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3 Origins of U.S. Space Policy The first session was introclucect by John Logsclon (moclerator) of George Washington University and Howard McCurcly of American University, both of whom are space historians and political scientists. The objective of this session was to review the history of space policy in the United States, its origins, and its evolution. The panelists would also lenct their perspectives on how the lessons learned from this history have implications for the questions facing the space program toclay. Logsclon opened the discussion by reminding the participants about the 1988 National Academies report entitled Towarc! a New Era in Space.i This report was one of the documents that influenced the George H.W. Bush Aclministration to propose a set of challenging goals for the space program on July 20, 1989. The goals proposed by the then-Bush Administration were never implemented, but there was a direct link between the report's claim that the space program needled new goals and the Bush aciministration's decision to try to propose new goals. The point of bringing this up, Logsclon incticatect, was to make it clear that, given the precedent set by the 1988 report, this particular workshop could have a real impact on policy. Logsclon said that he thought it was valuable to take time to review the history of the space program to determine where it stancts now. What is the state of the program now? The overall national space program has been shown to be in serious trouble even before the Columbia accident. When the current Bush Administration came to Washington the International Space Station was $5 billion over budget, and NASA's credibility was at a very Tow point. On top of that came the Columbia accident and the Columbia Accident Investigation Boarcl's findings of organizational problems at NASA. Equally troubling, though not necessarily the subject of this meeting, is the state of the national security space program. Logsclon referred to a report of the Defense Science Board macle public in September 2003, which incticatect that the national security space enterprise is broken in terms of the ability to be on schedule, deliver technical performance, and meet national objectives.2 How much are these problems caused by the lack of any clear goals for the space program? Logsclon said that the workshop participants would have to answer that question. Logsclon said his hope was to detail for the participants the kinds of rationales that have been offered for the space program in the past, and he challenged the participants to consider that over the course of the workshop, discussion about the future of the space program would really be discussion about the future of the human spaceflight program. The space and Earth science programs are part of the nation's portfolio of basic research and are not controversial in principle, though budget levels of course are always a concern. Moving on to his discussion of history, Logsdon began by pointing out that the first president to address space policy, President Eisenhower, liked statements of policy to be formal and well articulated. Space policy was no different. Logsdon noted that in the late 1950s, the space program was regarded as relevant first and foremost to national security. This included human spaceflight, which was one of the NAS-NAE Committee on Space Policy, Toward a New Era in Space, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1988 (also known as the Stever Report, for the committee chair H. Guyford Stever). 2 "Acquisition of National Security Space Programs: Report of the Defense Science Board / Air Force Scientific Advisory Board Joint Task Force on Acquisition of National Security Space Programs," May 2003 (released September 4, 20034. The findings and conclusions of this study team identified requirements definition and control issues; unhealthy cost bias in proposal evaluation; widespread lack of budget reserves required to implement high- risk programs on schedule; and an overall under-appreciation of the importance of appropriately staffed and trained system engineering staffs to manage the technologically demanding and unique aspects of space programs. The report recommends both near-term solutions to serious problems in critical space programs as well as long-term recovery from systemic problems. 14
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most important pieces as a means of defining national power and national pricle.3 Logsclon suggested that the human spaceflight contribution to projecting power and pricle was a theme for at least the first 25 to 30 years of the U.S. space program. Eisenhower's approach to a "space race," according to Logsclon, was to do as quickly as possible, before the Soviet Union, those things that the nation would be cloing in space anyway basest on their intrinsic military, scientific, or technological value, as technological capabilities clevelopecl. This approach changed with President Kennedy who, after the successful launch of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, felt more compelled to engage the Soviet Union in a more conspicuous space race. Kennecly's question was, Do we have a chance of beating the Soviets by putting a laboratory in space, or by a trip around the moon, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ O or by a rocket to land on the moon, or by a rocket to go to the moon and back with a man? Is there any other space program which promises dramatic results in which we could win?4 Logsdon said that a race to a Moon lancting was cleterminect to be one that technically the United States could win; "with a strong effort, the United States could conceivably be first in Circumnavigating and lancting on the moon] by 1966 or 1967."5 Others in the Kennedy Administration also recognized a greater value to successful human spaceflight. Both Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara and NASA Administrator James Webb articulated how successful human spaceflight could have its greatest impact in a psychological capacity: Dramatic achievements in space, therefore, symbolize the technological power and organizing capacity of a nation. Major successes . . . lend national prestige even though the scientific, commercial, or military value of the undertaking may by ordinary standards be marginal or economically unjustified. This nation needs to make a decision to pursue space projects aimed at enhancing nationalprestige. "emphasis in original] The non-military, non-commercial, non-scientific but "civilian" projects such as lunar and planetary exploration are, in this sense, part of the battle along the fluid front of the Cold War.6 Winning the space race was thus part of winning the Coicl War in the broadest sense. Kennecly's acceptance of this rationale, according to Logsclon, may have been the last time there was a clear political rationale and well-articulatect policy for the space program. Logsclon pointed out, however, that Kennedy was all the while still looking to pursue opportunities for cooperation in space with the Soviet Union. After the completion of Project Apollo, NASA tract to get approval for one or more new programs to keep its engineering capabilities fully employed. Logsclon labeled NASA's clesirect goal the "don Braun paracligm" (i.e., a space station and a shuttle to supply the station, then permanent outposts on the Moon followed by missions to Mars). However, the White House rejected the idea of anything too big, so NASA cleciclect to pursue the shuttle first.7 During the debate over the shuttle, some officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wanted to reduce the human spaceflight program. Showing a copy of 3 National Security Council, NSC 5814, "U.S. Policy on Outer Space," June 20, 1958, available in Logsdon, John M., Exploring the Unknown. Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program, Volume I, Organizingfor Exploration, NASA History Series, 1995. 4 John F. Kennedy, Memorandum for Vice President, April 20, 1961, in Logsdon, Exploring the Unknown, 1995. The memo was displayed by Logsdon during his presentation. 5 Lyndon B. Johnson, Vice President, Memorandum for the President, "Evaluation of Space Programs," April 28, 1961, in Logsdon, Exploring the Unknown, 1995. 6 James E. Webb, NASA Administrator, and Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, to the Vice President, May 8, 1961, with attached: "Recommendations for Our National Space Program: Changes, Policies, Goals," in Logsdon, Exploring the Unknown, 1995. 7 For more information on options in the space program after the completion of Project Apollo, see The Space Program in the Post Apollo Period (Lewis M. Branscomb and Frank E. Long, co-chairs), Report of the Space Science and Technology Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee, Washington D.C., The White House, 1967. 15
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a memo from then OMB Deputy Director Casper Weinberger, however, Logsclon incticatect that human spaceflight, and in particular the shuttle, were still seen as a symbol of determination, national will, and national power. Weinberger argued that the United States should be able to afford something more than increased social services for its citizens. To turn away from space would be to say that the best clays of NASA were Greatly passed. President Nixon incticatect his support for the shuttle with a simple note on Weinberger's memo: "I agree with Cap."8 Logsclon wondered whether China's pursuit of manned spaceflight might be used in a similar fashion today. He cited NASA Administrator James Fletcher's argument to the White House in November 1971 that for the United States not to have humans in space while others (at that time the Soviets) ctict was an unacceptable position for this country. Logsclon moved his discussion into the 1 980s. NASA was still continuing along the Von Braun paradigm, setting a space station as its next goal. Logsclon incticatect that continuing to pursue the Von Braun paradigm was a way to continue to push the iclea of human spaceflight as a matter of national strength and leadership. In presenting the space station to President Reagan, NASA clescribect it as "a highly visible symbol of national strength." But NASA officials found the political environment difficult to operate in, so they tract to clo more to justify the program. Workshop participant Ec~warct Stone pointed out that in 1983 then NASA Administrator James Beggs came to the Space Studies Board asking for a scientific rationale for the station. The Boarcl's reply was to indicate that if there was a station, scientific uses could be found for it, but a station wasn't needled for good science.9 Logsclon noted that decisions to proceed with Project Apollo, the space shuttle program, and the space station have been the defining events for the U.S. space program. Maybe getting Russia into the ISS program was also a clefining element, he aciclect. Certainly, the first three were all pursued primarily because a national program in human spaceflight was seen as a way of projecting national power and prestige. Logsclon suggested that the workshop participants consider whether power and prestige are any longer sufficient justifications. In closing Logsclon ctisplayect the last national space policy from September 1996.~° The policy clearly stated that NASA's first priority in human spaceflight was completing the ISS: (3) To enable these activities, NASA will: (a) Develop and operate the International Space Station to support activities requiring the unique attributes of humans in space and establish a permanent human presence in Earth orbit. The International Space Station will support future decisions on the feasibility and desirability of conducting further human exploration activities. ~ Howard McCurcly opened his remarks by stating that the problem with the space program is that U.S. Officials refuse to commit to a real goal. He asserted that the history of the human spaceflight effort is one of leaclers refusing to make Tong-term commitments. Citing an article in Public Administration Review by political scientist Charles Linclblom titlecl "The Science of Muclclling Through," McCurcly argued that NASA has acloptect what Linciblom clescribect as the politics of incrementaTism. NASA acloptect incrementaTism as its way to achieve the Von Braun paradigm. NASA wanted both the space station and the shuttle but tract to get them one step at a time. ~ Casper Weinberger, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget, via George P. Schultz, Memorandum for the President, "Future of NASA," August 12, 1971, in Logsdon, Exploring the Unknown, 1995. 9 Space Science Board, National Research Council, "Space Science Board Assessment of the Scientific Value of a Space Station," letter report from SSB Chair Thomas M. Donahue to NASA Administrator James M. Beggs, September 9, 1983. ~° Presidential Decision Directive / National Science and Technology Council - 8. "Fact Sheet: National Space Policy," September 19, 1996. ~ ~ National Science and Technology Council, "Fact Sheet - National Space Policy," September 19, 1996. )2 Lindblom, Charles, E., "The Science of Muddling Through," Public Administration Review, Vol. 19, 1959, pp. 78-88. 16
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McCurcly said that with incremental policy making people do not have to agree on the Tong-term goals, but rather they have to agree that the policy of taking steps is a good iclea. Getting the first approval for the first step requires building coalitions of political support. That is a political necessity, but coalitions will react to acictitional program objectives objectives that are hard to realize in a technical sense if too many acictitional objectives are aciclect to a program. In the end, these acictitional objectives compromise a program's technical capabilities in comparison to its originally intended purpose. McCurcly said this is exactly what happened with the space shuttle. Having tract the opportunity to learn this lesson once with the space shuttle, McCurcly said that NASA macle the same mistakes all over again with the space station. When it was originally conceived, there were several ideas on how to best utilize a space station. Like the space shuttle, NASA's leadership built a coalition of political support for the space station by suggesting it was capable of performing several different technical missions concurrently. Therefore when NASA was discussing the space station program it ctict so without discussing configurations or cletailect technical icleas. NASA won support for the idea of the space station, but once this idea was approved, choosing a technical design to match all the clesirect capabilities proved to be more difficult than anticipated. When it was first approved, it was estimated that the station could be built for approximately $8 billion. NASA spent that much money on tracle-off studies just to choose a design. The end result, according to McCurcly, is an ISS that is primarily a life sciences platform, which is not what it was initially intenclect for. McCurcly ctiscussect some current public opinion polls related to the space program. He said that approximately 30 percent of the public supports increased spending by NASA. This level of support is quite high for NASA, or for most programs, according to McCurcly. The space program is on the national agenda because of the Columbia accident, and 2004 is a presidential election year. These are signs that indicate the possibility of increased funding for a new project in the space program. Countering these forces is the historical fact that politicians are wary of making Tong-term policy commitments. For space, a Tong-term commitment is necessary, in particular if one considers the benefit a Tong-term commitment would have for guiding decisions about the space station and a successor to the space shuttle. Furthermore, Tong-term commitments help engineering decisions. McCurcly said that this moment in time is a great opportunity for the participants to influence the process as it clears with these various forces. McCurcly closecl his remarks by saying that the public and politicians are quick to embrace a vision, but they are not always willing to pay for it. He presented some public opinion polls that show support for more money going to the space program to improve our capabilities in Tow Earth orbit support for replacing the shuttle, finishing the ISS, and still cloing good science. All of these things cannot be accomplished without great resources, McCurcly said. Will the public support all of it? McCurcly said that remains to be seen. Logsclon opened the discussion period by saying that this could be an historic time for the space program. The decision process that President Kennedy followed could be clescribect by a mocle! of rational choice. This is much different from the incremental approach clescribect by McCurcly. Logsclon asked if the nation is in a position to make a rational decision about the space program. There will have to be winners and losers with rational choices. This is different from the incremental, coaTition-buiTcling approach that NASA has previously followed because it means some people will be toict "no." Is the political system really to do that? There are other questions that Logsclon strew from his and McCurcly's presentations: Is human spaceflight as a symbol of strength and power a good enough reason to continue human spaceflight? Must we advance alternative technical or strategic justifications, when they may not withstand close scrutiny? Are human spaceflight and human exploration of space now part of the expected portfolio of U.S. activities? The first President Bush called it destiny. Is that enough? The remainder of the workshop, Logsclon suggested, should answer those questions. In response to one question, Logsclon and McCurcly briefly ctiscussect the different rationales for the space station besides national prestige. McCurcly argued that the potential commercial value of the space station was a bigger driver than anything else in the original decision to proceed with the station. Logsclon recalled a commercial by McDonnell Douglas in 1983 some kind of station seen in orbit, voices in the background speaking Russian, and a question appearing on the screen: "Shouicin't we be - _ . . .. . . 17
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there, too?" Logsdon suggested that in 1983 the urge to compete with the Soviets was still very potent. The discussion about the space station continued with Radford Byerly basically agreeing with the difficulty of associating specific hardware and policy decisions and suggesting that a policy to build something may best be implemented in a way that lets you learn as you build. McCurdy said this reminded him of James Beggs's belief that you could build a space station the same way you buy cloth- by the yard. Riccardo Giacconi asked whether it is the case that the policy environment forces NASA to choose poor technical designs for its programs. Giacconi said he understood that NASA needs consensus to get support, but it is not obliged to go too far to get that consensus it is not forced to promise more than it can deliver. NASA chooses to make those promises on its own, and this is the fundamental problem. Giacconi said he believes this to be a failure of execution, not a failure of policy or politics. McCurdy replied by recalling an interview he had with former NASA Administrator James Fletcher, who indicated that perhaps the greatest mistake he, Fletcher, had ever made was not going to the White House, after the decision was made to build the space shuttle, and confess that in fact NASA could not build such a vehicle for the available funding. Logsdon followed up on this point by stating his belief that the space program has for so long been on such shaky political footing, that its leaders have refused to take the risk of being honest and saying, "We can't really do that." They do not want to test the hypothesis, according to Logsdon, that they can be honest about what could be done and risk losing political support. Robert Richardson asked how much NASA needs its human program as a way to keep support alive for the remainder of its scientific programs. Both Logsdon and McCurdy agreed that NASA is very dependent on its human program. It was Logsdon's opinion that a discussion about the future of the civil space program really meant a discussion on the future of human exploration. While space science is strong, there has never been a decision at the level of the President on an issue of science, except in 1981, when there were some efforts by the Reagan Administration to cancel planetary exploration programs and Congress intervened to save them. Logsdon indicated that former NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin learned this the hard way. Goldin wanted to cut the station program when he got to NASA but realized that he could not, for fear of how it would hurt the agency. Logsdon admitted that this is not always a comforting realization for the science community. Robert Frosch supported Logsdon's comment in this regard. When Frosch was asked by the White House, in his capacity as NASA administrator, whether NASA should cancel the shuttle program, he realized he could not. If he did, "the whole thing comes down around it." Lastly, SSB member Donald Ingber said that he was struck by what he felt was a lack of "positive spin" to our space program. By this he meant that NASA's manned spaceflight program provided an incredible opportunity to show the world how our nation can use its power in constructive ways, to collaborate and cooperate with the international community, and to explore a higher goal that can benefit all. Ingber noted that, at a time when other nations see only the intimidating aspects of our power, this ~ . . - ... . ... . type of constructive message couch nave a major Positive impact on national security bv facilitating it, J 1 1 ./ . international diplomacy and trust. McCurdy agreed, stating that even President Eisenhower believed that the first U.S. satellite should not be a military satellite. Logsdon felt that image and strength are important, but there should be a positive aspect to that visibility. 18
Representative terms from entire chapter: