Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Moon is ME

A lot has happened this year that gives me great hope we are truly on the threshold of a NewSpace era. The time of phase change is the time of greatest stress on a system. But I believe that the voices of those who defend old ideas for the wrong reasons will inevitably be lost in the cheers of a new generation dedicated to opening up the space frontier for everyone through innovation and entrepreneurship.

The strength of the Space Frontier Foundation NewSpace conference this year is testimony to the growing prominence of our ideology. The  benevolent conspiracy underway since the 80's is now manifest in the many voices speaking a common dream. Some are agents of change from within government and some are catalysts of change in the private sector; all playing a vital role in the transformation of humanity to a multi-world species.

Many of you may have noticed the notoriety Moon Express has received recently as we've started to reveal the company and our goals. The media has been very good to us and we were happy to provide a counterpoint of optimism to an otherwise gloomy media reporting the 'end of an era' last month as the space shuttle landed for the last time. We chose that day, July 21st, to launch the company formally at a Gala Celebration in Silicon Valley. Our message of honoring the past and celebrating the beginning of a new commercial space era was well received and generated the biggest NewSpace story since SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X PRIZE.

I am extremely proud of the Moon Express team and thrilled and privileged to be joined by my co-founders Naveen Jain and Barney Pell in declaring the Moon a destination for entrepreneurship as we add our voice to the many others building the new era of commercial space. captured me at a calm moment during the July 2011 NewSpace conference and asked me to document on camera some of the history, status and goals of Moon Express. I was happy to do so and hope these three short webisodes serve as an interesting benchmark of the early days of a big dream... 

Part 1: The Moon as Icon...The Moon as Opportunity

Part 2: The End Of The Beginning

Part 3 - What a Time for a Moon Mission

I also had the great honor and privilege last month of being invited by the SETI Institute to give a talk on Moon Express. This was a particularly fun and poignant experience for me, having been so influenced by the institute's founders. So with Jill Tarter sitting in the front row and Carl's residual aura providing me much inspiration, here is my (long) talk on...

Moon Express - Pioneering the NewSpace Frontier

Moon Express has barely begun and we have a very long way to go, but the game is on and the Google Lunar X PRIZE is heating up, with the unpredictable adventures and rewards of opening up a whole new world awaiting us all.

~ Bob

Postscript - Now that the 'benevolent conspiracy' is becoming more visible through the growing influence and authority of its members, it's been interesting to see some relative newcomers troubled by the deep connectivity of our community and questioning conflict of interest ethics, when the story is actually so much bigger and its foundations so much deeper than they appear to have realized....

Yes, there really is a 'space mafia', based on lifelong relationships forged in the fires of common goals and manifest in the institutions, companies, projects and endeavors we've all dedicated our lives to realizing. We evolve through different positions and roles, but we are banyan trees sharing common roots in a forest of dreams. 

It's a wonderful global community we've built, largely through our various space advocacy groups and through institutional common experiences such as the International Space University. The friendships and networks we've built locally and globally are in fact our proudest accomplishment. It's because of these deep commitments and interpersonal relationships that we are able to do what we do.

Because we are such a relatively small community and often cross-pollinate each others' organizations, there hasn't been one of our undertakings over the years that I am aware of that hasn't proactively instituted and managed COI rules at every level of the organization. I think any reasonable consideration beyond the superficial will reveal a stunning commons of interest being executed with consummate professionalism. 

To anyone confused or discomforted by the friendships overlapping various endeavors in the NewSpace community, I think a little deeper look will help. It's not hard; there is history and no mystery; and we do not hide our interlinking friendships because it's a fact of life that we all handle on a routine basis with the appropriate checks and balances needed for professionals working with accountability to our dreams, our organizations and each other.