Frontier Enabling Test

Frontier Enabling Test

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Frontier Enabling Test

Message 10 of the Frontier Files

c 1995 Space Frontier Foundation

This message is another in a series of Space Frontier Foundation essays designed to inform the Internet public about the incredible possibilities awaiting us in space.

For Foundationers, space is the next great human frontier. A frontier such as the so called “New Worlds” of the Americas and South Pacific represented for the last 500 hundred years. A frontier we have to take from no one. A frontier to which we can bring the gift of life. A frontier for all humanity. A frontier we believe is not being opened quickly enough.

Yet if one listens to the speeches or the sound bites of space officials in media, we are moving along just fine on our road to the frontier. The space field is cluttered with such high sounding rhetoric, which stretches credibility when contrasted with the achievements delivered.

Anyone attempting to pick out which space projects he or she should support can be driven mad. Such confusion acts to support the status quo of simply “doing space,” rather than following any plan (hard to do, as there is no goal for which to plan.) Taxpayers are easily misled by the mystique and “shop talk” of a field as glamorous as space. In fact, there aren’t many who are “against space” in a general sense. Debates about space thus usually devolve into those for VS. those against a certain approach, plan, or technology.

Seldom is the question asked: “What does this have to do with the goal?

Any organization truly committed to change needs a criteria by which to judge what it will and will not do to effectively advance its cause. Thus, the Foundation has a relatively simple litmus test for projects and/or initiatives on which we may choose to take a position. We call this “The Frontier Enabling Test”, which we can apply to both government and commercial systems, technologies or policies:

The Frontier Enabling Test


Our definition of a “frontier enabling” technology or policy is one which has as its effect the acceleration of the creation of low cost access to the space frontier for private citizens and companies, enables or accelerates our use of space resources, and/or accelerates the rate at which wealth can be generated in space.

In other words, is the project or policy going to provide a return on the national investment, if we define “return” to be the economically sustainable human habitation of space?

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