For Aron: Maslow Window

>> Friday, June 19, 2009

Aron asked: I've noticed NASA is sticking the the 2020 date for a moon mission which is the middle of the next Maslow Window. Does NASA support the Maslow Window theory?
Wouldn't you know someone would ask me a question I have no clue what the answer is? I've never even heard of the Maslow Window theory.

However, I do love to learn new things. Finding out what you were talking about was actually tricky, but I found this little presentation on the Maslow Window model, where there's an increase in "energy" every 56 years or so that leads to major war, major engineering accomplishment, major exploration. And then they show the last two hundred years or so and tell us we have until 2025 to get our acts together if we want to get back to the moon or Mars.

Well, I will tell that I have never, in 20 years at NASA, heard anyone reference a Maslow window or profess a need to make a window attached to it. To the best of my knowledge, the 2020 time frame is a direct reference to the expected time to get there (remember, there ware more than a decade of development before we ever set foot on the moon), how long it will take to build up the hardware and workable designs, not just to do what we did before, but more - and address the issues we discovered the last time we set foot on the moon.

Personally, I didn't find the data backing the Maslow window compelling. What about WWII? Or other wars around the world? Why just wars we were involved in? There's fighting all the time somewhere, sadly. As for development, what about the telephone and Kitty Hawk, both well before WWI? What about the incredible developments during WWII including nuclear weapons and, yes, rockets - surely as impressive in their right as what happened after. What about the computer strides and strides in communication.

The other problem with the theory it assumes a causation. War leads to industry. Economies move in cycles. There are too many explanations.

Better to go back to the moon when we have a good design, well tested, that has addressed what we've learned before and has systems we plant to use on Mars then trying to catch some ephemeral window.

Schedule pressure has cost cosmonauts and astronauts. I'd rather not.


  • The Mother

    Stephanie, even I have heard of the Maslow Window. But I live with a pseudo-conspiracy theorist. (Don't ask--I'm working on him).

    Further proof that you live in your Ivory Tower science world. Not that that's an insult, in any way. I'd rather live there; the world just doesn't always let me.

  • Stephanie B

    Lee had heard of it, too, and thought it equally unlikely to be more than wishful thinking.

    Imagine me focusing on stuff that has data and can withstand scrutiny. Bad Stephanie!

  • Aron Sora

    I found out about this theory from a blog: The argument seems pretty convincing. From what I understand, it's not wars or anything else that triggers a Maslow Window, but the economic wave theory. Basically, from my understanding, Maslow Windows are bubbles, like the .com bubble. Periods where Macro-engineering projects are possible. This seems correct to me, because there will be a Private-space bubble just like how every new technology had a bubble.

    Thank you for writing this post, you made me realize that I did not know alot about this Theory and did not read the one paper which mentioned it. I should do that before citing this theory in my arguments.

    That reminds me, I haven't done a sunday paper club in so long. I'll review this paper this Sunday. Thank you! I have to look at this more critically.

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