jason on Fri, 6 Mar 1998 22:32:16 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> moving in several directions at once

Moving in Several Directions at Once

A spectre is haunting the planet, the spectre of independent,
community-based space travel. The Association of Autonomous Astronauts
(AAA) is the most important space exploration program active in the world
today, and unlike other organisations that claim to escape from gravity
(organisations that are infact paralysed by their own inflated sense of
self-importance) the AAA has demonstrated the possibilities of well-planned
assaults against the state, corporate and military monopoly of space
exploration. With the third anniversary of its official launch, the AAA can
reveal the specific phases to its Five Year Plan for establishing by the
year 2000 a world-wide network of local, community-based space exploration
groups. Phase One - the launch of the AAA's space exploration program.
Phase Two - declaration of Information War against government-funded space
agencies throughout the universe. Phase Three - the Dreamtime, a collective
process of exploring the possibilities that open up when we form autonomous
communities in outer space. Phase Four - a period of consolidation, during
which Autonomous Astronauts examine the achievements that they have made so
far. Phase Five - the final push into the year 2000. The Bologna
Intergalactic Conference, April 18-19 1998, marks the beginning of the
fourth phase of the AAA's Five Year Plan, its CONSOLIDATION.

Since the launch of the AAA on April 23rd 1995, Autonomous Astronauts have
not been content to merely destroy the state, corporate and military
monopoly of space travel. AAA groups have also succeeded in exposing the
belief systems adopted by those who attempt to dismiss the AAA as a
so-called 'serious joke'. These idiots not only 'believe' that the AAA
cannot possibly 'really' succeed in its aims, but these buffoons also
'believe' that words have fixed meanings, and in this way are therefore
inextricably linked to the maintenance of the status quo regarding space
travel. The AAA has developed space exploration as a language game that
moves in several directions at once, and so shown that anyone can use words
to imagine and create their own possibilities. Words can be used to subvert
the commonly held view that space travel requires vast amounts of money,
and language has been set in motion by the AAA as part of a vast collective
fiction that concludes with the creation of a world-wide network of AAA
groups all dedicated to building their own spaceships. To the AAA there is
no difference between 'fact' and 'fiction' as they exist within independent
and community-based space travel.

The AAA has already demonstrated how it can influence events through a
process of morphic resonance. As more and more people find out about the
possibilities of independent space travel, it becomes easier for others to
also become aware, so that the AAA's ideas have an effect on those who may
not even know of the AAA's existence. Following from this, it seems that in
retaliation against the AAA's Information War on government-funded space
agencies, the US military have conducted tests with the MIRACL
(Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser) based at the White Sands Missile
Range in southern New Mexico. These tests, carried out in November 1997,
used the MIRACL, which has a beam about six feet wide, to fire on an
orbiting satellite in an attempt to destroy it. Predictably, the US
government justified these tests by insisting that they need to control who
has access to satellite information in times of war. However, the AAA is
convinced that the true motive behind these tests is the threat posed to
the state, corporate and military monopoly of space travel by the
possibilities of independent, community-based space exploration as
represented by the Association of Autonomous Astronauts.

At the Vienna Intergalactic Conference in June 1997 the AAA ran workshops
with a group of Austrian teenagers collectively designing and building a
WorldWideWeb site. This project began with the participants travelling to
the future to squat the abandoned Russian space station Mir. The group then
sent a report back to planet earth about its experiences aboard the Mir in
the form of a web site. Subsequent events on the Mir throughout 1997 have
confirmed the AAA's propaganda efforts. The various problems on the space
station have de-mystified space exploration for a great many people. The
Mir has been continuously patched together by its various crews, and this
has enabled the technology to be thought about in a more down-to-earth way,
comparable to how people relate to a second-hand car that needs constant
attention. The events on the Mir have also revealed the arrogance of
government space agencies in allowing their astronauts to be so badly
prepared for difficult situations. For example, when a computer failure on
the space station led to a power shut-down that plunged the crew into cold
and darkness for several hours, why had no-one remembered to pack a torch
with spare batteries, as well as several extra thick jumpers for warmth?
Anyone who has ever been camping back on planet earth will know the
importance of being prepared for these kind of emergencies.

The Vienna Intergalactic Conference formed part of the Dreamtime phase to
the AAA's Five Year Plan, and also enabled the AAA to involve local
communities in the process of exploring the possibilities that open up when
we go into outer space. Prior to the conference, the AAA had ran a highly
successful spaceship building project with groups of Viennese school
children. Another fascinating discussion that has emerged from the
Dreamtime has concerned dress codes for a proposed intergalactic rendezvous
on the moon. The SHITS (SkinHeads as Independent Travellers in Space)
demand a 'sharp' attitude towards clothes, and have even accused some
Autonomous Astronauts of being too 'shaggy' in their approach to fashion.
In response, other AAA groups, including the Disconauts, have proposed
space suit designs for future raves in space that include glamorous
additions like sequins and fake fur. What has emerged from this debate as
it relates to the AAA's Dreamtime has now become clear - Autonomous
Astronauts will not go into space dressed in the dreary uniform worn by
government sponsored space travellers.

By concentrating on how space exploration technology is used and who has
access to that technology, the AAA has escaped both scientific rationalism
and its mirror image, romanticism. The AAA has done this through a
collective Dreamtime process, a playful and speculative exploration of the
possibilities that open up to us when we form autonomous communities in
outer space. And unlike utopianism (in either its rational or romantic
forms), the AAA has unravelled the threads that run throughout history to
create an organisation that never has any recruitment problems, since
anyone is encouraged to get involved by simply starting their own AAA
group. As an expanding network of independent, community-based groups the
AAA has transcended the bureaucratic forms of organisation adopted by all
other space exploration programs.

No-one can now write a history of space travel and neglect to include the
contributions of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts. It is the
declared aim of the AAA to ensure that all future discussions of space
travel will understand how the AAA has revealed the contradictions created
by the development of space exploration technologies. There will be
increased  exploration of space, and the AAA is determined that this will
not be inextricably linked to the expansion of capitalism. The AAA confirms
that we can go into space, not as conquerors of the universe, but as a
collection of independent, community-based groups dedicated to building
their own spaceships. Autonomous Astronauts of the world, move in several
directions at once!

For more information about the Bologna Intergalctic Conference please email
the AAA c/o jason@artec.org.uk

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