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The VisioneersHow a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future$
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W. Patrick McCray

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691176291

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691176291.001.0001

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Building Castles in the Sky

Building Castles in the Sky

(p.73) Chapter 3 Building Castles in the Sky
The Visioneers

W. Patrick McCray

Princeton University Press

In the mid-1970s, Gerard O'Neill's ideas and designs for human settlements in space began to secure a beachhead in American popular culture. This chapter shows how he extended the engineering-oriented foundation for his visioneering to a wider base of enthusiasts. Through conferences, workshops, and the accretion of new ideas, O'Neill continued to describe a future in which space-based settlements remained plausible, at least in technical terms, and desirable. At the same time, his “humanization of space” idea mutated as journalists, politicians, writers, college students, and counterculture figures embraced or opposed it. This inherently messy process reflected a decade marked by social confusion, political realignment, and economic uncertainty.

Keywords:   Gerard O'Neill, space settlement, space colony, human settlement

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