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Space Studies Board Annual Report 1995 1 Charter and Organization of the Board THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDING CHARTER OF THE SPACE SCIENCE BOARD The National Academy of Sciences was chartered by the Congress, under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, to provide scientific and technical advice to the government of the United States. Over the years, the advisory program of the institution has expanded, leading in the course of time to the establishment of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, and of the National Research Council (NRC), today’s operational arm of the Academies of Sciences and Engineering. After the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the pace and scope of U.S. space activity were dramatically increased. Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct the nation’s ambitious space agenda, and the National Academy of Sciences created the Space Science Board. The original charter of the Board was established in June 1958, 3 months before final legislation creating NASA was enacted. The Space Science Board has provided external and independent scientific and programmatic advice to NASA on a continuous basis from NASA’s inception until the present. The fundamental charter of the Board today remains that defined by National Academy of Sciences President Detlev W.Bronk in a letter to Lloyd V.Berkner, first chair of the Board, on June 26, 1958: We have talked of the main task of the Board in three parts—the immediate program, the long-range program, and the international aspects of both. In all three we shall look to the Board to be the focus of the interests and responsibilities of the Academy-Research Council in space science; to establish necessary relationships with civilian science and with governmental science activities, particularly the proposed new space agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency; to represent the Academy-Research Council complex in our international relations in this field on behalf of American science and scientists; to seek ways to stimulate needed research; to promote necessary coordination of scientific effort; and to provide such advice and recommendations to appropriate individuals and agencies with regard to space science as may in the Board’s judgment be desirable. As we have already agreed, the Board is intended to be an advisory, consultative, correlating, evaluating body and not an operating agency in the field of space science. It should avoid responsibility as a Board for the conduct of any programs of space research and for the formulation of budgets relative thereto. Advice to agencies properly responsible for these matters, on the other hand, would be within its purview to provide. Thus, the Board exists to provide advice to the federal government on space research, and to help coordinate the nation’s undertakings in these areas. With the reconstitution of the Board in 1988 and 1989, the Board assumed similar responsibilities with respect to space applications. The Board also addresses scientific aspects of the nation’s program of human spaceflight.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 1995 THE 1988 REORGANIZATION OF THE BOARD—THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD In 1988, the Space Science Board undertook a series of retreats to review its structure and charter. These retreats were motivated by the Board’s desire to more closely align its structure and activities with evolving government advisory needs and by its assumption of a major portion of the responsibilities of the disestablished NRC Space Applications Board. As a result of these retreats, a number of new task groups and committees were formed, and several existing committees were disbanded and their portfolios distributed to other committees. In addition, since civilian space research now involves federal agencies other than NASA (for example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Departments of Energy and Defense, and the National Science Foundation (NSF)), it was decided to place an increased emphasis on broadening the Board’s advisory outreach. MAJOR FUNCTIONS The Board’s overall advisory charter is implemented through four key functions: discipline oversight, interdisciplinary studies, international activities, and advisory outreach. Oversight of Space Research Disciplines The Board has responsibility for strategic planning and oversight in the basic subdisciplines of space research. This responsibility is discharged through a structure of standing discipline committees, and includes preparation of strategic research plans and prioritization of objectives as well as assessment of progress in these disciplines. The standard vehicle for providing long-term research guidance is the research strategy report, which has been used successfully by the Board and its committees over many years. In addition, committees periodically prepare formal assessment reports that examine progress in their disciplines in comparison with published Board advice. From time to time, in response to a sponsor or Board request or to circumstances requiring prompt and focused comment, a committee may prepare and submit a short, or “letter,” report. Agency requests for broader space policy or organizational advice are addressed by suitable ad hoc organizational arrangements and appropriate final documentation. Other special agency requests that require responses synchronized with the federal budget cycle are relayed to standing committees for action or are taken up by ad hoc task groups. All committee reports undergo Board and NRC review and approval prior to publication and are issued formally as reports of the Board. Individual discipline committees may be called upon by the Board to prepare specialized material for use by either the Board or its interdisciplinary committees or task groups. Interdisciplinary Studies Although the emphasis over the years has been on discipline planning and evaluation, the reorganization of the Board recognized a need for cross-cutting technical and policy studies in several important areas. To accomplish these objectives, the Board creates internal committees of the Board and ad hoc task groups. Internal committees, constituted entirely of appointed Board members, are formed for short-duration studies, or lay the planning groundwork for subsequent formation of a regular committee or task group. Task groups resemble standing discipline committees in structure and operation, except that they have predefined lifetimes, typically one to three years, and more narrowly bounded charters. International Representation and Cooperation The Board continues to serve as the U.S. National Committee for the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) Committee on Space Research (COSPAR). In this capacity, the Board participates in a broad variety of COSPAR panels and committees. In the past, COSPAR bylaws have provided that its two vice presidents be from the United States and the USSR. The U.S. Vice President of COSPAR has served as a member of the Board, and a member of the Board’s staff has served as executive secretary for this office. During 1994, governance of COSPAR evolved to fully democratic election of officers. The Board continues as the U.S. National Committee, but its representation within the COSPAR officer corps is now determined electorally.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 1995 As the economic and political integration of Europe evolves, so also does the integration of Europe’s space activities. The Board has successfully collaborated with the European space research community on a number of ad hoc joint studies in the past and is now seeking in a measured way to broaden its advisory relationship with this community. The Board has established a regular practice of exchanging observers with the European Space Science Committee (ESSC), an entity of the European Science Foundation. Strengthening contacts with the Russian and Japanese programs is expected to assume higher priority as contacts with European research mature. Advisory Outreach The Space Science Board was conceived to provide space research guidance across the federal government. Over the years, the Board’s agenda and funding have focused on NASA’s space science program. Since the Board’s reorganization, however, several influences have acted to expand the breadth of the Board’s purview, both within NASA and outside it. First, the incorporation of scientific objectives into manned flight programs such as the shuttle and space station programs dictates additional interfaces with responsible offices in NASA. The Board is strengthening its links to the Office of Space Access and Technology in NASA through joint activities with the NRC’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. Formal contacts may be made with NASA’s space operations, international affairs, and commercial offices and programs. Second, the assumption of the space applications responsibilities from the dissolved NRC Space Applications Board has implied a broadening of the sponsorship base to NOAA, with its responsibilities for operational weather satellites. In response, NOAA became a cosponsor of the Board’s Committee on Earth Studies in 1991 and continued this advisory relationship in 1995. Third, the maturation of some of the physical sciences has led to progressive integration of space and nonspace elements, suggesting a more highly integrated advisory structure. One example is the solar-terrestrial community, where the Board’s Committee on Solar and Space Physics has operated for several years in a “federated” arrangement with the NRC Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Research. Another example is astronomy, where the Board operates a Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics as a joint committee of the Space Studies Board and the Board on Physics and Astronomy. An area of possible future disciplinary association is between the National Institutes of Health and space biology research. With the end of the Cold War, new participants will become involved in areas of space research previously exclusively civilian. In 1993, the Board established partial support for the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration by the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization and performed an initial assessment of the Clementine mission to the Moon and an asteroid. This convergence, which is also taking place in other areas of the federal R&D establishment, is coming about partly because of shared technology interests and partly because of declassification of some defense technologies in response to the changing world geopolitical environment. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) has considered several space missions of potential scientific interest, including a large-aperture infrared telescope. As a result, the Board continued its sponsorship and advisory relationship with the BMDO by initiating a scientific assessment of this telescope proposal. In summary, the Board will continue to reach out to nonresearch NASA offices and to other federal agencies, seeking to establish advisory and corresponding sponsorship relationships as appropriate. ORGANIZATION The Board conducts its business principally during regularly scheduled meetings of its own membership and of its supporting committees. These include the internal committees of the Board, standing discipline committees, and ad hoc task groups. During 1995, the Board also managed a major policy study entitled “The Future of Space Science”; this project was executed by a network of ad hoc task groups and an augmented Joint Committee on Technology. The organization of the Board and its committees during 1995 is illustrated in Figure 1. The Space Studies Board The Space Studies Board is composed of 20 to 24 prominent scientists, engineers, industrialists, scholars, and policy experts in space research, appointed for staggered terms of one to three years. The Board meets three or four
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 1995 FIGURE 1 Organization of the Space Studies Board and its committees during 1995. times per year to review the activities of its committees and task groups and to be briefed on and discuss major space policy issues. The Board is constituted in such a way as to include as members its committees’ chairs; other Board members serve on internal committees of the Board or perform other special functions as designated by the Board Chair. The Board seats, as ex officio members, the chairs of the NRC Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and of the NRC Naval Studies Board’s Space Panel. In general, the Board develops and documents its views by means of appointed discipline committees or interdisciplinary task groups that conduct studies and submit their findings for Board and NRC approval and dissemination. These committees or task groups may collaborate with other NRC boards or committees in order to leverage existing specialized capabilities within the NRC organization. On occasion, the Board itself deliberates cross-cutting issues and prepares its own statements and positions. These mechanisms are used to prepare and release advice either in response to a government request or on the Board’s own initiative. In addition, the Board comments, based on its publicly established opinions, in testimony to Congress. Internal Committees of the Board Internal committees facilitate the conduct of the Board’s business, carry out the Board’s own advisory projects, and permit the Board to move rapidly to lay the groundwork for new study activities. Internal committees are composed entirely of Board members, who generally serve for 1 to 2 years and then are rotated for replacement by other Board members. Internal committees active during 1995 included the Executive Committee of the Board (XCOM) and the Committee on International Programs (CIP). The Joint Committee on Technology (JCT) was expanded with non-Board members to help carry out a special study, described further below. The Committee on
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 1995 Human Exploration (CHEX), previously a regular standing committee of the Board, was inactive pending further maturation of national human spaceflight goals. Discipline Committees The standing discipline committees form the traditional backbone of the Board and are the means by which the Board conducts its oversight of space research disciplines. Each discipline committee is composed of 10 to 16 specialists, appointed to represent the broad sweep of research areas within the discipline. In addition to developing long-range research strategies and formal program and progress assessments in terms of these strategies, these committees perform analysis tasks in support of interdisciplinary task groups and committees, or in response to other requirements as assigned by the Board. In 1995, there were six discipline committees: Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA) Committee on Earth Studies (CES) Committee on Microgravity Research (CMGR) Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP) Committee on Space Biology and Medicine (CSBM) Activities of the former Committee on Space Astronomy and Astrophysics were terminated in 1989 when the Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee began its work. A new Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA) was established in 1992 and tasked with resuming oversight of NASA’s space astronomy program. The CAA is operated jointly with the NRC Board on Physics and Astronomy, for which it performs oversight of ground-based research programs under sponsorship from the NSF. The CSSP continued to operate in a “federated” arrangement with another NRC committee, the Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Research of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. While the two committees retained their separate identities and reporting relationships to their parent boards, they continued to meet jointly, submitting study results to whichever of the respective boards sponsored a given activity. Project on the Future of Space Science Under various pressures, the nation’s civil space research program conducted by NASA for over 35 years is undergoing sweeping change. Space science has in many areas successfully completed its initial reconnaissance phase. At the same time, the national imperative to control the deficit has dimmed prospects for future funding growth. In March 1993, a reorganization of NASA eliminated the Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA), which had theretofore performed agency-wide science mission and program planning. In response to the likelihood of constrained future budgets and the consequent need for careful selection and efficient execution of space science missions, the Senate Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies provided, under the title “Future of Space Science” (FOSS), for the National Academy of Sciences to undertake studies in several germane areas. Responding to a subsequent request by NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin, the Space Studies Board undertook an assessment of the role and position of space science within NASA. This assessment focused on specific areas identified in the administrator’s request and in the earlier FY94 Senate appropriations report language. These areas are the organization of civil space research programs within the agency, merit-based cross-disciplinary prioritization, including preservation of innovative initiatives, and improvement of technology utilization in science missions. The adopted approach to carrying out the requested study was to use the Space Studies Board’s in-place advisory structure wherever possible. The Board formed a FOSS Steering Group, two new task groups, and adapted its existing Joint Committee on Technology (JCT) for the project. The chairs of the FOSS steering group and supporting task groups were appointed to the Board. Some current Board members served as liaison members of the Steering Group and task groups. In addition, the Board’s six standing space research discipline committees were tasked to support the study.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 1995 The following four topics were explicitly specified in the legislative report and the Administrator’s request: Alternative organizational models for space science, Analysis of merit-based prioritization, Improvements in technology insertion, and Enabling innovative research. The second and fourth topics are very closely related: a merit-based prioritization scheme must make special provisions for support of unproven research areas if fostering and preserving such research are to be an outcome of the science selection process. Based on analysis of the Senate language and the NASA Administrator’s request, the Board established a four-component study organization: Steering Group (FOSS-SG), Task Group on Alternative Organizations (FOSS-AO), Task Group on Research Prioritization (FOSS-RP), and Task Group on Technology (FOSS-T) (JCT). The distribution of study tasks among these FOSS panels is described in the “Program” section below. The task groups completed their work, and a final report was delivered to NASA in September. Task Groups Ad hoc task groups are created by Board action with NRC approval. Formed during the 1988 reorganization of the Board, the Task Group on Priorities in Space Research has completed its study and been dissolved. Its final report was released in 1995. The Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics established the Panel on Optical and Infrared Astronomy, which examined management issues in ground-based astronomy for the Board on Physics and Astronomy under the sponsorship of NSF. This report was completed and released early in 1995. In mid-1994, the Space Studies Board formed the Task Group on the BMDO New Technology Orbital Observatory (TGBNTOO) in response to a request by the BMDO. The final report of this task group was completed and issued in mid-1995. During the final months of 1994, the NRC received a request from NASA Administrator Goldin to perform an assessment of the scientific merit and technical feasibility of the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) mission. Working with the Board on Physics and Astronomy, the Space Studies Board established the Task Group on Gravity Probe B to conduct the required study. The final report was completed and delivered in May 1995, and the task group was disbanded.
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