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2 Introduction This chapter identifies several key policy statements and documents that have shaped the current environment in which the future of the U.S. civil space program and a national policy on civil space is being consiclerect; this is the national context in which the SSB-ASEB workshop took place. This chapter also summarizes the opening remarks of ASEB Chair William Hoover and SSB Chair Lennarct Fisk. The remaining chapters of this workshop report provide summaries of each of the six sessions comprised by the nearly 2-clay workshop. Together these chapters represent the proceedings of the workshop sessions. ORGANIZATION OF THE WORKSHOP Session 1 was a review of space policy history and the lessons learned from our past experiences (Chapter 34. Session 2 examined what may be consiclerect a more traditional rationale for the civil space program the benefits of science and exploration (Chapter 44. Session 3 looked at a much broacler context or rationale for the nation's space program as a whole, including issues related to national security, foreign policy, and the commercial benefits of space (Chapter 54. Session 4 was an opportunity to consider some of the principles that a national space policy should acictress and the needs that space policy should fill (Chapter 64. Session 5 examined the political environment that establishes a kind of boundary condition for the space program and therefore can help define a realistic path for the space program (Chapter 74. The final session, a wrap-up discussion, was an opportunity for the participants to share what they thought they tract hearct, and an opportunity to reflect on what key themes tract emergent from this workshop (Chapter 84. The sessions were organized in such a way that each of the guest panelists was asked to say a few worsts, after which the remaining time was open for discussions ctirectect by session moderators. CONTEXT FOR THE WORKSHOP After the tragedy of the Columbia accident in February 2003, the SSB and the ASEB recognized that a new level of national attention was being ctirectect toward NASA and the nation's civil space program. Before the accident, it tract been a growing matter of concern to both Boards that our current national program of human spaceflight the International Space Station (ISS) and the space shuttle was restricted to Tow Earth orbit for the foreseeable future and ctict not constitute exploration in any reasonable sense of the worst. The Columbia accident brought this situation inescapably into focus. The New York Times ran an editorial entitled "The Challenge Ahead in Space,"i questioning "whether to pour large sums into such near-space activities or go instead for something grander and more stirring." A Science Magazine news story entitled "Vision, Resources in Short Supply for Damaged U.S. Space Program"2 summarized the situation. In that story NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe was quoted as calling this time "a seminal moment in the agency's history." The following paragraphs elaborate on this context in more detail. The Columbia accident revealed flaws in the shuttle program. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB)3 found an unhealthy, unsafe culture at NASA: ~ "The Challenge Ahead in Space" in Week in Review, The New York Times, July 6, 2003, p. 8. 2 Andrew Lawler, "Vision, Resources in Short Supply for Damaged U.S. Space Program," Science, September 5, 2003, pp. 1300-1303. 3 Columbia Accident Investigation Board, "Report 1, Volume 1," August 2003, p. 9. Available at ; accessed December 1, 2003. 8
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The organizational causes of this accident are rooted in the Space Shuttle Program's history and culture, including the original compromises that were required to gain approval for the Shuttle, subsequent years of resource constraints, fluctuating priorities, schedule pressures, mischaracterization of the Shuttle as operational rather than developmental, and lack of an agreed national vision for human space flight. Cultural traits and organizational practices detrimental to safety were allowed to develop, including: reliance on past success as a substitute for sound engineering practices (such as testing to understand why systems were not performing in accordance with requirements); organizational barriers that prevented effective communication of critical safety information and stifled professional differences of opinion; lack of integrated management across program elements and the evolution of an informal chain of command and decision-making processes that operated outside the organization's rules. (p. 9) Further, the CAIB stated its opinion that "unless the technical, organizational, and cultural recommendations macle in this report are implementect, little will have been accomplished to lessen the chance that another accident will follow" (p. 64. It found "striking" parallels with the 1986 Challenger accident, where NASA tract accepted deviant erosion of seals in the booster rocket (p. 1304. In other worsts, history gave the CAIB reason for concern that its recommendations might not be implementect. The space station program has faced difficulty in fulfilling the promises that justified the program. For example, the executive summary ofthe 2001 NASA ISS Management and Cost Evaluation (IMCE) Task Force report incluclect the following findings, among others: The U.S. Core Complete configuration tone end-point for Station development] will not achieve the unique research potential of the ISS.... NASA has not accomplished a rigorous ISS cost estimate. The program lacks the necessary skills and tools to perform the level of financial management needed for successful completion within budget.... The cost to achieve ... expectations at assembly complete ta different end-point] has grown from an estimate of $1 7.4B to over $30B. Much of this cost growth is a consequence of underestimating cost and a schedule erosion of 4+ years ....The Program is being managed as an institution rather than as a program with specific purpose, focused goals and objectives, and defined milestones te.g., a single, clear end point for development].4 In short, it remains unclear whether the space station program is on a path to achieve promised capabilities for example, to provide adequate facilities for life science research. On the other hand, it is clear that on its present path the station program is likely to continue to absorb significant budget resources. Following the Columbia accident and the CAIB report, Congress began hoisting several hearings to acictress issues related to the future of the space program. In testimony at the Senate Commerce Committee's hearing on the CAIB report,5 Senator John McCain saint, The Board's final report . . . must serve as a wake-up call to NASA and to the nation that we have for too long put off hard choices, and forced the space program to limp along without adequate guidance or funding.... Most importantly, we will have to figure out where we want the space program to go, and what we expect to get out of it. In opening a hearing on the future of human spaceflight Congressman Sherwood Boehiert, chair of the House Science Committee, saict,6 4 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. 5 The Testimony of the Honorable John McCain, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, Transportation. Given at a Full Committee Hearing: Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) Report on Shuttle Tragedy, September 3, 2003. 6 House Science Committee, Thursday, October 16, 2003, "Rep. Boehlert's Opening Statement: Hearing on the Future of Human Space Flight." 9
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Over the long-term, NASA will be successful only if it is pursuing a clear and broad national consensus with sustained and adequate funding. As the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) noted in its report, that hasn't been the case for three decades. Boehiert laid out five principles to be consiclerect in cleveloping a national consensus about the future of human spaceflight: 1. Any consensus has to be arrived at jointly by the White House, the Congress and NASA, and the consensus has to include an agreement to pay for whatever vision is outlined. 2. We need to keep in mind that human space flight is not the only NASA responsibility, or, as far as I'm concerned, the most important of its responsibilities. I think the Augustine Commission got it right back in 1990 when it listed space science and earth science as NASA's top priorities, and added several more activities in order of importance before it got to human space flight. 3. The federal government has too few resources and too many obligations to give NASA a blank check. Any vision that assumes massive spending increases for NASA is doomed to fail. 4. We need to be honest about the purposes and challenges inherent in human flight. Our witnesses today are pretty honest in their testimony on this point. The primary reason for human flight is the human impulse- some would say destiny to explore. Human exploration is not necessarily the best way to advance science or technology, and it certainly is the most expensive and riskiest way to do so. I would add that nothing about China's launch alters these statements. 5. We need to learn from the mistakes we've made over the past 30 years. The Space Shuttle and the Space Station are remarkable achievements something we are too prone to forget. But they are also extraordinarily expensive projects mind-bogglingly expensive compared to the original estimates and they haven't performed as advertised or done as much as hoped to advance human exploration or knowledge. We have to avoid going down the same paths in the future. At the same hearing, Representative Ralph Hall saicl,7 I think we should move beyond a debate on whether or not we should have a human space flight program. There should no longer be a question of robotic versus human exploration clearly, both will be needed to explore our solar system. Moreover, it has been clear since the early years of the Space Age that the human exploration of space is a fundamental expectation of the American people indeed of people all over the world. Revisiting the debate over the role of human space flight in the aftermath of an accident is understandable. However, I think that it is also symptomatic of our unwillingness as a nation to commit to a clear set of goals for the human space flight program and to the resources required over the long haul to achieve them. We can and should do better. saicl, In introducing his proposed National Space Commission Act of 2003, Senator Ernest F. Hollings Let me reiterate. Merely announcing a bold new plan to travel to the Earth's Moon or to Mars is not sufficient. If the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia merely results in that proposal, we will have failed the memory of our brave astronauts who lost their lives aboard both Challenger and Columbia. And we will have failed our own future. Unfortunately, our current charge is more difficult. We must challenge our assumptions, question our decisions and designs, revisit our approaches, and rethink our Nation's ambitions and goals for space. We must submit ourselves to the discipline to begin anew. The future of space and our Nation's reputation that we carry into history rests in the balance.8 7 Office of Rep. Ralph Hall, released Thursday, October 16, 2003, "Opening Statement by Rep. Ralph Hall at hearing on the Future of Human Space Flight." Office of Senator Ernest F. Hollings, released November 6, 2003, "U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings' Floor Speech on Introduction of the National Space Commission Act of 2003, November 5, 2003." 10
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1). Neither the CAIB report nor this workshop report are the first to review issues of national space policy at the highest level. Several studies over the last 20 years have noted the need for a clear goal for the human exploration program. For example a 1988 NRC reports noted, · "Even greater benefits can flow from future space activities if they are guiclect by clear goals" (p. · "Strong leaclership by the President" is needled to determine the direction of the program (p. 24. · "Mannect space flight is a necessary element of space leaclership . . ." (p. 34. In other worsts, for the United States to be a leacler requires that human spaceflight have clear goals supported by the President and Congress. At present, the nation lacks such a goal. The Augustine Committees was particularly prescient in reaching conclusions very like those of the CAIB. It listed several concerns, the first two of which were: 1. "The lack of a national consensus as to what should be the goals of the civil space program and how they should in fact be accomplishect." 2. "NASA is currently over committed in terms of program obligations relative to resources available." (p. 2) It concluclect that "America floes want an energetic, affordable and successful space program" as eviclencect by the consistent funding growth that tract been experienced at that time. (Since then NASA has seen its budget shrink, but recently it has resumed moclest growth.) The Augustine Committee recommenclect manned space exploration explicitly "the human exploration of Mars" but also stated, "Today, America's mannect space program is at a crossroads" clue to lack of a national focus on this goal, which may cause the program "to ctrift through the clecacle aheact" (pp. 5-64. It believed that "a program with the ultimate, iong-term objective of human exploration of Mars should be tailored to respond to the availability of funding, rather than to adhering to a rigid schecluTe," not because it is unimportant but because "we cannot know with any exactness the cost or obstacles which may impede a Mars mission" (p. 64. It also believed that the space station could be justified only as a life sciences laboratory to "gain the much needled information and experience in Tong duration space operations" (p. 64. Finally, the Augustine Committee called for clevelopment of"a reliable, unmanned vehicle that complements the Space Shuttle and that can be used for routine space trucking, saving the Space Shuttle for those missions requiring human presence." The CAIB looked ahead, beyond short-term recovery from the Columbia accident, and echoed many of the Augustine Committee findings. The CAIB assumed that the United States wants to retain the "capability to send people into space" (p. 211) and noted two related realities: 1. "Lack, over the past three clecacles, of any national mandate providing NASA a compelling mission requiring human presence in space." This made it clifficult to get the needed budget, resulting in "an organization straining to do too much with too little." 2. "Lack of sustained government commitment over the past clecacle to improving U.S. access to space by developing a seconct-generation space transportation system." (p. 209) All members of the CAIB agreed that "America's future space efforts must include human presence in Earth orbit, and eventually beyond . . . " (p. 2104. Basest on its careful examination of the shuttle program, the Board preached the inescapable conclusion" that because of the shuttle's risk, age, and 9 NAS-NAE Committee on Space Policy, Toward a New Era in Space, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1988. ~°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, December 1990, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 11
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clevelopmental character, "it is in the nation's interest to replace the Shuttle as soon as possible as the primary means for transporting humans to anct from Earth orbit" (p. 2104. The clesign of the shuttle replacement shouict give top priority to crew safety, rather than, for example, tracting safety against Tow- cost, reusability, cargo capacity, or acivancect space operation capabilities (p. 2114. A next-generation transportation system beyond this replacement vehicle shouict support any new national goal establishect. While concerns have been expressed that the human exploration program is cirifting without a clear manciate or mission, there is a sense throughout the reports citec! above ant! many others that the robotic science programs are not drifting. The science programs have a similar problem of overcommitment, but it is a result of lack of ctiscipline anct resources in following up the programs' many successes. Science has been able to set its own goals ant! priorities.) ~ Any discussion of context must also note the broacler policy environment, inclucling the national security anct commercial space activities, the new Chinese human spaceflight program, the woric~wicle war on terror, substantial anct continuing deficits, an unfavorable balance of tracle, anct an erosion in the U.S. stancling in the worici. This is a list of issues that are facing the Congress, the Bush Administration, ant! the nation as whole, anct they provide the context within which a national ctialogue on the future of space policy will take place. While aciciressing these particular issues specifically was not within the scope of the workshop, participants were aware of their potential impact on space policy when conducting their . c ,lscusslons. KEYNOTE REMARKS Aeronautics ant! Space Engineering Boarc! Chair William Hoover openec! the workshop by welcoming all the participants ant! thanking the staff of the Space Studies Boarc! ant! the Aeronautics ant! Space Engineering Boarct for their efforts in organizing the workshop. The interests of these two Boarcts are a gooc! marriage of the issues iclentifiec! for examination over the course of the workshop. Hoover notec! that the idea for a broacler national discussion on space policy initially surfacer! after the Columbia tragedy. This workshop may be a gooct thing to do in its own right but wouict probably not be at its current level of importance if it tract not been for that tragedy. This is perhaps a sect example of the law of unintenclec! consequences. Hoover observed that often a discussion of space policy will evoke one of two responses. One response is to say "there is no policy," when in fact there is, but those who are commenting do not personally agree with it. The seconc! response comes from those who say, "We have no policy, but we are pursuing it vigorously." As ciaunting as the issues facet! by the workshop are, an equally clifficult task will be to contribute to moving the nation beyond either of those two responses. Space Studies Boarct Chair Lennarct Fisk opened his remarks by welcoming the participants as well. He inclicatec! that he hac! great expectations for the workshop, hoping for an informer! ant! enTightenec! discussion of this important national issue, with icleas emerging that wouict be useful to the Congress, the administration, anct the broacler interested public. Fisk ctiscussect his belief that all of the participants, as well as the broacler space community, are cleeply concerned about the future of the U.S. civil space program. It is at a crossroads, where some of the glories of the past have begun to facie, ant! the prospects of a successful future are uncertain. It is in this context that the workshop should develop and articulate ideas about the purpose of the space program and about approaches for the preservation, continuation, and enhancement of this important national endeavor. In general, Fisk said, we often say positive things about the space and Earth science programs. The universe turns out to be an interesting place. We have the technology to no anywhere in the solar system 6 , ~ , ~ ~ For example, see National Research Council, Space Studies Board, letter report on "Assessment of the Draft 2003 Space Science Enterprise Strategy," from Dr. John H. McElroy, SSB chair, to Dr. Edward J. Weller, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science, May 29, 2003. 12
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with robotic spacecraft and to observe Earth, the planets, and the surrounding universe. Thus there is a cornucopia of opportunities, and it remains simply to choose the best ones we can afford. However, said Fisk, we tenet to say less positive things about the human sicle of the space program. We have no destination other than Tow Earth orbit. We have an aging and obviously fragile launch capability for humans. We have an expensive space station, whose role and function are at times hard to articulate. It has become obvious, Fisk incticatect, that this area of NASA, more than any other, is in need of clearly articulated goals. Fisk macle it clear that he believes there are bigger issues still. The U.S. civil space program is a creation of the Coict War. If there tract not been that chapter in our history, would NASA and the space program bear any resemblance to their current form? There is no Coict War today, so what is the justification for the nation's investment? What is the relevance of the civil space program today and tomorrow? Fisk asked, "Are our glory clays in the past?" He said he believes we need to find a valid, clefenciable reason for the relevance of the space program on the national agenda, or it will be in cianger of becoming an historical curiosity, an artifact of a unique time. Fisk incticatect that he wanted the workshop to be at a higher level than "NASA bashing." NASA is a creature of the political process, said Fisk. Its current infrastructure was sized to pursue the Apollo program and ctistributect in part by a political process. The natural bureaucratic instinct of NASA is to preserve what it has and to pursue projects for which there is, at least contemporaneously, the political will to provide support. The discussions on space policy over the course of the workshop, Fisk noted, should be at a higher level. The questions that should be acictressect includes What floes the nation need from the space program? What should the nation be cloing in space, and why? What will the nation support? If these questions are acictressect, then the workshop can consider a more ctirectect question: What should NASA become to achieve national goals? Fisk said that the basic premise of the workshop is that the United States needs to make fundamental changes in its civil space policy. But with the burdens of its existing hardware and infrastructure and its responsibilities to execute what is currently underway, NASA is harcl-pressect to define what these fundamental changes should be. At the end of the workshop, Fisk saint, it may be the case that the participants were not able to answer any of these funclamental questions. It is more important, however, that they begin the right debate. Furthermore, there may not be agreement on what the answers should be, but the point of the workshop is not necessarily to come to an agreement either. Rather, the purpose is to introduce into public discussion the issues that a valid space policy has to take into account and clear with. Therefore, said Fisk, it is the job of the participants to raise the discussion above sins of omission and commission and the constraints of the past. The workshop needs to be realistic about what is possible in the current or future political environment, but not overly constrained by the evolutionary path that NASA has hollowest. The workshop, according to Fisk, must ask what is the right path for the nation to follow in space, and then ask how we can set about finding and following that path. Fisk noted that the timing of the workshop was opportune. Congress is worrying about the future of the U.S. space program, the press is commenting on it, and the administration is reported to be developing a new space policy that is supposed to be announced soon. He said he hoped that the workshop could develop some constructive thoughts for all of those who are worrvin~ about or commenting on this important national issue. . , ~ ~ Fisk closest his remarks by briefly reviewing the outlines and objectives of each session (as clescribect at the opening of this chapter). He invited everyone to read the speakers' biographical summaries (Appendix D) that were made available before the workshop, along with other material supplied by the SSB and ASEB staff. The panelists also prepared brief written materials to supplement their comments prior to the workshop. Those abstracts were also available (Appendix E). He then invited John Logsclon to open Session 1. 13
Representative terms from entire chapter: