OVERVIEW – Why does there need to be a conference?
A conference has to be born with an idea that is large enough
to justify the several thousand hours spent in planning and creating
it. In 1975, the concept that ordinary humans, you and I, will be
the ones to permanently settle outer space was powerful enough to
drive the founding of the L5 Society in Tucson, Arizona, from where
it spread worldwide.
That idea flew high for a decade before a nasty reality set
in: the technologies to climb out of Earth’s gravity and set up
housekeeping in the vacuum are easy to imagine but treacherously
hard to do. Some of the fervor subsided and L5 became a part of
the National Space Society, a more measured organization. Currently,
the human migration off-planet is holding for lack of inexpensive
transport to Earth orbit.
Is there a concept for a conference that breaks free of the
present situation? Yes, there is, and it can be found in a parallel
with 100 years ago.
The 1890s were a time of ferment in some quarters and a studied
complacency in others. It was in 1899 that the commissioner of patents
recommended that the patent office be closed because everything
that could be invented had been already. Four years later, Henry
Ford was cobbling together a mass-producible automobile and the
Wright Brothers were mocking the experts.
In comparison, there is a strong anti-progress current today
that is countered by a growing swell of the technologically literate.
The free societies are poised to bust loose in a branching of humanity
that cannot be contained by government as we know it.
In our field the race is on in large laboratories and individual
minds to find the configuration that will make air-breathing spaceplanes
operate for the cost of fuel. The chances are high that someone
will cross this finish line in the next two decades, and then what?
The "what" is the heart of Tucson 2000. You and I, my friend,
are going to settle space, in Earth Orbit, on the Moon, on Mars,
or in more exotic locales. The launch capability is going to sneak
up on us, and one day it will simply be there. Will we be ready?
The race to settle space begins now, long before the day the
lift ticket price drops to $20,000. Mortals have never tackled a
more inhospitable environment, so we have a lot to talk about. The
outline of this conference is driven by the range of on-site skills
and the required advance planning that a settler will need. If we’re
missing something, let us know.
Tucson 2000 is just the starting line; only the untraveled would
dare claim to know the road ahead.
Tom Jaquish, Program Chair, 1/1/99