Saturday, February 28, 2009

Orphans of Apollo at GWU

I went to Inaugural Event of the new Arthur C. Clarke Fellows Endowment of the International Space University. It was a wonderful event, which also included an inspiring tribute to Arthur C. Clarke and a showing of Orphans of Apollo and Q&A with Michael Potter the Director.

Orphans of Apollo is about Walt Anderson and Mircorp leasing of the Mir Space Station for commercial use and all the feathers it ruffled. I wondered about the name because real orphans of Apollo are not interested in anything in orbit except the Moon. The movie takes us on a rollercoaster ride through this attempt at space commercialization. I knew many of the people in the movie during that time. I remember being amused by what they were trying and amazed they got so far.

What I enjoyed most about the evening is seeing how much progress the space movement is making. The movie Orphans of Apollo included a clip with Elon Musk and Space-X which are becoming serious contenders in the launch field. But the thing that was giving me the most hope was the event itself especially Michael Potter's speech which would have done Rick Tumlinson proud.

I studied at GWU under John Logsdon. Dr. Logsdon is a friend of large aerospace companies and was always concerned about his reputation. Dr. Logsdon would not have allowed Michael Potter and Jeff Manber in the door let alone thrown them an event. I remember talking to Dr. Logsdon about having an event to discuss property rights in space and being told he was not interested and he did not want the event to occur on GWU property.

Listening to Michael Potter speak at an event sponsored by the George Washington University Space Policy Institute is like seeing cars drive under the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. As a teenager I used to live in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was one of the last things I saw in the city before I left. At the time there were groups of heavily armed soldiers about 20 yards apart, on each side of the Brandenburg gate, with guns pointed at each other. No one had passed through the gate in decades. Now there is a major street running under the gate when I first saw a picture of it as it is now I stared for 10 minutes trying to get my head around the concept. I feel like that now. The Space Policy Institute under Dr. Scott Pace is a fundamentally different place than it was a year ago.

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