Click for next page ( 30

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 29
6 Guiding Principles of a 21st-Century Space Policy The pane! was mocleratect by SSB member and former Aerospace Corporation executive George PauTikas. The panelists incluclect Albert Wheelon, former president and CEO of Hughes Aircraft Company; Noel Hinners, a planetary scientist and former senior industry and NASA executive; Tocict La Porte, a political scientist from the University of California at Berkeley; and Robert Richardson, a physicist and university administrator from Cornell University. Panelists were asked to acictress the following questions: What principles should apply for setting goals and priorities and clefining balance? What are the implications for defining institutional roles and responsibilities and other organizational factors? Wheelon presented a framework for the total national space effort comprising five different U.S. space programs, all of which have different needs, masters, purposes, and funding sources, though they share the same technology base and rockets. The five programs include (1) the National Reconnaissance Program with an estimated $8 billion annual budget, (2) the military space program with an estimated $8.5 billion budget, (3) the commercial space program with an estimated $7 billion to $10 billion, (4) the NASA unmanned space program (Earth and space science) estimated at $5 billion, and (5) the Gannett space program estimated at $7 billion. He noted that it is interesting to see that all five are of similar magnitude. 1. National Reconnaissance Program. Wheelon said that the National Reconnaissance Program (NRP) was President Eisenhower's first response to Sputnik. The CORONA program, which concluctect reconnaissance of the USSR and China, was authorized 5 months after the Sputnik launch and received a very high priority in several administrations. The first CORONA flight occurrent, and failed, 11 months after the program's initiation. There were 13 successive failures, but each failure was ctiscussect with Eisenhower and the program went forward nonetheless. The first success, in August 1960, occurrent 18 months after the decision to proceed, and Wheelon said that we got more film back than from all of the U- 2 flights put together. CORONA concluctect 145 flights over the next 12 years, and its reentry capsule proviclect key technology for the Mercury missions. Wheelon noted that the CORONA program tract the presiclent's immediate interest from the very beginning and that all subsequent presidents stayed personally involved throughout the program's history. CORONA was succeeclect by two seconcl- generation systems. He reported that a near-real-time system, which does not require film recovery, was first launched in 1976, and we're still using it. Scientists and engineers from the civil space community were involved in the NRP. They pressed Eisenhower to initiate CORONA, and they helpect guide the reconnaissance programs. The National Academies have never played an organizing role in getting these NRP advisors together, but Academy people have been involved. The NRP, which enjoyed unusual secrecy and flexibility, tract linkages with the NASA civil program in several ways. The Hubble Space Telescope, for example, was clerivect from one of the NRP seconcl- generation programs. The Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) was another example. Its principal job would have been to enable manned supervision of reconnaissance and surveillance of Earth. The MOL was abanclonect, however, because engineers cleterminect that astronauts' movements would cause image blurring, Wheelon recounted. Another cross-coupling between the NRP and NASA was the shuttle. The shuttle's cargo bay size was clesignect to accommodate NRP's largest payload, and the NRP placed specifications on payload weight. Budget data provided for the five programs are approximate figures for Fiscal Year 2003. 29

OCR for page 29
Wheelon believes that, at present, the NRP is having a micllife crisis. Its mission has changed the program was clesignect to go after Russia and China but the problems are different today. The organization's oict age and transition to a public, partially unclassified existence have contributed to the problem. 2. Military program. Wheelon reflected that prior to Sputnik, the military space program didn't have enough emphasis or enough priority to get going. Sputnik changed that. Since then one can point to major successes. For example GPS, which was initially clevelopect as a military asset, is a major success and in its broadest context is probably more important than communication satellites. Second, missile- warning satellites in synchronous orbit, which enable us to detect missile launches within a 100-mile range and within a minute of launch, are an important stabilizing factor. Wheelon reflected that the National Academies have not played a strong role in advising the Air Force but could play a stronger role in the future. He commented that the military program is committed to expendable launch vehicles (ELVs), and the military is not interested in having manned missions, given their cost and the uncertainty in launches. He mentioned that the operators of military satellites were shaken after the Challenger accident, because they tract been toict to fly military payloads solely on the shuttle. 3. Commercial program. Wheelon noted that the commercial space program is basest largely on communication satellites. The Comsat Act of 1962 established Comsat and Intelsat, which was an important international activity. They acloptect the synchronous solution, and that lect to a flowering of communications satellites, operators, and countries coming into the act and to the development of global systems. From 1970 until mict-1996, the business flourished and there was Tots of private capital going into the R&D. Most of the clevelopment work in communications satellites was paid for by Intelsat. Wheelon noted that NASA played an important early role but cropped out later. All of the technological developments in communications satellites have come about from private investment or, in some cases, military investment. He remarked that communication satellites are in a difficult state. Deregulation unclerminect Intelsat's monopoly, and it is no longer in a position to support spacecraft and technology as it once cticl. There have been such large investments in fiber optics that overcapacity has clevelopect, which has striven the price of communications services clown to the point at which it has tract a serious impact on the business. There were other questionable investments as well, such as Motorola's investment in Iridium, which has probably lost $6 billion to $7 billion in actual investments and guarantees. There is excess spacecraft capability, both in terms of satellites built and the capabilities to buiTct them. These decisions were striven by market forces and competition for other ways of cloing the job, not by space policy. The people who make those decisions are MBAs, not engineers, and they make decisions basest on economic considerations. 4. Civil unmanned program. Wheelon remarked that the unmanned space program is wonclerfuT but has been a poor cousin at NASA. Almost all of the program relies on robotic spacecraft. The Hubble Space Telescope was clesignect to be serviced by astronauts, but that approach was a conscious choice. NRP launches new satellites to replace or upgrade its capability rather than servicing existing satellites. The cost for servicing and for launching replacement satellites is about the same, he saint. 5. Civil manned program. With respect to the manned space program, Wheelon commented that the Mercury and Gemini programs represented a quick response to the challenge posed by the Soviet launch of Sputnik. Apollo met its goals and reasserted the U.S. ability to demonstrate technological prowess. Today, there is little need for the space program to demonstrate U.S. acivancect technology, considering the successes, for instance, of the United States in personal computers and biotechnology. Wheelon said that after Apollo a policy turning point came when NASA sought to make the shuttle the centerpiece for all U.S. launches. It aggressively sought a monopoly on all launches of U.S. spacecraft, and to that end designed the shuttle to meet everyone's requirements. To enforce this monopoly, NASA began closing the production lines of Delta, Atlas, and Titan in 1984. NRO invested $3 billion to create a shuttle launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base to handle missions with military payloads. Having humans in the loop increased the costs to military users. Wheelon mentioned that since 30

OCR for page 29
most national security missions were not suited to Tow Earth orbit, an inertial upper stage (IUS) tract to be clevelopect. The IUS tract to meet all of the mission requirements in DOD. It started at an estimated $2 million a shot and ultimately soared to $80 million a shot. That's what happens when you buiTct an all- purpose machine, he saict. When Challenger exploclect on January 28, 1986, so ctict the policy of putting all of our eggs in one basket. Wheelon noted that commercial customers for the shuttle were ctroppect, as were military payloads. NASA was left with a machine that could do all things, but with no customers save itself. The ISS became crucial to the shuttle's reason for being and for the manned program. In looking to the future, Wheelon said that if it is necessary to support the ISS, it can be clone without the shuttle. We can carry supplies to the ISS with expenclable launch vehicles and rendezvous mocluTes. Astronauts can be ferriect in crew capsules like Soyuz with a few man-ratect rockets, he said. How do we implement such a scenario? Wheelon argued that a substitute for the shuttle would not require much new technology. There are symmetrical reentry vehicles that do not require reorienting, and we have ablation technology well clevelopecl. He asserted that if the United States wants a challenging and exciting program, the shuttle and the ISS are not it. He said that he believes our country will respond to another grand challenge, though he was not sure when this challenge will occur. What might be a grand challenge? Wheelon noted that he was excited about going to Mars or its moons and even more excited about going to the moons of Jupiter. These missions would require assembly of transfer vehicles in Earth orbit as well as new types of propulsion vehicles. He urgent the National Academies to consider such grand challenges and not be consumed in simply fine-tuning this exciting mix. Hinners opened his remarks by stating that the challenge ahead is to "change the content of this room." He proposed that we need to get the youth back into leadership positions, noting that the senior players in the space community were leaving a vacuum in their wake. In considering the human spaceflight program, Hinners asserted that NASA must work harder at integrating humans and robotics. The optimization of achievements can be better accomplished if we can marry the two. He said that NASA should invest in a firmer role for robotic, software, and information technologies in its manned space centers. Hinners supported the idea of an exit strategy for the ISS. The sole focus of the ISS should be to do biomedical, physiological, and psychological studies in support of future Tong-cluration human exploration beyond Tow Earth orbit. He commented that we should do this research, and then "its job is clone." He also noted that we have not clone a good job collectively with international partners and that we need a more effective way to conduct such partnerships at the beginning rather than after programs have been clefinect. Richardson said that his remarks would focus on the insights acquired through his experience on the ISS Management and Cost Evaluation (IMCE) Task Force.2 He commented that his assessment of the scientific potential for the ISS, in his discipline, was that no transformational physics could be clone there. Richardson noted that there is no incentive for managers of the ISS to do anything other than the ISS, and this presents a serious disincentive for finishing the program. He mentioned that too many promises of what the ISS would do tract been macle to too many people. The program became completely unfocused. Richardson reported that there are 3000 people required to support a 3- to 7-person crew on the ISS, and this count floes not include those needled to support the shuttle. Many of the ISS's systems clepenct on 1980s technology and designs, including, for example, IBM 486 computer systems. The IMCE task force concluclect that the highest priority of the ISS should be to focus on problems associated with Tong-cluration human spaceflight. The variable-gravity research centrifuge is mandatory for this work, Richardson said. Richardson also referred to the problems of sustaining a Tong-term human presence in space, including exposure to radiation, maintaining a food supply, and controlling disease. Richardson proposed a set of principles for setting goals and priorities and for defining balance in the space program, which should include the following: 2 Report by the International Space Station (ISS) Management and Cost Evaluation (IMCE) Task Force to the NASA Advisory Council, November 2001. Available at ; accessed December 9, 2003. 31

OCR for page 29
This will be a political decision, not a scientific one. A clear statement of purpose is needled, and so is an honest evaluation of whether it can be met. Defining the balance in institutional roles and responsibilities is also a political choice. In political decisions there will be winners and losers. . La Porte began by defining a high-reliability organization as one that must perform nearly perfectly over a period of many management generations of about 10 years each. NASA is such an organization. Most management realizes that the cost of learning from an error is more than the cost of making the error. When managers conclude, in some cases, that the cost of the error is greater than the learning increment, then significant change often occurs. La Porte noted that his research has involved unclerstancting what it means when organizations choose to be better than they need to be, and he expressed that much of NASA has that quality. Researchers have looked at aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, and air traffic control as organizations that have operated better than they should. Research on high-reliability organizations considers what actually happens when managing large-scare systems that involve highly hazardous operations that require operational stability for many years. What are you actually asking for? What is present in organizations that try to do this? La Porte explained that researchers do not know how to produce organizations that are highly reliable and that high reliability is often achieved through evolution. There are recognized characteristics of these reliable organizations, however. La Porte noted that in trying to unclerstanct highly reliable organizations, researchers Took at what happens inside the organization to prevent a particular undesirable outcome and Took at the institution's external relationships. Highly reliable organizations tenet to have operations that are collegial and highly collaborative, as well as clecentraTizect authority, particularly as the tempo increases in complexity. He said that these organizations have flexible clecision-making processes that involve operating teams in which the teams become the central decision makers, and processes that reward the discovery of error, including one's own error. La Porte mentioned that the point is that if you reward the discovery of errors, they are not covered up. La Porte also clescribect that one of the most interesting aspects of high-reliability organizations is what happens in interactions with those outside the organization, even at the risk of some Toss of internal control. The processes that organizations use to maintain reliability are costly in time, clollars, and Toss of status; in other worsts, higher-level officials don't like to give up control, especially when it involves decisions for which they can be punished. He explained that highly reliable organizations also tenet to be characterized by a strong presence of outside stakehoicler groups or "watchers," and such organizations let people on the outside know what is going on right away so they can assist the organization. Highly reliable institutions tenet to believe that technical personnel are highly capable, give them room to operate, and protect those personnel when they do their jobs. He stated that an organization needs the whole pattern of characteristics happening at once. La Porte ctiscussect institutional constancy. When you take the issues of complicated organizations cleating in hazardous operations such as NASA has and you have within the mission a time frame that extends across multiple generations (40 to 50 years or roughly 10 presidential terms), "how," he asked, "clo you ensure constancy of commitment? How do you develop characteristics such that people who make bargains with you now will keep them in the future? How do you demonstrate that you have the political will to persist?" Political will from the top is crucial and requires strong commitments from high- status agency leaclers and public watch groups. La Porte also pointed out that institutional constancy requires adequate resources to ensure the transfer of technical and institutional knowledge across worker and management generations; an institution cannot rely on internal, ad hoc transfer of knowledge. For example, how Tong can an institution fait to do the things it needs to do before the next generation cannot learn them, he asked. A significant portion of technical operations are not technical, but an art of operations, he explained. In many cases, engineers and operations personnel cannot explain what they Lo; they lack a language to describe their actions. Continuous, explicit transfer of knowledge is critical. We need to ask how this process works in NASA, he observed. He also questioned whether we have the capacity to detect and remedy the early onset of the failures that could threaten the future of a program 32

OCR for page 29
and whether we have the means to remectiate the failures if they occur. La Porte also asked if we unclerstanct the organization enough to detect that if"this" continues to unfoict, then we will have a catastrophe in the program. La Porte ctiscussect what might be clone if we are concerned about maintaining public trust. NASA is verging on losing public trust. If you've lost the trust in an organization, what you need to do to recover it is extraordinary, he said. You cannot recover trust in a hurry, he saint, and you need to change yourself a great clear. We are not just concerned about a technical program or about priorities among an agency's technical activities. Public trust and conficlence are also about how you comport yourself as an institution. He clescribect the situation as one in which the space program needs high reliability over many management periods (presiclential terms) in an environment of increasing public distrust. These kinds of issues need to be factored into how we think about going forward. Institutional transformations need to take place. Repeated phenomena such as high-level managers engaging in the same behaviors time after time in the absence of an explanation react to bact outcomes. He reflected that these managers work hard and are well meaning and that perhaps each of us would do the same. Why is this, and how can we change it? La Porte highlighted several questions that need to be unclerstooct in the NASA context. If the manned space program is continued at a substantially Tower level of effort, how small can the level be before we can't continue to do it? How few people can an organization have and still do its job? How Tong could you fait to do things before it's impossible to recover? What do you need to know and capture in case the program collapses? The laciness, he commented, is that we have tract immensely interesting human capacity clemonstratect in the space program over the last 20 years. We need to know more about what it really took to do that. La Porte mentioned that he was struck by the tacit agreement that everyone at the workshop appeared to share regarding the cultural aspects of the space program, and he suggested that those beliefs need to be expressed publicly. What is the cultural contribution of the space program in the symbolic sense? What floes it mean to our public to have enjoyed what we've tiact over the last 20 years? What would it mean to have lost this opportunity? La Porte pointed out that no one is telling the story of what it would mean to focus on other questions in the political sphere and abandon a permanent presence in Tow Earth orbit. He acknowlecigect that gaining such unclerstancting is extremely important, yet very ctifficult, and it is not the kind of activity that National Academies' panels do comfortably. The subsequent discussion focused on the issues of organizational reliability necessary for moving forward with the space program and questions about changes needled within the institutional structure of NASA. Jacobson was struck by the requirements for high reliability and their effect on organizational structure. "What if we accept the current reliability of the shuttle?" he asked. Would this help or hurt the issues outlined? Participants suggested that the national conversation would be different and questioned whether NASA leaclers could sustain support in Congress if they talked realistically about what they were cloing. Do we have science to die for? Wheelon mentioned that the sin is to call the shuttle something other than a flight test program. There is a mismatch between reality and rhetoric. Frosch noted that if we used all five shuttles with as many flights as they were supposed to fly, then we would have just the approximate number of flights needled to flight certify the Boeing 747 commercial airplane. Osborn pointed out the parochialism of scientists. She reported that the NASA Research Maximization and Prioritization (ReMaP) task force was charged with defining the science that should be clone on the ISS and with assigning priorities among those areas of science. The task group hurt its own credibility because some members couicl not compromise on priorities. Scientists can't always affect policy positively, but they can greatly affect policy negatively, she concluclecl. Fisk askecl, "If you're defining space policy, do you have to say that there needs to be a funclamental change in NASA and the space program? If we want to do it differently, do we have to restructure NASA? Is there an example of a federal agency that has transformed itself to some better state, and if so, how was it clone?" La Porte commented that there are no examples of organizations that have changecl, though there are examples of subunits that have changed, and one is Rocky Flats, a Department of Energy weapons facility. 33