Reflecting on things that seem impossible

Wittenstein Foundation kick-off event: Release of “outer space v2”


20.09.2021



On Thursday, September 16, around 60 prominent local figures from the worlds of politics, business and science were in attendance at the WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory in Igersheim / Harthausen for the Wittenstein Foundation’s kick-off event. Michael Najjar, the internationally renowned photo artist, was likewise present to unveil his newest publication, “outer space v2”, produced in collaboration with Dr. Manfred Wittenstein, who also wrote the foreword.


The extent to which outer space is already used today for civilian purposes and the endless possibilities that will – and must – be opened up in the future for us to ensure a decent environment and a society worth living in for upcoming generations are central issues examined by Michael Najjar in his newest book. “outer space v2” was unveiled last Thursday to around 60 local politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists and other interested persons as part of the kick-off event for the non-profit Wittenstein Foundation, which was established at the beginning of September. Among other things, the Foundation will focus on clarifying the economic, technological, social and ecological requirements that are necessary to safeguard our resources for future generations. The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket “Inspiration 4” on the same day from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida / USA with three civilians on board merely served to strengthen Dr. Manfred Wittenstein’s conviction as the Foundation’s initiator and host: “The advances in civilian transportation, the industrialization of geolunar space and temporary trips to space stations are new realities that will deeply affect everyone’s lives and significantly impact on the future of humanity. At the moment, no-one can say for certain exactly what that means – we can only guess. Nevertheless, it’s our duty to address the issues here and now and to reflect on things that seem impossible today.”

Inspiring multipliers to adopt new perspectives

Michael Najjar confirmed during the panel talk with Dr. Manfred Wittenstein at the Innovation Factory that mounting problems such as scarce resources, overpopulation and pollution can no longer be solved without a fresh approach from outside: “We must specifically search beyond our planet for new ways to transform our ‘outer space’ into ‘inner space’. The first outside perspectives from personalities like Elon Musk or Richard Branson, who have already embarked on a journey into outer space as civilians, are an enrichment for ‘outer space v2’ and will hopefully provide points of departure for future public discourse.” This same wish was also voiced by Dr. Wittenstein, who regards both the book and the accompanying release event as a source of inspiration for a new culture of debate in the local region – as well as further afield in the long term – and believes that with a combined effort we can create yet another important differentiator for the lovely Tauber Valley. “New, essential mindsets can only become integrated into society collectively – through public discussions, multipliers and new, organic associations between politics, business and science. We want to support this exchange and this transformation as best we can with the Wittenstein Foundation”, said Wittenstein.

The panel talk was followed by a guided tour of selected works from Michael Najjar’s “outer space” series, which has been on show at the Innovation Factory since 2019, with an opportunity to ask questions to the artist. In particular, his own plans to travel into space aroused considerable interest: having completed several years of astronaut training in Russia and America, Najjar will finally have a chance to view the Earth from a new perspective himself on board “SpaceShipTwo”.

Next on the Wittenstein Foundation’s agenda

The next Wittenstein Foundation event is scheduled for November 11, 2021. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)) and Professor Hans-Werner Sinn (President of the ifo Institute for Economic Research, Director of the Center for Economic Studies and CEO of CESifo GmbH up until his retirement in 2016) will engage in a critical and constructive dialog on the climate challenges facing present and future generations at the TauberPhilharmonie in Weikersheim as part of the ENTER THE FUTURE series. The event is open to the general public. For more information, see https://www.wittenstein-stiftung.com.

outer space v2

“outer space v2” was published in September 2021 by DISTANZ Verlag of Berlin. It presents the entire series of works by photo artist Michael Najjar, focusing on the period between 2015 and 2021, and looks at recent developments in space exploration as well as their influence on shaping our future life on Earth, in the near-Earth orbit and even on other planets. The texts were written by Dietmar Dath (editor for the Arts section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), Michael Ostheimer (author and literary historian), Elon Musk (co-owner, Chief Engineer and partly also co-founder of PayPal, the online payments system, SpaceX, the space transport services company, and Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer), Frank White (author and professor at Harvard University), Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group), Hans Koenigsmann (VP Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX), Stéphane Israël (CEO of Arianespace), Ma Yansong (principal architect and founder of MAD Architects), Sethu Vijaykumar (professor at the University of Edinburgh) and Marco Fuchs (CEO of OHB SE).



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Michael Najjar (left) and Dr. Manfred Wittenstein (right) at the release of “outer space v2”.

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Around 60 prominent local figures from the worlds of politics, business and science were in attendance at the WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory in Igersheim / Harthausen for the Wittenstein Foundation’s kick-off event.


pm-wittenstein-stiftung-outer-space-2
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The works in Michael Najjar’s “outer space” series, which went on show at the Innovation Factory in 2019, literally provided the framework for the release of “outer space v2”.


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“outer space v2” comprises 284 pages with a foreword by Dr. Manfred Wittenstein. The texts were written by Dietmar Dath, Michael Ostheimer, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Frank White, Marco Fuchs, Sethu Vijaykumar, Stéphane Israël and Ma Yansong.


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