An Alternative Approach to National Space Policy


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The administration of President Barack Obama has revised U.S. National Space Policy in a process somewhat shorter and more streamlined than previous administrations. However, even this modified approach consumes substantial time and resources while yielding, at best, incremental improvements. This paper suggests a different way to configure the nation’s top-level space policies, with particular emphasis on creation of a new policy that combines space exploration and development, and better articulates long-term goals and strategies for the nation’s civil space efforts.

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An Alternative Approach to National Space Policy

  1. 1. AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference & Exposition AIAA 2010-861130 August - 2 September 2010, Anaheim, California An Alternative Approach to National Space Policy James A. Vedda, Ph.D. * The administration of President Barack Obama has revised U.S. National Space Policy in a process somewhat shorter and more streamlined than previous administrations. However, even this modified approach consumes substantial time and resources while yielding, at best, incremental improvements. This paper suggests a different way to configure the nation’s top-level space policies, with particular emphasis on creation of a new policy that combines space exploration and development, and better articulates long-term goals and strategies for the nation’s civil space efforts. I. Introduction The Obama administration’s willingness to consider and often embrace changes in policy applies to the nation’sspace activities just as it does to other policy areas. This was clearly demonstrated by the administration’s proposedcancellation of NASA’s Constellation program, and by its early initiation of analyses such as the AugustineCommittee’s review of human spaceflight and the broad assessment resulting from a space-related PresidentialStudy Directive. These analyses and the evolving policy environment have prompted a revisit of the national spacepolicies inherited from the George W. Bush administration. The Obama administration’s National Space Policy(NSP), issued June 28, 2010, 1 contrasts with the previous administration’s policy mainly in what it emphasizesrather than in its content. There is still room for creative new approaches to the issues and improvements in thepolicy formulation process that will enhance efficiency and relevance to national needs. II. The Evolution of U.S. National Space Policy-making U.S. national space policy – top-level guidance addressed in a reasonably comprehensive manner – originatedin the Dwight Eisenhower administration in the late 1950s. 2 Subsequent administrations over the next two decadesdid not pursue broad space policy documents, preferring instead to touch on specific space-related issues in short(typically one or two-page) National Security Action Memoranda (under John F. Kennedy 3 and Lyndon Johnson 4 )and National Security Decision Memoranda (under Richard Nixon 5 and Gerald Ford 6 ). The administration of Jimmy Carter marked a return to a more inclusive NSP. Carter signed a PresidentialDirective (PD) on National Space Policy in 1978. 7 This occurred shortly after a PD on space nuclear powersystems 8 and was followed by two PDs covering civil space policy 9 and remote sensing policy 10 (all three of whichwere signed by National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski rather than President Carter). Since then, eachoccupant of the White House has redrafted and reissued a top-level space policy document. With the exception ofObama so far, each one also has issued multiple national policies targeted at activities such as space transportation,commerce, remote sensing, navigation, and exploration. Although rewriting of the “comprehensive” NSP has become conventional practice, an obvious problem withthis approach is that the space enterprise has become so large and diverse that no single policy document can betruly comprehensive. The policies targeted at specific issues have been the ones that have provided the most directguidance to U.S. agencies, influencing the development and implementation of their space-related programs. Forexample, in the George W. Bush administration, the positioning, navigation, and timing policy 11 provided guidancefor development, acquisition, operation, sustainment, and modernization of the Global Positioning System andestablished the interagency process for managing these activities; the remote sensing policy 12 gave direction forlicensing, government use, and foreign access to U.S. commercial remote sensing capabilities; and the spaceexploration policy 13 mandated the retirement of the space shuttle after completion of the International Space Station(ISS) and the development of a new launch system targeted at a return to the Moon by 2020. It is noteworthy that the previous two administrations issued their targeted policies before – in some cases, longbefore – their comprehensive NSPs. In part, this was driven by the perceived priorities of specific issues. Butsignificantly, it is also a reflection of the difficulty of creating an NSP through a cumbersome and time-consumingprocess. The illusion of comprehensiveness compels every potential stakeholder agency to expect a seat at the tablefor every step of the process, even though they may be interested in only a small subset of the issues. The targeted* 5853 Governor’s Hill Drive, Alexandria, VA 22310. The views presented in this paper are the author’s alone.Copyright © 2010 by James A. Vedda. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.
  2. 2. policies, which ideally should follow the NSP, involve a much more focused group of people, have more clearlydefined aims, and tend to have a lower word count. These factors allow them to be formulated and approved moreefficiently. Despite the challenges of policy formulation and the administration’s crowded agenda, Obama’s NSP appearedrelatively quickly, just a year and a half after he took office. In comparison, Bill Clinton signed his NSP more thanthree and a half years into his presidency; for George W. Bush it was more than five and a half years, followingnearly three years of effort by a host of hardworking people across the executive agencies. During a significantportion of the gestation of the Bush policy, the staff of the National Security Council and the Office of Science andTechnology Policy presided over weekly interagency meetings involving 20 to 30 participants. The attendee listeventually was reduced, but over the three-year period, thousands of staff hours were expended to cover the frequentmeetings and support the work of reviewing, editing, and coordination within the agencies. Despite this huge effort,the result was a policy that the administration initially sought to keep at a very low profile. It was releasedunannounced, late on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, five weeks after the president had signed it.Eventually, when the NSP became widely recognized, the Bush administration portrayed it as being, in mostrespects, not significantly different from the one it replaced. 14 III. Reconfiguring National Space Policy Recognizing that the targeted policies provide better guidance and often precede the NSP, it is important to ask:does the NSP continue to have value? Many analysts believe it is needed to tie together the components of the spacecommunity’s activities and deliver “overarching” guidance. While it is true that the various space sectors havebecome increasingly interdependent, their integration in NSPs is still a work in progress. The sectors are presentedin separate sections of the document produced by separate groups of authors who traditionally have displayedlimited capacity or interest in creating an integrated whole. This is another area in which the targeted policies do abetter job: regardless of their specific topic, they must recognize and deal with the interplay between the civil,commercial, and national security sectors. Recent NSPs have included general or “intersector” guidelines, but the most enduring policy language can befound at the beginning of the document laying out principles and goals. Certain basic space policy tenets have beenwith us since the early days of the space age and are widely accepted as uncontroversial, such as the commitment toexplore and use space for peaceful purposes, the rejection of claims of sovereignty in space, the importance ofscientific discovery, and the desirability of international cooperation. In the Clinton, Bush, and Obama NSPs, thenation’s space principles and goals are stated in less than two pages. Rather than continuing for several more pagesin a futile attempt to be all-inclusive, and taking far too long to get that far, the NSP could be a short National SpacePrinciples statement. Using this design, the document would contain only the fundamentals that have beenoverwhelmingly agreed upon for the past half century. As long as the drafters can resist the temptation to insertunnecessary language, an NSP developed in this way wouldn’t require months of effort from an army of people. Italso wouldn’t need to be rewritten by each new administration. The rest of the nation’s needs for top-level space guidance should be addressed by targeted space policies. Thisis likely to result in a larger number of space policies than has been the case in the recent past, but ultimately theycould provide better guidance more quickly using fewer staff resources. Agency representatives could stay focusedon their own areas of expertise, and attend only those interagency meetings that address their interests, allowingconcurrent development of multiple targeted policies. Now that the Obama administration has issued its NSP, it must determine whether the existing targeted policiesneed to be replaced or simply amended. The Bush administration policies on remote sensing and on positioning,navigation, and timing are holding up quite well, and may need no more than updated language to reflect theimplications of evolving international capabilities in these areas. In contrast, the policies on space exploration andon transportation 15 need to be completely rewritten because so much has changed, requiring significant rethinkingand revised guidance. New stand-alone documents on national security space, orbital debris, and space nuclear power may bedesirable under this approach, but each of these can be stated in a couple of pages. Since the space explorationpolicy is in need of a complete overhaul, an important and timely effort would be a policy that combines spaceexploration and development, two activities that must be considered in parallel if both are to prosper. Explorationprovides scientific discovery, adventure, and inspiration, while development enhances relevance to society,ultimately generating value that will provide the means to continue exploration. If expanding human activity out intothe solar system is among the nation’s goals, then exploration and development must share a long-term strategy thattreats them as mutually reinforcing activities. 2
  3. 3. The remainder of this paper will focus on the structure and content of a possible new Space Exploration andDevelopment (SE&D) Policy. This will illustrate the integration of these two important space activities. Also, it willprovide an example of how space goals and objectives can be better articulated in a targeted policy rather than asupposedly comprehensive policy. IV. Creating a Space Exploration and Development Policy Space exploration and development are parallel activities that, over the long term, will reach out across the solarsystem in mutually supportive ways, drawing on the same knowledge base, operational experience, andtechnologies. The key difference from the way exploration and development evolved in the Cold War era is that theU.S. government should not be expected – and in fact, is not able – to fund, develop, and operate a majority of therequired projects and infrastructure. The Bush space exploration policy (NSPD-31) failed to recognize this,essentially ignoring space development and the role of non-U.S. government players – a deficiency that the Obamaadministration aims to correct. The Bush policy picked destinations without articulating goals, and missed a chanceto shape future commercial and international relationships. Although “international and commercial participation”was listed as an objective, there was no further expansion of this idea other than two short bullets at the end ofNSPD-31 that merely suggested there would be opportunities “to support U.S. space exploration goals” and provide“transportation and other services.” This and other shortcomings highlight the need for an entirely new policy.A. Expired and Inadequate Language in Exploration Policy Parts of NSPD-31 have been overcome by events. The section on the space shuttle deals with the post-Columbiareturn to flight, completion of the ISS, and retirement of the shuttle. Also, events related to the lunar explorationprogram have either been achieved (e.g., initiation of robotic precursor missions) or are not likely to occur by thedates specified (e.g., human exploration missions beginning in 2014 and human return to the Moon by 2020). In addition to the “international and commercial participation” objective mentioned above, the other objectivesof NSPD-31 are problematic as well. The policy’s “fundamental goal” is to “advance U.S. scientific, security, andeconomic interests,” which is too broad to be meaningful without substantial explanation of what is to be achievedand for what purpose. The objectives, which are vague and overly focused on destinations, provide no answers: • Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond. • Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations. • Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration. Here and throughout the document, destinations are mistakenly treated as goals. Mars is assumed to be the nextlogical step after lunar expeditions, and the Moon is treated as little more than a stepping-stone to the rest of thesolar system. The role of the ISS is diminished by restricting its mandate to human physiology research aimed atlong-duration spaceflight. No rationale, other than the advancement of science, is offered for these actions, leavingin question what else they are expected to accomplish in the national interest. The background section at thebeginning of the document makes an unsatisfying attempt to provide justification, as follows: The new technologies required for further space exploration also will improve the Nations other space activities and may provide applications that could be used to address problems on Earth. Like the explorers of the past and the pioneers of flight in the last century, we cannot today identify all that we will gain from space exploration; we are confident, nonetheless, that the eventual return will be great. Like their efforts, the success of future U.S. space exploration will unfold over generations. This statement is based on an incomplete interpretation of history. Explorers and pioneers who came before usmay not have identified all that would be gained through their efforts, but they actually did identify what they hopedto gain for themselves. Most explorers of earlier eras were searching for resources (e.g., good farmland, valuableminerals) and for geographic advantages (e.g., navigable rivers, more efficient trade routes) that would improve theirwealth and well-being. Pioneers of flight were opening the vertical dimension to human transportation, providingfaster delivery of people and cargo to their destinations and deriving advantages from overhead observation. Toignore or downplay these historical motives gives the impression that farsighted altruism has always been a primary 3
  4. 4. driver for great advances, and that other arguments for space exploration are comparatively weak. In effect, thepolicy is saying, “We hope that something good will come from this, such as spin-off benefits. We don’t know forsure what we’re aiming at, but we know it will take a long time.” The message comes across as an attempt to keepexpectations low and fails to instill confidence that this is a beneficial investment for the nation. A sustainable policyserving national interests requires stronger convictions and more concrete ideas about what the nation aims toachieve. The policy statements, budget requests, and other actions of the Obama administration clearly supersede thepolicy direction of Bush’s NSPD-31. However, guidance issued to date does not adequately fill the gap byarticulating a long-term exploration strategy. Obama’s NSP addresses exploration and development by giving thefollowing direction to the NASA Administrator (paraphrased from the original): • Set far-reaching exploration milestones, including crewed missions beyond the moon and to an asteroid by 2025, and humans to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s. • Continue operation of the ISS to 2020 or beyond, and expand efforts to… support future objectives in human space exploration. • Seek partnerships with the private sector for transport of crew and cargo to and from the ISS. • Implement a new space technology development and test program… that can increase the capabilities, decrease the costs, and expand the opportunities for future space activities. • Conduct research and development in support of next-generation launch systems. • Maintain a sustained robotic presence in the solar system to conduct scientific investigations of other planetary bodies, demonstrate new technologies, and scout locations for future human missions. • Continue a strong program of space science. • Pursue capabilities… to detect, track, catalog, and characterize near-Earth objects to reduce the risk of harm to humans from an unexpected impact on our planet and to identify potentially resource-rich planetary objects. This is a step in the right direction, but still falls short of a coherent long-range plan with clearly definedpurposes. One of the concerns this raises is whether it is appropriate to set dates for human missions to an asteroidand to Mars orbit before determining their purpose and their place in a larger strategic plan. A plan of such scopeand duration is extraordinarily difficult to formulate, gain approval for, and sustain in a political and resource-constrained environment, but enduring success in space exploration and development demands nothing less.B. New Principles When crafting a national policy, the U.S. administration must decide if it seeks to provide near-term, tacticalguidance primarily aimed at executive branch behavior under the current presidency, or long-term strategic directionthat has implications for government programs and the national interest for decades to come. This paper assumes thelatter because SE&D programs, by their nature, span very long time periods and involve infrastructure development,thus driving policy, programmatic, and budgetary choices well into the future. The NSP expresses general principles, but an SE&D policy needs more specific principles that make it clearwhy it is important to the nation and the world to expand human and robotic activity throughout the Earth-Moonsystem and to other parts of the solar system. In recent years, there has been a tendency for government officials andother advocates to make compelling but unsupportable statements like “it’s our destiny” or “it’s a matter of nationalpride” and emphasize secondary objectives such as “it will inspire our youth” or “it will create technology spin-offs.” The author has argued elsewhere that these carry little weight outside of the space advocacy community. 16 Amore appropriate response can be captured in two sentences that encapsulate the motivations that have alwaysdriven humankind toward major undertakings in unfamiliar and challenging environments: • Space is where the resources are. • Space will provide new avenues to help us solve problems, improve the human condition, and possibly ensure our salvation as a species. Humans in search of energy and raw materials have explored the most hazardous environments on Earth,including the ocean floor, the polar regions, treacherous terrain, and underground mines. Valuable discoveries havespawned economic booms and determined human migration and settlement patterns. Someday, this will be repeatedin space because the resources of the solar system are abundant beyond our foreseeable ability to fully exploit them. 4
  5. 5. Continuous solar energy is expected to be available for billions of years. The Moon and asteroids provide plentifulmaterial resources without the need to venture beyond the inner solar system. All of this is available in anenvironment that, although hostile, offers potentially useful properties such as microgravity, vacuum, and isolationfrom Earth. Avenues to problem-solving also are significant motivators. History has given us many examples ofcommunities of people moving to escape political or religious persecution or a deteriorating environment. The initialmovement into space to look for solutions started decades ago with mostly machines rather than people making thejourney. The problems we’ve sought to address have included political and military tensions between nations, theneed for faster and more comprehensive communications, mitigation of the destructive forces of nature, andmeasuring the effects of our own actions on the health of the planet. These efforts will persist, and will continue todepend primarily on machines. But the machines and other space facilities will grow in size, number, andcapabilities, drawing sustenance from the extraterrestrial energy and material resources that will be developed inparallel. New problem-solving missions will become feasible, such as moving environmentally destructive activitiesoff the Earth, or averting destructive forces from beyond Earth such as incoming asteroids. If the space accomplishments of the 21st century are to evolve in this direction, we need to transition away fromthe way we’ve planned and prioritized our space activities in the past. New principles of exploration anddevelopment are needed, such as the following: • Exploration and development of the solar system shall be undertaken for the purposes of: o increasing scientific knowledge; o improving stewardship of planet Earth; o adding value to the global economy by enabling the use of space resources and environments; o enhancing international cooperation on activities that will shape the future of humanity; and o in general, extending human activity into the solar system for peaceful, beneficial purposes. • U.S. government exploration and development missions will include humans when their presence is expected to yield cost-effective benefits or otherwise uniquely contribute to mission success and/or the national interest. • Government-funded space infrastructure projects shall have applicability beyond a single mission or short- term series of missions. Such projects ideally should encompass decades of service and satisfy multiple needs. • New operational capabilities and infrastructure created in U.S. government space development programs shall be transferred to operational entities in the U.S. government, private sector, or non-profit sector as soon as feasible. • Operations beyond limited-duration science missions and engineering test projects shall not be assigned to NASA or other U.S. government research and development (R&D) organizations. These principles establish a philosophy and work environment that facilitate the concurrent evolution of spaceexploration and development employing partnerships between government, non-government, and internationalplayers, each performing the roles most appropriate for them. The next step is to set ambitious but achievable goalsthat progressively add space capabilities and contribute to global solutions. This will guide the selection of specificmissions and the setting of their priorities and milestones.C. New Goals In order to be meaningful, new SE&D goals must be more precise than in past policies that have simply calledfor advancing U.S. interests and expanding human activity into the solar system. That does not mean they must berestrictive or lacking in ambition. In fact, the opposite is true – the goals must be flexible and bold. They should beviewed in two different timeframes: short-to-medium-term (2020s-2030s) and long-term (2040s to the end of thecentury). Also, they should be national goals that should not (and cannot) be achieved solely through governmentprograms and investment. Short-to-medium-term goals should seek to develop enduring infrastructure, skill sets, and experience that willbe essential for living, working, establishing communities, and creating value in the inner solar system. These goalsare capabilities – not destinations – that will be essential for creating a spacefaring society that can expand itsknowledge, economy, and sustainability, and otherwise enhance the human condition. 5
  6. 6. • Technologies, processes, expertise, and infrastructure for: o Utilization of the unique characteristics of space, such as microgravity, vacuum, prolonged solar exposure, and isolation from Earth (e.g., to avoid radio noise for radioastronomy on the lunar farside; to prevent contamination or other endangerment of Earth) to produce useful knowledge and products. o Harvesting and processing extraterrestrial materials and energy resources. o Building large structures in Earth and lunar orbits. o Building installations on planetary surfaces, constructed to the greatest extent possible with local materials. • Advancement of space robotics for the purpose of: o Minimizing the need for human presence to perform activities that are hazardous, remote, or strong candidates for automation, such as on-orbit assembly, refueling, and routine extravehicular tasks. o Providing direct assistance to humans where human involvement is required. Long-term goals – mid-century and beyond – will be achievable if the short-to-medium-term goals enjoyreasonable success in achieving their milestones, and technology investment is sustained. The goals for the mid-to-late 21st century should include the following: • Construction and operation of large structures that minimize their dependence on supply lines from Earth, designed for science, commerce, and other purposes. • Aggregation of large space structures into industrial parks at locations deemed valuable for their proximity to space resources, Lagrange points, or other attributes. Concurrent with this activity, the feasibility and desirability of moving heavy industries off Earth should be assessed for possible benefits in relieving environmental and societal stresses on Earth caused by resource extraction, transportation, processing, use, and disposal. • Realization of significant contributions to the terrestrial economy through energy and manufactured products for use on Earth and in space. Note that none of these goals specifies a planetary destination. Certainly, the Moon and near-Earth objects willbe early destinations due to their close proximity and the broad range of contributions they can make to the goals.What comes next, and when it should come, should be driven by progress toward the goals, the rate of technologicaladvance, the lessons of experience, and the availability of resources from all participants.D. New Strategies If the principles and goals, as suggested above, tell us that ongoing operations should be kept out of R&Dorganizations, and that our top priorities are advanced knowledge and useful capabilities rather than specificdestinations, we can begin to piece together a strategy that will put us on a path to our goals. At a minimum, such astrategy would require the following: • Redirect NASA to focus exclusively on R&D and shed its operational duties, other than limited-duration science and engineering mission operations that support its R&D programs. • For operational and infrastructure components created by U.S. government space development programs, establish the identity and relationship of the intended system operator at the beginning of the program. The intended operator may be an operational entity of the U.S. government, the U.S. private sector, the U.S. non-profit sector, or an international consortium, but shall not be an R&D organization. • Set target dates for achieving capability milestones. Plans for reaching planetary destinations shall flow from the achievement of relevant capability milestones, not the other way around. Principles and goals should be designed to endure, while the strategies and programs supporting them should beallowed to evolve. A document providing top-level policy guidance should not get into specific programmaticdecisions, which can be quickly overcome by events, and in any case must be allowed sufficient flexibility. In otherwords, national space policies should not include statements such as: “Launch Vehicle A shall be phased out overthe next five years and replaced by new Launch Vehicle B, which will be based on proven technologies anddesigned to carry cargo, people, and their pets to Planet X for six-month stays.” 6
  7. 7. This brings us to one of the most challenging and visible strategic decisions requiring attention: what to doabout space launch operations. As evidenced by the fiscal year 2011 budget request for NASA and subsequentstatements, 17 the Obama administration has recognized that launcher development and operations should not beallowed to overwhelm the primary R&D mission of NASA. Taking this a step further, national space strategy couldremove the routine procurement of launch services and the maintenance of launch sites from NASA’sresponsibilities, but retain it within the U.S. government, by relocating these functions to a single focal point forhandling all government launch needs. The Air Force is not the proper place for this activity because a militaryservice should not be the rocket procurer or launch site manager serving civil, commercial, and foreign customers.Also, for many years, the Air Force has found it difficult to prevent non-space Air Force priorities from divertingresources away from much-needed launch range maintenance and upgrades. 18 If Air Force ranges dilute their focuson national security launches by taking on full responsibility to serve other sectors, their priority for nationalsecurity funding likely would fall even lower. One possible solution is a separate agency – a National Space Launch Administration – that would assume allresponsibilities for launch procurement and range operations currently held by NASA and the Air Force. The agencycould be part of the Department of Transportation, where it could also be a direct source of technical expertisesupporting the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation in its licensing and regulatory role. Although thischange would be temporarily disruptive and is likely to be unwelcome by many in both NASA and the Air Force, itwould have the potential to yield substantial benefits for all concerned in the long term. The result would be anagency solely dedicated to improving the nation’s launch efficiency and infrastructure, and a relief from burdensomeresponsibilities that have distracted NASA and the Air Force from their primary missions for decades. The political and organizational difficulties of executing a significantly altered U.S. civil space strategy such asthe one suggested here should not be underestimated. This was clearly demonstrated by the strong negative reactionsfrom parts of the space community (and particularly from some members of Congress) prompted by the Obamaadministration’s relatively modest proposals for NASA in early 2010. 19 However, it is appropriate to recall a quoteattributed to Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we createdthem.” 20 V. Conclusion If general principles and goals such as those suggested here can be agreed upon, they can be established in ashort document that sets the foundation for our long-term future in space and can endure across numerouspresidencies. Space as a public policy issue has only been around for a half-century, so we’re still in the process ofdeveloping fresh ideas on how to deal with it. One of our objectives should be that space policy should not presenteach new administration with a policy-formulation project that encompasses much of its time in office. As we formulate national space policy, we should be cautious of how we use history as our guide because weare treading new ground. In the case of space exploration and development policy, the search for historical analogiesshould not look to the first attempts to reach the North or South Pole or the summit of Mount Everest. The value ofsuch analogies ended after the Apollo program allowed the U.S. to showcase its technological superiority in theanomalous circumstances of the Cold War. Yet many still cling to this image, apparently believing that humanadventures to increasingly distant destinations are the only feasible path to exploration and eventual development. Infact, adventures undertaken for their own sake often go nowhere in the grand scheme of human development. Eventhe purposeful exploration efforts of Lewis and Clark, so revered in American history, failed to garner muchattention or directly stimulate development of the Louisiana Purchase in the decades that followed the expedition. 21 Space capabilities already have bestowed benefits of immeasurable value on humanity by helping to keep theCold War from turning into a hot war. The U.S. nuclear triad of that era, which usually gets the credit for keepingthe peace, could not have done it without satellite communications, remote sensing, and navigation beginning in the1960s. Space capabilities are in the process of saving us again by monitoring the health of the planet and educatingus on the changes that are underway. At the same time, the cataloging of near-Earth objects is the first step towardprotecting ourselves from catastrophic collisions and paving the way to vast new material resources. The space program’s most profound effects on the expansion of knowledge and the improvement of the humancondition have come not from astronauts’ lunar visits, but from revolutions in the theoretical and observationalsciences and from space applications that reach all parts of the world and most of its people. There remains much tobe explored and developed in space as this century unfolds, and many great benefits to be brought home to Earth. 7
  8. 8. References1 Barack Obama, “National Space Policy of the United States of America,” June 28, 2010 ( See especially NSC-5814/1, “Preliminary U.S. Policy on Outer Space,” U.S. National Security Council, August 18, 1958.3 NSAM-50, “Official Announcements of Launching into Space of Systems Involving Nuclear Power in Any Form,” May 12, 1961. NSAM-129, “U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cooperation in the Exploration of Space,” February 23, 1962. NSAM-144, “Assignment of Highest National Priority to the Apollo Manned Lunar Landing Program,” April 11, 1962. NSAM-156 on satellite reconnaissance (no title), May 26, 1962. NSAM-172, “Bilateral Talks Concerning US-USSR Cooperation in Outer Space Activities,” July 18, 1962. NSAM-183, “Space Program of the United States,” guidance for upcoming UN meetings, August 27, 1962. NSAM-191, “Assignment of Highest National Priority to Project DEFENDER,” October 1, 1962. NSAM-192 on space arms control (no title), October 2, 1962. NSAM-207, “Assignment of Highest National Priority to Project CENTAUR,” November 28, 1962. NSAM-237, “Project Mercury Manned Space Flight,” May 3, 1963. NSAM-271, “Cooperation with the USSR on Outer Space Matters,” November 12, 1963.4 NSAM-285, “Cooperation with the USSR on Outer Space Matters,” March 3, 1964. NSAM-300, “Review of Alternative Communications, Navigation, Missile and Space Tracking and Data Acquisition Facilities,” July 16, 1965. NSAM-50 (Revised), “Launching into Space of Systems Involving Nuclear Power,” April 10, 1965. NSAM-338, “Policy Concerning U.S. Assistance in the Development of Foreign Communications Satellite Capabilities,” September 15, 1965 (revised July 12, 1967). NSAM-342, “U.S. Assistance in the Early Establishment of Communications Satellite Service for Less- Developed Nations,” March 4, 1966. NSAM-354, “U.S. Cooperation with the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO),” July 29, 1966. NSAM-369, “Assignment of Highest National Priority to the SENTINEL Program,” March 29, 19685 NSDM-70, “International Space Cooperation: US-USSR Activities,” July 10, 1970. NSDM-72, “Exchange of Technical Data between the United States and the International Space Community,” July 17, 1970. NSDM-187, “International Space Cooperation – Technology and Launch Assistance,” August 30, 1972.6 NSDM-306, “U.S.-Japan Space Cooperation,” September 24, 1975. NSDM-333, “Enhanced Survivability of Critical U.S. Military and Intelligence Space Systems,” July 7, 1976. NSDM-345, “U.S. Anti-Satellite Capabilities,” January 18, 1977.7 Presidential Directive/NSC-37, “National Space Policy,” May 11, 1978.8 Presidential Directive/NSC-25, “Scientific or Technological Experiments with Possible Large-Scale Adverse Environmental Effects and Launch of Nuclear Systems into Space,” December 14, 1977.9 Presidential Directive/NSC-42, “Civil and Further National Space Policy,” October 10, 1978.10 Presidential Directive/NSC-54, “Civil Operational Remote Sensing,” November 16, 1979.11 National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 39, “U.S. Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy,” Fact Sheet, December 15, 2004.12 NSPD-27, “U.S. Commercial Remote Sensing Policy,” Fact Sheet, April 25, 2003.13 NSPD-31, “U.S. Space Exploration Policy,” January 14, 2004.14 For example, see Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on December 13, 2006 at an event sponsored by the George C. Marshall Institute.15 NSPD-40, “U.S. Space Transportation Policy,” December 21, 2004.16 “Humans to Mars: Logical Step or Dangerous Distraction?” presented at AIAA Space 2007, September 19, 2007; Choice, Not Fate: Shaping a Sustainable Future in the Space Age (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corp., 2009), Chapter 7.17 Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on Space Exploration in the 21st Century,” Kennedy Space Center, Florida, April 15, 2010 ( century). 8
  9. 9. 18 The U.S. Air Force’s Range Standardization and Augmentation program, started in 1993 and scheduled for completion in 2006, continues to be stretched out due to inadequate resources. FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, “Special Report: U.S. Launch Range Modernization Programs,” 1999 (; U.S. National Security Council and Office of Science & Technology Policy, “The Future Management and Use of the U.S. Space Launch Bases and Ranges,” February 8, 2000 (; Lockheed Martin press release, “U.S. Air Force Extends Range Automation and Standardization Phase IIA Contract,” March 2, 2010 ( For example, see: Amy Klamper & Debra Werner, “NASA’s New Direction Drawing Fire From House and Senate Lawmakers,” Space News, March 1, 2010, p. 1 ( direction-drawing-fire-lawmakers.html); Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, “After 50 years of NASA, We Must Not Leave Space,” Houston Chronicle, March 6, 2010 (; Sen. Richard Shelby, “Obama plan would destroy U.S. space supremacy,” press release, April 22, 2010; Rep. Frank Wolf, “Don’t Forsake U.S. Leadership in Space,” Space News, April 26, 2010, p. 19 ( Albert Einstein,, Xplore Inc, 2010 ( Michael Robinson & Dan Lester, “NASA and the Ghosts of Explorers Past,” Space News, February 8, 2010, p. 17 ( 9