L5 Society
The L5 Society was founded in 1975 by Carolyn
Carolyn Meinel
Carolyn P. Meinel was notable in the hacking scene during the 1990s. Her books and website, called The Happy Hacker, are dedicated to a style known as script kiddie hacking...

 and Keith Henson
Keith Henson
Howard Keith Henson is an American electrical engineer and writer on life extension, cryonics, memetics and evolutionary psychology....

 to promote the space colony ideas of Dr Gerard K. O'Neill.

The name comes from the and Lagrangian point
Lagrangian point
The Lagrangian points are the five positions in an orbital configuration where a small object affected only by gravity can theoretically be stationary relative to two larger objects...

s in the Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 system proposed as locations for the huge rotating space habitat
Space habitat
A space habitat is a space station intended as a permanent settlement rather than as a simple waystation or other specialized facility...

s that Dr O'Neill envisioned. and are points of stable gravitational equilibrium located along the path of the moon's orbit, 60 degrees ahead or behind it.

An object placed in orbit around (or ) will remain there indefinitely without having to expend fuel to keep its position, whereas an object placed at , or (all points of unstable equilibrium) may have to expend fuel if it drifts off the point.

Founding of L5 Society

Dr O'Neill's first published paper on the subject, The Colonization of Space, appeared in the journal Physics Today
Physics Today
Physics Today, created in 1948, is the membership journal of the American Institute of Physics. It is provided to 130,000 members of twelve physics societies, including the American Physical Society...

in September 1974. A number of people who later became leaders of the Society got their first exposure to the idea from this article. Among these were a couple from Tucson, Arizona, Carolyn and Keith Henson
Keith Henson
Howard Keith Henson is an American electrical engineer and writer on life extension, cryonics, memetics and evolutionary psychology....

. The Hensons corresponded with O'Neill and were invited to present a paper on "Closed Ecosystems of High Agricultural Yield" at the 1975 Princeton Conference on Space Manufacturing Facilities, which was organized by O'Neill.

At this conference, Dr O'Neill merged the Solar Power Satellite (SPS) ideas of Dr Peter Glaser
Peter Glaser
Peter Edward Glaser is an American scientist and aerospace engineer. He served as Vice President, Advanced Technology , was employed at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Cambridge, MA ; subsequently he served as a consultant to the company . He was president of Power from Space Consultants...

 with his space habitat
Space habitat
A space habitat is a space station intended as a permanent settlement rather than as a simple waystation or other specialized facility...


The Hensons incorporated the Society in August 1975, and sent its first 4-page newsletter in September to a sign up list from the conference and Dr. O'Neill's mailing list. The first newsletter included a letter of support from Morris Udall (then a contender for US president) and said "our clearly stated long range goal will be to disband the Society in a mass meeting at ."

Moon Treaty, decline of Society and merger with National Space Institute

The peak of 's influence was the defeat of the Moon Treaty
Moon Treaty
The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, better known as the Moon Treaty or Moon Agreement, is an international treaty that turns jurisdiction of all celestial bodies over to the international community...

 in the US Senate in 1980 ("... L-5 took on the biggest political fight of its short life, and won"). Specifically, Society activists campaigned for awareness of the provisions against any form of sovereignty or private property in outer space that would make space colonization impossible and the provisions against any alteration of the environment of any celestial body prohibiting terraforming
Terraforming of a planet, moon, or other body is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to those of Earth, in order to make it habitable by terrestrial organisms.The term is sometimes used more generally as a...

. Leigh Ratiner, a Washington lawyer/lobbyist, was instrumental in this effort. (Ratiner was later forced out of his law firm due to his successful representation of Inslaw.)

Though economic analysis indicated the SPS/space colony concept had merit, it foundered on short political and economic horizons and the fact that the transport cost to space was about 10,000 times too high for individuals to fund when compared to the Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock is the traditional site of disembarkation of William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. It is an important symbol in American history...

 and Mormon colonies
Mormon Corridor
The Mormon Corridor is a term for the areas of Western North America that were settled between 1850 and approximately 1890 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , who are commonly known as Mormons....

. (See the chapter "Pilgrims, Saints and Spacemen" in Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson
Freeman John Dyson FRS is a British-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum field theory, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists...

's Disturbing the Universe for an analysis.)

In 1986 the Society, which had grown to about 10,000 members, merged with the 25,000 member National Space Institute
National Space Institute
The National Space Institute was a space advocacy group, the first of its kind, established by Dr. Wernher von Braun to help maintain the public's support for the United States space program. It has since merged, in 1987, with the L5 Society founded by Dr. Gerard K...

, founded by German rocket engineer and Project Apollo
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

 program manager Dr Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 of NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center
The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest center of NASA, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program...

 to form the present-day National Space Society
National Space Society
The National Space Society is an international nonprofit 501, educational, and scientific organization specializing in space advocacy...


While the Society failed to achieve the goal of human settlements in space, it served as a focal point for many of the people who later became known in fields such as nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

, memetics
Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, originating from Richard Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene. It purports to be an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer. A meme, analogous to a gene, is essentially a "unit of...

, extropianism, cryonics
Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. Cryopreservation of people or large animals is not reversible with current technology...

, transhumanism
Transhumanism, often abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human...

, artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 and tether propulsion such as Dr K. Eric Drexler
K. Eric Drexler
Dr. Kim Eric Drexler is an American engineer best known for popularizing the potential of molecular nanotechnology , from the 1970s and 1980s.His 1991 doctoral thesis at MIT was revised and published as...

, Dr Robert Forward
Robert Forward
Robert Lull Forward — known as Robert L. Forward — was an American physicist and science fiction writer...

 and Dr Hans Moravec
Hans Moravec
Hans Moravec is an adjunct faculty member at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. He is known for his work on robotics, artificial intelligence, and writings on the impact of technology. Moravec also is a futurist with many of his publications and predictions focusing on...

. A journalistic account can be found in Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition by Ed Regis
Ed Regis (author)
Ed Regis is an American author and educator. He specializes in books and articles about science, philosophy and intelligence. His topics have included nanotechnology, transhumanism and biological warfare...

 (1990 - ISBN 0-201-09258-1).

L5 News

L5 News was the newsletter of the Society reporting on space habitat
Space habitat
A space habitat is a space station intended as a permanent settlement rather than as a simple waystation or other specialized facility...

 development and related space issues. The News was published from September 1975 until April 1987, when the merger with the National Space Institute was completed and the newly formed National Space Society began publication of its own magazine, Ad Astra
Ad Astra (magazine)
Ad Astra literally means "To the Stars." This award-winning quarterly magazine is published by the National Space Society , a nonprofit, 501 aerospace advocacy and educational institution headquartered in Washington, D.C.....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.