High Times Greats: Timothy Leary’s Ultimate Trip

Timothy Leary’s plans for space colonization from the inaugural issue of High Times, published in June, 1974.
High Times Greats: Timothy Leary's Ultimate Trip
Joint-powered rocket shop ferries psi-phy voyagers to Terra II, in orbit around Terra I, better known as Earth. Drawing by Yossarian.

In honor of Timothy Leary’s birthday, we’re bringing you an excerpt from his book Terra II, originally published in the June, 1974 debut issue of High Times.


Poet, psychologist, prophet and psy-phy author, Timothy Leary (now in Vacaville Prison) is easily one of the most vilified and celebrated personalities of the last decade. In his landmark books, High Priest and The Politics of Ecstasy, he explored the resources of the human minds and its awakening through psychedelic substances.

Terra II is the grand culmination of Leary’s research into the human condition. It is a proposal to construct an intergalactic ark of immense proportions, a surrogate earth to carry five thousand volunteers into the center of the universe in an endless voyage of discovery and harmony.


Evidence has been cited that Higher Intelligence probably exists on planets most likely to be located in the direction of Galactic Center. Evidence has also been summarized that life on this planet was probably seeded from organic molecules transported from more advanced planets.

The purpose of life, it has been suggested, is to contact Higher Intelligence.

If either or both of these hypotheses are falsehoods it does not matter. Since they are the most logical and practical and optimistic “falsehoods” available, they should be accepted and acted upon until a more effective hypothesis comes along.

It is necessary to organize the voyage to Galactic Center as a concrete act of visionary love. To demonstrate to our Galactic Parents and ourselves how good we can be. For five thousand people selected from every nationality to live together for eight years to prepare for the voyage will be in itself the greatest achievement of human history. Even if the ship never leaves, a magnificent experiment in human spirituality and practical intelligence will have been conducted.

Once Terra II is launched into time those remaining will have a collective vision and a social model which will very likely produce a new spirit of reconciliation and renewal.

The Starseed voyage, lasting thousands of years, will cost less than the amount presently necessary to support one week of the global military budget. Once the first expedition is launched it is probable that others will follow. There is nothing competitive or elitist involved. Any group of 5000 people who wish to organize for a trip to Galactic Center is free to do so.

There is no choice. The voyage has to be made.

Phase I, The Initial Planning

In January 1974, a Starseed center will be opened. Committees will be formed to develop plans for construction of the sky-city and its total self-support and self-government during the voyage. Terra II is a miniature replica of Terra I. The sky-society will require a system of agriculture, sanitation, ecology, health, education, recreation, climate control, transportation, communication, government. In addition to the design and construction of the ship and its propulsion and life-support systems, industrial facilities for constructing all of the machinery needed during the long voyage must be designed. Research laboratories for every science now known to mankind must be included. Once the sky-city is launched it will, of course, be self-supporting. However, the financing for construction and equipping of the ship will be the responsibility of the organizing committee. Selection of the crew will also be accomplished during this phase.

The committees will divide their work into two stages: the construction and maintenance of the pilot city, and the construction of the sky-city.

To illustrate the scope of crew composition:

We shall be selecting the faculty, administration, graduate school, maintenance and grounds staff of a university combining Oxford, Cambridge, and the Moscow Agricultural College. Plus families.

It is anticipated that around forty-nine committees will select one hundred crew members each. Every effort will be made to include delegations from every country in the world and from any “minority group” which believes it is not represented.

The specific organization of the organizing committees will not be forecast, but left to the participants.

A basic rule of the enterprise is that there shall be no secrecy. Every detail of the organization and execution of the voyage will be open to public scrutiny.

Phase II: Earth-city

In January 1976, the first contingent will proceed to the Arctic to begin construction of the replica earth-city. In so far as practical, the building and maintenance of Earth-city will duplicate the steps necessary to build and operate Terra II. Since the final design of the sky-ship awaits decision by the technical committees, this outline of Earth-city can only be suggestive.

The first wave of colonists will be construction engineers who will build landing facilities, temporary housing for about five thousand. The replica of the sky-ship will be built. Nuclear energy power plants assembled. As soon as the first wave can live within the ship they will construct the seed modules for life support and social existence. The remainder of the crew will join in stages. Each wave will build and put into operation the systems necessary to support the subsequent wave.

This period of assemblage will be of crucial importance. Experimentation, innovation and trial of the many technical and social issues. For example, one or more languages will have to be developed and learned. Countless technical and human decisions must be made. We are creating the ultimate utopian community, a small model world which must deal with every aspect of human life.

The model will be biological. The ship as body. The crew as nervous system. Each voyager a neuron. Biomechanics. Neurotechnics.

All the classic human problems must be solved in a way which combines the improvements we crave and the traditions to which we are addicted.

In general the crew will remain within the ship-world during this period. Reactions of claustrophobia will inevitably develop and adaptation to life enclosed in a miniature world will be an important part of the preflight training period. Some of the crew will remain in the old-world society to participate in the construction of the sky-ship. Crew membership will at all times be voluntary and those who wish to leave the new society can do so. It is possible that the sky-society will decide to bring along or construct in flight space vehicles which can be sent back to earth; it is also possible that there will be no possibility of return.

By 1981 the crew will have been selected and the replica city will operate in total self support for the three years before departure begins.

Phase III: The Flight

In 1984 the first contingent will rocket from earth to a parking orbit where the construction of Terra II will take place. The sequences of sending the crew in phases as worked out in the Arctic replica will be repeated. It is expected that the assemblage of equipment and personnel will take no more than sixteen years. Terra II will take off for the center of the galaxy before the year 2000.

Intellectual Fusion

The skeptical reaction to this proposal: since human beings have not been able to cooperate and establish a harmonious use of resources in the past, how can we expect them to change cooped up inside a miniature world which, like a pressure cooker, may generate explosive pressures of disharmony? Etc.

There are several hopeful answers to this realistic objection.

The population of Terra II is both self-selected and group-selected. We shall offer the galactic intelligence our best hopes, our best energies, our best people.

The Terra II population will be highly motivated, united in the greatest enterprise that humanity has ever initiated. Human beings in the past have been caught in webs of ambivalent and conflicting motivation. Class, caste, race, nationalistic, personal, familial. The T.T population will be intimately harnessed together in a mutual survival process.

The most promising asset of the flight will derive from the intellectual fusion which will lift the level of cognitive ability to a new metamorphosized level. At the present time the human species has produced an astounding number of scientific and creative achievements and there is a large population of extremely evolved persons living around the globe. They are separated from each other. Each person and each group is bogged down in a social-political structure which, on the one hand, supports them, and on the other hand, limits them to the restricted visions of political bureaucracies. Research goals are deliberately shortsighted to appear practical: cure of cancer, military hardware. Social scientists in particular are limited in proposing solutions to human problems because above all they must not rock the boat. Etc. Institutes which bring scholars and scientists together such as RAND, Hudson Institute, Salk Foundation, while they encourage cross-disciplinary contact, do little to motivate.

The Starseed project can be seen as an enormous process of intellectual nuclear fusion. Five thousand brilliant human beings will be assembled on a time ship world and they will have to produce new and successful solutions to all of the ancient human problems in order to survive. The situation will require creativity. At the present time the chemist and the psychologist work at their separate laboratories and then drive home to the suburbs. There is no pressure to integrate discoveries, cross-fertilize on a survival basis.

Terra II will more than justify its existence as an incubator of scientific discoveries in every aspect of life. Each scientific and scholarly discipline will have its research facilities aboard. The results of the ongoing research will be relayed continuously back to Terra I.

It is likely that within short years the sky-ship will make radio contact with other civilizations. As Terra II leaves the powerful field of solar radiation its own signals will be clearer to other scanning receivers. These first contacts with Higher Intelligence will inevitably make available great advances in our understanding of physical-chemical-biological processes which in turn will be transmitted to earth.

Today scientists play at the games of science. In addition to being scientists they are Democrats, golfers, adulterers, players in games which are totally removed from the high peaks of their creativity. The novelty and continual pressure for innovative solutions on Terra II will guarantee a higher state of consciousness, a demonstration of new levels of neural effectiveness.

Financing the Voyage

The Starseed Project is totally self-supporting. International in scope, it cannot ask or accept financial support from any country. Nor can it be under any outside political control.

Starseed is, of course, a nonprofit enterprise. No member of Terra II will receive any funds from Starseed for personal living expenses or for compensation. Starseed will pay outside companies who manufacture equipment and perform subcontracting tasks.

The cost of the Starseed Project will be billions of dollars. This sum will be raised by means of a) donation, b) research contracts, and c) sale and lease of media rights.

a) Donations: Starseed finances will be handled by a trust which will receive tax-deductible donations. At the present time we have received pledges from ten persons who have agreed to donate a million dollars each. The enthusiasm of donors is explained by the general reaction that Starseed is the first totally sensible idea ever suggested for the use of human resources. By 1976 it is expected that a thousand million-dollar donations will be received plus another billion dollars in smaller contributions. As the project becomes tangible and concretely realizable, the flow of donations will increase geometrically.

b) Research Contracts: The Terra II crew will include one thousand of the most gifted scientists working on new designs and solutions for every aspect of human life. The patents on discoveries made by the various research groups will be licensed or sold for an estimated one billion dollars a year.

c) Sale and Lease of Media Rights: The Terra II crew will include one thousand of the most talented musicians, artists, writers, scholars, filmmakers, architects, designers, artisans, etc. The activities of the earth-city will become of great interest to the inhabitants of Terra I. The creative productions of the crew and the news chronicling of Starseed events will bring in more than one billion dollars a year.

The Starseed Trust will in addition sell long-term rights to the inventions, productions, and creativity rights of the population of Terra II for the years after the launching. The value of Terra II productivity will increase as the years of the voyage pass to the extent that these expressions will become literally priceless. Terra II will have already paid its own way, recompensed Terra I for the necessary supplies and equipment before launching. During the centuries of the voyage Terra II will be freely donating back to the home planet the fruits of its discoveries.

Even though the inhabitants of Terra II will become a new mutant race, their filial indebtedness, gratitude, and concern for the parental planet will continue. The very existence of Terra II as a higher-conscious evolute from Terra I will, it is expected, serve as a model and as an inspiration, and, perhaps, even as a conscience for Terra I to emulate.

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