Origins for Space…

So, I have been thinking about the second item listed in our specific objectives and purposes in our Bylaws, namely:

(b) Promote development of a spacefaring culture by sponsoring activities that inspire the public to embrace the possibility of life beyond Earth

and how that relates to engaging our various constituencies.  Specifically, I have been wondering how can we engage with the enthusiasts (both fans of science fiction and of space flight programs), professionals (engineers, policy makers, etc), and other members of the space exploration community (astronauts, legislators, etc).  One thought I have had is a conference/convention, but most of the ones I have attended are either strictly technical, or strictly fan oriented (though I will be the first to admit I have been to only a handful of the events listed at the link).

What would be cool is if there was a conference that really split the line down the middle, having engaging content for fans, amateur engineers, professionals, and explorers all at the same site and at the same time.  Kind of an Origins for Space.  Origins is a Gaming Convention that includes official product launches, professional meetings for members of the gaming industry, and lots of opportunities for gamers to get together, play games, and meet the people who make the games.  Of the handful of events I have attended, only one that I can recall blurs the line (ISPCS) between technical conference and community engagement.  But it is small (a few hundred people) and is really aimed at allowing industry members to get together face to face.  Participation by enthusiasts is an added bonus more than a goal.

Not that we don’t already have enough to do, but at some point, I think it would behoove us to either find this kind of blended event, or if nothing like it exists, create it.  It would allow us to cross pollenate our constituencies, and hopefully help them see each other as allies and not unrelated groups.  It might also help us build up a core of dedicated community members (I know Maureen, Andy, Bekah and I are so dedicated to attending Origins that we plan for it a year in advance, committing to next year’s hotel room before this year’s convention has even started).  Finally, it would make a great place to hold our version of the state of the industry address.

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3 thoughts on “Origins for Space…

  1. J Simmons Post author

    One more thing…

    A key element would be having content that spans the whole spectrum of engagement. Everything from “My contact with space is limited to using DirecTV and drinking Tang” to “I am a Rocket Scientist who developed key systems in Apollo” to “I have flown in space 5 times” and everything in between. The content should also be presented in a variety of ways. From standard lecture/paper talks to Disney-like attractions to hands on science museum stuff.

  2. Greg Moran

    One more thing

    I am all for this idea. I’d recommend the practical option is to find an existing event and join them. This just aleviates our already over-committed board of directors from superfluous planning and coordinating. A lot of student conferences fit this bill. (again the small sample size but…) My trip to A&M last year was a good example of a conference that blended visionary thinking (scifi like mentality), technical presentations, and community building for new entry level engineering graduates. My recomendation is to participate in only existing conferences in the near term. See below for additioal reasons.

    I will look into other SEDS conference locations.


    Here are a few practical concerns that I would need to see us address before we attempt to host our own con as Mach 30:

    1) where is our community? I’d like to see an active group, even just a dozen people or so, participating somewhere (preferably the Mach 30 website) before planning our own con. Simply having J and Mo and Greg all commenting on eachother’s posts is not adequate. However, see my first recommendation, above.

    2) additionally, who is going to organize the Con event? What I hear you saying is that you (we) have a bunch of excellent ideas and options for activities and ways to particiapte in our community but yet we still lack the staff or volunteers to put on any events. I am waiting to see how the work is going to get done without a concerted effort put towards “recruiting” or “marketing” or whatever you want to call it: getting the message out there so that people come to our website and engage.

    3) show me the money! I know we talked about the philosophy of doing things as cheaply as possible but it does take some money. I still need to see a coherent plan for sustained income to enable us to develop the activities that we can dream up. Maybe staff and volunteers can help here too.

    Please don’t take these criticisms the wrong way. I just think better in terms of “to do lists.” These are just the top few items on my Mach 30 big picture list.

    1. J Simmons Post author

      All valid points…

      Don’t get me wrong, I was not trying to propose this as an immediate kind of goal. I was more just trying to brainstorm on the website instead of my notebook. Hopefully, when we (the larger Mach 30 community) is ready, someone will find this post and go, “hey, maybe it is time we actually talk about doing this”.


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