by Kesha Rogers, this article first appeared in the February 23, 2018 edition of Executive Intelligence Review magazine.
This week we celebrate America’s first orbital flight, the orbit of the Earth by American astronaut John Glenn, 56 years ago on Feb. 20, 1962. Glenn’s flight was not merely an isolated event in the history of space exploration; it propelled America’s space program to the forefront of science, to the Moon and beyond. John Glenn was a member of the first class of American astronauts, the Mercury 7, who were presented to the American people and the world on April 9, 1959 only one year after the founding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in July of 1958. This year we happily celebrate the 60th Anniversary
America’s Foothold in Space
By the time NASA had announced its first class of astronauts, the Soviets had already taken a lead in space. America faced a great challenge with the successful launch of the first Sputnik satellite into orbit on October 4, 1957. America’s first successful satellite, the Explorer 1, was launched on January 31, 1958, under the leadership of the great space pioneer and rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, after a series of failed attempts dubbed “flopniks.” With the successful launch of America’s first satellite, we had, in the words of von Braun, “firmly established our foothold in space.” Within four years of that first satellite launch, we succeeded in our first manned orbit.
The United States took up the space race with a national commitment, visionary leadership, and determination to unleash a new era in space exploration, dedicated to the advancement of human progress under the direction of President Kennedy. His vision for propelling America’s space program forward could not have been done with cheap, profit-making private schemes and commercialization of space, but rigorous research and development, and robust federal funding. That is how we overcame the Soviet lead in space; they had already launched two satellites, a dog, and the first human being, Yuri Gagarin, who orbited the Earth on April 12, 1961.
The American space program had to take a new leap forward, and it did. After a great wave of optimism swept the nation with the launching of the first suborbital mission by Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard on May 5, 1961, President Kennedy set forth a new vision that would change the course of history for the United States and the world in the direction of space exploration. On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered an historic speech before a joint session of Congress which would set us on course to the Moon with American astronauts by the end of the decade. Kennedy’s ambitious program would not be accomplished cheaply, nor was it to be a fly-by-night cheap race to some distant finish line just to plant a flag. He unleashed a national mission that mobilized the best and greatest of our nation’s talents, and offered a collaborative “win-win” ending to the Cold War. In that 1961 message, he called for an extended set of goals including the launching of a Rover Nuclear Rocket and advanced weather satellites. Meeting Kennedy’s challenge and that vision for the American space program created great leaps in economic and scientific progress, propelling not only our nation forward, but advancing the whole of mankind. That was the real intention of the space program and why so many would dedicate their lives to such a mission, even at the risk of losing their own lives.
Those who paved the way did not do it to enhance the profits of a small group of greedy fat cats; they put their talents to work to address the problems confronting our nation and the whole of mankind. This passion for scientific discovery and its application in outer space is precisely what those who so vehemently oppose the progress of the space program feared then, and still fear today—the fear of the optimism and joy it carries with it, and the unimpeachable fact that such work increased the productive standards of living of the American people. Those who want to subject society to the idea of limits to growth, limited resources, anti-growth and impeding the creative progress of all human minds certainly despised the vision laid out by President Kennedy and carried out by many great pioneers in the exploration of space.
The forty- year-old Mercury astronaut John Glenn, on Feb. 20, 1962, became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Friendship 7 spacecraft. His flight, as were the flights of others who flew before, and after him, was not part of a publicity stunt to get us to the Moon and back. Those space missions were the leading edge of a long-term vision for the future of mankind. President Kennedy’s 1961 vision to “land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth,” by the end of the decade, was the major first step in advancing what space pioneer Krafft Ehricke described as mankind’s “extra-terrestrial imperative,” to become a galactic species. Ehricke rejected the ideas of limits to growth.
Becoming a Galactic Species
President Kennedy outlined a broad plan for human space exploration, to the Moon and beyond. He recognized the importance of weather monitoring and forecasting, with an array of satellite systems, and moving to atomic rockets for more advanced propulsion, including missions to Mars. Kennedy increasingly saw the necessity to end the Cold War threat of mutually assured destruction, and in 1963 put forward a plan for a joint landing on the Moon with the Russians. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchov reversed his initial rejection of this proposal, according to reports from his son, Sergei Khrushchov. To the great misfortune of mankind, Kennedy was killed and the USA stepped into the quagmire of Vietnam.
Krafft Ehricke had an even more thoroughly developed blueprint for how mankind as a species would transition away from the “winner take all” geopolitics of the Cold War, to mutually beneficial “win-win” collaboration among nations. He developed this concept in what he called an Open World paradigm. By adopting the cultural optimism of his Three Laws of Astronautics, nations of the world could start on a path to growth, with many beneficial results:
- An increase in new technologies, which would result from an increase in our scientific understanding of the physical laws governing the universe;
- A decrease in the entropy of our economic systems, by utilizing the new technologies developed, which allow the use of new and better resources, as would fusion energy;
- The improvement of international relations among nations, lessening the causes of war;
- The improvement of internal relations within nations, lessening the causes of civil strife;
- The stabilization of population growth in a life-oriented direction;
- The preservation of the biosphere, and a fuller understanding of its interaction with the solar and galactic environment;
- The expansion of the human species to bring cislunar space into our economic grasp;
- The exploration of deep space from permanent science labs on the Moon;
- The protection of life from extreme space weather, and potentially hazardous asteroids and comets;
- A deeper understanding of the origins of our Galaxy, Solar system, and life itself;
- The ability to protect humanity, and all species, from extinction.
The continued expansion of human civilization beyond Earth is imperative for pulling people out of poverty on Earth. When we choose to explore the stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and electromagnetic environment, we force ourselves to develop new technologies, materials, scientific breakthroughs, and cultural pride. These improvements allow us to better feed, educate, employ, and keep healthy the entire world. In a message to a Memorial Conference in honor of Krafft Ehricke titled, “Colonize Space! Open the Age of Reason,” American statesman Lyndon LaRouche paid tribute Ehricke, stating “Our dear Krafft Ehricke served with notable distinction, to the degree that his name must be remembered most prominently by those who construct the first colonies on the Moon and Mars. He has helped in an important and practical degree, to make clear to humanity, that it has been the intent of the Creator that mankind’s destiny is to become mankind in the Universe.” Our deep exploration of the planetary, solar, and galactic space in which we live, is the basis for how we come to better understand and care for ourselves and each other, and improve the overall quality of human life and our biosphere.
NASA is not merely a line item in a budget; it is the most advanced driver of human progress currently in existence. The full funding of NASA and with it the revitalization of the idea of mission, as presented and implanted under President Kennedy, is no mere relic, but it is the basis for human survival in the Solar system we inhabit.
This fundamental resource, the human space program, which is critical for progress, cannot rely on funding from unreliable sources, such as short-term fiscal budgets, Wall Street markets, or public-private partnerships. It needs a funding source which will remain undeterred by the shifting sands of popular opinion, a source based on understanding long-term goals and designed to fulfill those goals. Full funding of NASA’s mission for human progress requires a National Bank with a capital budget.
A national bank, as conceived originally by our first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, can issue credit on a long-term basis (5- to 50-year terms) at low, fixed interest rates (1-2% APY) for the purpose of funding research and development of entirely new technologies and scientific principles, which will rapidly increase the productive viability of humanity. The purpose is not to generate profits from the credit issuance itself, but for the credit to fund the breakthroughs that improve society through the dissemination of new discoveries and inventions in every sector including, but not limited to, medicine, agriculture, materials, communication, transportation, machine tool design, and education. That type of approach generated a 10:1 real profit from the Apollo Program alone, and also permanently increased the standard of living in thousands of ways, everything from velcro to incredible advances in nuclear medicine.
Unlike the Federal Reserve, which issues currency only to maintain the reserves of the largest “too big to fail/jail” banks (and issues quantitative easing when their speculative bubbles pop), a Hamiltonian National Bank’s purpose is to involve the general population, as well as local, state, and federal banks, in funding the creation of our long-term future. The bank would be capitalized by receiving federal tax revenue, long-term Treasury bonds, municipal and state bonds, and commercial deposits, and would issue credit specifically for large-scale projects of a national and international scope.
By issuing currency backed by Treasury securities for specific projects designed to upgrade economic efficiency and physical productive output, the bank effectively creates technologies and infrastructure. Those projects “pay for themselves” in the long term, but may take several years to mature.
Eliminating the uncertainty of funding for flagship missions in space exploration and energy development—missions to include bringing the Moon into the economic grasp of mankind and developing fusion energy from the extensive Helium-3 in the lunar soil— will dramatically accelerate the goal of eliminating poverty, both domestically and worldwide. Let us advance the true cause of exploration and the development of mankind in the Universe as Krafft Ehricke understood so well, and as Lyndon LaRouche has continued to put at the forefront of the fight for human progress in the development of space, saying
“There in the stars, lies mankind’s entry into the long awaited Age of Reason, when our species sheds at last the cultural residue of the beast.”