And just what do these aerospace corporations want in return for funding this "grassroots space movement?" They are asking NSS to lobby for massive federal expenditures to move the arms race into space, to fund the space technology infrastructure to put mining colonies on the moon and Mars, and to support the development of space-based solar power technology that would put centralized solar production in corporate hands rather than development of decentralized solar technologies on homes and businesses back here on Mother Earth.
As one NSS leader puts it, citizen involvement in space drives power at the Congressional "negotiating table for funding."
Because of the growing budget deficit in the U.S., the weapons industry worries that space technology funding will take a hit. They are now moving to preempt that problem.
With heavy funding from the industry the NSS is undertaking a "five year Strategic Plan" and "building a stronger Space Movement is a key component of that plan."
NSS says, "Recently, the space community has become concerned about the relatively low level of support for space among America's youth....In order to strengthen the Movement, additional emphasis will be placed on chapter development and grassroots organization. We will not only appeal to people via intellectual argument, but also to their emotions through the use of space art and other media."
The aerospace industry understands how things work. If you want to control the discussion and change public perception, then you must create the grassroots thunder. NSS confirms this by saying, "The media, the public, politicians, and historians all view something to be of greater importance when it is a movement as compared to when it is not."
And since there is not presently a "pro-space movement" the industry has decided to create one.
There is much money to be made if the public can be convinced that we should spend our dwindling tax dollars on space technology. The Mars Society says that the Earth is a rotting, dying, stinking planet and that we must move our civilization to Mars and that Congress must appropriate funds to "terraform" Mars. And what does terraform mean? It means turning the dusty dry red planet into a replica of the Earth - alive and green and habitable. Just imagine how much that would cost? Imagine the profits for the aerospace corporations to be given such a mission.
Space technology development is very expensive. Just one illustration - the International Space Station was originally supposed to cost the public $10 billion, but the price tag has grown to over $100 billion and it is not yet finished. By the time the space station is completed it will be an outdated technology and on we will go to the next round. Already the aerospace industry is working on the successor programs to the space shuttle and the space station. But in order to get these massive projects funded it must create a citizens base - a movement.
Some years ago I attended a pro-space development conference at Cape Canaveral in Florida. I went to a workshop on Mars where the speaker was the head of the tourist facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Why him, what did he know about Mars? His message was simple - unless we get the kids, who will be taxpayers in 20 years, to support these space missions to the moon and Mars, we are sunk. So, he said, we are doing a complete renovation of the space center tourist facility on a Mars theme and increasing our efforts to bring school children into the space center.
On the other side we have the Global Network organizing international opposition to these plans for "everything space". We understand that we can't have social progress in the U.S. and pay for "everything space" at the same time. We are also hearing from our GN affiliated groups in Sweden, England, France, South Korea, Italy, Australia, Japan, India, and other nations that their countries are being dragged into the space technology game because the U.S. needs allies to help fund this very expensive new direction. The challenge becomes global as we try to hang onto our national resources to protect life for the future generations right here on planet Earth.
Yes indeed, we do need a space movement. It's just a matter of which kind we need. And the real question each of us must answer is "which side are you on?"