The Committee on Space Facilities reviewed working drafts and the final reports of the NFS. The committee heard briefings from members of the working groups and task team, as well as from other experts with important views relevant to the environment for and objectives of the NFS. Based on this information, the committee believes that the NFS represents a good start at addressing long-neglected issues regarding the national space infrastructure. The recommendations for change are well reasoned, as far as they go, and merit implementation. Additional work is needed, however, and a few areas did not receive the attention this committee believes they deserve. These areas include (1) the requirements models described in the NFS, (2) the efficiencies possible from a serious analysis and realignment of agency roles and missions and management practices, (3) the level of industrial participation in the space facilities aspects of the NFS, and (4) the implications of future international competition and cooperation for domestic space facilities.
In an ideal world, facility requirements would be determined through a process that would begin with a national space policy and proceed through agency strategic plans to planned programs that would require a set of facility capabilities. Since such long-range policy and plans do not currently exist, the interagency task team used baseline and excursion mission requirements models that are based on recent studies and policy decisions that reflect current budget constraints.
The futures projected by these requirements models envision little change from the status quo. The baseline model for commercial, civil, and military needs for space systems takes the approach that current U.S. programs and facilities, for example, large ELVs, communication satellites, and Earth-observing satellites, are adequate for current and near-term future needs. The baseline model assumes that the present fleet of Space Shuttles and ELVs, with modest upgrades, will be used through 2023. While one or more new families of small, low-cost launch vehicles are assumed to become operational during this decade, no new large launch vehicles are assumed for the next three decades. Since the baseline requirements model contains no new major missions or vehicles, the NFS task team assumes that no major changes in launch facilities or research facilities are needed. Similarly, no significant advances in space technology are viewed as necessary.
While the excursion requirements model is somewhat more forward-looking, the committee believes that the NFS authors were unduly cautious. The excursions presented contain missions that have been previously advocated but would require major funding increments and are beyond the scope of a level-of-effort space program, as well as new large launch vehicles in the 2003-2008 time period. Specifically, the following new launch vehicles are assumed:
A new nonpiloted cargo vehicle in the commercial sector;
A new highly reusable launch vehicle for crew and cargo in the civilian government sector; and
A new nonpiloted cargo vehicle in the defense sector.
The impacts of the excursion model are not addressed in depth by the NFS. The
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS 4 Issues, Findings, and Recommendations The Committee on Space Facilities reviewed working drafts and the final reports of the NFS. The committee heard briefings from members of the working groups and task team, as well as from other experts with important views relevant to the environment for and objectives of the NFS. Based on this information, the committee believes that the NFS represents a good start at addressing long-neglected issues regarding the national space infrastructure. The recommendations for change are well reasoned, as far as they go, and merit implementation. Additional work is needed, however, and a few areas did not receive the attention this committee believes they deserve. These areas include (1) the requirements models described in the NFS, (2) the efficiencies possible from a serious analysis and realignment of agency roles and missions and management practices, (3) the level of industrial participation in the space facilities aspects of the NFS, and (4) the implications of future international competition and cooperation for domestic space facilities. REQUIREMENTS In an ideal world, facility requirements would be determined through a process that would begin with a national space policy and proceed through agency strategic plans to planned programs that would require a set of facility capabilities. Since such long-range policy and plans do not currently exist, the interagency task team used baseline and excursion mission requirements models that are based on recent studies and policy decisions that reflect current budget constraints. The futures projected by these requirements models envision little change from the status quo. The baseline model for commercial, civil, and military needs for space systems takes the approach that current U.S. programs and facilities, for example, large ELVs, communication satellites, and Earth-observing satellites, are adequate for current and near-term future needs. The baseline model assumes that the present fleet of Space Shuttles and ELVs, with modest upgrades, will be used through 2023. While one or more new families of small, low-cost launch vehicles are assumed to become operational during this decade, no new large launch vehicles are assumed for the next three decades. Since the baseline requirements model contains no new major missions or vehicles, the NFS task team assumes that no major changes in launch facilities or research facilities are needed. Similarly, no significant advances in space technology are viewed as necessary. While the excursion requirements model is somewhat more forward-looking, the committee believes that the NFS authors were unduly cautious. The excursions presented contain missions that have been previously advocated but would require major funding increments and are beyond the scope of a level-of-effort space program, as well as new large launch vehicles in the 2003-2008 time period. Specifically, the following new launch vehicles are assumed: A new nonpiloted cargo vehicle in the commercial sector; A new highly reusable launch vehicle for crew and cargo in the civilian government sector; and A new nonpiloted cargo vehicle in the defense sector. The impacts of the excursion model are not addressed in depth by the NFS. The
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS study points out that facilities required to support implementation of the launch system excursion, which includes a new single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle, are dependent on the specific configuration being developed. It then states that the requirements of most concepts can be met by modifications to existing facilities. Regarding R& D facilities, it states that mission model excursions can be met mostly by upgrades and/or modifications to existing facilities. The study notes that manned planetary missions would require new facilities, with the most costly being those required for nuclear propulsion development. Assessment of Mission Requirements Models The baseline model is not deemed by the committee to be adequate as a basis for long-term planning. As noted above, the model is based on other recent studies and conforms to current budgetary and political decisions. It assumes that the status quo will be maintained for the next 30 years. In fact, it is much more likely that the space program will undergo major changes in direction and scope during that period. The committee believes that the excursion model is more indicative of what is likely to be needed during this 30-year period since it explores the development of some new facilities and technology. A fundamental question arising from an assessment of the NFS baseline model is, “What are the possible long-term outcomes of the baseline assumptions?” The committee suggests the following: With no new ELVs or changes in launch facilities, continued operational inefficiencies will drive up launch costs, thereby squeezing out investment in new payloads. For both the military and civil space programs, launches will be much more expensive than they could or should be. As foreign entities continue to build relatively cheap and reliable launch capabilities, utilization of existing U.S. ELVs will clearly diminish. Due to time and cost advantages, a number of U.S. entities are already launching satellites using foreign launch facilities. This trend will continue in the absence of domestic development of new, medium- or large-payload launch vehicles and capabilities. Although the development of small-payload, low-cost ELVs is reasonable as a baseline assumption, the committee believes that this type of vehicle is not likely to capture a large share of the overall worldwide launch market and will not have significant impact on facilities requirements. Simply continuing the status quo with modest upgrades of radio-frequency geostationary telecommunications satellite systems and Earth-observing/remote-sensing systems could lead to a situation similar to that of large ELVs: foreign development could overtake U.S. dominance in satellite operations. None of these potential outcomes is outlined in the NFS report. The implications of the baseline model for U.S. space autonomy, economic competitiveness, and national security have not been clearly defined. Assessment of Facility Requirements The committee is concerned that the baseline and excursion requirements models presented in the report have resulted in inadequate treatment of operations facilities. Based on the models, no new operations facilities were deemed to be required, no major upgrades or modifications to operations facilities were proposed, and no potential innovative approaches were explored. This criticism is especially relevant to launch facilities. The present U.S. launch facilities were originally constructed as development facilities as part of the evolving U.S. space program. In their design, with the exception of the Space Shuttle, little emphasis was placed on operational efficiency. Compared with modern launch facilities such as the Arianespace launch complex in Kourou, U.S. launch facilities are antiquated, inefficient, costly to operate, and require extremely large work forces. 16 In order for the United States to compete in the world 16 See also, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, From Earth to Orbit: An Assessment of Transportation Options, Washington: National Academy Press, 1992.
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS launch vehicle market, major upgrades and revisions are required to incorporate modern automation and information technologies and to streamline payload integration and launch procedures. This issue is not addressed in the present study. In fact, a major overall goal of the NFS is not addressed: “To allow us to impact external budget submissions, as appropriate . . .to ensure. . .the proper infrastructure for our nation's aerospace industry to remain the world's leader.” 17 Because the baseline model (and current policy) emphasizes maintaining the status quo, the costs associated with current launch inefficiencies are not recognized and the lessons possible from reviewing the operations of modern launch facilities abroad are not included in the analysis. Such a critical evaluation is necessary to develop effective recommendations to ensure competitive U.S. launch capabilities in the future. Recommendations Based on this assessment of the mission and requirements models and the analysis of facilities needs based on the models, the committee recommends the following: Because 30 years without any new launch vehicle is not realistic, the baseline requirements model should be revised to include a major new launch vehicle or family of vehicles. For each vehicle, requirements for assembly facilities, payload integration facilities, launch pad, and mission operations facilities should be assessed to maximize operational effectiveness. This vehicle family could encompass all the missions that are presently captured by the new nonpiloted cargo vehicle in the Commercial Space excursion model and the new highly reusable launch cargo vehicle in the DoD excursion model. A number of possible approaches are currently being evaluated to upgrade and modernize U.S. launch capabilities, including single stage to orbit, liquid and solid technologies, and hybrids of the two. Regardless of the technology employed, any new vehicle line should be designed from the outset to be an operational system using revised management practices, as well as new automation and information technologies, to minimize the required personnel. In addition, the technologies used should be sufficiently robust to minimize the risk of problems that could ground the fleet. A follow-on study should assess the long-term trade-off between modifying present operational facilities and constructing new innovative operational facilities to achieve the launch cost reductions that are mentioned in the revised requirements models. A new set of R&D facility requirements, consistent with the revised requirements models, should be developed and presented to the NFS oversight group. Also, a new set of required operational facility upgrades and construction, consistent with the new launch vehicles and the study mentioned above, should be developed and presented to the NFS oversight group. In the case of planetary missions, facility needs should not be predicated on the sole assumption that nuclear propulsion will be used. Instead, facility needs corresponding to other viable approaches (e.g., chemical/aerobraking for manned missions, solar electric propulsion for cargo missions, use of in situ resources for propellant and other consumables) should be presented in a set of options along with those corresponding to nuclear propulsion. ROLES, MISSIONS, AND MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS The NFS accomplished the most complete cataloging and assessment of space facilities to date. However, the changes recommended by the NFS may represent only the tip of the iceberg of potential savings. The financial calculations used to estimate savings from closures and consolidations are based only on avoiding the costs of facilities operations. Significant savings and improvements in the effectiveness of capacity utilization and future investment decisions could be achieved if the study were expanded to consider changes in 17 Letter from Daniel Goldin, NASA Administrator, to Donald J. Atwood, Deputy Secretary of Defense, November 13, 1992.
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS program management and in roles and missions between agencies. The NFS did include a working group to address the need to review the roles and functions of different agencies. It recognized that realignment of roles and missions may be key to major, visionary changes in national space activities. There is brief mention of these issues and suggestions for further review, but they do not receive the attention this committee believes they deserve considering the potentially high payoff. The committee recognizes, however, that effective realignment of agency roles and missions would require strong leadership from the White House. Roles and Missions of NASA Centers One area not specifically addressed in the NFS report concerns opportunities to consolidate activities of the NASA Centers, which have numerous overlaps in facilities and capabilities. For example, there are flight operations at Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other locations. Similarly, a number of centers conduct work on space robotics, sometimes without a critical mass. Ames Research Center and Johnson Space Center both have historically performed work in the life science field, and they have developed separate space suits. Such overlaps evolved during a period of robust budgets. With the current budget constraints, most of this duplication probably is not justified, though some may be warranted to provide desirable redundant capabilities and to stimulate competition and innovation. Consolidation would allow personnel reductions and save on facility operations. In assessing possible consolidation of NASA centers, however, care should be taken not to consider facility costs as the only decision criterion. Only similar operations with common operational philosophies should be colocated. For example, at Johnson Space Center, crew and hardware safety is the driving requirement. Placing science and experiment operations with the same group may result in more complex procedures, because there may be a tendency to apply the same requirements and processes across the board. Shuttle Operations Early drafts of the NFS report included a recommendation by the Space Operations working group to eliminate use of Rockwell's Palmdale plant for Shuttle assembly, modifications, and inspection, and for thermal protection system tile and blanket production. These activities would be moved to Kennedy Space Center (KSC). As a result of a request by Congress to reassess the decision to close Palmdale, the final NFS report removed this recommendation, instead suggesting that the issue receive further study. 18 This decision should not cause NASA to abandon the idea of consolidating most Shuttle hardware activities at KSC. Further study should include estimates of the savings in facilities and programs that could occur through such consolidation. These are far more substantial than the annual savings previously estimated based on direct cost avoidance only: $1.5 million in occupancy costs and $35-40 million in operations labor. 19 NASA is not planning to build additional orbiters. Most of the flight hardware is at KSC and with time the expertise on the hardware will migrate to where the hardware is operated. Moving the management of the systems to the operating location would have the effect of making management more operationally oriented. The move from a development to operational philosophy would result in lower cost over time. However, the long-term value of making KSC more operationally oriented is not recognized in the NFS report, so the potential savings from such a programmatic change are not discussed. 18 On March 15, 1994, NASA announced that all major modifications to Shuttle will continue to be made at Palmdale, following a detailed analysis of the savings from moving the work to KSC. 19 Savings estimates made by the Manufacturing Working Group. Space Operations Facilities Task Group, in a draft category 1A recommendation of November 16, 1993.
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS This example is a good illustration of the factors beyond short-term operating costs that affect closure and consolidation decisions. Strong political pressures can be brought to bear to keep any federal facility operating after its usefulness has ended. To overcome such pressures, an approach similar to that of the recent Base Realignment and Closure Commission would appear to be reasonable. Air Force Launch Operations The Air Force has made major organizational changes by separating development and operations of space launch systems. It has established an Air Force operating squadron for each of the three launch vehicles: Titan, Atlas, and Delta. Each squadron oversees the actual operations that are managed by different development contractors. None of these vehicles was originally designed to optimize operations, and mechanisms to make them more operational should be explored. For instance, designating a single operations contractor for all systems could result in significant savings assuming current impediments to such an approach could be overcome. Based on the Space Shuttle experience—shuttle operations are not managed by the developer—such a change could be made with no loss of reliability or availability. Management Considerations Many recent studies regarding the U.S. competitive posture in the launch vehicle market point to differences in the management approaches used in other countries. For example, a NASA comparison of the Ariane V solid rocket motor development with that of the U.S. Advanced Solid Rocket Motor shows very similar design and technology but much lower development and production costs for Ariane. 20 Part of this cost difference is due to differences in missions and the level of political involvement, but management philosophy and certification requirements are also major cost drivers in the United States. A committee of congressional staff members reached similar conclusions. 21 Roles and Missions Between Agencies In view of the budget pressures on both NASA and DoD, changes in their respective roles and missions should be studied further. An important example concerns KSC and the Air Force 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral. Now sharing a common strip of government property, they share the same primary purpose: successful launch of space vehicles. The NFS views favorably the shared contracts between the two organizations and commends the coordination achieved through the Air Force/NASA liaison team at the Cape. However, the study does not consider whether additional savings could be achieved were the base operations of the launch facilities at Cape Canaveral merged. Such a management change deserves further study to identify specific areas in which a merger would make sense and to estimate the potential economies. If such consolidations were implemented, it should be strictly for base operations and separated from the development organizations of both agencies. It should focus on maintenance, logistics, and personnel requirements that are common to both customers, regardless of the vehicle being launched. Examples of savings might include a single management structure, one guard force, one fire-fighting force, and one contractor for base operations. Recommendations Using the recommendations in the NFS as a baseline, additional study is needed of the total savings possible from effective consolidation and management streamlining of NASA and DoD space programs. This 20 Russ Bardos, “A Comparison of Ariane 5(Solid) vs. Shuttle Advanced Solid Rocket Motor (ASRM) Development/Production.” briefing to the NRC Committee on Space Facilities, February 7, 1994. 21 Terry Dawson, “Space Launch Oversight Trip Report—August 23-September 3, 1993,” briefing to the committee, March 9, 1994.
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS expanded study will undoubtedly indicate that greater savings are possible when appropriate program changes are taken into account and will make the closing of any facility easier to justify. NASA and DoD should initiate in-depth analyses of their respective roles and missions. Opportunities to increase the total effectiveness of national space efforts, as well as to improve efficiencies at specific facilities, should be identified and appropriate actions initiated. Integration of operational responsibilities should be achieved wherever possible. This process should be overseen by the Executive Office of the President. Because a broad revision of roles and missions would result in extensive changes in facilities requirements and workloads, and would likely raise political concerns, consideration should be given to establishing a presidential commission, analogous to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, to help generate the political consensus necessary to implement some facilities closure and consolidation recommendations. INDUSTRIAL PARTICIPATION Another shortcoming of the NFS analysis of space R&D and operations facilities is that, unlike the analysis of aeronautics facilities, it did not include industry representatives to help evaluate several issues important to both industry and government. This inconsistency prompted the committee to question the task team's level of understanding of industry concerns about right-sizing space facilities and the economic and competitive impact of any policy changes resulting from the final report of the NFS. Because the NFS focused on government-owned facilities, the study has not taken adequate account of major private facilities. There is no analysis of how facilities in industry compare with each other or with comparable facilities in government, in terms of age, capabilities, cost, level of use, support requirements, and other factors. Such an assessment would be very valuable for generating a comprehensive, long-term plan for space facilities. Further, neither the mission model nor the analysis of facilities to support the mission model provided sufficient consideration of commercial ventures in the private sector. Many aerospace contractors are taking their strong core competencies to the commercial marketplace to offset cuts in the federal budget. The use of existing space facilities in the pursuit of commercial activities needs to be encouraged. This relative inattention to private facilities in the NFS is apparently due to the belief by the task groups that market forces would dictate decisions on private facilities. Although the aerospace industry is going through a period of significant consolidation as a result of reduced defense spending, economic incentives are such that considerable excess capacity in space facilities may remain. The industry is concerned with the economics of space facility closure, regarding both financial liability considerations and future business. Appropriate legislation could eliminate the tax liabilities and provide economic incentives for mothballing or closing a space facility. Further, companies must be assured that closing facilities would not disadvantage them in future contract competitions. Much better access to remaining facilities, whether government or industry owned, must be assured before contractors will be sufficiently confident to close their underused facilities. Although an individual company's facilities may be required for the company to appear competitive to the U.S. government on any future procurement, the prospects for future government work are dim and uncertain. Industry well understands that the major share of U.S. space efforts is controlled by the government. Thus, company initiatives to close, modernize, or replace facilities can only be undertaken with appropriate government incentives and some assurances that government-sponsored demand will be reasonably predictable. It is essential, therefore, that proposed solutions to reduce the number of space facilities be derived through close cooperation with industry, recognizing industrial constraints and concerns. Even more important, assurances are needed that government will not undertake its own initiatives that compete with those of private industry. These issues may be responsible for the relatively sparse participation by industry in
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS the facilities inventory. Contractors may be concerned that if their facilities are included in the inventory, they would be more likely to be targeted for closure or consolidation, thereby placing the company in a disadvantaged position for winning future business. This issue can only be addressed by having much broader participation by industry representatives in the analysis and decision-making process. Recommendations The post Cold War de-emphasis on space research and its effects on the space industry should be closely monitored. Therefore, concerted efforts are needed to enhance industry participation in the space R&D and operations aspects of the NFS, to match its participation in the aeronautics study. Industrial representatives could assist in identifying the trade-offs necessary to determine which industry facilities are needed in the future, which facilities should be retired, and which should be extensively modified. Therefore, the committee strongly recommends the following: The NASA/DoD study should continue into a second phase with strong involvement from the aerospace industry. In addition, it would be useful to include representatives with expertise in economics, tax policy, and policies affecting commercial use of space. If a second phase is added to the study, every effort should be made to evaluate the degree to which facilities can enhance the ability to effectively achieve future missions. One approach that should be considered is to develop a comparative matrix of capabilities with an assigned merit system that values each facility according to its ability to meet future program requirements. There should not be any bias towards government facilities in making total or partial closure recommendations. Where possible, future mission models should be defined to include consideration of commercial uses of space. The NASA/DoD interagency team should address the economic and business development incentives and disincentives facing private contractors when they consider closing, mothballing, or building facilities. Specific policy changes should be identified that would encourage rationalization of private facilities by making decisions on facilities financially attractive. INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION AND COOPERATION A fact inadequately considered by the NFS is that modern space facilities exist throughout the world. Many foreign launch facilities are newer and, having benefited from American experience, are designed for operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Over the next 30 years, foreign capabilities will undoubtedly continue to improve and expand. Foreign facilities will affect U.S. space operations and R&D efforts either by providing opportunities for cooperation or by creating sources of competition for U.S. facilities and setting standards for cost, reliability, and capability. Foreign developments, therefore, should be factored into future U.S. facilities planning. Foreign Capabilities Among spacefaring nations other than the United States, Russia has the most experience and the largest, most comprehensive space program. For many years, the space program of the former Soviet Union was designed to create national prestige and to support military security. Since the end of the Cold War, the Russian space program has been evolving along two tracks. First, to raise money, Russia has made available for sale to the world a significant amount of technology as well as hardware and launch services. These include new technology such as Stationary Plasma Thrusters, as well as existing hardware including Proton boosters, rocket engines, and Soyuz modules. Second, Russia has continued the space station program started with Mir and evolved it into an international space station program with the United States. This program is motivated not only by economics but also by national prestige and as a way to cement ties with the United States. It is reasonable to assume that the Russian effort in space will
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS continue along these two tracks for some time. The European Space Agency and various national space programs have built a modern space capability for Europe. Europe is heavily involved in international cooperative programs with the United States and Russia. These programs range from various types of scientific satellites to participation in the international space station. Part of the European program, therefore, is geared to cooperative ventures. However, the European Space Agency has developed the Ariane 4 ELV and is developing the Ariane 5. In 1993, Ariane 4 was the commercial market leader, with seven commercial satellite launches. In the area of satellites, companies such as British Aerospace, Matra Marconi Space, and Alenia have significant capabilities in manufacturing communication satellites. Therefore, parts of the European national programs form significant competition for the United States. The Chinese space program offers low-cost services for launching satellites. The prices offered on these launchers are significantly lower than comparable U.S. launchers. Despite pending trade agreements requiring the Chinese to sell Long March rockets on a par with Western bids, they have been underbidding by 30 percent. 22 A new agreement is expected to be negotiated this year, but the Chinese will remain important competition for future commercial launches. The Japanese continue to develop indigenous satellite technologies. Their announced strategy is to develop the capability for autonomous activities in space, including design and manufacturing, and actively to promote and participate in space projects involving international cooperation. The latter goal is being met through involvement in the international space station and several international scientific missions. The Japanese space program has recently achieved its long-stated goal of domestic autonomy in launchers with the launch of the H-2 rocket. While it is possible that the Japanese program may develop a strong and competitive commercial component, significant difficulties remain to be resolved. (For instance, the H-2 can be launched only during two 45-day periods in the winter and summer, limiting the number of launches to 4 or 5 per year, and the high latitude of the launch site at 30.2 degrees currently limits the net payload that can be placed into final geostationary orbit to 2 tons.) Competition or Cooperation The extent to which the United States should compete or cooperate with foreign space programs depends on national objectives and policy. U.S. policy, although not always clearly stated, can be inferred from government actions. By examining U.S. actions in the space market segments discussed earlier, some interesting conclusions about national policy can be reached. Human Space Exploration Sending people into space is becoming increasingly cooperative due to foreign policy considerations and domestic funding constraints. Currently, the most prominent area of international cooperation is the international space station. The European Space Agency, Italy, Japan, and Canada are developing hardware for integration into the space station, and Russia and the United States have agreed to cooperate extensively in the space station program. Launch support for human space flight is becoming as internationally cooperative as the manned space program itself. Of the 34 projected launches needed to complete assembly of the space station, 21 currently are scheduled to be U.S. Shuttle launches and 13 to be Russian launches. 23 Also, it has been suggested that Ariane be used to carry equipment to the space station. 22 Patrick Seitz, “U.S. Officials Probe Proton, Long March Pricing Policies,” Space News, vol. 5, no. 10, March 7-13, 1994, p. 12. 23 Additional flights are projected for use of the space station prior to completion of assembly. In total, 72 flights are projected through completion of assembly, of which 28 will be by Shuttle and 44 by various Russian vehicles. See, NASA Systems Design Review, March 23, 1994.
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS Space Science and Applications International cooperation is extensive in this segment. Within the international scientific community, missions are planned to be complementary whenever possible. The development of space platforms and scientific instruments is also designed to maximize the return on investment. Most scientific satellites are truly international, with many countries contributing scientific instruments for a single mission. It is fairly common for the United States to provide components and instruments to be integrated into foreign spacecraft and then tested at foreign facilities. The International Solar Terrestrial Physics program alone provides a number of examples. For instance, for the Solar Heliospheric Observatory, the United States is providing the Michaelson Doppler Interferometer for solar seismology, an Ultraviolet Coronal Spectrograph, and a White Light Coronagraph. These instruments will be integrated by Matra and tested at the Centre National d'Etudes Spatial facility in Toulouse, France. Military and Intelligence Satellites The national capability to design, build, and operate this class of satellite must be maintained, independent of any foreign assistance. The United States will therefore maintain all facilities required to support its military and intelligence missions. International cooperation will be very limited. Commercial Space Systems The commercial satellite business is driven by cost and new technology. The United States has a substantial lead in payload technology and spacecraft design, which are the critical factors in determining competitiveness in the market. This market is much like the commercial aircraft market in that companies must invest in the required technology if they are to maintain market share. Similarly, to gain foreign sales, contract bids increasingly will be made by international teams of companies and include more foreign suppliers. Overall, international competition is much more prevalent than cooperation in the commercial space market. The emerging subsection of the commercial market, micro satellites and their associated small launch vehicles, remains immature and difficult to predict. So far, decisions seem to be driven by commercial factors, and the United States is developing market leadership. Here, also, international competition is likely to become more prevalent than cooperation. Launch Vehicles In this market segment, recent federal budget constraints are such that modifications and improvements to launch systems have been limited to those that have near-term payoff or are required to replace obsolete components that cannot be procured or maintained. These budget constraints are reflected in the mission requirements models in the NFS. As stated previously, the committee believes that this lack of investment in launch vehicles will result in the United States losing its remaining commercial satellite launch business to foreign launch vehicles, and in the remaining U.S. government customers paying more than world prices for launch services. The current environment of competition with foreign launchers may, therefore, give way to greater international cooperation on launch facilities and vehicles. 24 As a word of caution, if the United States turns to foreign launch services, it would probably take even longer for the U.S. industry to recover, if necessary, than after the decision to use only the Space Shuttle for launching satellites. Conclusions In virtually every aspect of the space market, foreign capabilities are improving. In 24 Edward C. Aldridge, Jr., president and chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation, presented the notion of an international cooperative effort for development of the next generation reusable launch vehicle in a speech at the U.S. Space Foundation Symposium, Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 6, 1994.
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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS two sectors, human space exploration and space science, better foreign capabilities make international cooperation advantageous and are a cost-effective approach to meeting both U.S. and international objectives. In the other sectors, especially in launch vehicles, competition is prevalent. Based on current policies, foreign launch vehicles and facilities will continue to set the world standard and therefore gain more of the world market. U.S. government launches will remain in the country but face a cost penalty that may eventually force more use of foreign launches, with the likely notable exception of military and intelligence payloads. Foreign R&D facilities also will continue to improve, perhaps providing cost advantages in this area as well. Given current international trends, any comprehensive, long-term evaluation of U.S. facilities needs must consider foreign capabilities. Major foreign facilities should be included in the inventory, including data on their capabilities, usage, and costs, and on comparable facilities in the United States. Just as with domestic facilities, major foreign capabilities should be consistently tracked to provide credible assessments of the current state of the art in various types and classes of facilities. In cases where foreign facilities set the world standard, assessments should be made regarding whether a similar capability is needed in the United States or whether sufficient access to secure use of the foreign facility is available to domestic users. In some cases, it may be appropriate and feasible for a U.S. contractor to purchase or to acquire operational control of a foreign facility. 25 25 For example, an American company recently acquired operational control of the German Space Test Facility near Munich.