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Setting Priorities for Space Research: Opportunities and Imperatives (Chapter 5) Setting Priorities for Space Research Opportunities and Imperatives 5 Conclusion Priorities are inevitable in such human endeavors as plotting the course for a nation or disbursing or managing public funds. Implicitly or explicitly, priorities are set. We need to create an orderly agenda for scientific research in space, based on clearly defined objectives, in order to ensure that it flourishes and contributes to national vitality and the public welfare. A consensus in space research about what is truly most important will serve the best interests of both science and the nation. Priorities reflect aspirations and values. They are derived from recognition of motivation and purpose. The governing concept of the space program was created in the early years of spaceflight. Emphasizing flight to orbit, it concentrates on expanding the domain in which humans have been present or might maintain their presence. In its most elegant form, it declares that there is a REPORT MENU human need to explore the universe. Within this context, the Apollo mission to the NOTICE Moon was the greatest success the space program has ever had, for with Apollo MEMBERSHIP humans left the Earth and traveled to a distant heavenly body for the first time. PREFACE But humans also need to know and understand the universe. A fundamental SUMMARY human imperative is not simply to explore, but to know. It is in search of CHAPTER 1 knowledge and understanding that we traverse unfamiliar, often hostile, realms. CHAPTER 2 The acquisition of information, the creation of knowledge, and the development of CHAPTER 3 understanding are the objectives of scientific research in space and provide CHAPTER 4 strong motivation and purpose for the broader space program. For, as Aristotle CHAPTER 5 observed so long ago, "all men by nature desire to know." And thus a consensus about priorities and an agenda for space research focusing on the most important opportunities for new understanding will yield magnificent benefits for science and for the nation. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/prio1ch5.htm (1 of 2) [6/21/2004 10:00:55 AM]