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Stepping-Stones to the Future of Space Exploration: A Workshop Report
careful with the words it uses. For example, she said there is a legal distinction between “colonization” and “settlement.”
Marcia Smith of the Congressional Research Service completed the panel’s remarks with an overview of international issues in outer space. Whether there should be international cooperation for the new exploration vision is really a nonissue, she said, because President Bush had decreed in his policy directive that it would happen. Instead, the question becomes, Who will take us up on the offer? The President’s initiative includes robotic as well as human exploration, opening the initiative to a wide range of countries. The participation of any nation is subject to the availability of funds, which is a complicating factor for its partners. For example, NASA never knows what its future budget will be, making it difficult for potential partners to evaluate the likelihood of a particular project succeeding. Smith stated that the U.S. space program itself was born from both cooperation and competition, starting with the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year. NASA’s 1958 charter includes language directing the agency to cooperate with other nations. Among other things, NASA needed worldwide tracking sites, which was one motivating factor for international cooperation.. Cooperation was born of practicality more than altruism. She noted that many think of the Apollo program as the centerpiece of the U.S.-Soviet space race. However, one month before he was assassinated, President Kennedy spoke before the United Nations and invited the Soviet Union to join in that endeavor. After Kennedy died, President Johnson chose to pursue Apollo as a national effort. (The Soviet Union never responded to the invitation in any case.). Thirty years later, participation in ISS was a carrot offered by the United States to the new Russia in exchange for Russia agreeing to abide by rules to stem the proliferation of ballistic missile technology. Smith commented that, in the future, the United States will need to be viewed as a reliable partner for space cooperation.
A period of general discussion followed Smith’s presentation. Committee chair Branscome asked which cooperative models are the most successful (one such model is industry multinational cooperation). Gabrynowicz mentioned that collaborative private law agreements are a new initiative. These agreements are multinational in nature but are executed by private parties. The UNIDROIT Convention, for example, is being negotiated now on financing space assets (i.e., creditor-debtor relationships, banking). Smith said that cooperation usually assumes each partner brings its own money to the table. Pryke mentioned another commercial model involving Arianespace, International Launch Services, and the Japanese, which are agreeing to back up each other’s launch systems.
John Mimikakis, staffer from the House Science Committee, asked if this cooperation was something the administration will take seriously. He also asked the panelists what options the administration has for getting out of its space agreements. Pryke mentioned that quitting the ISS would create so much anti-U.S. feeling that further cooperation might not be possible. Gabrynowicz mentioned the superconducting supercollider as an example of a project that was terminated because the partners failed to fund their share of the project. In the case of the ISS, however, the partners have already provided substantial amounts of money. Smith mentioned the example of Ulysses in the 1980s, where the U.S. unilaterally pulled out from the project and did not deliver the promised