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Stepping-Stones to the Future of Space Exploration: A Workshop Report
varies from partner to partner. However, as long as the end goal is the same, partners can still work together. Pryke observed that if you can get a country to cooperate with you on your space program and spend its money to do so, it will have less money to pursue other objectives that you may not like.
Pryke mentioned that space is no longer a cold war competition between two superpowers. Many countries have active, mature space programs. This maturing capability makes them prime candidates for partnership or competition. International cooperation tends to make the project more affordable for each party involved, although the overall cost of implementation increases. Moreover, when more countries are involved, the expertise base for the project is broader and robustness and redundancy are added (e.g., backup launch capacity such as that provided by Russian Soyuz for access to the ISS while the shuttle is grounded). International cooperation can also add legitimacy to a program and assist in its advocacy within national government debate.
Pryke then moved on to answer the question of why we should have international cooperation for the President’s vision. He said the answer is “because the President said so,” meaning that the decision—that there should be an international component—had been debated and decided at the highest levels. Such debate has yet to take place within the governments of potential partners. However, since the January speech, the White House has been silent on its vision. If it is serious about involving other nations, the administration should be discussing this with them at high levels. Other countries will need to determine why it would be in their best interests to cooperate. In the President’s policy document outlining the new exploration vision, there is only discussion of furthering U.S. goals.1 In remarks made following the President’s speech, NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe also confirmed that it would be a U.S.-led initiative aimed at achieving U.S. objectives.2
Three classes of cooperating countries were suggested by Pryke: (1) Current members of the ISS cooperative agreement (Canada, Europe, Japan, and Russia), (2) China, now a major space power by virtue of being the third nation that has put an astronaut into space, and (3) other nations such as India, Brazil, and Israel, which have smaller space programs and that can perhaps be involved in robotics. Europe has its own program, Aurora, which is developing a plan for solar system exploration. A number of missions are in the preliminary planning stage. There are some good overlaps between the plans of Aurora and NASA. Pryke mentioned that there are various models of cooperation that can be considered, ranging from program coordination through programmatic interdependence to dedicated international institutions.
Pryke suggested that the United States should engage the international community sooner rather than later. Before the ISS was announced by President Ronald Reagan, the United States had already approached all the partners some months in advance. In contrast, for this new vision, the ISS implementing agencies were called the day of the vision announcement. Steidle said that the Aldridge commission has asked NASA to produce plan for potential international partners.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The Vision for Space Exploration, February 2004.