All Astronautical Evolution posts in 2010:

Towards the Sociology of the Universe? / Neubrandenburg notes (Dec.)

Will humans be replaced by machines? / The ISS ten years on (Nov.)

Competing visions of space in America and Europe / Dr Alan Bond / Dr David Williams at the RAeS (Oct.)

The Sociology of the Universe? / Announcing the Wayland starship (Sept.)

A gloomy view of progress / Letter to Dr Spencer Wells / Letter to Scientific American (Aug.)

Old-style posts with broken internal links:

Dear Mr Willetts… (June)

NewSpace Law (M.V. “Coyote” Smith) (May)

Battle for the Soul of Space (May)

UK Space Agency (April)

Disappointed with Avatar (March)

Ares scrapped, commercial space boosted (Feb.)

New record year in manned spaceflight (Jan.)

New in 2015:

Short story The Marchioness

AE posts:

2017: Mars…

2016: Stragegic goal for manned spaceflight…

2015: The Pluto Controversy, Mars, SETI…

2014: Skylon, the Great Space Debate, exponential growth, the Fermi “paradox”…

2013: Manned spaceflight, sustainability, the Singularity, Voyager 1, philosophy, ET…

2012: Bulgakov vs. Clarke, starships, the Doomsday Argument…

2011: Manned spaceflight, evolution, worldships, battle for the future…

2010: Views on progress, the Great Sociology Dust-Up…

Chronological index

Subject index

General essays:

Index to essaysincluding:

Talk presented to students at the International Space University, May 2016

Basic concepts of Astronautical Evolution

Options for Growth and Sustainability

Mars on the Interstellar Roadmap (2015)

The Great Sociology Debate (2011)

Building Selenopolis (2008)


Issue 61, 1 September 2010 – 41st Apollo Anniversary Year

  1. The Sociology of the Universe?
  2. Announcing the Wayland starship

All content is by Stephen Ashworth, Oxford, UK,
unless attributed to a different signed author.

=============== AE ===============

(1) The Sociology of the Universe?

A vigorous new debate is underway – a battle for the soul of spaceflight:

A wasteful extravagance promoted by an uncaring military-industrial complex and by spoilt rich people who refuse to grow up?

“The history of capitalism is a history of increased social and economic inequalities. Who would really benefit from using the resource of outer space? And does humanising outer space imply we should simply continue degrading the Earth?” (“Outer Space as Resources”)

“Space tourism is a form of ‘conspicuous consumption’, a way in which some wealthy people assert themselves socially at the same time as living out their childhood dreams. [...] Maybe space tourism is the first signs of elites escaping from economic chaos, continuous war and environmental degradation back on ‘terra firma’.” (“Space Tourism”)

Or our gateway to a better life for all and a long-term sustainable civilisation?

“I would suggest that personal space exploration (“space tourism”) will be a key part of what will come to be seen as the 21st-century Enlightenment: a further unification of humankind based on the transforming experience of viewing our home planet from space. Obviously the first people to pay their own way to space are also those with the most power to inspire and lead in commercial and political spheres back on Earth.” (“Space Tourism” – comments)

“The stresses and strains of human civilisation must be understood as evolutionary growing pains. We are not at a sustainable level, but rather in a period of transition between two such levels: the more primitive level being that of pre-industrial, perhaps even pre-agricultural, tribal society, the more advanced level being that of an interplanetary, ultimately interstellar civilisation.” (“Why is space-humanisation happening?” – comments)

The debate is hosted by sociologists Peter Dickens (Universities of Cambridge and Essex) and James Ormrod (University of Brighton), following the publication of their book Cosmic Society: Towards a Sociology of the Universe (Routledge, 2009).

Join the battle for space on the Sociology of the Universe website.

NB: the authors will be speaking at the British Interplanetary Society at an evening meeting on 8 September 2010. See you there!

My thanks to Duncan L.-G. at Rocketeers for the link!

=============== AE ===============

(2) Announcing the Wayland starship

Inspired by the launch of the Icarus project, but even more irritated by James Cameron’s infuriating new movie Avatar, I found myself compelled to set down some sketches of a starship design of my own. Wayland looks ahead to ask whether, when and how human beings might voyage to the stars in person. Find full details and a downloadable PDF of the report here.

Feedback is welcome, and I have posted some early second thoughts on a linked page set aside for this purpose.