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7 Boundary Conditions for Forging a 2Ist-Century Space Policy The session was mocleratect by SSB member Steven Flajser, an aerospace industry executive and former staff director of the Senate Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee. Participants incluclect Dan Fink, consultant and former senior executive at General Electric; Robert Frosch, professor of public policy at Harvard University and former NASA administrator; and Richard Malow, consultant and former clerk of the House VA, HUD, and Inclepenclent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Participants were asked to consider the following questions: . What are key considerations for changing policy or constraining factors toward a renewed national space policy? · What should be key elements for a strategy for reaching consensus on the purposes of the space program? Fink began by summarizing his participation on the Augustine Committeei in 1990. He noted that the committee tract a broact charge and reported to the Vice President of the United States, who served as chair of the National Space Council. Fink observed that many aspects of the context for that study were the same then as they are today. NASA was (anct is) confronted with cost increases, program delays, budget pressures, overcommitment, institutional aging, and the aftermath of a tragic shuttle accident. He aciclect that there tract also been many NASA successes, especially in science. Fink then asked, "What are the differences between then and now?" He noted that the world was more peaceful then because the Coict War was essentially over, whereas today terrorism is a dominant threat. Fink incticatect that it was much harder to gain a consensus on goals for the space program then than has been the case at this workshop. As to why consensus was more ctifficult then, Fink concluclect that the NASA Advisory Council report on the crisis in space and Earth sciences2 tract just been released and that there was much more animosity between advocates for the robotic and manned space programs then than now. He noted that at the time of the Augustine report supporters of human space exploration were most often culturists rather than scientists. Fink saint, for example, that Daniel Boorstin, former Librarian of Congress and author of The Discoverers, 3 macle the most articulate statement about human exploration and its value to the nation. The Augustine Committee recommenclect a 5-point, balanced space program. Science was the highest-priority centerpiece of the program, and they recommenclect that it continue to be funclect at about 20 percent of the NASA budget. The space technology base was viewed as weak, and the committee recommenclect that it be strengthened. They also recommenclect a heavy-lift launcher and a crew recovery vehicle. Further, Fink said the committee recommenclect the Mission to Planet Earth and Mission from Planet Earth4 programs in NASA. The latter program was characterized by an essential mix of both ~ Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, Report of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., December 1990. In brief, the report, also known as the Augustine Report, made the following points: Establish space science as the highest priority of the civil space program; convert some NASA centers to the university-aff~liated JPL model; redesign the space station to reduce complexity and cost; pursue Mission from Planet Earth and Mission to Planet Earth; and use heavy-lifting ELVs instead of the shuttle whenever possible. 2 Space and Earth Sciences Advisory Committee of the NASA Advisory Council, The Crisis in Space and Earth Sciences, November 1986. 3 Boorstin, Daniel, The Discovers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself, Random House, New York, 1983. 4 Mission to Planet Earth was a NASA program focused on space-based observation of Earth as a means for collecting data and conducting research that leads to understanding and prediction of the global change on our planet. Mission from Planet Earth was a NASA program inspired by President Bush's 1989 address on the 20th Anniversary of the Apollo 1 1 Moon landing in 34
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human and robotic elements. Reacting from the Augustine Report, Fink quoted from the Executive Summary statements about the committee's views on the mannect space program: But are there not activities in space which properly should be the province of human intelligence, flexibility and being? The Committee found it instructive in this regard to ask whether we would be content with a space program that involved no human flight. Our answer is a resounding "no." There is a difference between Hillary reaching the top of Everest and merely using a rocket to loft an instrument package to the summit. There is a difference between the now largely forgotten Soviet robotic Moon explorer that itself returned lunar samples, and the exploits of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins. The Committee thus wholeheartedly endorses a far-reaching, but we believe realistic, undertaking in manned space activity, carefully paced to the availability of funds. But if there is to be a manned space undertaking, what should it be? Surely the goal is not merely to provide routine transportation of cargo to and from space. In this regard, we share the view of the President that the long term magnet for the manned space program is the planet Mars the human exploration of Mars, to be specific. It needs to be stated straightforwardly that such an undertaking probably must be justified largely on the basis of intangibles the desire to explore, to learn about one's surroundings, to challenge the unknown and to find what is to be found.5 Fink continued to quote from the report, The Committee offers what we believe to be a potentially significant new approach in the planning of human space exploration. Although we appreciate the arguments for setting a "date certain" for many or even most of our space goals, as did President Kennedy with respect to going to the Moon, we believe that a program with the ultimate, long term objective of human exploration of Mars should be tailored to respond to the availability of funding rather than to adhering to a rigid schedule.6 Fink said that the Augustine Committee referred to the recommenclect approach as "co as YOU naY O , ~ , ,, and not "pay as you go." Fink noted that the committee ctict assume that the NASA budget would have a 10 percent annual growth rate; "that's what senior congressional leaclers thought at that time," he remarked. Fink recounted that with respect to the space station, the committee said that the station's only justification was as an enabler for Tong-cluration human spaceflight. Fink concluclect that the report, despite receiving broact praise, unfortunately tract little programmatic impact on NASA. After indicating his sense that a broact consensus probably exists for an integrated human-robotic exploration program pointed toward Mars, Fink acictressect the enabling factors and constraints for achieving such a goal. First, he noted that we clon't have the mannect versus unmanned tensions that existent in 1990. In remarking on constraints, he referred to the fact that we can't count on 10 percent annual growth in the NASA budget, but we can scale back, he said. The question is, how far can you scale back and for how Tong? He noted the need for a broact technology architecture study, including looking at the technology, the robotic missions, the integration of robotic missions, and a determination on whether it is or is not necessary to have a Moon program as a precursor to human exploration of Mars. He questioned whether we have the people and talent in any one organization to conduct such a study. Neither NASA nor industry has the depth that it once tract. Fink mentioned the DOD STRAT-X activity in the 1 960s, which was a review of our strategic successors to the Minuteman and Polaris. A group was put together consisting of military personnel, government civilians, contractor personnel, and consultants, supported by a feclerally funclect research and clevelopment center that ran for a period of about 6 months. which he called for the nation to lead a "sustained program of manned exploration of the solar system," an initiative that was later called the Space Exploration Initiative. 5 Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, Report of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., December 1990, p. 6. 6 Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, Report of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., December 1990, p. 6. 35
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Fink suggested that this is the kind of approach that we may need to consider to undertake a technology architecture study.7 In discussing other constraints affecting the U.S. space program, Fink said the issue of how to handle the international roles involves the question of trust. "Is the trust so eroded that whatever is said is not believed?" he asked. Regarding the need to achieve a broad national consensus, Fink commented that first we need a good story, and then we need to get someone who can deliver that story in a way that is inspirational. It's not an easy sell. He also suggested the need for a Tong-term follow un on the report issued from this workshop. _ . . . . . . f rosch opened his remarks by arguing that there is a clear and accepted reason for exploration, either manned or unmanned. People explore; it is what we do. We stroll around the world and see what it is really like instead of imagining what it is like. We experiment with theoretical and mathematical concepts to explain the universe, and then we Took to see what is logically consistent, he said. Frosch said that in this sense exploration is a part of science. Frosch said that he would describe a path to Mars but that it could apply equally well to the goal of going to the Moon. First, there have to be robots, teleoperators, and people working in tandem, with the robots and teleoperators recognized as tools of the people. Frosch noted that Norbert Wiener referred to this as the human use of human beings.8 Second, we don't know how Tong people can live and work in space. To answer that we will need ground and space experiments. Third, he said, we will need technology for shielding against radiation, and we will have to do a Tot more to develop robotics and teleoperators, adding that "we've barely done enough." Frosch asserted that we haven't built the right interface for our teleoperators, and he stressed that we should begin with teleoperations from Mars orbit and guided autonomy on the ground, after which we can move to the surface of Mars where humans can undertake tasks that robots cannot perform. This approach embraces a "buy it by the yard" strategy. Frosch proposed the following points as critical steps to reforming the space program: · Reconstruct NASA with a new leadership style. Reconstructing NASA might even require dismantling the agency in order to rebuild it. Reconstruction could entail changing the way NASA field centers are managed. We need to reclaim vertical communication that is more open. Both shuttle accidents (Challenger and Columbia) started in way that suggests that the agency will need outside help in creating more open communication. Frosch said, "Accidents begin in the Administrator's office," explaining that, while the leadership is not the proximate cause of the accident, the management and communication style of the organization and its leaders is important to safety. NASA needs outside input from the social sciences (e.g., on the psychology of organizations) in exploring critical leadership and management issues. While addressing these issues we need to take care not to damage the good aspects of today's NASA. · Builc! coalitions. Convene international partners, offer them our version of the solutions and vision, and solicit their version of what they think we should do. Then put together a human exploration endeavor in which we are prepared to pay for the major fraction. We also need to convene our internal political powers and try to get some kind of political agreement on which way to go with the space program. The public must be engaged, as well. · Establish the right kinc! of collaboration. There is a version of collaboration that is different from providing something for everyone. There can be an agreed plan to do something, which people do for different motivations. There's nothing wrong with mixed motivations as Tong as all agree to do something specific together. · Keep NASA technologically strong. If NASA is not internally competent, then it cannot even be a smart buyer and know if people outside are doing the right thing. 7 Institute for Defense Analyses Research and Engineering Support Division, The Strat-X (U) Report, Vol. I, August 1967, declassified in 1978. ~ Wiener, Norbert, The Human Use of Human Beings. Cybernetics and Society, Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1954. 36
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Build! on what we have. Consider what we aireacly have and determine if there are ways to turn it to our purpose for what we want to create. We can probably use the shuttle and a Tot of the ISS if they are used in a different way. We may even have to take some of the ISS apart and use the pieces in a different way. . Press the technological envelope. The concept of self-replicating machines deserves serious attention. There are three technological possibilities to consider conventional factories, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. Malow opened his remarks by noting major differences between science and human spaceflight when he was working with Congress and also today. Space science has set clear goals and has stuck to them, and that is very successful. He suggested that what is missing from human exploration is that exploration has been in the capability-buiTcting stage but has not tract clear goals. Malow said he was struck by the monetary figures clescribect by Wheelon for science and for human exploration. He noted that the science funding level has come much closer to the human spaceflight number than it has ever been. In the 1 980s, everyone said that the science program would never survive if it wasn't for the human sicle. Now, they might say that science has basically saved NASA. He aciclect that if the Mars rovers are successful in early 2004, public interest in the space program will increase. That magic is missing from the human sicle of the equation, he remarked. We aren't going to give up on human spaceflight, but we have slug a creep hole for ourselves and it's creeper than he has ever seen it. Malow cited two examples of problems. First, we have a space transportation system and an ISS that are not effectively clelivering what they were intenclect to cleliver. Second, cluring the 1 990s, as we came into a federal surplus, the NASA budget clecTinect in real clollars by almost $2 billion, and there is a tendency to get Tockecl in to a budget envelope. Malow argued that we lost the opportunity to get the NASA budget up another 10 to 20 percent and are now facing a heac~winct (with growing cleficits) that is not going to go away. Regarding the problems with the space station and the shuttle, Malow reflected that we're at a crossroad with the Columbia accident. He suggested that we have to clecicle whether to fix what we have, noting that if we get to ISS core complete we will have only marginal capability on the ISS. To take the path of truly fixing the ISS, he commented, would cost billions of clollars. Another possibility is that we go to our international partners and tell that the space station effort cticin't turn out the way we thought it would, set a clate for getting out of the ISS, and move on to something that is a grand alliance. Malow said he was worried that the nation will clecicle to do neither, and that we will buiTct an orbital space plane that would only deepen the hole. Malow noted that he leans toward the iclea of getting out of what he called "the Tow Earth orbit black hole." If we're going to pick a grand goal, it should probably be Mars, he suggested. While going back to the Moon is an alternative, it has a sense of"been there, clone that" to it. Mars presents the chance to excite the public. Malow stated that we need a political consensus that a human mission to Mars can be clone and that we will stick to it. We have a different political climate than existent in 1961, 1969, or 1972. Then there was controversy about the shuttle, but there was a consensus that we were going to pursue it. Building political consensus is much tougher today because of the fecleral deficit, and because Congress is different today. Civility is rarer now. The members are not as interested in the broacler spectrum of issues; they are ctistractect by raising money and getting elected. But, Malow stressed, we still should try to get congressional consensus on a grand goal. If we could pick a Tong-term goal that would capture the public's interest and have the consensus support of policy makers, we might be able to pull it off. But if we play around in Tow Earth orbit and just continue to enable that capability, we're never going to reinvigorate human spaceflight with an exciting goal. 37
Representative terms from entire chapter: