National Academies Press: OpenBook

Toward a New Era in Space: Realigning Policies to New Realities (1988)


Suggested Citation:"NATIONAL SECURITY AND CIVIL SPACE: THE NEED FOR HARMONY." National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering. 1988. Toward a New Era in Space: Realigning Policies to New Realities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18717.
Page 20
Suggested Citation:"NATIONAL SECURITY AND CIVIL SPACE: THE NEED FOR HARMONY." National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering. 1988. Toward a New Era in Space: Realigning Policies to New Realities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18717.
Page 21

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

20 its resources will be increasingly devoted to operations to the detriment of NASA's primary function, namely to develop new space systems in support of continued space research in science, applications, and exploration. The term "operational" as applied to commercial aircraft, ships, or mass- produced defense equipment probably will never apply to space systems in the same context. However, large complex space systems such as the shuttle and the space station are, or will be, driven largely by operations issues—turn- around time between flights; manifesting; or retrofitting of design changes for reasons of safety, cost, payload capability, logistics, and training of crew mem- bers. These are not the basic work of research and development leading to new concepts and ideas for future space systems nor for expanding knowledge of the universe and discerning the implications of that knowledge for life on this planet and elsewhere. There should be within NASA an organization for space flight operations that is separated from developmental activities. Two types of expertise are in- volved, and it is important that people working in flight operations recognize that as their job and be committed to excellence in its execution. It is equally important that people working in space systems research, development, and program management have the same recognition and commitment and that their activities be separated from engineering maintenance and other operation- al tasks. NATIONAL SECURITY AND CIVIL SPACE: THE NEED FOR HARMONY Although the nation has reaped many benefits from its civil space program, a strong national security space program (intelligence and defense) is fundamental to the welfare of the country. While this paper has focused almost exclusively on civil space policies, defense uses of space can and should both draw on and reinforce the civil program. This is especially relevant because defense and security expenditures for space are now substantially more than civil expenditures. However, neither program receives the full measure of benefit that would derive from closer cooperation between the two. Relations between the civil space program and national security space ac- tivities as envisioned in the 1958 Space Act were to be close and cooperative. The DOD was to benefit from space research and development carried out by NASA, and, under properly controlled circumstances, technology could also flow in the other direction. Cooperation was generally satisfactory up to the point that the shuttle became a divisive issue, but in more recent times the relationship has been particularly strained, due largely to each agency's percep-

21 tion of its mission. Yet, critical areas of mutual interest remain—common, dual- use technologies; launch vehicles; and launch facilities. The situation clearly demands more effective liaison between the agen- cies. NASA needs a high-level person who reports directly to the Administrator to serve effectively as liaison with the DOD. This person should have a strong background in DOD space matters. Waiver of government regulations regard- ing restrictions on retirement pay should be made if necessary to attract the right individual. Strong, cooperative programs, particularly in space engineering research, and better liaison between the two agencies would strengthen the national security space program, lend new vitality to civil efforts, and enable the country to receive the maximum benefit from its investments in space. Techni- cal coordination also serves to communicate the existence of new technology, and joint efforts among the players could enable greater accomplishment. Wide awareness of the degree of coordination and of the total national effort will enable the rational assignment of budget priorities. Such coordination has been accomplished effectively in the past—the X-15 program is a salient example. Currently, space power provides another. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Energy, and NASA/OAST together have un- dertaken expensive research into the use of nuclear energy in the SP 100 program, research that neither agency would be likely to undertake alone. Last, the direct merger of civil and defense assets offers the potential for improved efficiency and economy. However, each case is unique and requires thoughtful analysis prior to action. In the area of meteorology both NOAA and the Air Force have run operational meteorological satellite systems in polar orbit for more than twenty-five years. Over time, the two programs have tended toward becoming more complementary. They now use the same basic satellite "bus" and back each other up in case of a loss of in-orbit assets. In the past, foreign policy concerns have been the basis for rejecting a converged sys- tem managed by the DOD. In these times of extraordinary pressure on the federal budget, however, this issue should be revisited. By negotiating joint DOD/NOAA management and satisfactory arrangements with international partners, significant savings could be achieved. Other areas with apparent potential for such efficiency gains include oceanographic and geodetic satellites and launch services. With regard to launch services, the current cooperation between the Air Force and NASA on an advanced launch system is a welcome development.

Toward a New Era in Space: Realigning Policies to New Realities Get This Book
 Toward a New Era in Space: Realigning Policies to New Realities
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering assembled a group of experts in science, economics, engineering, and private technology-based enterprise to examine past space policies and their consequences and to recommend policies that should guide the national space program over the long term. Of special concern was the lack of national consensus regarding the long-term goals of the civil space program, which led to the loss of heavy launch capabilities, the fall of the Skylab, and, for lack of alternative launch vehicles, the prolonged absence of the United States from space following the Challenger accident. Without a durable framework to establish priorities, the U.S. space program has promised too much for the resources made available to it.

Toward a New Era in Space concludes that major changes are needed in the way the country and its leaders approach national space policy. The foundation of space policy is its sense of purpose—national goals that are imaginative, durable, and affordable. These goals and the programs to achieve them must recognize the growing capabilities of other nations and, through cooperation, accomplish objectives otherwise unobtainable. Major challenges also provide major opportunities. This report addresses those near-term decisions that can lead to a fruitful, consistent U.S. space program in the decades to come.


  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook,'s online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!