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Key Quotes of Gerard K. O’Neill

“Is a planetary surface the right place for an expanding technological civilization?”

­G.K. O’Neill to his students, 1969.

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“We are surely far from having found the best ways in which human beings can live together and govern themselves; surely far from having achieved freedom for all, or having explored all the talents of which the human mind is capable. What chance will we have, though, here on an Earth ever more crowded and more hungry for energy and materials, to allow for diversity, for experiment, for groups to try in isolation to find better lifestyles? What chance for rare talented individuals to create their own small worlds of home and family, as was so easy a century ago in our America as it expanded into a new frontier? For me the age-old dream of improvement, of change, of greater human freedom are the most poignant of all; and the most chilling prospect that I see for a planet-bound human race is that many of those dreams would be forever cut off for us.”

­from The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill © 1976.

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“We need, I believe, to lift our eyes….. to remind ourselves of the shared vision for which our work is done. Ultimately that vision will expand our physical, political and mental boundaries from the confines of a single planet to the much broader limits of a race freely expanding its habitat throughout our solar system, and from there to the stars. Even the beginning of realization of that vision will bring profound benefits to our planet and its life:

“The sure survival of all races of humanity, and of the plant and animal life forms we cherish as part of our Earthly heritage, in colonies dispersed throughout our solar system and beyond it.

“The preservation of the Earth and its fragile biosphere, as a place of great beauty, deserving our care and our nurturing, as it has nurtured us through our evolution.

“Opening a hopeful future for individual human beings, with increasing personal and political freedoms, a wider range of choices, and greater opportunities to develop individual potentials.

“Reducing the incidence of wars and the constant threat of wars, by opening a new frontier with virtually unlimited new lands and new wealth.

“These are the worthiest of goals, and many of us have tried in our own ways to work toward them. We may take courage in the fact that by opening the High Frontier we will transform all four of those goals into reality.”

­from a 1988 reprint of The High Frontier, pages 325-326.

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The High Frontier is still seen as one of the most important books ever written on the subject of the human breakout into space. The Institute, at Dr. O’Neill’s request, intends to keep The High Frontier in print as long as the organization exists.

The High Frontier project is a joint effort of the Space Studies Institute and the Space Frontier Foundation.