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 ismuseum-at-gmail.com (remember to replace the “-at-” with “@”!) or in Linden Dollars paid to AyeEss Emms in-world. 

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6 thoughts on “ISM: looking to the future

  1. “has been such a landmark feature of Second Life”

    Is it? Or was it?

    These articles are the first I’d ever heard of it.
    In fact, harsh though it may be to say – that’s been true for all of the ‘historic build is dying’ articles I’ve been seeing on various blogs over the past few months.

    Yes tier is expensive and LLs has killed off all the normal means of supporting a sim…
    – I point that out almost daily on the forums.

    BUT, how important are all these historic builds if they’re largely invisible from blogs, search, events, classifieds, and so on? They seem to only get blogged about when dying. Bloggers have otherwise moved on to other ‘shinies.’

    Are we struggling to save an SL that was, or an SL that is?

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    1. ps: I should add that I would much rather see an SL full of places like this sim, than what I am seeing a lot of in SL lately – so I understand the desperation at the loss of places like this.

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    2. ISM is actually a reason many entered SL in the first place – I have two friends myself who are active in SL as a direct result of hearing about it, and people have reported elsewhere that their first exposure to SL was via a visit to the ISM.

      ISM was well-advertised via the Destination Guide, etc., and has been a popular attraction throughout the majority of its history in SL – to the point of hosting some pretty major events and talks from leading “space” experts.

      In terms of blogging, I’m as much at fault as anyone – I’ve been a regular visitor to ISM since discovering it in early 2007 (thanks to the recommendation of a friend!) – but have only blogged on it twice…

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  2. I don’t know anything about the ISM sim specifically but I have had this brush with the “Historic/Famous” sim Meme before. When I bought the sim that is now Snatch City, on the secondary market, it was some or other “Historic” education sim. (I’m sorry but I don’t remember the exact name) I got caught up in the “how could you”, “what the hell is going on” drama when all I knew was that the price was right and I only needed the land for my partners store. I did ask anyone that inquired if they wanted to pay what I had to take the sim on themselves and no one seemed to find it that important anymore.
    While I’m sure this sim was interesting and important to those that knew about it, it clearly couldn’t take care of tier anymore. NWN mentions something about not qualifying for tax-exempt status anymore but no matter what “historic” does not equal ca$h. You have to pay to keep the lights on one way or the other. You need to adapt or die here just like in real life, banking on what worked years ago is foolish.
    If this, or any other sim is so important, I’m sure it can be recovered from backup, for a price and with some work with the last owner. If it is that important.

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    1. The ISM Corporation’s 501(c)(3) status is somewhat incidental to the current situation vis the ISM in-world, which came about as a result of management / operational changes, changes in personal circumstances, etc., which combined to leave tier upaid – I didn’t enter into specifics on this in the article above, as it involves personal matters relating to ISM volunteers who are unavailable for comment. This is currently being rectified.

      There are wider issues relating to supporting the ISM’s to regions, as touched upon above, and which Kat herself blogged about in detail subsequent to this and the NWN report, and alternatives have / are being looked into regarding the ISM’s longer-term sustainability. As it stands, again as indicated above, the offers of support for the ISM have been substantial.

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  3. As you’ve so ably said, “the offers of support for the ISM have been substantial.” Not just offers — we have received many hundreds of US$ already, enough to bring the sims back, and more is promised for keeping the museum active into the future. Thank goodness enough people consider it important enough to invest that kind of support! So all we are waiting for now is for Linden Lab’s tech support to run the payment through PayPal; they’ve had the information that it’s all ready for them for over 30 hours now, but nothing has happened. (Sigh!) Anyway, eventually it will all come together, and we truly appreciate all the support, both financial and verbal. In return, we plan to resume the activities that combined with the location to make the ISM a vibrant part of the SL community.

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