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State of the Artemis Project, February 27, 1999

State of the Artemis Project
Artemis Society International Open Forum
February 27, 1999
Gregory Bennett

Thank you all for participating in today's Open Forum meeting.

I want to do something a little different this week.

Since I've just been elected president of Artemis Society International, I'd like to start the meeting with a discussion of where we've been, what we're doing, where we're going, and what you can expect from me as president in the coming year.

History of the Artemis Project

We've made tremendous progress since we started the Artemis Project. The best date I can think of for the founding of the Artemis Project is the fateful day when I posted a note in my Author Topic on GEnie, asking "Anybody wanna talk about a commercial moon base?"

I had been working on concepts for the Artemis project ever since I founded the first local chapter of the L5 Society (now known as NSS) in 1976; but this was the first time I had mentioned the program outside a very small circle of friends.

That was just over five years ago, in January 1994. In all the time since then, we have not changed our goal or our determination to achieve it:

We are going to establish a permanent, self-supporting community on the moon. Nothing else that we could do in our lifetimes would be more important to the development of space and the expansion of mankind into the cosmos.

We have suffered a lot of setbacks in the past five years. Key personnel have waxed in their initial enthusiasm and then faded away. SEC regulations have turned out to be more daunting that we would have imagined. People got busy, had babies and new jobs and went to school. People had crises in their personal lives. People got sick. People died.

Still, through it all, we have not wavered from our goal, and we have not discovered any reason to believe that the goal is unattainable. Nay-sayers abound, some suffering from extreme concept shock and some with a personal axe to grind, but none with a cogent argument against our goal or our ability to achieve it.

Growth of Artemis Society International

We also have had a lot of successes on the long road to the moon. Today we list 21 companies among our sponsors and program participants. Some are mature corporations, others are in their infancy. All are dedicated to help us achieve the goal.

We have established a system of electronic communication to keep the team informed and working together. Besides the public web site, we have a host of private repositories set up for the Artemis Society's internal teams, and more in the commercial companies' domains.

Our public web site has grown from half a dozen pages on Dana Carson's personal web site to an elegant data repository of 2,374 documents supported by a library of 1,074 images, with new material added daily. The Artemis Project web site today occupies just under 150 megabytes of disk space.

We are maintaining our repository of knowledge as well as any site on the web, and we're doing it all as determined volunteers. Last year alone, the ASI web team processed 1,289 updates to the site.

Artemis Society International has never done a membership drive, but through word of mouth and the web search engines the Society has active members in every continent of the world except Antarctica.

Our membership represents every English-speaking country in the world, and every Scandinavian country, as well as Mexico and parts of Central and South America.

Small though we may be, with only 294 currently active members, the Artemis Project is truly an international venture. Members are currently working on the daunting task of translating the Artemis Project web into Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Status of the Artemis Project Business Infrastructure

On the commercial side, we are establishing new companies and making partnerships with existing firms to build the business infrastructure of the Artemis Project.

We have the seeds of the merchandising effort in place. In the Dallas, Texas area, Translunar Enterprises develops a line of Artemis Project merchandise. In Long Beach, California, Lunar Traders has opened its store front on the web and is working on a mail-order catalog.

A great deal of the source artwork for merchandise and publications comes from VSOP near Auckland, New Zealand.

Publications are finally moving. LRC Publications should begin publishing Artemis Magazine as a quarterly this summer.

We published the Artemis Project Reference Mission poster with a team spread out among (I think) nine cities in the US and New Zealand.

We also have a chapbook-sized collection of science fiction stories by Artemis Project authors coming out from Clavius Press, a division of The Lunar Resources Company.

You already know that we are very strong in electronic communication. Our commercial program participants and sponsors provide that strength: software from CyberTeams and Savage Research running on Internet hosts provided by Illuminati Online. We expect that soon we will have a UK mirror site running on hosts provided by VNL.

Also in the computer software area, LunaSoft is continuing to develop games for the Artemis Project.

And in the games area, we are working on an Artemis GURPS game for publication by Steve Jackson games.

We're getting started in space flight, too, with TransOrbital, Inc developing the Electra microlander and follow-on robotic space missions.

The big boys such as Spacehab, Inc and Carnegie-Mellon Robotics Institute are waiting in the wings until we're ready to begin development of the manned spacecraft and its supporting robots.

The Lunar Resources Company continues to serve as program integrator and licensing agent for the Project.

In the past year, TLRC has signed licensing agreements with and acquired a partial interest in several companies: LRC Publications in New York, TransOrbital in Virginia, and (with contracts to be signed at the ISDC this year) Village Networking Ltd. in Northern Ireland.

We continue to develop new companies and new products.

One of the most interesting products in development is Alice Springs Lemonade, from Robert Dahlquist of Pioneer Lodgepole in Washington state. It's an intentional in-joke, a play on my explanation that it's not a question of whether the Artemis Project will work, but rather how long it will take.

Meanwhile, we continue to develop concepts and business plans for ventures into other industries: theme parks, motion pictures, and television.

That's the state of the Artemis Project today. Now let's go on to what I plan to do as president of Artemis Society International.

Role of the Society in the Artemis Project

The Society plays a key role in the Artemis Project. It provides common meeting ground for everyone who wants to participate. Nearly everyone involved in the commercial work first came to the Project via the Society.

The Society also provides the educational functions of the Artemis Project, and its platform for scientific investigations. And, of course, the Artemis Society is the real hands-on playground for the Project.

It's a place to have fun and be sociable as well as a place to do some serious work in developing the space program and the supporting infrastructure.

The Society can also give us strength in numbers. This gives us the political and economic clout we need to achieve our primary goal.

Recent Changes within Artemis Society International

To fulfill these roles, the number one priority for Artemis Society International is to expand its membership and to retain its members.

Frankly, in the past two years our membership retention has been abysmal. Of the nearly 700 members on the roles, only 294 are listed as currently active. But there's good news.

In the past few months, we have taken dramatic steps to improve our membership services.

We moved membership processing out of ASI Headquarters to a service donated by Lunar Traders.

We added credit card processing so we don't have to depend on personal checks as the only means of paying dues, and now we can accept credit cards through secure on-line order forms.

All membership data are now handled by the new Team Director system from CyberTeams, which brings the power of the Internet to handling our membership data base.

Team Director eliminates delays and inaccuracies in getting membership data transmitted to the Lunar Reclamation Society in Milwaukee for the Moon Miners' Manifesto subscription list.

It also should eliminate delays and confusion in getting payments to Milwaukee for members' subscriptions. That must be good news to the LRS at least!

We also have defined rigorous processes for handling dues payments that should eliminate delays in cashing checks and problems with tracking everything.

We've appointed a treasurer, Scotty Gammenthaler, who has brought the Society's books up to date and established a rigorous accounting system. In the past, we didn't even know where we were; now we can get an accurate definition of the Society's financial status at any time.

This month we adopted a plan of providing membership incentives for new and renewing members -- a copy of the colorful Reference Mission poster goes to everyone who joins or renews.

Two new programs should improve our feedback to members. Team Director will handle sending out immediate acknowledge to new members via electronic mail, and the Membership Services Committee will send a post card via snail mail.

Team Director will also handle renewal notices, which will go out via both electronic mail and the paper post.

One of our big problems has been that we're doing lots of things but not telling anyone about it, so we're working with our newly appointed newsmonger, Mark Sumner, to improve reporting of current events in the Artemis Project and feeding stories to Moon Miners Manifesto.

And with the newly formed Outreach Team chaired by David Lundeen, we are developing a major membership drive. This effort will include direct mailing to space fans and supporting magazine advertisements.

Short-Term Goals for Artemis Society International

With all these new systems and processes in place, as my first official act as its president, I want to dedicate Artemis Society International to the goal of achieving a ten-fold increase in its active membership before January 1, 2000.

At the same time, I want to set a goal of achieving a membership retention rate of at least 80% in the same time period.

These two goals will serve to guide our efforts for the coming year. It means we will have to maintain and even improve our current state of excellence in handling memberships in the long term.

Perhaps even more important, if we are to retain our membership, we will have to continuously improve the quality of services the Society provides to its members.

We will improve our publications, reporting our activities more faithfully.

We will make our web site more attractive and more user-friendly.

We will nurture the development of local chapters so that members can meet and work and play together in person.

We will continue to develop the business infrastructure and program plans so that members see the continuing development of the Artemis project toward its goal of establishing a permanent, self- supporting lunar community.

We will accelerate development of entertaining and useful products that make the Artemis Project more rewarding to the Society's members and create a sense of community within the Project.

We will seek new ways to add to and improve the benefits of membership in the Society.

And finally, we will continually strive to attain feedback from all members of the Society about how we are doing, and what the members want Artemis Society International to do.

By doing these things, we will make a giant leap toward the day when that first element of our initial lunar exploration base touches down on the surface of the moon.

Well, lays the groundwork for the coming year. Now let's open the floor to questions and comments.


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