Broadcast 3546 Steven Wolfe

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Steven Wolfe; Topics:  Space settlement, the new Beyond Earth Institute, why space settlements, economics of space settlement, challenges, space settlement human factors concerns, no show stoppers.

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We welcomed back to the program Steven Wolfe to discuss space settlement and his having formed a new organization to help accomplish space settlement goals, The Beyond Earth Institute (  Mr. Wolfe started our one segment 67 minute program with a brief history of space settlement and his role in that history as well as in drafting the very important Space Settlement Act of 1988.  Note what Steve said influenced him in the topic from a very early age.  How many of you were also influenced by "The High Frontier" and the work of  Dr. Gerard O'Neill?  Steve worked on the subject through college and then landed a position with Representative George Brown who was on the House Science and Technology Committee.  Listen to how it came to pass that Steve drafted the Settlement Act of 1988 that was accepted by Congress and signed into law.  Steve jumped forward to today to make the case for Moore's Law being at play with space settlement as rapid progress has been made with lowering the cost of space access and in closing the technology gap to make space settlements viable.  Note what our guest said about reliability of launchers going up as costs come down.  Before moving on in the discussion, Steve was asked if he supported free space O'Neillian type settlements to planetary surface settlements. He told us he was agnostic on the subject but listen to all of what he had to say.

We covered many additional space settlement topics in our remaining program.  The best way to summarize this discussion is to once again repeat the tags/key words as they mostly follow the order in which they were discussed on the program.  Here they are:

Beyond Earth Institute, space settlement history, "The High Frontier,"  Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill, human spaceflight, The Space Settlement Act of 1988, Moore's Law for space settlement, lowering space access costs, increasing space launch reliability, space advocacy groups, the need for the Beyond Earth Institute (BYI), BYI advisors and founders,  technology gaps, settlement financing incentives, effects on body due to rotating cylinders, space settlement timelines, variable settlement dates, pregnancy, birth, children for space settlements, space settlement lessons learned, space settlement economics, settlement capital investment, space solar power as a settlement economic driver, space settlement opposition, space settlement timing now.

Some of the topics that were highlighted included why the need for another organization given so many advocacy organizations addressing and promoting space settlement.  Steve had an interesting response to this question but he also carefully defined the role of the BEI.  As you will hear, it is not really a space advocacy organization.  Our guest said it was created to serve a niche and would act as a think tank.  To learn more about their focus priorities, scroll down on their home page,, to read the Why section in full. 

Another area of focus for this discussion came about when Steve was asked how BEI would implement policy recommendations.  Steve talked about a range of issues being considered, goal setting and focusing on closing the technology gap for settlement which he explained to us.  International law considerations, governance, property right, mining, financing concerns and more were mentioned as factors they would be examining.  As we were nearing the end of the program, Steve was asked about space settlement timelines.  Listen to all of what he said but realize that the organization was not setting firm timelines but rather variable timelines.  Don't miss his explanation on this issue. 

Near the end of the program, a listener asked Steve how important it was for children to be part of a settlement, including pregnancy, birth and such.  Steve had a lot to say on this subject but said initial settlements would probably not have children as we have a big learning curve on child related issues for a space settlement.  Let us know your thoughts on his comments on this subject by posting on our blog.  The next topic came about as a result of a call from Ft. Worth John wanting Steve to address the economic viability of a space settlement.  The last topic came up when a listener mentioned a very negative book on settlements and wanted to know if Steve and his organization had a plan to address opposition challenges to space settlement that could interfere with making constructive space settlement policy.  Don't miss what Steve said about the specific book in question and the subject of space settlement opposition.  This was followed by a short program summary by our guest as our program was ending.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program.  You can reach Steven Wolfe through me or his BEI website per above.




Space Settlement and the new Beyond Earth Organization

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24 Jul 2020 Steven Wolfe
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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  • The Space Foundation Conference