IX Congress of the Association of Space Explorers
Vienna, Austria
August 10-17, 1993

General Statement

Since its infancy, space exploration has served a broad array of human purposes, both material and spiritual. The quality of life for many has been enhanced by the application of technologies first developed to support and execute space missions. Witness the advances in health and medicine, public safety, energy, agriculture, industrial production and consumer goods. Space platforms have enabled mass communications, weather forecasting, and the acquisition of knowledge about Earth's planetary ecosystem. Space missions have yielded abundant data on the nature of matter, energy, and the history of the universe. Further exploration of our solar system promises to shed light on Earth's own geological, oceanic and atmospheric history, and quite possibly its future.

In a less tangible but equally important way, human space exploration has impacted our very thoughts and feelings about our place in the universe and our perception of the future. Life's evolution and development on Earth has always involved a search for new environments, new frontiers, and new possibilities. The human space adventure infuses in us a sense that this process will continue, that our hopes and dreams will in fact one day become realities. Humanity is a species that has evolved along a path of exploration and discovery. All human cultures, in one way or another, have invested in and benefited from reaching out to the unknown, gained new knowledge and understanding from those experiences, and revered and celebrated the spirit and rewards of achievement. The universal human urge to explore and seek out knowledge forms a common bond among our planet's thousands of cultures and societies and its billions of inhabitants.

However, as the third millennium approaches, humanity's continuing drive to explore and discover faces two major conflicting trends. On the one hand, the space frontier has proven comparatively expensive by traditional standards both to reach and to live in. On the other hand, human institutions are finding themselves in a situation of increasing competition for a limited set of financial and other resources. As a result, many aspects of human activity are being reexamined to determine whether they merit public investment of limited resources. In light of this reexamination, it has been suggested in various quarters that space exploration is anything from an indulgence to an imperative. In fact it is both. From its very beginnings, life on Earth has indulged itself in the exploration of new frontiers and possibilities. This very process, however, has often led to evolutionary and technological leaps, hence proving to have been imperative for improvement and growth. No one forces us to make such choices, but when we make them, the rewards can be incalculable.

As space explorers, we believe that a real solution to this challenge of continuing the inexorable process of human discovery is currently at hand. It is a solution that both lessens the elements of indulgence assumed by any one nation and spreads the potential benefits which may one day be seen as imperative. The solution draws upon the universal human bond of exploration and discovery, and also benefits the many cultures and societies that make up our planetary community. Indeed, a framework for the institutional management and the shared investment of resources for such a solution has now been put forward by the leaders of several of the world's spacefaring nations. The solution in question: a truly international space station in low earth orbit, designed, built and operated by and for the people of the Earth.

The Association of Space Explorers applauds and welcomes recent initiatives to plan for the international design, construction and operation of an orbital space station. Such a facility in the service of all humanity, crewed by representatives of many cultures and societies, is a vision and an ideal that current economic and political conditions make practical and real. It is our hope and expectation that these plans and initiatives will advance decisively over the coming months. We stand ready to lend our moral support and professional expertise to the process as it unfolds. And as an association of professional space explorers from all twenty-six nations that have so far sent citizens into space, we offer ASE's Alpha Principles to the leaders of the world's nations and their space agencies, principles we believe that if followed, will lead to a successfully and productively operated space station for all involved nations.



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