Here in the city that's destined to become the world capital of Star Wars, it is bad form to say "Star Wars."
"I can guarantee you that nobody in this hall likes that phrase," the local congressman, Rep. Ken Kramer (R-Colo.) said this week as he gazed over a sprawling convention hall here jammed with hundreds of military and corporate types who paid $430 apiece to attend the first National Symposium of the U.S. Space Foundation.
The Space Foundation and its symposium are in this booming city at the base of Pike's Peak because Colorado Springs was the winner in a major political battle over the location of the Air Force's new Space Command and the $1.2 billion "Consolidated Space Operations Center" -- the nerve center of U.S. military space activity.
Capturing the Space Command was a cosmic coup for the city, which expects astronomical gains in employment, business activity and national prestige. Land prices already are skyrocketing.
Local spirits lofted even higher Friday when the Pentagon announced formation of a single joint command governing all services' space operations. People here are certain that Colorado Springs will be the home of that joint headquarters.
But many space boosters here think the grandeur of it all is tarnished somewhat by the pejorative connotations of the name "Star Wars" which has been widely used to describe President Reagan's plan for a space-based defensive weapon system.
"That 'Star Wars' business implies a warlike, aggressive posture for what is actually a defensive, peacekeeping system," Kramer said. "And it also suggests that the only thing we're going to do in space is base weapons there, which ignores communications and all the rest."
Addressing the symposium this week, Air Force Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson, boss of the space base and thus America's official space commander, referred to the space-defense weapon by its official bureaucratic acronym, "SDI," which stands for "Strategic Defense Initiative."
But Kramer, who thinks a major problem with the space program is that "the Air Force hasn't marketed the thing," said SDI is much too pallid.
Kramer would like to name the weapons system "STARS," leaving "war" out of it. Another hot candidate at the symposium was "High Frontier," meant to be a catchall designation for military activities in space.
This week's symposium encompassed civilian as well as defense space topics, but the military interests clearly held the upper hand.
The attendees responded with a rush of challenging questions when a leading arms-control advocate, Herbert Scoville -- who resolutely said "Star Wars" -- warned that "sending weapons into space will absolutely increase the risk of nuclear war."
But they responded warmly when U.S. arms control director Kenneth L. Adelman assured them that "the goal of 'preventing the militarization of space' is an empty and misleading one." And they cheered Dr. Edward Teller when he said the United States needs a base on the moon for surveillance purposes.
The rear of the hall was converted into a sort of high-tech hardware bazaar where the captains and colonels were treated to lavish and colorful scale models and depictions of the latest in space equipment from defense contractors who have realized, as Kramer put it, "some of the money that's now buying missiles and tanks is going to be shifted to the Space Command."
Also displaying their wares were several real estate developers, who have reacted to the Space Command's coming with billions of dollars in new industrial and residential developments.
Among these is a 200-square-mile section of Colorado prairie that is being transformed into a new city to be called "Port Centauri -- the first spaceport for the 21st century."
"What we're building is a technopolis for a select population of the 4 billion skyriders who are passing through space on passenger ship Earth," said Richard Yaco, who described himself as a "conceptualist" with the Port Centauri development.
Yaco said his development eventually will consist of 13 "crystal communities," each shaped like a snowflake. It will be governed not by a plain old city council but instead by a "Congress of Stewards."
"We hope it will be made up of comprehensivists," Yaco said.
The coming of the Space Command also will provide windfalls for some smaller real estate holders. Among the big winners are the owners of six big auto junk yards on the once-deserted stretch of prairies where the command center is being built.
A few years ago they might have sold their holdings for a few hundred dollars to a local farmer. Today the price on the junk yard property is $10,000 per acre -- and the owners are holding out for more.