The Space Space: Part 2
There are two revolutions occurring in space that investors and observers need to pay attention to. One is the effort to generate solar power in space for use on our planet. Militaries have been at the forefront of developing ways to harness energy in space for delivery here on earth. Their focus was on weapons systems – lasers from space that could zap assets on earth. But, in light of energy shortages and eye wateringly high energy prices, we can expect this technology to migrate into the public domain very quickly. If it works, this will be an extraordinary revolution in energy that will come from the space space.
The other extraordinary revolution in space is being led by the US Congress, which is now forcefully compelling the Department of Defence and the various US Intelligence Agencies to reveal what they have and know about UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon). This new phrase has recently replaced the term UFO (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) in order to remove the stigma from any enquiries into the subject matter. The Senate is scheduling hearings. The Department of Defence confirms that their personnel have been involved in incidents. They are fast declassifying the materials related to such events, including videos and reports. The DOD is permitting high level staff to give interviews. In addition, the most respected astronomers in America are announcing new projects to explore the possibilities that something is happening is space that we have not yet been able to explain. Obviously, this shift by officialdom represents an even more extraordinary revolution in the space space.
It's hard to think of two lines of enquiry that would better justify spending almost unlimited money on and in space – life and energy. Add to these the notion that strategic dominance in space provides strategic dominance on earth (See The Space Space Part 1) and we begin to see why space is now the hottest and most investable space in the universe.
Life in Space
I know you will have to ask yourself “Did a former Presidential Advisor just say that there might be life in space?” The answer is that I am seeing the US Government and many investors and even majour scientific journals like Scientific American devoting a lot of energy to this question.
The US Congress has been compelling the Department of Defence and the US Intelligence Agencies in recent years not only to declassify and release everything they have on Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon and “close encounters” but to make progress in establishing new surveillance mechanisms like the “Anomaly Surveillance and Resolution Office.” This was authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. On November 23rd, 2021, the pentagon announced the creation of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG). The press release reads, “The AOIMSG will synchronize efforts across the Department and the broader U.S. government to detect, identify and attribute objects of interest in Special Use Airspace (SUA), and to assess and mitigate any associated threats to the safety of flight and national security.” In June 2021, The Director for National Intelligence released a report entitled: “Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon”, which calls for “Consistent consolidation of reports from across the federal government, standardized reporting, increased collection and analysis, and a streamlined process for screening all such reports against a broad range of relevant USG data will allow for a more sophisticated analysis of UAP that is likely to deepen our understanding.” Today US Military personnel are encouraged to report what they see formally, and greater focus is now being placed on the sensor data than the human intelligence.
In addition to establishing formal procedures and investigative committees, significant personel changes and confirmations are happening too. Perhaps the most interesting has been the concerted efforts to dismiss and remove a fellow named Gary Reid from his role as the Director for Defense Intelligence in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defence for Intelligence and Security OUSD(I&S). He was “in charge of all counterintelligence, security, and law enforcement operations within the Department of Defence.” There were a multitude of reasons given, ranging from sexual misconduct with a subordinate to his handling of the rather botched US withdrawl from Afghanistan. What matters is that his subordinate at the Pentagon, Lue Elizondo, is the central figure who succeeded in getting the Navy’s infamous “tic-tac” videos declassified. These videos ended up with Chris Mellon, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Intelligence, who then released them to The New York Times, which published them. Once the public had access to the videos thanks to 60 Minutes and the Pentagon confirmed that the videos were real, Congress jumped in. Ever since, Congress has been increasingly engaged on the issue.
The focus is on the security threat rather than the wonder of the possibility that intelligent life might exist out there. The problem is that these UAPs keep popping in and out of restricted US Airspace. They do this at incredible speeds and in defiance of what we know about physics. They seem to appear at military installations, including nuclear facilities, and near naval vessels at sea. The question is simple: Are these visible phenomena ours or theirs or them? Ours would mean a secret and stealth aircraft that the US is building. The US always has such new aircraft in development. Theirs would mean it’s the Chinese or the Russians, which is a real possibility given their advancements in hypersonic weapons systems and space travel. Them would mean, well….them – beings or an intelligence that does not fit into the taxonomy of geopolitics and nations states. Note that no US government report uses the words “aliens” or “extra-terrestrials”. So far, everything is “inconclusive”, which, of course, warrants much more study and spending to get to the bottom of all this.
This week, according to Politico, “Members of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees received classified progress reports in recent weeks on a series of new data collection efforts the Pentagon and spy agencies are now required to pursue to more rigorously investigate reports of UFO’s.”
The US is not alone in pursuing the UAP/UFO question. Russia and China have their own evidence and their own enquiries going. Here is some footage released in 2020 by Ivan Vagner, a Russian astronaut, who filmed this while he was living on the International Space Station. The Chinese have confirmed that they are so overwhelmed by the volume of sightings that they are applying AI to the problem. The Russians started declassifying their UFO/UAP footage back in 2009.
Meanwhile, private parties are gathering to explore the same question. The one to watch is Dr. Avi Loeb of Harvard University. He is one of the most revered astronomers in the world today, being not only the longest-serving Chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy but also the Founding Director of Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative and a “fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics. Loeb is a former member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) at the White House, a former chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies (2018-2021)”.
Dr. Loeb has a number of different projects underway in the Space Space. One is the Galileo Project. His position is to avoid using data gathered by excited UFOers with shaky cameras and blurry images. He also wants to avoid anything gathered by classified military sources. He plans to use the best telescopes to gather original high-grade data from a much wider stretch of sky than anyone has before. The Chinese agree with this view and are building the Xuntian Telescope (Chinese Survey Space Telescope (CSST)) which will apparently “photograph 40% of the sky” and “have a 350-fold bigger view” than Nasa’s Hubble Telescope.
Dr. Loeb will also be studying physical objects.
“The goal of the Galileo Project is to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations (ETCs) from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends to the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research. This project is complementary to traditional SETI, in that it searches for physical objects, and not electromagnetic signals, associated with extraterrestrial technological equipment.”
Remember that Dr. Loeb was the first to suggest that the Oumuamua was not a comet or meteor but an interstellar object. It passed by earth in 2017. It tumbled through space at 196k per hour and then seemed to have made a sort of sharp hyperbolic turn in our solar system that is inexplicable unless it had propulsion. Watch this GIF of the path of travel. Here is NASA’s take on Oumuamua.
Space & Crypto
I happened to be in Miami when he and Peter Thiel’s Advisor, the highly regarded uber mathematician and podcaster, Eric Weinstein, did a talk at Miami Bitcoin in 2022 called “Fix the Money, to Leave the World.” It was a strange place to introduce the idea that A. there may be interstellar intelligence as evidenced by the appearance of interstellar objects and B. that crypto might be needed to pursue the exploration of intersteller/UAP subject matter. Listen in from 17:00. I can’t say that I disagree. We are certainly not going to be able to fund this kind of spending in the current financial system especially given its precarious state. To my ear this sounds like the powers that be are making the case for digital sovereign money. I’m now kidding around but maybe we are going to find that the Space Space will soon be funded by a new category of tokens. You’ve heard of War Bonds, right? Maybe this is the new version: Space Bonds/Tokens. I thought this was an original idea, but apparently not. See another panel at Miami Bitcoin called Blockchain in Space: To The Moon
There is much more coming on this hot topic, but for now, enjoy a new photograph that has just been released by the government of Costa Rica, which some say is the “Best Photograph of a UFO Ever Taken”. NASA has decided to send this photo of us out into space in return.
That’s a digital update to the older version:
The James Webb telescope is now fully deployed as of this week and will be sending back "crisp, well-focused images" according to NASA. Government scientists are also now confirming that meteors seem to hold all the necessary ingredients for life to appear spontaneously. The hugely respected and thorough Nature Magazine just last week said that “a diversity of meteoritic nucleobases could serve as building blocks of DNA and RNA on the early Earth”. In other words, the origin of life came from rocks in space, which means that space really rocks right now. Eyes up. The space economy is a “thing”.
Is all this simply a justification for more spending on the geopolitics of space? America, China and Russia can all prepare for star wars under the cover of something humanity can buy into? I’ll leave it to you to decide.
Now, how are we going to power all this space exploration? The answer may be that space is the source of the new black gold. Instead of mining hydrocarbons here on planet earth, we’ll be benefiting from space sunshine beamed from solar panels and mirrors in space to us earthlings on the ground. This idea was first proposed by Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky at the start of the 20th century. Inspired by Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, he invented the idea of an astronaut in Investigations of Outer Space by Rocket Devices (1911) and Aims of Astronauts (1914).
He invented the Tsiolkovsky formula, which, according to NASA’s web page on him, “established the relationships among rocket speed, the speed of the gas at exit, and the mass of the rocket and its propellant. This equation is the basis of much of the spacecraft engineering done today. In 1929 he published his theory of multistage rockets, based on his knowledge of propulsion dynamics.” He also proposed to beam energy to earth from space. Today that vision is also becoming a reality.
More on all this in Part 3.
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