"Aim high, or you're liable to shoot your toes off..."
We used to aim high. In 1961, President Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon "within a decade". At the time, the US has barely achieved orbital spaceflight. We aimed high, and the future indeed turned out closer than we thought possible.
45 years later, it is time to aim high again. If the moon is a rocky lifeless island near our shore, Mars is the continental shoreline across the ocean. Granted, it is a little bit harder to get to, but the promise and possibilities are infinitely greater. If we're going to risk the ocean, we need to set a course for a worthy destination.
45 years later, it is also time to investigate alternatives to rocket propulsion. Governed by the famous Rocket Equation, space-bound rockets must always be composed of at least 95% fuel, and will likely never carry more than 1% or 2% payload, so rocket travel will likely never be safe or affordable. The Space Elevator is the only viable alternative on the drawing boards today, offering very scalable, low-cost, and safe trasnsport to space.
45 years later, the Spaceward Foundation has set the goal of breaking the Space Program out of Earth Orbit and into worthy destinations. Mankind has clearly outgrew its habitat, and it's time to move on.
The Spaceward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public-funds non-profit organization dedicated to furthering space science and technology in education and in the public mindshare.
The United States has benefited greatly from its technological leadership during the 20th century. From the mass production of automobiles to airplanes to computers to the green revolution to the Internet, Americans have led the way. Now, at the dawn of a new century, our leadership is being challenged. We want to see the United States benefit from its continued leadership in space during the 21st century. Spaceward intends to bring together leaders from the academic, commercial and educational worlds and create a series of challenges, exhibits, and educational activities that will re-invigorate the nation's interest in space.
Our programs focus on three specific groups:
K-12: The best way to affect long term change is through education. Kids are still fascinated by space and yet space is seldom taught in classrooms today. This trend coincides with declining proficiency in math and science that threatens our economy in the 21st century. Spaceward intends to effectively reach the K-12 audience and leverage their natural interest in space. Our goal is nothing less than to catalyze a renaissance in science, mathematics and engineering much like that which occurred in the early days of the space program.
Academia: Academia is the trend setter for industry, and therefore represents the quickest and most direct way to seed change. We are proud to have been chosen by NASA's Centennial Challenges Program as their first Alliance Partner to develop and run several exciting engineering competitions designed to focus the brightest minds on some of NASA's most difficult mission challenges. Following in the footsteps of the X-Prize, the DARPA Grand Challenge, and the many prize competitions of the past, Spaceward is managing $650,000 in prize money for 3 competitions on the topics of power beaming, tether strength, and autonomous robotic assembly. Our goal is to establish within several years a tradition comparable to that of solar car racing, but targeted at overcoming the technological hurdles in our chosen technology problems, to enable a future space program that will truly reach for the stars.
Public: Major changes in space policy will not happen without a shift in public opinion about space. It is Spaceward's goal to reach beyond the space-friendly audience, to expand the circle of people that think exploration should be at the top of our national list of priorities, and is worth both expense and sacrifice. We want the nation to once again embrace a vision of a vibrant space program based on exploration and commerce.
With a persistent effort, and taking care to balance all three groups, we believe we can make a significant difference in the foreseable future. Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ... It is 2005, and we have taken that step.