program in several areas with respect to policy, management, and accountability and oversight; and the 2006 presidential directive establishes goals related to U.S. space leadership and the governance of space operations in and through space.
The workshop summarized here thus builds on discussion from the 2003 workshop in light of these developments. A natural starting point was an assessment of the new directions for the U.S. civil space program: How robust or resilient are these new directions to changes in resources available to support the program? How relevant is the program in what many workshop participants see as a rapidly changing international context? Is there public appeal in terms of willingness to embrace the program? Many participants expressed the view that the Vision had not progressed as originally outlined nor as many had expected, due in large part to the failure of the administration and the Congress to seek the required resources. A prominent concern among participants was that although the Vision was to be “pay as you go,” shortfalls in the NASA budget had led the agency to reallocate resources toward pursuit of the Vision and away from other activities such as space and Earth science. Speakers argued that continued operational costs of the International Space Station, delayed phaseout of the space shuttle, costs of near-term development of the next-generation space transportation system, and unbudgeted operational costs will all make the Vision increasingly unaffordable. Other participants acknowledged that some of the problems with robustness and program balance are of the space community’s own making, in that in many activities, project cost estimates had been unrealistic and subject to significant cost growth. Participants from within and outside the scientific community voiced agreement that the community will need to demonstrate leadership and share responsibility with NASA in controlling science program costs. Speakers expressed concern that NASA’s program suffers from a lack of resources, budget realism, and budget stability, thereby making the Vision unaffordable and unsustainable.
The recent report that focused on the space and Earth science issues at this workshop summarized the mood at the workshop as follows:5
Overall, as noted by the participants themselves, the tone of the workshop was surprisingly sober, with frequent expressions of discouragement, disappointment, and apprehension about the future of the U.S. civil space program. During the one and one-half days of discussion, an oft-repeated statement by workshop participants was that the goals of the U.S. civil space program are completely mismatched with the resources provided to accomplish them.
In contrast with the 2003 workshop at which international developments were mentioned but did not play a pivotal role in discussion, international collaboration and competition were prominent topics at the 2007 workshop. Speakers summarized their understanding of the capabilities and ambitions of new national space programs in China and India, cited the forming of multinational alliances that exclude the United States or Europe, and pointed out some consequences of the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) as examples of new challenges in balancing cooperation and competition in the U.S. civil space program. For example, speakers questioned whether a goal of cooperation conflicts with the objective in the Vision to support international participation “to further U.S. scientific, security, and