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Spacebridge Timeline

1962 Michael Murphy and Richard Price establish the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California to “support alternative methods for exploring human consciousness.”
1968 The FCC legalizes the use of SSTV (slow-scan television) for advanced level amateur radio operators. This technology paves the way for the two-way video communications used in the 1980s spacebridges.
March 1969 Rusty Schweickart and the Apollo 9 mission launch into orbit. Schweickart has a “metaphysical experience” in space which spurs his subsequent interest in global communication and connecting citizens from different countries.
1972 Leaders of Esalen travel to the Soviet Union — the first of many exchanges focused on the study of parapsychological phenomena. Newsweek would later dub their dialogue “hot-tub diplomacy.”
December 1979 The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan leading to the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
1981 On sabbatical from his job at Apple, Steve Wozniak hatches the idea for the US Festival.
1982 Rusty Schweickart and Esalen representative Jim Hickman meet a high-ranking Soviet officials to discuss the idea of a space-bridge event.
September 5, 1982 The first US-USSR satellite “tele-link” connects Russian audiences with attendees of the US Festival — but only for a brief few minutes.
March 1983 Ronald Reagan refers to the U.S.S.R. as “an evil Empire.”
May 1983 The “spacebridge” program re-launches with the second US Festival, this time featuring an intercontinental jam session and a Q&A forum with live audiences in both countries.
March 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev is elevated to General Secretary of the Soviet Union, ushering the official era of perestroika (“restructuring”) and glasnost (“transparency” or “openness”).
1985 Schweickart’s “Association of Space Explorers” is officially formed, connecting NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts who have completed one space orbit (the organization now boasts 400 members from 37 different countries).
December 1985 Phil Donahue and Soviet TV personality Vladimir Pozner host their first "Citizens' Summit." It's seen on American TV in early 1986. The New York Times is not impressed.
June 1, 1988 A third meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev leads to a breakthrough in US/USSR relations with the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
December 14, 1988 ABC airs a primetime space-bridge program, hosted by Marlo Thomas and featuring 40 American and Soviet children, along with a dizzying array of guest stars — everyone from Bon Jovi to Lily Tomlin to Kermit the Frog.
November 1989 The Berlin Wall collapses; Gorbachev moves to loosen much of the centralized political and economic machinery that closely controlled the Soviet states.
December 1991 The Soviet Union is officially dissolved.