ISM: looking to the future

There has been some speculation circling as to the state-of-play with the International Spaceflight Museum in Second Life. The ever-vigilant Daniel Voyager first reported the sims had vanished from the SL map, alongside that of NASA’s CoLab sim (ISM is not in any way linked to, or affiliated with, NASA). since then, questions have popped up elsewhere regarding the status of the project.

ISM: Down – but far from out

As the ISM has been such a landmark feature of Second Life, I decided to contact Kat Lemieux, a prime mover behind the project, to find out what is happening and what the future might hold.

The first order of business was to establish why the ISM regions – Spaceport Alpha and Spaceport Bravo – had vanished from the grid. Rather than being “gone forever” from SL, their absence has been the result of a number of circumstances combining at the wrong time to leave bills unpaid. However, matters are in hand to get things up and running again, as Kat confirmed to me, “Right now I’m trying to straighten out an issue between PayPal and LL billing, but that should be resolved in a day or so, and the sims will be back soon afterwards.”

And when they are back – expect a grand re-opening party to be announced!

Nor does the good news end there.

While much is still in flux, and the longer-term future of the ISM needs to be carefully considered, Kat remains confident that it will continue to be a presence in SL and may even look towards opening “branch museums” on other suitable grids at some point – but the focus will remain on Second Life.  “I don’t foresee ISM leaving SL completely as long as we can afford to stay,” she told me. “Several island owners have offered to host us on their land if we decide to sell the sims, but whatever we decide, SL is still where the people are, so we need to have a presence there.”

ISM has been cataloguing humanity’s achievements in space within Second Life since 2005

Other changes may be less obvious, but are important to the future running of the museum. The ISM Corporation, for example, has been wound down, and will be replaced by a more focused team working on the project.  “Since we created it for the purpose of obtaining tax-exempt status, and that didn’t happen, there was no reason for it to continue, and it was just sucking up resources,” Kat explained in reference to the decision to wind-down the corporation – an understandable move in the circumstances. The ISM website, however, will be continuing, and updates are due to be put out in the near future – although again, initial focus will remain on getting the ISM regions back up and running smoothly in the short-term. In addition to the website, there are plans in hand to launch a public Facebook page for the ISM to help further raise the profile of the project.

As with all large-scale operations,  ISM has had a few internal issues to deal with along the way that have tended to slow things down a little – fund-raising and business management being two of them, as Kat candidly explained to me. “Trying to pay for maintenance and running a business as opposed to playing with prims and textures just aren’t as much fun for the kinds of people who were initially attracted to starting the museum. Even running events, which we did quite a bit, wasn’t the same. That’s fair, as there is no law saying the same people have to enjoy every aspect of such an enterprise; but we didn’t seem to have enough of those willing to do the business side.” These aren’t issues that will easily go away, and one senses that if there is someone out there with the passion and drive to lend their weight to the project in these areas, their help and support would be most welcome.

But for now, things are looking decidedly bright for the ISM – and the current down-time will hopefully shortly become little more than an unscheduled interruption to what has been one of SL’s finest and most informative destinations since 2005.

If you would like to help support the ISM and volunteer your time and abilities, contact Kat Lemieux in-world. If you would like to show your support for the project via a donation, you can do so via PayPal to (remember to replace the “-at-” with “@”!) or in Linden Dollars paid to AyeEss Emms in-world. 

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