Ethics, Rockets and Spaceflights Course Slides

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ETHICS, ROCKETS & SPACEFLIGHT
UCT Summer School 2015
Keith Gottschalk
Political Studies (rtd.)
University of the Western Cape
Fellow, British Interplanetary Society
PREHISTORY:
Rocketry before the Space Age
• 970 Feng Jishen
• projection of power & wealth:
– firework for fun
– weapon for war
• 1300s: Venturi nozzles
Mobile multiple missile launchers
2-stage ship-to-ship missiles
• 1792, 1799 Haidar Ali & Tippu Sahib
Seringapatam 1.5kms range
PREHISTORY:
Rocketry before the Space Age
• Congreve rockets; 1806 2.7 kms range
• US national anthem “by the rockets’ red glare”
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toughest problem - Guidance
after 1860s rifled gun barrels more accurate
CIVILIANS, SPACEFLIGHT, & ROCKETS:
Jules Verne (1828-1905) popularizes spaceflight
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935)
Robert Goddard (1882-1945)
ROCKETS & ETHICS: 1932 – 1990
The role of engineers in police states?
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The Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977) debate
Sergei Korolev (1907 – 1966)
Qian Xuesen (1911- 2009)
ETHICAL ISSUE 1:
Making the world’s biggest rockets for WW2 & atomic
war, gambling that they would not be used for
bombardment, but become available for spaceflight;
• Complicity with totalitarian police states by making
bombardment weapons of mass destruction.
ROCKETS & ETHICS: 1932 – 1990
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED:
Four spaceflight enthusiasts who suffered huge career
sacrifices, or had to abandon the project that was
their life’s work, due to ethnical choices they made • Rudolf Nebel 1894 – 1978
• Willy Ley 1906 – 1969
• Frank Joseph Malina 1912 – 1981
• Raghavan Gopalaswami 1936• Only later did rocket engineers get the choice
of working for a civilian employer
ROCKETS & ETHICS: 1932 – 1990
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1958: NASA or USAF, USAFRL, NRO (1961), DARPA
1962: INCOSPAR (1969-ISRO) or DRDO
1962: ELDO (1975-ESA) or military
1970s: liquid-propellant rockets, especially
cryogenic propellant rockets, militarily obsolete
• COLD WAR - STRINGENT RESTRICTIONS ON
PROLIFERATION OF DUAL-USE TECHNOLOGY:
• USA: International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) 1976
• Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) 1987
• South Africa Space Affairs Act 84 of 1993
ETHICAL ISSUE 2:
DANGERS TO ASTRONAUTS & PASSENGERS
pre-1971
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Microgravity
“space weather” - Radiation
“space situational awareness” - space debris
SHORT STAYS IN SPACE – Before 1971, longest stay in space: fortnight
– Space adaption syndrome
– Orthostatic hypertension
– Sleep disorders
ETHICAL ISSUE 2:
DANGERS TO ASTRONAUTS & PASSENGERS 1971 • LONG TERM STAY IN SPACE: Salyut, Mir, ISS
• Valeri Polyakov endurance record 437 days (1994-95)
• Sergei Krikalev has spent cumulatively 803 days
– Loss of bone density
– Loss of muscle mass
– Decreased immune system functioning while e.g.
salmonella poisoning more virulent
– Deterioration of eyesight; sometimes irreversable
– Endothelial cells become dysfunctional
– Enhanced risk of mutations & cancers
ETHICAL ISSUE 3: pollution
• Outer Space Treaty 1967 Article IX:
• “shall pursue studies of outer space, including the
Moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct
exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful
contamination and also adverse changes in the
environment of the Earth resulting from the
introduction of extra-terrestrial matter and, where
necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this
purpose”
• “Forward Contamination”
• “Backward Contamination”
• NASA Office of Planetary Protection
Forward Contamination
• Measles & smallpox – exterminate 95% of natives in
1600s New England; 1700s Western Cape; 1800s
Pacific isles
• Common cold – 1900s exterminates Tasmanian
aborigines (inspired HG Wells’ War of the Worlds)
• If contaminate eg Mars, would never know if due to
panspermia or contamination
• Earth life could be invasive species of bacteria or
archaea to other planets or moons
Backward Contamination
• Alien vegetation invasive in Cape floristic region
• When we emigrate to other “shirtsleeve” planets with no resistance to their own viruses, bacteria,
fungi?
• Or have to build O’Neill orbiting cities?
• meet extra-terrestrial life: must be treated as biohazard level 4 – as deadly to us as Congo-Crimean,
Ebola, Marburg, Meningitis
• Must wear bio-hazard suits
Ethical issue 4:
Meeting extra-terrestrial intelligent life
• Roswell & Area 51
• for half a century UFO & alien abduction cults – tens of
thousands of Americans allege that they have already
met ET intelligent life – as kidnappers & torturers
versus
• Fermi paradox: where are they?
• Centuries of debate by philosophers & theologians
• but never involve International Relations or other
political scientists!
Declaration of Principles for Activities
following the Detection of
Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
• IAA – International Academy of Astronautics
• IISP – International Institute of Space Law
• IAU – International Astronomical Union
• URSI – International Union of Radio Science
• UN COSPAR – Committee on Space Research
Adopted between 1989 – 1992 but only by NGOs;
no standing in international law; but norm-making &
setting standards
Declaration of Principles for Activities
following the Detection of
Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
• Discoverer must first verify claim
• Communicate to other signatories of Declaration
• Communicate to Central Bureau for Astronomical
Telegrams & UN Secretary-General; if detected by EM
waves also inform International Telecommunications
Union
• Media conference
• Publish all data
• Do not respond to signal - solution to Fermi paradox  ?
• IAA & IAU to continually review protocol
But the horse bolted before the stable
door was closed
• Voyagers 1 & 2 launched 1977 with gramophone
record & needle carrying data about Earth &
human beings ….
• If SKA after completion can detect radar on a
planet or moon up to 50 light years away, any ET
civilization who has constructed a 100 SKA can
detect our VHF transmissions, starting in 1950s,
from further away still ….
Declaration of Principles for Activities
following the Detection of
Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
• SKA, after completed, will be able to detect airport
radars on planets & moons up to 50 light years away
• Reply involves round-trip delay of one century
• Exchange of software & intellectual property?
• Stimulation to budgets for space travel
• British Interplanetary Society: projects for research,
publication & debate on interstellar travel by “world
ships” – fleet of trillion (1012) tonne spaceships for
inter-generational journeys
Declaration of Principles for Activities following the
Detection of Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
• Hollywood mostly sterotypes ETs as imperialist invaders
conquering Earth with star wars weapons
• but what if Neill Blomkamp is closer to the mark?
• What if 1.8m ET aliens arrive as refugees,
suffering from malnutrition, & can only eat cat food?
• & cannot return home because they are refugees?
• Will all have to be issued with biohazard suits;
• Struggle to develop vaccines

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