Creating the Future: One Giant Leap at a time

Last month the Advanced Planning Office pulled together a team to look at possible vision statements for the agency. I know a rather tall order, but it is always great to see the energy and creativity found within our JSC when it is unleashed. You can browse some of the ideas at the Open NASA post, NASA Vision and Mission. I know it isn’t really a vision statement, but the one phrase that has stuck with me is “Creating the Future: One Giant Leap at a time.” I really like the way it sums up the spirit of NASA and honors our past at the same time.

And the more that reflected on that phrase, the more I was struck by the recent events that demonstrated NASA’s role in taking these giant leaps. The most recent is LaserMotive LLC winning $900,000 in NASA’s 2009 Power Beaming Challenge. This one prize captures the imaginations of two communities and could seed a giant leap in either solar power beaming or a space elevator. LaserMotive won the prize by using a laser to power its robotic climber up a 900 meter cable that was suspended from a helicopter at Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California. The climber reached the top in just over 4 minutes, for an average speed of 3.7 meters per second and later repeated the feat at of 3.9 meters per second. Then on October 30th, Masten Space Systems won the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge. What is great about this joint prize between NASA and the X PRIZE Foundation is the community it is creating. I love the quote from Masten Space System’s CEO, David Masten, “To come from not flying at all last year to qualifying for level one AND level two of the LLC this year shows how far our technology has progressed.” Mark another one in the win column for NASA’s ability to spur on Commercial Space.

Yet, what more can we do to take a giant leap forward. Could we partner with Japan on their plans to construct a solar power station in space and use it to beam energy down to Earth using lasers? Or do we build a space only cruiser? What would a space cruiser look like if it never needed to fight the gravity to get off the Earth or a planetary destination? Or is it too farfetched to create a prize for a non-rocket vehicle for access to LEO? While Commercial Space companies are investing in low cost access to Low Earth Orbit using rocket’s should NASA partner up to create a prize that will look at the physics for the next LEAP forward in access to space?

OK, I have to say it… I’ll even settle for a WARP drive X Prize.

So what prize would you create to make the next LEAP forward?

Sharing the Vision,
Steven González, Deputy, Advanced Planning Office

44 thoughts on “Creating the Future: One Giant Leap at a time”

  1. hui Great article,'m curious about how the future actually looks like. I let myself, but rather as a surprise ^ ^

  2. Deep space and planetary infrastructure planning wouldn’t go unloved. A space born construction yard for the next generation of materials research and development, in-space ship manufacturing, and a stepping stool towards harvesting the resources of the solar system? Yes please.

  3. Deep space and planetary infrastructure planning wouldn't go unloved. A space born construction yard for the next generation of materials research and development.

  4. Well, A space born construction yard for the next generation of materials research and development, in-space ship manufacturing, and a stepping stool towards harvesting the resources of the solar system? Yes please.

  5. Deep space and planetary infrastructure planning wouldn't go unloved. A space born construction yard for the next generation of materials research and development, in-space ship manufacturing, and a stepping stool towards harvesting the resources of the solar system? Yes please.

  6. I must admit that today is my first time I visit here. However, I have found so many interesting thing in your blog and I really love that. Keep up the good work!

  7. Deep space and planetary infrastructure planning wouldn't go unloved. A space born construction yard for the next generation of materials research and development.

  8. ATTENTION FUTURE MISSION PLANNERS:
    Re: John Paul Edwards plan for space migration and species evolution studies.
    Sirs, Please regard my proposals for studies of the effects of space migration and species evolution studies in space and underseas.
    This porposal is for a grant to be aquired from NASA, JPL, the NSA and or feasible agencies for further studies of the effects of space migration and habitation on species conceptions, incubations, births and the ability of said generations of various species of plant, animal and humanoid to adapt to their future space homes.

    The same would entail the further study of varied gravity well adaptation and mutations as well as zero gravity development including stages from fertilization to full development of plant, animal and humanoid existence in full space, partial space and outside object (moon, mars, other planets and moons, bases underseas and so on)

    Early advisary to make New Orleans the first domed or undersea city and to further explore the colinization of our future UnderSea Cities. (ie. Atlantis)Much of the preparatiuons for space missions is done underwater and undersea explorations should be an integral part of any space mission. Therefor the study of the effects of undersea migration of plants, animals and humanoids is suggested as well. We would recommend that propogation in space begin in ernest and that humanoids
    may in fact be the alien species we are looking for. (stop looking for alien life and go forward with becoming it) Our descendents could very well adapt once they migrate and become several various sub species of humanoid beings to inhabit the various regions of space and it’s planetary objects. The generations that evolve in space (plant, animal, human) will adapt and perhaps mutate to better handle space exploration and so one. They could very well lose the ability to live in a gravity
    well such as Earth and become specialy adapted to living in space.

    Another generation could evolve to become more adept at living on certain near space objects (in special teraformed environments or life sustaining bases, the moon, mars and so on as mankind slowly evolves into the universe) We feel it is a mistake to expect one generation to
    suddenly fling themselves into space and attempting migration without a natural space evolution. (ie. Timothy Leary’s S.M.I^2.L.E. theory).. It is another matter indeed for us to breed space colonists and deep space travelers by conceiving and birthing them into the envoronment that they are in future generations to adapt and evolve into. Further study of these various and fascinating forms of evolution of species into space and undersea environments are as important as the coming of creatures out of the oceans to learn to adapt to and live on the land! Space and Undersea evolution is a critical aspect of our Space Explorations and further studies must indeed include it. It is our hope that this will reach someone whom will further contact us to further illucidate and examine the possibilities and to keep us pointed in a
    Futurist(ic) direction in these matters. I think many many people will probably agree (some may even read this) that these are much needed areas of exploration that have apparently up until now been completely overlooked or at least hidden from public disclosure. Thank you for your time ands I would be looking forwards to hearing from interested and/or responsible parties who would like to know more about these
    concepts and ideas along with my personal visions and views on these and variousother subjects. I look forward to working with you! Happiest of all the newest of decades is at hand lets get on with it!
    j`Paul Edwards Atascadero, California, USA JpE 5:01 AM 1/2/2010

  9. Steven,

    I love the XPrize and the collaboration it is bringing out in different communities. By incentivizing through monetary goals the production of technology we can accelerate the lifecyle of that production. Lets face it, bragging rights are not enough. The scientists' backers are going to want a return on their investment as well. I wonder if we can improve our GPS system and whether or some other company who wants to collaborate with might be able to improve the system.

  10. Hi, really cool article.
    I don't know if Japan will construct a solar power station in space.
    That's great news.

  11. Another generation could evolve to become more adept at living on certain near space objects (in special teraformed environments or life sustaining bases, the moon, mars and so on as mankind slowly evolves into the universe) We feel it is a mistake to expect one generation to

  12. Excellent post, definitely made me think. I hope Japan does what they say. I hope they use some of the stuff nasa invented!

  13. The same would entail the further study of varied gravity well adaptation and mutations as well as zero gravity development including stages from fertilization to full development of plant, animal and humanoid existence in full space, partial space and outside object (moon, mars, other planets and moons, bases underseas and so on)

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  14. great experience so far on blog. every time I come here I found something useful ..i am a regular visitor of your blog ..so I always would like to appreciate your work with one comment.

  15. The whole idea of a space elevator boggles the mind. I wish there was a video of Laser Motive's robotic climber.

  16. The next generation could evolve to become more adept at living on near space objects (in special teraformed environments or life sustaining bases, the moon, mars and so on as mankind slowly evolves into the universe).

  17. All NASA's efforts to conquer space and investigate the existence of life and water on other planets is truly fascinating.

    What do the impending budget cuts portend for NASA's future though?

  18. Intimately, the post is actually the best on this laudable topic. I harmonize with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates. Saying thanks will not just be adequate, for the fantastic lucidity in your writing.

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  20. Thanks a lot for sharing this useful article with us. Really very nice article. Very detailed and step by step instruction for every aspirant to use it.Thanks a lot. Keep bogging.

  21. in my view we can compar the aliens with Indian gods to explain this point i have some interesting points

    1) Indian gods have many form allmost one crore type of gods not even one is just like other.

    aliens also having not even one for we know that.

    2)In Indian epics the Ramayana,the Mahabharatha one point is included by ansisters that is they use to travel form one place to other place by using space ships like some thing they didn’t explain about the ship actually.so it is explaining that aliens have contact with our world for past on words.

    3)I am an Indian so i know about my epics as well as our Gods.
    the language which we r using was very different form the language our ansistors used before at that time that language is near to the alien symbols this point i know by the language which is written on our temples which are constructed by ansistors.

  22. Great blog post. Where would we be without NASA and the great discoveries they have made tha tbenifit all of mankind.

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