The Next "Giant Leap"

Written by Jeff Krukin on Sunday, 08 July 2012. Posted in Cognitive Science, Overview Effect, Space Tourism

When Neil Armstrong stepped from the ladder of the Eagle lunar lander to become the first human being to walk on our Moon, he said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."  When he later described his experience, what we now know as the Overview Effect (OE), he explained that, "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth.  I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth."

Fortunately, it is not necessary to go to the Moon, or even the International Space Station, to have an OE experience.  Thanks to the efforts of dedicated NewSpace entrepreneurs, we are on the cusp of an era where hundreds and then thousands of people will have their own OE experience during suborbital flights.

Whether buying a $200,000 ticket and flying to a 100km altitude aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, or buying a $95,000 ticket and flying to a 50km altitude aboard XCOR Aerospace's Lynx, passengers will have a few minutes to experience our Earth as a place without borders.  As a home where we all breathe the same air within the precious bubble of a thin atmosphere, regardless of the political and idealogical beliefs that all too often divide us.

And these space tourism flights are just one way that more and more people will have an OE experience.  Science, too, will benefit from these flights, and new discoveries will increase our understanding of the Earth-Space relationship and help us appreciate that human activity in space is a vital part of our stewardship of our home planet.

The Suborbital Applications Research Group (SARG), a coordination and advisory committee of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, was recently established to facilitate suborbital science.  While the current emphasis is on the hard sciences, as the pace of suborbital flights increases and more and more passengers and scientists publicly discuss their experiences, I expect to see the "soft" sciences (sociology, psychology, philosophy, etc.) and faith/religion studies represented in the near future.

While Neil Armstrong's giant leap was a recognition of the distance traveled, the next giant leap will reflect the increasing numbers of those who travel.

About the Author

Jeff Krukin's space career began with boyhood evenings in the back yard gazing at the Moon.  He has been an IBM Systems Engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation, Chairman of ProSpace and award-winning Director of its annual March Storm Congressional lobbying event, and now an aerospace consultant.

He provides leadership, marketing & communications, strategic planning, and business and economic development services.  Clients have included Caterpillar, Blue Force Technologies, Strategy Analytics, North Carolina State University, SpaceWorks Engineering, the North Carolina Aerospace Alliance, Presence Displays, and the State of North Carolina.

He has been a frequent conference speaker in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and has been interviewed for newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.

Jeff is a published author since 1979, and most recently wrote the second edition of his industry primer, NewSpace Nation: America’s Emerging Entrepreneurial Space Industry.  He was the lead author of The Aero/Space Economy in North Carolina: A Preliminary Assessment of Current Performance and Future Prospects, and a key contributor to North Carolina's Strategic Plan for Workforce Development in the Aviation and Aerospace Industries.  He has written numerous articles, Op-Eds, and white papers, as well as book chapters.

NASA and NOAA’s Office of Space Commercialization have requested his participation in their strategic planning efforts.  Current organizational involvement includes the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Commercial Space Group, and the Suborbital Transportation Working Group of the US Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).

He created The Human-Space Connection®concept to re-frame the conversation about space exploration within a human-centric context. was Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), from January 2005 to December 2007. Jeff became an SFF board member in 1995. In 1997, he became a ProSpace Board Member and Director of the 1998 March Storm lobbying event, for which he received the 1998 ProSpace Activist of the Year Award. In 1999 he became Vice President and continued as Director of March Storm. He became Chairman in 2002 and served until 2004.

In 2012, Jeff was nominated and accepted for membership in the prestigious Explorers Club.

Comments (1)

  • Frank White

    Frank White

    15 July 2012 at 19:08 |
    Jeff, thanks for your excellent contribution. I agree what we are about to see an explosion of new awareness on the planet as a result of the rapidly growing commercial space sector.

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