaut to the Moon and return him safely before the end of the decade. He wants to “catch up to and overtake” the Soviet Union in the “space race.”

1966, April 19: Congress Cancels Mohole. Due to scientific debates, political controversy, and budget stress due to the Vietnam War, Congress voted to cut off funds for Project Mohole. It’s cost estimates had finally soared beyond $ 100 M. Project Mohole sadly became Project “No Hole.”

In his 1999 book, The Executive Decisionmaking Process, Ralph Sanders criticizes the leaders of Mohole for getting caught up in the ebullience of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, “The scientists argued that, just as in the space program, the U.S. engaged in a race with the Soviets for discovering new and important facts about the Earth’s geology.”

Sanders asserts that Mohole failed because its leadership should have been engineers and technologists (in the style of Apollo) — not Earth scientists, and that the scientists were focused on more ebullient, and less engineering-related questions like:

“Can ocean and geologic science improve the nation’s image?”
and
“Can U.S. science beat Soviet science in this important field?”

My point here is not to question the visionary brilliance of Munk, Hess, and others who conceived of Mohole, but to simply illustrate the power of ebullience during a Maslow Window on even the best scientific minds, as well as on society at-large.

1969, July 20: Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to step on the Moon.

By analogy with the Trieste, Mohole, and Apollo, it’s likely that Nereus may be a precursor of the 2015 Maslow Window, when oceans, energy, and other global interests will interact strongly with human expansion into the cosmos.

One response so far

May 18 2009

10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

The monumental Panama Canal was — prior to Apollo — the greatest Macro-Engineering Project (MEP) of the last 200 years. The Canal brought people together by splitting the continent, and in terms of cost, management, technology, and global significance, it has strong parallels with Apollo and the International Space Station (ISS), and offers us insight into our spectacular future.

The secrets of the Panama Canal reverberate through the last 100 years and — together with Apollo and the International Space Station — illuminate future Macro-Engineering Projects in space. Click panama.jpg.

Here are 10 Lessons the Panama Canal teaches us about the human future in space.

10. “The creation of a water passage across Panama was one of the supreme human achievements of all time,” according to ultra-historian David McCullough (1977), “…the culmination of a heroic dream of over four hundred years…It is a work of civilization.”

In Cordell (2006) I adopted the definition of an MEP from Eugene Ferguson (1916-2004), who was a well-known professor of engineering, a founding member and former president (1977-78) of the Society for the History of Technology, and a da Vinci Medalist (SHoT’s highest honor) in 1977. According to Ferguson, MEPs are: 1) at the state-of-the-art of technology for their time; 2) extremely expensive and usually large in size; and 3) sometimes practical in purpose, but often they are aimed at satisfying intangible needs of a spiritual or psychological nature and are highly inspiring.

This is a demanding definition that excludes many extraordinary projects like trans-continental railroads or large highway systems because, while expensive and significant, they do not stretch technology.

The Canal’s grandeur versus Apollo’s and ISS’ off-world technology, are tantalizingly suggestive of the unprecedented MEPs and great explorations that await us in the 2015 Maslow Window, as humanity’s expansion into the cosmos accelerates.

9. “The fifty miles between the oceans were among the hardest ever won by human effort and ingenuity,” (McCullough, 1977). The enormous sacrifice in human life — called a “great war” by President Theodore Roosevelt — was in excess of 27,000, including an estimated 22,000 during the French period (1881-1889) and 5,600 deaths during the American period between 1904-1914.

The threat of tropical diseases, land slides, railroad accidents, and premature dynamite explosions contributed to the extraordinary psychological stress for the workers. And while yellow fever crippled the French effort to build the Canal, the successful medical research of Drs. Carlos Finlay and Walter Reed aided the American project tremendously.

The modern and future world is indebted beyond words to the people who risked (and often lost) their lives working on the construction of the Panama Canal. They provide a profound inspiration to those currently engaged in the human expansion into the cosmos.

8. As of the early 20th century, the Panama Canal had the highest price tag of any construction project in U.S. history; indeed, it was the largest commitment ever of resources in peacetime for any nation. It cost the U.S. about $ 375 M — $ 8.3 B in 2008 dollars — over 10 years (i.e., the Peary/Panama Maslow Window). The Canal consumed only 0.10% of U.S. GDP during that time.

Although the Panama Canal was for transportation while Apollo was the first combined MEP and Great Exploration, and it was off-world, it’s still interesting to compare their costs. In today’s dollars Apollo cost close to $ 150 B, so Apollo was almost 20x as expensive as the Canal. However, a more meaningful comparison is as fraction of GDP. During the years of their programs, Apollo averaged about 0.25% of GDP compared to 0.10% for the Canal.

Comparison of Panama and Apollo suggest that MEPs during the 2015 Maslow Window will dwarf Apollo. For example,

A. INCREASING PUBLIC INTEREST IN MEPS: If this trend of an increase in GDP fraction allocated to MEPs continues (i.e., increase by 2-3x over Apollo), then coming MEPs would dwarf Apollo by corresponding factors. (This would imply that public support for MEPs in 2015+ would have increased over Apollo by as much as it did between Panama and Apollo.)
And,

B. BOOMING ECONOMIC GROWTH: Given the projected growth based on the last 200 years of macroeconomic data — i.e., by 2025, increase of GDP by 7x over 1969; as of 2008, GNP has increased 3.1x over 1969 –, it is reasonable to expect MEPs in the 2015 Maslow Window to dwarf Apollo by corresponding factors. (PLEASE NOTE: As they have over the last 200+ years, rhythmic twice-per-century major economic booms trigger the Maslow Window ebullience effects on society, which fundamentally drive public support for MEPs and Great Explorations.)

Socio-economic insights from the Panama/Apollo MEP experiences and macroeconomic data from the last 200 years, suggest near-future MEPs
(e.g., including planetary bases, space solar power sats, interplanetary transportation systems) during the 2015 Maslow Window will significantly dwarf Apollo by factors of from 7x to 20x — i.e., in the $ 1 T to $ 3 T ballpark (current USD).

7. Both the Panama Canal and Apollo Moon program were fundamentally about designing, constructing, and using major transportation systems in hostile environments, and their management and technology challenges have impressive parallels and lessons for the future.

The Panama Canal’s design and technology challenges centered around the location and type of canal, and construction operations. No one had ever built an enormous structure in a tropical environment that included mysterious, lethal diseases (e.g., yellow fever) and other natural hazards (e.g., climate, snakes). This led to large loss of life and contributed to eventual failure during the French period (see 9 above). However, by November, 1905 yellow fever had been eradicated in the Canal Zone by the Americans.

In the early 1880s, the French under de Lesseps decided to construct a sea-level canal based on their successful experience at Suez — the technological jewel of the 19th century. Although the American chief engineer, John Stevens, initially agreed with the French, soon after his arrival in Panama he insisted on a system of locks (e.g., Parker, 2007).

McCullough (1977) speculates that if de Lesseps had changed his plan from sea-level to locks in 1886, the French might have succeeded — and this invites an intriguing parallel with Apollo. Although locks increased the Canal’s complexity and risk, they also reduced its cost and accelerated its schedule. This is similar to NASA’s decision to use rendezvous in lunar orbit to deliver astronauts to the Moon; this likewise increased (operational) complexity and risk, but obviated the need to develop an even bigger, more expensive launch vehicle than the Saturn V (i.e., Nova).

During the American period management challenges included supervising 34,000 construction workers and dealing with the continual threats to their lives (e.g., from accidents), as well as the unparalleled engineering, financial, political, and schedule issues of construction. The Panama Canal construction was motivated and begun by President T. Roosevelt, who made the first trip of any sitting U.S. President outside the U.S., a trip to the Canal. However, President William Howard Taft provided the most active, hands-on participation over the longest period (4 years as president) for the Canal, and President Woodrow Wilson officiated at its opening in 1914. Nevertheless, Theodore Roosevelt is considered “the real builder” of the Panama Canal.

The Apollo Program’s design and technology challenges centered around space transportation and operations, and crew systems. They included: 1) delivering Max Faget’s Mercury capsule to Earth orbit using modified ICBMs (e.g. Atlas for John Glenn in 1962) and returning it using heat shields, 2) testing Buzz Aldrin’s orbital rendezvous techniques in Earth orbit in preparation for John Houbolt’s Lunar Orbit Rendezvous mission mode, and 3) using Wernher von Braun’s monumental Saturn V launch vehicle to send astronauts and hardware to the Moon.

During Apollo, NASA hired 400,000 people from about 20,000 companies and universities. NASA management was subject to two major influences that did not exist for Panama leaders: 1) the urgency of an actual race to the Moon with another superpower, and 2) the immediacy of live television news broadcasts that emphasized the national prestige and symbolic elements of Apollo. The Apollo Moon program was announced by President Kennedy in 1961 and is most closely associated with him. However, Apollo developed substantially under President Johnson, and the lunar landings (1969-72) were accomplished during President Nixon’s administration.

Even being situated within the major economic boom of a Maslow Window and having great leadership is no substitute for the required technologies, systems, and engineering designs. This preparation for the 2015 Maslow Window is currently ongoing by ISS, private entrepreneurs, national laboratories, and elsewhere. It’s highly likely that the management challenges of the 2015 Maslow Window will include close interaction with international partners in all phases of future MEPs.

6. Like Apollo, the Panama Canal vastly elevated American national prestige and was a direct result of international politics and conflicts.

In 1897, the U.S. acquired Hawaii as a US territory, and later as a result of the Spanish-American War, Spain sold the Philippines to the U.S.. Since the Philippines had previously declared their independence from Spain, these events emphasized the growing need for both a Pacific naval presence as well as an Atlantic one for the U.S. (Rohatyn, 2009).

“Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!”, an Alamo-like cry in response to the deaths of 266 US sailors while anchored in Havana Harbor, helped ignite the Spanish-American War. To replace the Maine, another battleship (USS Oregon) stationed on the Pacific coast rushed 14,700 miles around South America to Cuba — while Teddy Roosevelt, leader of the famous “Rough Riders”, vectored toward Cuban battle himself. Since the Oregon arrived at Cuba two months after war began, it didn’t require much abstract thinking for TR to recognize the Panama Canal’s potential strategic advantages.

Likewise, one long wave later, new President John F. Kennedy found himself embroiled in Cuban adventures early in the Apollo Maslow Window. The first was the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba (4/17/61), followed shortly by JFK’s inspirational May 17, 1961 speech announcing our goal to “land a man on the Moon, before this decade is out…” Even more threatening was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962 which almost triggered W.W. III. Both served to increase Soviet-U.S. tensions and intensify the competition and global political significance of the Space Race.

Many large, medium, and small space powers sense the international prestige associated with human space exploration of the Moon and planets, and intend to leverage the lessons of America’s history in this pursuit. New Maslow Windows have historically been times of increased international tensions and conflicts (e.g., the 1960s Cold War, the Spanish-American War), and it is likely such conflicts will arise again as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, possibly in connection with space. For example, Cuba has been a focal point during the last two Maslow Windows, and Stratfor suggests it may be again.

5. “To a visitor from Mars it must have seemed that the Western world in 1914 was on the brink of Utopia,” according to historians J. Harrison and R. Sullivan (1966). This pre-WW I zeitgeist was responsible for the Panama Canal, the North and South Pole expeditions, the Titanic, the ascent of President Theodore Roosevelt, and the ebullience of “Panama Fever” and “Pole mania.”

Historical accounts suggest that Teddy “Speak softly but carry a big stick!” Roosevelt may well have been the most ebullient U.S. President in the history of the country, and that the Peary/Panama Maslow Window may have been the most ebullient period in U.S. history.

In addition to his Canal initiative, T.R. was a major supporter of Adm. Robert Peary’s ebullient expeditions to the North Pole. Indeed, Roosevelt has the distinction of being the first and only President to have played major roles in both the major MEP and Great Exploration of his Maslow Window; by the 1960s, the MEP and GE had become integrated into a single project: President Kennedy’s Apollo program.

TR became the 26th President of the U.S. in 1901 while still 42 — currently the youngest person, including John F. Kennedy, to hold the presidency — and left the office in 1909, about five years before the Panama Canal opened, yet he is still known as the one who built the Canal.

The story of TR and the Panama Canal show the power of the long wave in history and for the future. Like JFK, TR appeared at the perfect time — as his Maslow Window was opening — when his ebullient personality and great leadership qualities could most benefit the U.S. and the world. According to Roosevelt himself, what was crucial for the Canal was that “somebody (namely himself) was prepared to act with decision,” (Parker, 2007). However, the last 200 years teach us that, Great leaders help, but the economy rules!

4. The Great Victorian Depression began with the collapse of the Vienna Stock Market on May 9, 1873 (the Panic of 1873) and rapidly spread to America. Also known as “The Long Depression” it continued until the late 1890s, and is considered by some to be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is in this financial context that the French under de Lesseps began work on the Panama Canal in 1881. By 1889 de Lesseps called it quits, their effort a victim of disease, inadequate technology, poor canal design, and not surprisingly, lack of money.

In 1873 the New York Stock Market closed for 10 days attempting to achieve stability, while almost 1/4 of all railroads went belly-up, businesses failed, unemployment reached an estimated 14% (in 1876), and credit crashed.

The power of the long wave is demonstrated by the MEP-related experiences of Kennedy, Roosevelt, and De Lesseps. Kennedy and Roosevelt initiated their MEPs during major economic booms in the decades prior to their long wave peaks (their Maslow Windows) and were successful. De Lesseps initiated his during a descending portion of the long wave and failed. Since TR succeeded in his Panama Canal effort while de Lesseps failed in the same endeavor, is it possible that we are seeing the effects of markedly superior leadership rather than the power of the long wave? For example, could TR have successfully initiated the Canal in 1935? Or could JFK have launched Apollo in 1985 and been successful? In fact, history illuminated this question in the 1980s (see next point).

3. The Panama Canal and the International Space Station are intriguing examples of MEPs that began at unfavorable times during the long wave and were soon discontinued, only to re-emerge later and achieve success. The goal here is to achieve insight into the relative importance of long wave timing versus great leadership, and any other factors that may be important.

For example, President Ronald Reagan first proposed Space Station Freedom in 1984 with an estimated cost of $ 8 B. As congressional support for SSF dwindled, the end of the Cold War led to SSF being included in the International Space Station plan in 1993 with an estimated cost of $ 17.4 B. ISS orbital assembly started in 1998 and will be completed in 2010 for an estimated $ 100 B, including development, assembly, and operations.

Although both the Canal and ISS went through 8-9 year initial phases that did not achieve success, both later re-emerged under “new management” and were successful. Let’s consider the long wave timing of the “initial” phases of the Canal and ISS.

The initial Panama Canal phase was run by de Lesseps and began (in 1881) 22 years before the opening of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window in 1903, and only 4 years before the LW trough in 1885. Likewise, the initial ISS Phase was proposed by President Reagan and began (in 1984) 31 years before the 2015 Maslow Window, a full 13 years before the LW trough in 1997.

Based on long wave considerations, it’s hard to say which project should have suffered most — de Lesseps’ Canal from the Victorian Depression or Reagan’s Station from economic weakness indicated by the Crash of 1987 — but both projects should have been DOA. And they were.

But a historically interesting question was also answered. Not even President Reagan — usually considered to be at least comparable in leadership and charisma to JFK and even TR — could make his MEP materialize in the decade after he proposed it, during a downward portion of the long wave. This suggests that any leadership and/or strategic deficiencies de Lesseps may have exhibited were not the deciding factor in his lack of success — because Reagan’s Station experience suggests that the long wave trumps great leadership.

The “final” phases of both projects are also interesting, because both were successful. I have already noted that, due to perfect long wave timing and his great leadership, TR’s Canal project should have been — and was — a success. However, the ISS final phase began under President Bill Clinton (in 1993) 22 years before the 2015 Maslow Window and 4 years before the long wave trough — the identical long wave circumstances of de Lesseps’ initial Canal project; the one that failed! (Is this a coincidence??)

With identical long wave circumstances, why did de Lesseps’ Canal project fail and the Clinton/Bush II Station succeed?

Globalization? The broad, robust international cooperation flavor of ISS is consistent with the post-WW II, and especially post-Cold War, trends toward increased globalization in technology and science. The space station has picked up momentum ever since it became international.

Although it has not yet had the global psychological impact of either Apollo or the Canal, ISS is regarded by its participants as an “international marvel.” And well it should be: It’s second only to Apollo as the most expensive human project in modern history, it was made by 16 countries (almost “everybody” but China), there are 1 million pounds of hardware in orbit, and over 100 elements and modules were assembled in space.

In short, ISS is both an extraordinary engineering and foreign policy accomplishment that is historically comparable to both the Saturn V and the Panama Canal.

And yet despite its success, ISS is anomalous because it hasn’t yet generated “Panama Fever” or Apollo-style ebullience! ISS has apparently been able to temporarily survive low public ebullience, by surfing on the accelerating wave of “globalization.”

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, it’s very likely that public appreciation and excitement about ISS will greatly increase.

2. In some ways, the Canal was the ultimate MEP of the last 200 years. Like the Apollo program (see point 6), it was an engineering marvel that required the coordination of huge numbers of people. In terms of ROI, the economic benefits of the Canal for seafaring commerce and strategic uses have been very significant over the last two long waves.

However, to increase the Canal’s capacity and deal with future competition — which now includes the Suez Canal — the Third Set of Locks Project was approved by Panamanians in a 2006 vote by an ebullient majority of 76.8%.

This Panama Canal expansion project will cost $ 5.25 B — about 75% of the original Canal cost — and will receive $ 2.5 B in international funding. Construction will generate thousands of jobs for Panamanians and should be complete by 2014, just in time for the 2015 Maslow Window. Major risks to the plan include finances and whether the traffic model of the business plan is realistic.

Panama recently elected a new president who’s committed to the Canal Expansion Project and continuing economic growth during the world recession. U.S.-educated, conservative Ricardo Martinelli — owner of Panama’s largest supermarket chain — was elected in a landslide with 61% of the vote. President-elect Martinelli’s landslide election is new evidence that “early ebullience” in Panama is continuing to accelerate as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window.

1. The Panama Canal is an immensely important MEP of the early 20th Century Maslow Window that — by itself and in comparison to Apollo and the International Space Station — continues to inform us of the relative importance of the long wave, great leadership, and globalization to the probable success of potential MEPs and Great Explorations during the next 20 years.

The Lessons include:

A. If an MEP starts during a Maslow Window (with wide-spread ebullience) and features a great leader, it will succeed. Examples include the Panama Canal with Teddy Roosevelt, and Apollo with John F. Kennedy.

B. If an MEP starts during the down going portion of the long wave (during a time of counter-ebullience), even with a great leader, it will probably fail. Examples include de Lesseps Panama Canal project, and Reagan’s Space Station.

A reasonable rule of thumb is: “Great leaders help, but the economy rules.”

However, If the conditions of Point B exist, but globalization is a significant factor, the program may survive and eventually even prosper as it approaches the next Maslow Window. The only example is ISS starting in 1993 under President Clinton.

By our definition, ISS is not yet officially an MEP because, although it is recognized by its participants as an “international marvel,” opinion polls indicate the U.S. public has embraced ISS only minimally.

This gives us empirically-based hope that — despite the evidence of the last 200 years — post-Maslow downturns in the long wave will not inevitably terminate spectacular Maslow Windows. And more specifically, that globalization has a significant role to play in mitigating counter-ebullient portions of the long wave for future multi-decade or multi-century space initiatives.

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