Course Project Description BeginningFollowing the most recent round of terrorist attacks, the federal Office of Homeland Defense began soliciting terrorism scenarios from movie producers for closer study by teams of analysts representing agencies ranging from private think tanks to the federal government’s own security and intelligence communities.
The first movie scenario came from the film Outbreak (1995). It demonstrated, in chilling detail, how even a single incident could easily eradicate the entire population of a country the size of the United States in mere days. The second movie scenario came from 12 Monkeys (1995) which illustrated how even a single person with access to the right materials could exterminate over five billion people in a matter of weeks.
These scenarios raised possibilities that the Office of Homeland Defense had not anticipated in their media hyped “war on terrorism”. What if the threat wasn’t from an organized group or state? What if the threat came from a single incident caused by a single person an incident that, once initiated, spread so rapidly there wouldn’t be enough time to defend against it?
The response of the majority of the staff in the Office of Homeland Defense was that it would be nearly impossible to provide defense against such a prospect. And so, the scenario was hastily buried. There was a dissenting minority response, however. Certain analysts from two of the federal government’s intelligence communities specifically the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were not convinced that such scenarios were beyond our defense capabilities.
So when the Office of Homeland Defense decided not to pursue such possibilities, these analysts took their arguments back to their own agencies. In response, the NSA and CIA quietly formed a joint project team whose charge was to develop a plan to ensure the survival of the human race in the event that it were to be threatened by an abrupt extinction level event. This project was code-named “Memento Mori” (translation: “a reminder of mortality”).
This collective identified six potential plans that offered hope for the survival of the human race in the face of such a precipitous event. In late December, the NSA and CIA secretly began contacting a small number of individuals to task them with the responsibility of developing detailed proposals for each of these strategies over the next three months.
As a free-lance contractor to both of these agencies for a number of years, I was one of the individuals contacted. Because of my classified experiences with the programming and design of isolated and confined environments in hostile settings (i.e., my two year stint with the Ames Research Center in California and the Johnson Space Center in Texas examining “Psychosocial Factors” as Prime Drivers for the Design of NASA’s Space Station), I was entrusted to develop the strategy code-named “Battlestar” a plan to produce a virtual “Noah’s ark” in space.
After necessarily brief and often heated negotiations over one long weekend in early January, I was ultimately granted unprecedented security concessions that would permit me to develop the “Battlestar” plan in a totally unique manner. Given the compelling advantages of hiding this project in plain sight (which included giving the NSA and CIA “plausible deniability” since they would “obviously” never undertake such a classified project in this matter), I was authorized to conduct this three month project completely in the open as an “academic exercise” associated with a course here at the university. After giving it additional thought, I decided to conduct this project by making “the planning, programming and design of a space settlement” into a group project assignment for all students registered in this semester’s course.