Mar 04 2012

Readers’ Favorite Posts — February, 2012

SPECIAL NOTE: Be sure to look for my new article in Ad Astra (Spring, 2012): “A New Apollo-Level Space Age.”

This is an updated end-of-February list of our readers’ favorite posts, based on the number of times each post was visited during the times indicated below.

Timeframes of the readers’ lists below are: I) Favorites during February, and II) Favorites during the Last 7 days.

To see readers’ favorite posts for each previous month, click HERE.

The lists below give only the top 5 favorites in each category in order of reader preference.
All posts below are clickable and their publishing dates are given.

Updated 3/1/2012

I. FEBRUARY — Readers’ Favorites

1) Are Stratfor’s “Generational Shifts” Like “Falling Grains of Sand”? — 2/13/12
2) Parallels Between Presidents Truman and Bush Provide Insights into the Future — 4/15/10
3) Phobos — The Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia and China! — 3/27/10
4) Long-Term Stock Trends Support Maslow Window Forecasts — 11/3/11
5) State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2012 — 1/10/12

II. THE LAST 7 DAYS — Readers’ Favorites

1) Foreign Affairs Features the Case for Space — 2/27/12
2) The Moon is Not Enough…! — 11/22/08
3) Long-Term Stock Trends Suppport Maslow Window Forecasts — 11/3/11
4) The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space Age — 10/30/10
5) Parallels Between Presidents Truman and Bush Provide Insights into the Future — 4/15/10

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Jan 01 2012

Happy New Year and The Top 10 for 2011

Happy New Year!

PLEASE NOTE: This year’s “State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2012” will be appearing very soon! (See #9 below for 2011 trends.)

Also, be sure to catch Bruce on The Space Show on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.

Here is the Top 10 for 2011:
This is a special updated New Year’s edition of our readers’ favorite posts, based on the number of times each post was visited during 2011.

To see readers’ favorite posts for each previous month, click HERE.

The lists below give the top favorites in order of reader preference. All posts below are clickable and their publishing dates are given.

Updated 1/1/2012

THE LAST 365 DAYS (2011) — Readers’ Favorites

1) 10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space — 5/18/09
2) The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space Age — 10/30/10
3) The Moon is Not Enough…! — 11/22/08
4) Phobos: The Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia and China! — 3/27/10
5) Kepler, Watson, and Gott Point to the Rare Earth Hypothesis — 3/20/11
6) Happy Fourth of July — Independence Day! — …and Readers’ Favorite Posts — June, 2010 — 7/4/10
7) AIAA — Analyst Predicts New Space Age Coming Soon — 6/30/11
8 ) State of the Wave: Today’s Gloom & Doom, and the 2015 Boom — 8/29/10
9) State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2011 — 1/23/11
10) Standard Chartered Bank’s “New Super-Cycle” Points to the New Apollo-Style Space Age — 3/5/11

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Apr 02 2011

State of the Wave: The Maslow Window — A Brief Intro

This is a brief introduction to the Maslow Window model that forecasts another transformative, 1960s-style “golden age” to begin by 2015. (Just click on the titles below.) Keep in mind that on the Blogroll, posts are archived according to Category, publishing date, and keywords.

Future updates of this post will be archived as a Page. Click HERE.

What follows is NOT a complete list of relevant posts, merely a few key ones to get you started.

A good place to start is The Concept page.

Economic Growth — A Brief 21stCenturyWaves Perspective

Economic Booms and Apollo-style Exploration: How Soon the 40-Year Moon Hiatus Will End

Joseph Friedlander’s view of Maslow Windows at

Trends and Forecasts
State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2011

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

Ebullience and Animal Spirits are the Drivers
Are Great Explorations Driven by Keynesian “Animal Spirits” on Steroids?

The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age

Is Booming Antarctic Tourism a Prelude to Earth Orbit and the Moon?

State of the Wave: Why No One’s Been to the Moon in 40 years — How Soon We’ll Go Again

Economic Growth is the Trigger
Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts

200 Years of GDP Trends Support a Near-Term, New Space Age

Standard Chartered Bank’s “New Super-Cycle” Points to the New Apollo-Style Space Age

Prosperity: A Technological and a Moral Imperative

The Coming Great Boom
State of the Wave — The Recession and the Next Race to Space

State of the Wave: Today’s Gloom & Doom, and the 2015 Boom

Stratfor’s George Friedman Likes Space-Based Solar Power in “The Next Decade”

“The Greatest Era in the History of Mankind”

Sketches of Each Maslow Window
1960s Apollo Maslow Window…
“The Liberal Hour” Supports Maslow Window Model and Points to the Approaching Greatest Boom in History

The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window was “Transformative”

Early 20th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Peary & Amundsen Teach Us About the Human Future in Space

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

Mid-19th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Dr. Livingstone (“…I presume?”) Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience

Early 19th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space

Maslow Windows as a “Critical State”
Why Humans Became #1 and How Technology and Sex Lead to Unprecedented Prosperity

Niall Ferguson — On the Edge of Chaos, Immersed in the Long Wave

Space: The Fractal Frontier — How Complexity Drives Exploration

Political Waves — Past and Present
How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age

A Major Economic Boom by 2015? … The Lessons of Cleveland, Roosevelt, and Obama

Historic, Wave Election Supports Forecasts

Key Space Policy Issues
Is the Moon a “Golden Oldie” or a “One Hit Wonder”?

The Shocking Truth About the Father of the Space Station

The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space age

Commercialization of the Moon — How Soon and Who?

“A United, Global Effort for Long-Term Human Space Exploration?” — Why Not?

Precursors Point to the New Space Age

China’s Recent Educational Quantum Leap Triggers a “Sputnik Moment”

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

Facebook-Aided Arab Uprisings & Their Historical Parallels Signal a Transformative Future

Korea, Iran, and the Venezuela Missile Crisis: Self-Organizing Toward a Critical State?

China Surges to #2 and Contemplates More Freedom: The Implications for Space

Xunantunich and the Large Hadron Collider Support Maslow Window Forecasts

State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage

Phobos, Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia, China

Major Wars Threaten Future Space Initiatives

Asteroid Threats — Rusty’s Call for A Global Response

One More Thought…
In the powerfully ebullient environment of the 2015 Maslow Window — not seen since the 1960s Moon Race, the early 20th century “Panama-fever” (of the Canal) and “Pole-Mania” (of the N & S polar explorers), the mid-19th century “Manifest Destiny” of the U.S., and the seminal exploits of Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago — almost anything is possible.

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Jan 07 2011

NASA Comments on Phobos and “Space Sustainability”

This interesting Comment by Dave Huntsman of NASA is in reference to my Space News (9/6/10) commentary on “Phobos, Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia, China”.

Dave Huntsman has 35 years with NASA, including 10 years as a Senior Executive, and is with the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA HQ in Washington, D.C.

Dave Huntsman
2011/01/07 at 7:00 pm

Bruce, just re-read your article as I’m being forced to clean out my office and am re-reading Space News’ before throwing them out. Good writeup.

Within the agency we have a small but active group who tries to come up with non-standard ways of doing missions in a way that adds to space sustainability; to that end we’ve formed an Emerging Commercial Space Team with a couple of working groups, including a Beyond LEO/Lunar/NEO working group. I mention this in passing since your past work studying Phobos/NEO (I put them in the same category)-related propellant resource issues is something we tend to be interested in as well. We try to look at things with an eye towards making things economically sustainable, so that we can continue to go into space – to stay. In that, I agree that Phobos et al is much more on any type of critical path towards space sustainability than the surface of Mars is (not that going to Mars has never been far from my mind, either).

My Reply follows:
Hi Dave,
Thanks for your comment.

Coincidentally, today I had lunch in Orange County with Fred Singer who led our Phobos/Deimos Workshop at the Case for Mars III Conference in 1987.

When I joined General Dynamics in the 1980s, I got very excited about the Mars system in terms of its potential for economic sustainability. My initial idea was to retrieve water from Phobos/Deimos to the Earth-Moon system for use in NASA and/or DoD Earth orbit missions, or even on the Moon (before we knew it had some water). Even that ambitious scenario looked good, and we were funded by the GD Corporation (in addition to the San Diego Space Division).

I think the success or failure of the Phobos-Grunt mission will be a near-term fork in the road for human spacelight beyond LEO. If Russia and China can pull it off, I think they will consider sending humans to Phobos as a key step in Mars colonization. Although Buzz Aldrin — a big Phobos fan — told me last summer that he’s not as convinced as I am about this, I think it’s likely Russia and China might be tempted to join with NASA (and others) in this great exploration after 2015.

Best regards,

One response so far

Sep 08 2010

Bruce’s Commentary is in Space News this Week

My Commentary, “Phobos, Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia, China” appears in Space News this week (9/6/10). (See also The Articles.)

This piece follows-up on my decade space forecast of 6 months ago. I suggested that Russia and China may decide to expand their Phobos-Grunt experience (assuming it’s successful) into a joint manned Mars exploration initiative after 2015 focused initially on Phobos.

A few of my friends in the space business have interpreted this as a suggestion that we should bypass the Moon and head to Mars.

Two things: 1) I have always been very excited about the potential for expanding human civilization to Mars, but 2) my Space News piece does not advocate skipping the Moon.

The Moon is so close and has so much scientific, resource, and commercial potential that humans will want to develop it, near-term. But the smart road to Mars colonization does go through Phobos. And as the new International Space Age gains momentum after 2015, we may ebulliently decide to do both.

Thanks to Warren Ferster, Editor in Chief of Space News, for his interest in the Commentary, and also to Todd Windsor, Copy Chief of SN, for the cool look he gave it.

2 responses so far

Mar 27 2010

Phobos — The Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia and China!

If you haven’t gotten excited about Phobos recently, you should! Europe’s Mars Express will approach within a mere 3000 km of Phobos a few hundred times during the next two years.

Mars Express will measure Phobos’ mineral composition, probe its subsurface with a radar/altimeter, and study its plasma environment. Plus high resolution images will provide the first global map of the potato-shaped moon.

In a recent spectacular Mars Express image, Phobos reminds us that the top 3 attributes of any real estate are 1) location, 2) location, and 3) location.

It’s treasured proximity to Mars and its asteroid-like, milli-g surface combine to make Phobos a unique world. In fact, for those who aspire to exploration beyond the Earth-Moon system, Phobos is the “key to the cosmos”! This is because — every two years — a launch window makes Phobos easier to reach (energy-wise) than the surface of our own Moon.

In my recent decade-forecast post (DecaState of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020), I suggested that Russia and China might surprise the world during the 2015 Maslow Window by jointly establishing a manned outpost on Phobos, as a safe, inexpensive, and smart first step toward their colonization of Mars.

This idea is supported by the impressive space activities and capabilities of Russia and China and would be a logical outgrowth of their planned joint robotic mission to Phobos. The Phobos-Grunt mission is to be launched in late 2011 or 2012 and would collect samples from Phobos and return them to Earth for analysis; i.e., the first-ever attempt at a sample return from the Mars system. (See: China & Russia Take the Smart Road to Mars)

Russia and China appear to be on a path similar to one sketched by those of us at the first Phobos/Deimos Mission Workshop (chaired by S. Fred Singer) during The Case For Mars III conference in 1987 (see Cordell (1989) AAS 87-277, pp. 601). Our first recommendation was:

An unmanned sample return mission to Phobos/Deimos should be studied and executed before the end of the 1990s. A sample return is essential to both our scientific understanding of Ph/D and our plans for in-situ propellant production on these moons …

Is Phobos Hydrated?

Space- and ground-based spectra suggest that the surface layer of Phobos is not hydrated. However, this regolith may not be entirely native to Phobos; e.g., UK planetary scientist John Murray suggests some of it may have originated from major impacts on Mars itself.

Thermal data by Mars Global Surveyor has shown that Phobos’ surface layer is a fine powder about 1 meter thick that sits on material believed to resemble carbonaceous chondrites. However, Mars Express has established Phobos’ density as 1.887 gm/cm3 (water is 1) which indicates a body with significant porosity, and possibly even large caverns. Thus significant water ice and hydrated silicates could be stored in Phobos’ interior.

Fraser Fanale’s (University of Hawaii) 1990 model of the interior of Phobos — which included orbital and rotational effects, thermal history, and diffusion — showed that if water ice was ever present inside Phobos, most of it should still be there. Fanale predicts that ice may be found at high latitudes from 20 to 60 meters depth, and that it should outgas — mainly at low latitudes from less than 1 km depth — at about 3 gm/sec. In 1990 the Soviet spacecraft Phobos 2 detected a comet-like interaction of Phobos with the solar wind, and estimates of observed Phobos outgassing were consistent with Fanale’s model, although the spacecraft died before they could be confirmed.

Mars Express will help greatly and Phobos-Grunt, the joint Russia-China sample return mission, will be essential before humans can make Phobos into a space service station.

How Much Would A Phobos Outpost Cost?

In the late 1980s at General Dynamics, Space Systems I led an internally-funded study of a propellant facility on Phobos. The unpublished study was presented to several NASA centers by me in 1989 (it was a good idea but suffered from horrible long-wave timing in 1989!). Our team used realistic groundrules and assumptions for technologies, vehicles, trajectories, and operations, as well as General Dynamics cost models, for several scenarios that we developed. Although the focus was on a Phobos propellant facility, our results provide insights into the challenges associated with a possible, near-term manned Phobos/Mars initiative by Russia and China. We estimated that the cost of a Phobos propellant outpost was between $ 10 and 15 B (1989 USD); that’s about $ 17 B – 25 B in 2009 USD.

Is a Manned Phobos Outpost Near 2020 Feasible for Russia and China?

According to The Space Report (2009), in 2008 Russia and China (estimated) spent $ 1.54 B and $ 1.7 B on space respectively, (all in 2009 USD); as a fraction of GDP that’s 0.067% and 0.021% respectively. These are relatively modest GDP commitments when compared to 0.2% GDP for the U.S. averaged over the entire 1960s Apollo Moon program.

Just as an illustration, let’s take $ 20 B (2009 USD) as the cost for Phobos base. It would only take about 6 years for Russia and China — using only their current space budgets — to pay for the program. Two effects make it even easier: 1) both economies are capable of significant growth (China now at 8+ %; Russia at 7% during the decade prior to 2008) so the %GDP could drop with time, and 2) a major Phobos/Mars initiative would create much excitement (i.e., ebullience) and make increased %GDP factors (characteristic of past Maslow Windows) very likely.

So a joint manned Phobos base appears to be financially feasible for Russia and China during the 2015 Maslow Window.

Without going into details here, keep in mind that Russia has a wealth of historical experience with long-term micro-g effects on humans from their own space station days and currently on ISS, and, of course, after Shuttle retirement Russia will be launching American astronauts to ISS. Rather interestingly, Russia is about to start a 520-day Earth-based simulation for human test subjects of a manned mission to Mars. And China not only has its own manned Earth-orbit space program, but also has one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world. Plus China will complete its fourth space center which is also its first low-latitude (19 deg) launch facility, by 2015 …

… near the expected opening date of the long-awaited 2015 Maslow Window.

4 responses so far

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, 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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Jan 26 2010

State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2010

The big space news for 2009 was that we didn’t learn the answer to the big question: What is the future of human spaceflight in the U.S.? But this didn’t happen in a vacuum and it was anticipated by last January; see State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2009. The U.S. space program exists at the intersection of long-term trends in economics, geopolitics, and domestic politics, and thus the space trends for 2010 are best understood in the context of those for 2009 and previous years.

2009 was a year of monumental change globally and especially — as President Obama promised — in the U.S.. The seismic shifts of 2009 — both positive and negative — will reverberate well into 2010.

For a post-State of the Union update, click HERE.

Here are 10 space trends for 2010:

10. Although 2009 was the Year of Obama, in 2010 it will continue to be hard for him to focus on space.

According to Stratfor, “Obama dominated 2009 as no freshman year president has since Reagan.” Early in the year public confidence in Obama was so high that he was easily able to engineer major bailouts and stimulus bills — including the $ 787 B stimulus package — that were guaranteed to keep unemployment under 8 %. As unemployment approached 10% public confidence in the administration began to decline; e.g., on July 12, the Los Angeles Times announced “The End of Obamania”. During 2009 the president’s job approval rating fell 20 points, from 68% to 48% (, largely due to high unemployment, record government spending, huge deficits, and Obama’s preoccupation with his health care program.

Recently the unthinkable occurred: a Republican (Scott Brown) won a special election in the most Democratic state in the U.S. (Massachusetts), and took the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy that he’d held for decades. And the Washington Post recently reported (1/16/10) that “By 58% to 38%, Americans said they prefer smaller government and fewer services to larger government with more services.” That’s 15% more people favoring small versus large government since Obama’s nomination in June, 2008.

Last January, noted that President Obama’s agenda would be dominated by the great recession and national security, and he would not be able to focus on space. This is still true; e.g., Gallup reports that “67% don’t expect economic recovery to start for 2+ years.” But unlike early 2009, Obama has to contend now with the serious political challenges of Republicans in 2010. All this comes as the U.S. space program is approaching a tipping point, as described below.

9. Economically, 2010 will be a year of uncertainty, but long-term trends continue to show we’re on schedule for a New Global Space Age starting near 2015.

Last January, reported that the timing and severity of the financial Panic of 2008 was consistent with our next Maslow Window — a golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology — opening by 2015. This is because over the last 200 years, a financial panic/great recession combination typically precedes the Maslow Window by 7 to 10 years (except for the 1960s Apollo Window which had none); e.g., the Panic of 1893/1890s Great Recession and the stunning Peary/Panama Maslow Window (~1901-13), and the Panic of 1837/1840s Great Recession and the ebullient Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window (~1847-57).

The big question is: How soon will the current great recession subside and allow the economy to return to the “greatest boom ever” that was interrupted by the Panic of 2008?

On July 24 (Wall Street Journal) Princeton economist Alan S. Blinder stated that, “The U.S. economy appears to be hitting bottom.” In its 2010 Annual Forecast (1/4/2010), Stratfor concurs but adds that, “pockets of economic weakness remain within the U.S. and larger problems continue elsewhere in the world.” Financial advisor John Mauldin (1/8/10) cautions against a robust “V” shaped recovery because of worries about continuing unemployment among others. His major concern is “Congress is likely to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire … (and) we could see a massive increase in taxes of $ 500 B … or 4% of GDP.”

Long-term patterns in financial panic/great recession pairs in the decade preceding Maslow Windows over the last 200 years suggest the 2015 Maslow Window is on schedule. Recent opinion polls and election results show frustration with Obama’s economic policies during 2009. Today’s New York Times (1/24/10; R. Zeleny, P. Baker) indicates Obama is aware of the political situation. If the trio of unemployment/spending/deficits is not reduced soon the American people may seek new leadership. Thus both long- and short-term economic and political trends point to a new Space Age by 2015.

8. Geopolitical and national security issues will continue to dominate Obama’s attention in 2010, but their timing and significance are consistent with a rapidly approaching Maslow Window near 2015.

It became fashionable in 2009 to compare Obama with previous presidents, mainly in connection with concerns about Afghanistan, Iraq, and other potential flashpoints. For example, the New York Times (8/23/09, P. Baker) sees a potential parallel between Obama and Lyndon Johnson because Afghanistan could eventually resemble Vietnam. More recently, Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations fears that Obama’s foreign policy could become like Jimmy Carter’s (Foreign Policy, Jan/Feb, 2010).

Stratfor (1/4/2010) sees the major geopolitical issues of 2010 as “Russia’s resurgence as a major power … (and) the sharpening crisis in the Middle East,” centered on Iran’s nuclear program and a potential “Israeli strike on Iran — a strike that could quickly spiral into a general melee in the world’s premier energy artery, the Persian Gulf.” The recent Fort Hood massacre and the Christmas Detroit airline bomber show that the threat of terrorism within the U.S. also remains a major concern.

In a recent post I showed that significant military conflicts occur either early in a Maslow Window or just before it; e.g., the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. Please see the summary in: How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience. These conflicts played a key role in the major exploration and/or technology activities of their Maslow Window. Given that the Iran crisis could threaten global energy supplies, it is a potential flashpoint nearly at the level of the Cuban Missile Crisis. These events signal growing international tensions that are characteristic of early or pre-Maslow Window times over the last 200 years.

7. The new NASA Administrator — Gen. Charles Bolden — supports true international collaboration in space, but doesn’t know “The Answer” yet.

Director Bolden emphasized the importance of international collaborations in space. Perhaps most important is the idea of treating our partners as “equals” and with “respect.” This is the 21st century trend in international space cooperation. My concept for a global space agency (“Interspace”) features organizational equality among the major players and an opportunity to participate for almost everyone else. In the mid-1990s I forecasted that Interspace would materialize near 2013, driven by global interests in space colonization.

Director Bolden also echoed a familiar theme of Obama: the importance of education. As in the late 1950s, in response to the launch of Sputnik, it is likely that similar calls for beefed up science and math education in the U.S. will ramp up as international activities in space intensify near 2013.

Although Bolden assured his audience that, “This will not be the president who precedes over the end of manned space flight,” he was unable to be more specific because Obama has not publicized his decision on the future U.S. vision for human spaceflight.

While NASA waits on pins and needles, Obama has not articulated his vision for manned space. This is partly due to the economic, geopolitical, and now the political trends that demand his attention. President Obama is in a tough spot. He cannot ignore space because of national prestige and growing international space programs. On the other hand, he must be willing to commit $ 3 B more annually to do the Moon and beyond. The solution, of course, is to join with other global space powers to settle the solar system together before a Sputnik-like event drives us apart. It will be an interesting test of his policy of international engagement in 2010.

6. 2009 was the year that Global Warming politics showed significant decline in response to Climategate, new science results, and the public’s rejection of this negative vision of the future.

The Climategate scandal showed that most scientists — including those associated with the IPCC who didn’t want to publicly admit it — agree that global warming ended in 1998, that temperatures have declined in recent years, and that global climate models based on CO2 effects cannot account for the current lack of warming, and thus cannot be scientifically used to forecast climate in future decades. The Climategate scientists also speak privately of manipulating temperature data sets to emphasize warming.

The Wall Street Journal (1/23/10) recently recounted the strange story of the “rapidly receding” Himalayan glaciers. In their 2007 report the IPCC insisted that these glaciers would disappear by 2035 — due to global warming. The IPCC was warned in 2006 by a leading glaciologist that the 2035 forecast was bogus, but they chose to ignore it. According to glaciologist Georg Kaser, “This number is not just a little bit wrong … It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing.”

Based on history of the last 200 years, including the 1960s, Maslow Windows are golden ages of prosperity, exploration, and technology. They are times of extraordinary affluence-induced ebullience when many in society ascend Maslow’s hierarchy and become supportive of great exporations and macro-engineering projects. The public’s growing rejection of global warming politics will continue in 2010 and is consistent with our approach to the ebullient 2015 Maslow Window.

5. The psychology of financial meltdowns and economic booms suggests that our current great recession will be followed by a major economic boom that will trigger the new Space Age.

Behavioral economist George Loewenstein of Yale recently (Discover, Jan/Feb, 2010) explained the factors which produce financial meltdowns as well as economic booms. They include 1) self-destructive behavior, 2) believing that what we want to believe is true, 3) short-term focus on immediate threats, and 4) lazy decision-making (going with the flow). These factors click in when the trend is up or down and thus reenforce behavior during both meltdowns and booms.

According to Keynes, the father of behavioral economics, the trick during a recession is changing people’s negative expectations to overcome their “animal spirits.” According to Keynesians George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, the economic policies of Franklin Roosevelt were ineffective during the Great Depression, “The drop in confidence during the Great Depression was so fundamental that it continued for a decade. Confidence — and the economy itself — were not restored until World War II completely changed the dominant story of people’s lives, transforming the economy.”

Obviously with 67% of Americans not expecting economic recovery to start for 2+ years and consumer confidence low, negative Keynesian animal spirits are currently in full force. When Obama is able to reverse the current trend and elevate consumer confidence, history shows the economy will rapidly respond with a major economic boom.

4. One of the most exciting developments in modern astronomy — the search for Earth-like planets — continues to motivate public interest in human expansion into the cosmos.

According to the online Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, as of January 23, 2010, there are a total of 424 planets known to be orbiting stars other than the Sun. Most of these are hot gas giants resembling Jupiter but much less than 1 AU (Astronomical Unit) from their star, as opposed to 5 AUs for Jupiter.

However, a few recent discoveries have had tantalizing, Earth-like results. In February a European group using the Corot space observatory detected a small planet in orbit around a star in Monoceros about light 500 years away. Subsequent observations confirmed that the planet is almost twice Earth’s diameter and 5 times its mass, indicating it’s composed mostly of rock. However, it is so close to its star that its surface temperature is a toasty 2000 degrees F.

In April, planet hunters reported that Gliese 581, a star only 20 light years away, has a planet with 7 Earth masses that is at the right star distance for liquid water. It is the first extra-solar planet ever discovered that could possibly support life. At only 20 light years distant, if the Gliesians exist and can build rockets, they should have been here by now!

And in March, NASA’s Kepler satellite began scanning 145,000 stars for transiting Earth-like planets. The observatory works. Earlier this month Kepler scientists announced the discovery of 5 new extra-solar planets. Earth-like planets can’t hide for long from Kepler.

Even smaller planets with Earth-like sizes and masses in their Sun-like star’s habitable zone will eventually be discovered, possibly in 2010 or soon thereafter. The closest ones — inhabited or not — will someday become targets for human exploration as human civilization expands into the cosmos.

3. In 2010 NASA will face a tipping point involving the Shuttle, the International Space Station, and international plans for human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars.

In 2010, the current plan is to complete construction of the ISS and retire the Shuttle. Four of the last 5 Shuttle missions will visit ISS and deliveries will include the U.S. Tranquility node as well as a Russian module.

Last month, Space News (12/14/09) suggested that “the administration will cancel Ares 1 in favor of a different approach to getting astronauts to and from the space station … (like) a commecially developed crew transport service (that) could be available sooner than Ares 1-Orion and at less cost.” Space News concludes that Administration changes must be “accompanied by a long-term commitment to meaningful exploration of space beyond low Earth orbit, with a credible story — with resources to match — for getting there…”

On the other hand, in the same issue (Space News, 12/14/09) Christopher Kraft warns that “The suggestion that commercially developed launch vehicles can replace the Ares 1 rocket is ill advised.” His recommendations include continuing to operate the Shuttle, continue to operate the ISS as long as it’s economically feasible and scientifically productive, continue with the goals of the Constellation program, and develop the capability to send astronauts to Mars.

In 2010 President Obama is facing a major political challenge to his presidency. He must reduce economic distress and show progress toward future prosperity, and at the same time he must run the war in Afghanistan, monitor Iraq, influence Iran and Russia, and neutralize global terrorists. This doesn’t leave much time for space, but he must respond to the tipping point space issues above. Human spaceflight is very supportive of Obama’s interests in motivating youth and improving education, and it is a powerful symbol of American leadership in the world. It is unlikely that US participation in a Moon race with China or others would excite the American public because the US won that prize over 40 years ago. And given the understandable anti-ebullient state of the American public, planning manned missions to Mars is probably out of the question during Obama’s current term. This leaves less expensive human missions to near Earth asteroids and/or Lagrange points as potential U.S. space objectives beyond low Earth orbit, possibly coupled with American leadership in a long-term international effort to expore, commercially develop, and eventually settle the Moon. In this scenario, preparations for human spaceflight to Mars would continue at ISS, with astronaut access provided by a commercially developed space vehicle, while the actual Mars expeditions themselves would be relegated to the late 21st century Maslow Window (starting in 2071).

2. President Obama is Creating the new Space Age: Scenario I — The JFK model

As the last 200+ years have shown, extraordinary pulses of activity in exploration and engineering are enabled by reliable, long-term business cycles. And all indicators suggest we’re sneaking up on the edge of another Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology that will trigger the new Space Age; see How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age.

Typically, during the twice-per-century upswings of the long economic wave and within a decade after a major financial panic (such as the Panic of 2008) and its major recession, we emerge into an ebullient, transformative decade known as a Maslow Window. Perhaps the most ebullient one followed the Panic of 1893 and was led by Theodore Roosevelt: the Peary/Panama Maslow Window from 1903 to 1913.

Our most recent Maslow Window — the stunning 1960s Apollo Moon decade — was unique in the last 200+ years in that it wasn’t immediately preceded by a financial panic or great recession. But the approaching Maslow Window, expected to open near 2015, resumed the much more “normal” sequence of the last 200+ years when the Panic of 2008 heralded its impending arrival.

So one key lesson of the last 200 years is: The Panic of 2008 supports our expectation that the next Maslow Window — the next Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology — will open near 2015.

But the question is: Will Obama reverse current trends and set the country on a trajectory toward near-term prosperity — the hallmark of all Maslow Windows?

If he does Obama will be a 2-term president and will become the new John F. Kennedy without the Vietnam-style baggage of LBJ. And he will continue the brilliant transformative legacy that began with Thomas Jefferson and Lewis & Clark.

1. President Obama is Creating the new Space Age: Scenario II — The Theodore Roosevelt model

Another potential scenario is remminiscent of the Panic of 1893 that culminated with Theodore Roosevelt’s spectacular Peary/Panama Maslow Window of the early 20th century. The Panic of 1893 has parallels with the recent Panic of 2008 and the great recession that bottomed out in mid-2009. The great 1890s recession lasted nearly 6 years — and let’s hope that’s not one of the parallels.

In the Roosevelt model, Obama becomes a victim of the current great recession and — because of his inability to ignite prosperity — becomes a 1-term president much like Grover Cleveland in the 1890s. In this scenario Obama is replaced by a president who does start the recovery, points the nation toward prosperity, and triggers the 2015 Maslow WIndow.

So which is it? Scenario I — The JFK Model, or Scenario II –the Theodore Roosevelt model?

I. Long-term macroeconomic patterns — especially the Panic of 2008 — suggest the 2010s are more like the Roosevelt Maslow Window than the Kennedy one. In this case, the great recession that favored Obama’s election in 2008 would ultimately prove to be his undoing (like Grover Cleveland), and thus support Scenario II.

II. Recent polls and election results — especially the recent Massachusetts Senatorial shocker — show the public is anxious about Obama’s economic policies because they haven’t reduced unemployment and seem inconsistent with prosperity. These also support Scenario II.

III. But it’s still really all up to Obama. If in 2010 he decides to reverse course, reduce economic distress, and stimulate the recovery, he will experience Scenario I. If not, it will be Scenario II. In a month or two we should be able to discern his economic trajectory.

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Jan 11 2010

The Mysterious Russia-Apophis Connection — Another Perspective

On December 30 major media outlets reported on a new, proposed Russian mission to deflect asteroid Apophis from a possible Earth-impact trajectory in 2036. Discovered in 2004, Apophis is 3x larger than the 1908 Tunguska impactor or almost 3 football fields long. NASA has estimated that a collision with Earth could produce a 880 Megaton impact — almost 20x the largest H-bomb ever tested (in 1961 by Soviets) and more than 4x the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

What does asteroid Apophis tell us about our world?
(Artist: Don Davis)

Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency, said that Apophis’ flight trajectory was gradually approaching the Earth. “I don’t remember exactly, but it seems that by 2032 Apophis will ram into Earth,” (Pravda, 12/30/09).

Pravda also indicated that, “Russian specialists will choose the strategy to save planet Earth from Apophis and then invite world’s leading space agencies to join the project.”

This all seemed a little abrupt and surprising to me so I emailed Rusty Schweickart, Apollo astronaut and co-founder of the B612 Foundation, to find out if he’d been working with Perminov. He replied almost immediately that he had not been “involved.” The same day Rusty warned in the New York Times (12/30/09; Ellen Barry) that “It takes a very small change in the Apophis orbit to cause it to impact the Earth instead of missing it. There are a million asteroids out there. Find another one.”

Interestingly, JPL calculates that on April 13, 2036, Apophis’ closest approach to Earth will be 18,300 miles or about 8% of the Moon’s distance. And the odds of a collision are only about 1 in 250,000, justifying the (12/30/09) headline, “Russia May Attack Asteroid That’s Virtually No Threat.”

So what should we make of Perminov’s surprise December 30 announcement? Let’s speculate about two possible connections.

First, in August former Harvard professor Richard Pipes wrote that, “Russia is obsessed with being recognized as a ‘Great Power’…” This is partly due to their victory over Germany in World War II and “the success in sending the first human in space.” But Russia’s veering in the direction of a new cold war hasn’t helped them economically; “Russian aggression against Georgia has cost it dearly in terms of capital flight.” And Russia’s dependence on the global price of energy caused their exports to drop by 47% in first half of 2009.

So Russia — like the rest of the world — sees being a great space power as a key part of being an important global power. And they see the approaching new Space Age as an important time to demonstrate again their impressive capabilities in several areas, including manned space (e.g., transportation to ISS), new infrastructure (e.g., the new Vostochny Cosmodrome), and future planning (e.g., asteroid deflection missions).

But Apophis doesn’t become even a tiny threat until 2036, and even the Apollo Moon program took less than 10 years, so why make the announcement now?

This second question is more speculative than the first but the announcement’s timing may be related to two issues:
1) The Russians may have sensed that the world is rushing toward a new Space Age and now is the time to get organized and allocate resources for planetary defense; this is consistent with the timeline I’ve previously suggested for the formation of a global space agency.
And even more speculative is,
2) The Russians may feel a Copenhagen connection. As public concerns about global warming decline and because the science no longer supports a “climate crisis” (e.g. including Climategate), the Russians may feel it’s time to refocus attention on a real threat to global civilization that’s occurred in the past (e.g., 1908 Tunguska), and will occur again — asteroid impacts.

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Jan 17 2009

State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2009

President-Elect Obama’s strengths include his John F. Kennedy-like charisma and his flexible approach to issues. Since the election he has added experience in the form of numerous former Clinton personnel to key positions.

However, his challenges are well-known: 1) the economy and 2) national security (e.g., avoiding a 9/11-style attack). The strategic environment also features wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and increasing tensions in Europe reminiscent of a second Cold War with Russia.

In the next year or two, none of these issues will be dramatically affected by the U.S. space program, while the economy and the strategic environment will impact directly on plans for human spaceflight involving the Shuttle, Space Station, Moon bases and beyond.

The bottomline is clear: At least in 2009 and maybe beyond, Mr. Obama’s focus must be on his economic and natonal security agenda, not on NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration (VSE).

Will the Shuttle be retired in 2010 or retained as a jobs program? Click shuttle.jpg.

Let me briefly highlight how long-term trends over the last 200 years illuminate the world of 2009:

10. Long-term macroeconomic trends over the last 200 years are continuing in the form of the Panic of 2008 and its recession.

Although V.P. Dick Cheney doesn’t think “anybody saw it coming,” the Panic of 2008 should not have been a total surprise. Four of the last 5 Maslow Windows (including the one expected to open near 2015) were preceded by a major financial panic within a decade of the opening of the Maslow Window. Only 1949 was panic-less presumably because of banking reforms passed during the Great Depression and post-WW II ebullience.

The long-term macroeconomic trends of the last 200 years have persisted in spite of such disasters as the Civil War, W.W. I and II, and the Great Depression. Thus, despite our current recession’s severity, there is every reason to believe these long-term trends will continue into the future.

9. The timing of the Panic of 2008 indicates that we are within 7 to 10 years of the next Maslow Window; indeed, no Maslow Window has ever been delayed or diminished by a pre-Window panic.

Both pre-Window 19th century panics began about 10 years before their Maslow Windows and lasted about 6 years each. The Panic of 2008 began about 7-8 years before its expected Maslow Window; if similar in length to the 19th century panics, the current recession should end before 2015 (the expected opening date of the next Maslow Window).

The Great Depression began in 1929 and lasted about 10 years, however it began as a post-Maslow Window panic. Post-window panics tend to develop into much longer, more devastating recessions (e.g., the Victorian Depression, the Great Depression) than pre-Window panics do partly because they occur at a time when the direction of the economy is generally downward (following a major economic boom).

However, the Panic of 2008 began during the unparalleled global economic boom of 2007. The last 200 years show that we will recover into an economic boom at least as good as in 2007.

8. Mr. Obama has warned of potentially a “dramatically worse” economic situation, but estimates of the duration of the recession vary widely.

On January 8 President-Elect Obama spoke of “a bad situation (that) could become dramatically worse,” unless his mammoth spending proposals are passed by Congress. Obama’s public works program is billed as the biggest since the interstate highway system of the 1950s; not coincidentally it occurred about one long economic wave ago, just before the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

Private estimates of the current situation include John Mauldin who suggests the recession will last “at least through 2009” and then we face two years of “muddle through.” He suggests unemployment may continue to rise for 2 more years (to 10+%) and quotes an academic study that claims fiscal policy will not be enough. Although Mauldin sees a very long recession, his forecast is nothing like that of Harry Dent who sees the recession continuing until 2023! Mauldin’s forecast is consistent with macroeconomic trends of the last 200 years; Dent’s forecast isn’t.

7. Because he inherits an economy afflicted by the pre-Maslow Window Panic of 2008 and its major recession, it is unrealistic to expect Obama to embrace a NASA Administrator who’s closely identified with a spectacular program of human spaceflight like NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.

Last March Alan Stern called Mike Griffin “the best Administrator NASA ever had,” and Griffin certainly reminds me of the great Administrators during Apollo.

However, the Orlando Sentinel reported (on 1/6/09) that Griffin would soon leave NASA. This is in spite of — or maybe because of — his active campaigning to stay as Administrator that featured his unparalleled commitment to the VSE.

6. The 5-year Shuttle gap will require Obama to decide if the Shuttle fleet should be retired as planned in 2010.

NASA plans to hire the Russians to launch U.S. astronauts to the station between 2010 and 2015. However, the approach to a Maslow Window typically features increasing international conflicts like the Russian attack of Georgia last summer. This feeling of an impending second Cold War has complicated NASA’s plans for a timely retirement of the aging Shuttle fleet, based on budget and safety issues.

Our new President may conclude that extending the Shuttle Program is too risky and expensive. If so, Obama may see Shuttle retirement in 2010 as the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his exceptional ability to generate good will and expand productive partnerships around the globe — even with the Russians — especially in a time of increasing international tensions.

Will Mars be eclipsed by the Moon? Click marsbase.jpg.

5. The United States has no plans for ISS involvement beyond 2015, but long-term strategy for ISS could have important implications for Mars and other human interplanetary missions.

While ISS should be completed in 2010, the U.S. is uncertain about its participation beyond 2015. On the other hand, except for the Shuttle retirement issue, there are no major, near-term ISS decisions required by the U.S.. Still, the U.S. cannot ignore its $ 100 B “National Laboratory.”

Rand Simberg points out that ISS engineering design precludes it from becoming an interplanetary spaceship (!), but there’s no shortage of post-2015 ideas for how to use it in LEO, including possible Chinese participation, and even giving birth to the orbital hotel industry. Although Bigelow Aerospace denies interest in ISS, it’s hard for me to believe that someone somewhere isn’t thinking about using ISS as a hotel test-bed (pun intended!).

The MIT Space, Policy, and Society Research Group suggests using ISS out to 2020 to develop medical countermeasures for long-term human spaceflight to Mars, and to enhance the momentum of international cooperation nurtured by ISS. This would be excellent long wave timing because between 2020 and 2025 is when human missions to Mars are most likely to be financially and politically feasible.

If the U.S. announces that it will not extend its participation in ISS beyond 2015, that could signal the U.S. does not intend to launch human missions to Mars during the 2015 Maslow Window (see Mars, #3 below).

4. It isn’t just the economic and national security framework that suggests Obama may not be able to follow-through on his campaign promise for a 2020 Moon landing, it’s the political signals he’s sending.

In the last 200 years, no great exploration has ever occurred during the financial panic preceeding a Maslow Window. And that trend is very likely to continue. Plus, Jeffrey Kluger describes the friction between Lori Garver of Obama’s transition team, and current NASA boss Mike Griffin. In particular, Garver’s lack of enthusiasm for Ares 1 is an affront to Griffin.

Obama may signal his decision to temporarily deemphasize Moon bases by the NASA Administrator he selects. For example, Obama has reportedly asked former USAF General Scott Gration to consider being NASA Administrator.

Although Gration is loyal to Obama and is obviously a good leader, his direct connection with space appears limited to working with Hans Mark in 1982 when he was deputy Administrator. With little connection to human spaceflight or to the space science community, Gration is a philosophical clean slate — potentially ideal for Obama because of his capability to move NASA in whatever direction the economic and/or geopolitical context allows.

3. NASA’s extensive plans for Moon exploration appear to preclude human spaceflight to Mars in the first half of the 21st century.

The Planetary Society roadmap asserts that the NASA VSE goal of a human return to the Moon by 2020 may “lead to multi-decade delays in expansion of human activity beyond the Earth-Moon system.” They are absolutely right , although it’s not fundamentally because of programmatic and funding conflicts. They are more on target here: “The national economic situation exacerbates NASA’s budget difficulties and makes it likely that the stated lunar exploration timetable cannot be met.”

In Aerospace America for January, 2009, Leonard David quotes author Andrew Chaikin as suggesting that the Apollo Moon program was an “anomaly.” According to Chaikin, “The reason it was an anomaly was that political forces made the Moon our destiny… and all the forces aligned, however briefly. And by the time we got to the Moon, those forces were already starting to diverge.” That’s an excellent description of the rapid decay of affluence-induced ebullience during a typical Maslow Window. In fact, Apollo seemed like an “anomaly” only because the spectacular Great Explorations and MEPs associated with Maslow Windows are typically separated by 55 to 60 years.

Because the 2015 Maslow Window should culminate near 2025 — assuming wildcards do not terminate it earlier — and the U.S. plans to return to the Moon by 2020, this leaves only a few short years (assuming the schedule holds)) to achieve the first human missions to Mars, a very unlikely scenario. And the last 200 years show that the next Maslow Window after 2025 — i.e., the next realistic opportunity for humans to Mars — opens in 2071.

In fact, the national (and global) macroeconomic situation is a predictable consequence of technological, exploration, and military trends that have persisted over at least the last 200 years. Ignorance of them results in disappointments like the abrupt end of the Apollo program. However, in reality they provide a dependable framework within which multi-decade space or technology programs can be structured so they flourish and enable human expansion into the cosmos.

2. As expected during our approach to the 2015 Maslow Window — that’s complicated by a major recession and increasing Cold War-like tensions — key indicators of the strength of international space business are mixed.

For example, government space expenditures globally in 2008 were $ 62+ B. And planned launches during the next decade (i.e., moving into the next Maslow Window) will increase 38% over the previous decade.

However, the prediction market shows declining confidence in Virgin Galactic’s commercial spaceflight business. In response to “Virgin Galactic to send a paying customer into suborbital space (70 mi) on/before 31 December 2010,” their probability of success has dropped by a factor of 2 over the last 5 months: from 60% to 32%.

Another revealing sign of the economic times is Northrup Grumman’s corporate reorganization resulting in their Space Technology group being downgraded together with Integrated Systems into their new “Aerospace” sector.

1. If circumstances prevent Mr. Obama from becoming the next JFK-like “Space President,” who will lead America and the world back to the Moon and on to Mars?

We have recently speculated that Caroline Kennedy — the 51-year old daughter of President John F. Kennedy — might be ideal. She’s often demonstrated her dedication to JFK’s legacy, and if appointed to the Senate now and reelected later, she will have been in the Senate 8 years if she decides to run for president in 2016. This would be one economic long wave after her father became the first Space President in 1960.

The New York Times reported last Sunday that Caroline met with the governor of New York about her interest in being appointed to soon-to-be Secretary of State Clinton’s open Senate seat. Caroline Kennedy is supported by Mr. Obama and would bring endless connections, major financial assets, and her father’s unparalleled space legacy to the position. Plus, for the last week, the prediction market has listed Caroline’s probability of success as hovering around 80%.

It appears that the first step in our speculative scenario will soon occur.

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