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4 Epilogue At the final session of the 2007 workshop, moderator Raymond Colladay (Lockheed Martin Astronautics, retired), Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board chair, invited all participants to provide concluding observations. These are summarized below in terms of three broad categories. COMMUNICATING ABOUT SPACE EXPLORATION About a quarter of the workshop participants cited aspects of how to communicate with the public and policy makers about space exploration and about what that message should be. These perspectives began with the view that the various elements of NASAâs programâhuman spaceflight, space and Earth science, and aeronauticsâshould not be cast as separate, competing elements but should be seen as integrated in a perspective that should lead to a single core mission for NASAââto inspire.â Others added that there needs to be a new paradigm for motivating human space exploration, because the Vision for Space Exploration1 as it is now presented fails to engage the public. A key to this argument was that to date there has been too much emphasis on hardware and on âhowâ the Vision will be pursued rather than on the more important question for the public of âwhyâ we will explore. Speakers also noted that being able to communicate examples of steady progress along the way is very important. Finally, some participants added that emphasizing Chinese lunar mission plans and progress will not be effective in motivating the public because many people will say that the United States has already accomplished that goal. Speakers who addressed the question of why there should be a space program focused on the idea that space exploration is emblematic of leadership. Space, according to these viewpoints, provides a powerful vehicle for innovation and for pursuit of technological and economic benefits. Participants also argued that NASA is primed to make major contributions on behalf of the United States in addressing pressing issues about global climate change. Most comments about the communications challenge emphasized that the message has to connect with todayâs younger generation. To succeed at that, participants argued, one must listen to the interests of young people and to young professionals. For example, speakers cited the idea of providing streaming images from Mars and giving people a virtual presence experience on Mars or elsewhere in space. Some participants also reminded their colleagues that âspace is coolâ and that this notion can still generate public interest. INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION, COOPERATION, AND LEADERSHIP Another quarter of the 2007 workshopâs participants commented that the importance of international leadership and cooperation stood out as being particularly noteworthy. Several argued not 1 National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The Vision for Space Exploration, NP-2004-01-334-HQ, NASA, Washington, D.C., 2004. 21
only that international aspects of space exploration are very important but also that a geopolitical context for the U.S. space program is essential. One speaker posited that the prevailing view needs to be that âspace is not a race but a responsibilityââthat is, that the principal aim of the U.S. space program should be international leadership in exploration, science, and technology and that the United States should use space activities to lead efforts on global issues such as energy, resources, and climate, that is, to become a benevolent hegemon. Some speakers cited NASAâs science programs and the International Space Station (ISS) as notable international cooperation success stories. One speaker opined that successful human missions to Mars can only be accomplished through international cooperation. Some participants cited problems arising from the current application of export controls, especially the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which create impediments to much international cooperation on space projects, and argued that these impediments need to be fixed.2 ENSURING ROBUSTNESS THROUGH NEW APPROACHES AND ATTITUDES Nearly half of the workshop participants mentioned impressions about threats to the robustness of NASAâs program and commented about potential approaches to cope with those problems. Several speakers urged that the first step is for senior government leaders to acknowledge that there is a problem and that, as is noted in Chapter 2, there is a serious mismatch between NASAâs assigned responsibilities and its available resourcesâthat is, issues of budget realism, program feasibility, and sustainability must be addressed head-on. Others added that this problem needs to be specified better quantitatively. Speakers offered a number of ideas about what is needed to deal with the current problems. Elements of a strategy included putting a budget wall between resources for science and exploration, becoming more open to international and commercial partnerships, protecting investments in capabilities that will be needed in the future, and limiting lunar mission activities to only what is needed to prepare for future Mars missions. Some participants argued for planning an exploration program that goes directly to Mars and bypasses the Moon. One speaker advocated a specific strategy for avoiding the impending âtrain wreckâ to which many other participants referred during the workshop. The speaker argued that there is a need to âslow down the trainâ by deferring the first human mission to the Moon; extending the use of the ISS in support of R&D for later human exploration; establishing telepresence on the Moon; creating an environment of institutional stability in NASAâs program elements; building globally inclusive working groups on direct missions to Mars, global change, and space science; and defining real, meaningful jobs for humans in space. Finally, a few participants commented that the workshop discussions had been too pessimistic and that there is reason for optimism, especially for the long term. These participants argued that there is great promise for long-term progress in much of NASAâs program and that if there is a willingness to make some changes in course, the program will succeed. In closing the final session, moderator Colladay remarked that at the beginning of the workshop he had urged people to take a non-advocate approach and to look at the space program in a broad context. He observed that, in fact, people had looked at the current situation more critically than is often the case in other industries. The discussions focused more on problems than on solutions, but he suggested that the first step toward solving problems is to engage with the problem. He concluded that the workshop succeeded in doing that. 2 For a more thorough discussion of the impacts of ITAR on space science, see National Research Council, Space Science and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations: A Workshop Summary, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2008. 22