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forces for cooperation. Constrained budgets at the national level have made cooperation more appealing, but these same forces have also led to management and structural reorganizations within national and multinational space agencies that may be an unintended obstacle for international cooperation. At the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for instance, the agency's shift to a "smaller, faster, cheaper" policy and an emphasis on small satellites has left questions as to how international cooperation fits in. Such organizational changes within NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) introduce new challenges as well as improvements for cooperation, and these changes shift the context of the recommendations and findings. The joint committee has tried to be sensitive to these shifts in extracting lessons from the past, but it has not tried to forecast the future.
Goals And Rationale For International Cooperation
The joint committee's examination of U.S.-European missions over more than 30 years shows, in retrospect, that international cooperation has at times been used to justify a scientific mission that may have lacked support from the scientific community at large or other factors important for successful cooperation. (This was particularly true for the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory [INTEGRAL] mission, which lacked broad support within the U.S. astronomical community.)
Ecientific support. The international character of a mission is not a guarantee of its realization. The best and most accepted method to establish compelling scientific justification of a mission and its components is peer review by international experts. Expert reviewers can verify that the science is of excellent quality and meets high international standards, the methods proposed are appropriate and cost-effective, the results meet a clear scientific need, there are clear beneficiaries in partners' countries, and the international program has clear requirements.
The difficulties faced with INTEGRAL on the U.S. side are partly a case in point. From a budgetary and political point of view, the mission must have strong support from the scientific community in a timely manner to overcome budget restrictions (and political hurdles), as proven positively by the Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX-POSEIDON) and negatively by the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM, later renamed Ulysses). All partners and funding agencies need to recognize that international cooperative efforts should not be entered into solely because they are international in scope.
Historical foundation. The success of any international cooperative endeavor is more likely if the partners have a common scientific heritage—that is, a history and basis of cooperation and a context within which a scientific mission fits. This context encompasses a common understanding of the science that can lead to the establishment of common goals. A common heritage also allows the scientific rationale to be tested against other priorities. There is an obvious shared heritage simply among scientists, but more is implied here. The originally proposed cooperation between ESA and NASA on the polar platforms involved too large a step based on too little shared experience. The failure of this effort should not have been surprising.
Shared objectives. Shared goals and objectives for international cooperation must go beyond scientists to include the engineers and others involved in a joint mission. One of the most important lessons learned from the years of space research is that "intellectual distance" between the engineering and scientific communities and the accompanying lack of common goals and objectives can have a detrimental effect on missions. The penalty is that the mission project is, at best, only partially successful and, at worst, a total failure. Close interaction is particularly important at the design phase—for example, the participation of scientists in monthly engineering meetings can help to support optimal planning when compromises are needed between scientific goals and technical feasibility.
Clearly defined responsibilities. Cooperative programs must involve a clear understanding of how the responsibilities of the mission are to be shared among the partners, a clear management scheme with a well-defined interface between the parties, and efficient communication. In successful missions, each partner has a clearly defined role and a real stake in the success of the mission. AMPTE and TOPEX-POSEIDON are particularly good examples of the importance of effective communication and balanced, shared responsibilities.
Sound plan for data access and distribution. Cooperative ventures should have a well-organized and agreed-upon process for data calibration, validation, access, and distribution.
Sense of partnership. The success of an international space scientific mission requires that cooperative