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The Space Island Group's Mission
Over the last half century engineers and scientists at America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), supported by America's aerospace firms, elected leaders and taxpayers, have created space vehicles that will change Mankind's future far more dramatically than any ships, covered wagons, railroads or aircraft have done in the past.
For thousands of years, the early development of transport vehicles has been encouraged with government funds. But as commerce and industry used these vehicles to profitably bring new products to their customers, commerce alone drove further advances.
The men and women of the Space Island Group (SIG) believe that this "time of transition" has now arrived for NASA's space vehicles. SIG is developing non-government markets for new versions of these vehicles, which they will buy from existing aerospace firms. This approach has a very, very long tradition.
From the time Phoenician traders bought sea-going vessels from shipbuilders 5,000 years ago, the groups that marketed the capabilities of those vessels were not the same groups who built them. This tradition continues today. Railroad companies do not built their own locomotives. International shipping companies and Cruise Lines do not build their own ships, and airline companies do not build their own jetliners. On the other hand, ship and jetliner operators often suggest design changes which will meet the end users' needs.
SIG follows this same model. We don't highlight the engineering details of these space vehicles to end users which space hardware builders would proudly do. We showcase the incredible products and services this hardware will make possible in orbit.
Again, this approach isn't new. Cruise Ship passengers are far more interested in their onboard experiences rather than in the engineering that made those experiences possible. But passenger revenues are what sustain the ship operators and ship builders alike.
Most of SIG's space hardware will come directly from NASA's space shuttle program. The shuttle's main engines, its fuel tanks and its white solid rocket boosters will lift SIG's space station components into orbit.
The shuffle itself will not be used at this time. SIG will carry personnel to orbit and back aboard another manned vehicle which was designed and tested by NASA and the Air Force a decade ago. It was called the Delta Clipper, or DC-X. By 2010 SIG's first "Orbital Clippers" will carry 30 people up on each flight and return them to Earth safely. Later versions will carry over 100.
Designs from NASA's 1973 Skylab space station, which was built inside an empty Apollo rocket fuel tank, will be modified to work with the space shuttle's 747-sized, orange fuel tank in orbit when its odorless liquid fuel is gone.
Details of how these components will become huge, safe commercial space stations holding hundreds of people are explained under the "Launch Vehicle" and "Space Station Lease Rates" sections of this website.
Hundreds of manufacturing companies from dozens of industries have flown, experiments onboard NASA's space shuttles. They found that when common elements were melted, mixed and solidified in the absence of gravity they often found new combinations with absolutely unique properties. Bio-scientists in particular were startled by the impact space-grown cells and crystals could have on the diseases and afflictions of Earth.
But these firms were frustrated by NASA's complete lack of "customer service" and incredibly high costs.
SIG's gravity-free and partial-gravity stations will be a thousand times larger and cost their commercial tenants a thousand times less than what NASA charged. Among many other benefits, SIG's station lease rates will include free transport to orbit and back for their tenant's materials, products and personnel.
SIG's stations will serve as factories, hotels, medical centers, laboratories, zero-gravity sports arenas and satellite repair centers, along with dozens of other uses which can't be imagined today. Since the stations' unique gravity conditions cannot be duplicated anywhere on Earth, the products and services created and profitably sold by SIG's tenants will literally have no competitors on the entire planet.
The stations will make possible the production of environmentally clean, cheap electric energy from space. That will be able to meet the needs of rural and urban populations around the world. It will also let inexpensive hydrogen fuel to be created from seawater. These two uses alone will dramatically cut fossil fuel use worldwide in the years ahead, which will, have major impacts on Middle East politics and climate change.
But the most important new energy these "Space Islands" will add to the planet will be in the energy of Mankind's dreams.
By 2020 more than 20,000 men and women will be working aboard these orbiting Islands, and 10 million more high-paid specialists will be supporting them on Earth. That 20,000 number will double each following decade. Some people will work for traditional companies making very untraditional products to improve the life of those below. Some will be entrepreneurs, and some will simply be adventurers who won't have to stay near the Earth at all. SIG's larger stations will grow their own food, recycle their air and water, and have their own onboard engines and guidance systems. Water mined from asteroids by "Space Island" will be converted into hydrogen and oxygen rocket fuel by sun-powered converters, letting these Islands travel throughout the inner solar system. Metals mined from asteroids will let the stations grow without bringing materials up from Earth.
What will Space Islanders find on these asteroids and on the planets they visit? Will they find life where its now least expected? Will they find remnants of past visitors? What incredible structures will they build in space, freed from the gravity chains of Earth? What will humans and other living things look like after a generation or two of partial gravity on the Islands, or on the Lunar or Mars colonies that these mobile Islands will make possible?
These are the questions that hundreds of millions of Earth's youngsters will ask every night as they watch Space Islands pass overhead. From its first launches early in the next decade, SIG will seek out crew members from every culture, every nationality, every economic background and every religion on Earth. Their names and life stories will become as familiar around the world as those of today's great athletes and rock stars. SIG will focus these young thoughts, on the unlimited excitement their future holds, rather than on the anger many of them feel for their past.
Arthur C. Clarke. who wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film '2001: A Space Odyssey" and who is one of SIG's strongest supporters, once said that humans trying to figure out what life will be like as we move into space on a grand scale is like intelligent fish trying to figure our what life would be like when they moved onto land. They'd get some things right, but they'd never imagine something like fire.
The companies and individuals involved with the Space Island Group are the ones who will bring these "space fires", and all their unimaginable benefits, to Mankind.
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