More than a hundred missions have involved various levels of U.S.-European cooperation in space research, some of which vary greatly in scope, complexity, and the types of cooperation and management approaches used. Some missions were quite successful, others failed, and several projects never achieved fruition. It was therefore impossible to review and analyze all of these missions within the scope of this report. The joint committee decided to restrict the study to the following:

  • Past missions that could be extended to missions in the development stage when no other examples were available or when the missions illustrated specific lessons learned;
  • Missions resulting from cooperation between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) or between NASA and one or several European nations;
  • Missions that differed in scope and complexity, from principal investigator (PI)-type to multipurpose and observatory types;3
  • Missions corresponding to different types of cooperation; and
  • Cooperative efforts that succeeded and those that failed.

It is clear in retrospect that the types of cooperation that have taken place have been largely dependent on the technical maturity of the respective participants and the political and economic environment. Therefore, a synopsis of each to establish historical context is necessary.

The remainder of this report contains three chapters. Chapter 2 gives an overview of past cooperation in space research between the United States and Europe. Its aim is to provide the reader with a feeling of the importance of U.S.-European cooperation, to establish the context of its evolution, and to identify how cooperation is established and fostered. Thus, Chapter 2 sets the stage for this study. It turns out that the different structures within which agencies operate and each agency's particular funding and decision-making processes play very important roles. They are therefore presented at the end of Chapter 2 to give a complete picture of the importance of U.S.-European cooperative efforts.4

Chapters 3 and 4 are devoted to the analysis of missions and the identification of the most significant lessons learned, from which recommendations are made to improve cooperation in future missions. Because it is not possible to analyze all of the missions introduced in Chapter 2, Chapter 3 is limited to the analysis of carefully selected missions that represent typical case studies. It gives the rationale for selecting these case missions and the guidelines for studying them. To keep Chapter 3 at a reasonable length, it contains only a short description of the missions selected and of the story behind each cooperative effort.

Chapter 3 goes from analysis of the missions to the lessons learned (or findings) per discipline, and Chapter 4 identifies the key factors common to all of these findings, whatever the discipline. Restructuring the findings of Chapter 3 according to these key factors leads to the recommendations in Chapter 4.


A PI mission is one in which the primary responsibility for instrument design and for the production of data is in the hands of a principal investigator(s). Most smaller missions are conducted in this mode, but larger missions (e.g., Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite [UARS]) can be PI missions as well. The classic example of a facility or observatory-class mission is the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), which is a facility that investigators propose to use. There also are hybrid missions of each type.


Tables A.1 through A.3 listing missions realized in the framework of U.S.-European cooperation are presented in Appendix A.

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