On Becoming an Autonomous Astronaut

"This man spends his life wonderfully! While still a boy, he reads with interest books and stories on astronomy. With his first earned money he buys an astronomical telescope... the name of his daughter is Astra, the name of his son Mercury. Every thought, every step, manifests his aspiration for interplanetary flight!"
Pravda editorial 1934

24th May 1962: John Glenn, a US Marine Corps pilot, becomes the second American in orbit. He uses up most of the Aurora 7's fuel supply getting into a good position to photograph sunrises. For this he is severely reprimanded by NASA.

To become an Autonomous Astronaut you don't just need to understand the history of independent space exploration and act accordingly. You must also to be something different from the attitudes and values of the society we want to leave behind. We must be ourselves first and foremost - wherever that may take us. The "militant" posturing so adored by so many puritanical political activists is of no use to the AAA. It is a mindset that splits the individual into two, separating people's real individual and social needs - the reasons why they cannot stand life on planet earth, from their actions - their attempts to leave this world behind. If the AAA's programme turns into another job, even for one person, then we will have failed utterly.

The militant as an individual, and political groups as organisations, suffer from a sort of displacement of personality - what they want and how they try to get there are two completely different things. That is why our parties are just as valuable as our texts. That is why we move in several directions at once.

The AAA is not a programme that one puts into practice or makes others put into practice, but a social movement. Those of us who develop and defend the AAA's ideas do not have any advantage over others except a clearer understanding and a more rigorous expression; like everyone who is not especially concerned by theory, we feel the practical need for establishing autonomous communities in outer space.

We are not leaders or experts - and never will be. People who expect everyone involved with the network to be able to know about every aspect of space travel are deluding themselves. We cherish the learning process, the dialogue between interested individuals. That is how all of our ideas have developed, and that is how we will achieve our aims. Our training methods reflect this approach - they are as much about social interaction as they are about acquiring skills. Those who project their hopes and desires onto us must understand that they are involved - they are astronauts too.

There is no point in some kind of "élite" group of autonomous astronauts getting into space, our trajectories must be open to all. We are not proposing some sort of zero gravity hippie drop-out commune that excludes everyone else.

We do not have the future mapped out, waiting to fall off the shelf when the time is right. We only have a limited idea of what communities in outer space will look like at their beginning, let alone after a hundred years. Finding out is often the best bit, the whole point of the games we play. We are concerned with possibilities and experimentation, not with having the "correct line", or being right in retrospect.

The difficulty lies in the need to go beyond traditional notions of space travel while not rejecting relevant concepts. It is not enough to understand that NASA, The ESA and their counterparts in Eastern Europe have nothing in common with what we are trying to achieve. One must also see what has actually changed over the last 60 years, and which aspects of their technology can be adapted in the light of the present situation.

Zero gravity communities are at hand, only the inertia of society prevents them from forming. But their basis is there, and we will develop the propulsion to reach them.

The first step is to consider the issues, to engage in dialogue with like-minded people. The AAA's network of groups is a reflection of this stage. Anyone reading this can contribute. We have been conditioned by the media over the last 60 years to place our hopes and aspirations in outer space, but it is only the AAA that has taken up this challenge seriously. As individuals we are isolated, atomised. But if we can come together and pool our ideas and skills then community-based space travel will become not just a possibility, but a necessity. We have been fooled, conned into letting governments and armies get into space on our behalf. Occasionally they will dangle little tit bits in front of us like "life on Mars" or "ice on the Moon", but nothing really changes. It must be apparent that their interests are not ours. Now is the time for everyone, for all of us here to do it for ourselves - and for each other.

Every man and every woman is an autonomous astronaut.

John Eden
Raido AAA