Findings and Recommendations
Scientific cooperation between the United States and Europe in space science, Earth sciences, and microgravity research and life sciences (MRLS) has proven very important. In the most successful examples, cooperation has produced significant scientific results, cost savings for each partner, effective synergism among technologies, and improved access to U.S. and European data. Many missions benefited from one or more of these advantages, but some encountered pitfalls.
The joint committee, having surveyed and analyzed the 13 U.S.-European cases discussed in Chapter 3, identified several conditions that either facilitated or hampered bilateral or multilateral cooperation in space science. Some of these lessons are unique to their scientific disciplines and their "cultures," whereas others are cross-cutting and apply overall, to the cooperative experience between the United States and Europe, as analyzed in chapters 2 and 3. The joint committee determined that these overarching findings can be organized according to the various phases of a cooperative program, namely, (1) goals and rationale for international cooperation, (2) planning and identification of cooperative opportunities, (3) management and implementation, (4) personnel, and (5) guidelines and procedures. The findings lead to five sets of recommendations.
The findings emphasize the respective roles of people and communication issues on one hand and of planning and management issues on the other. Both are essential, but their relative weight may depend on mission type as well as on the balance and sharing of responsibilities among partners. Depending on the issue that is considered pivotal (either the personnel perspective or the planning and management one), the findings of this committee and the corresponding recommendations could have been grouped in different ways.1
The joint committee's findings, derived from past experience, apply as well to future cooperation. As the political context for both Europe and the United States evolves in the post-Cold War era, the number of potential space partners, such as newly democratic Eastern European countries, increases, and new institutions and commercial entities enter the scene. In the United States, for example, start-up companies seek to profit from high-resolution Earth observation imagery, whereas across the Atlantic, the European Union has taken on a broader role in space policy. The circumstances and particulars of the environment are changing and producing countervailing
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
- efforts—whether they involve national or multinational leadership—reinforce and foster mutual respect, confidence, and a sense of partnership among participants. Each partner's contributions must be acknowledged in the media and in publications resulting from joint missions.
- Beneficial characteristics. Shared benefits such as exchanges of scientific and technical know-how and access to training are not usually sufficient justification to sustain an international mission. Successful missions have at least one (but usually more) of the following characteristics:
- Unique and complementary capabilities offered by each international partner, such as expertise in specific technologies or instruments or in particular analytic methods;
- Contributions made by each partner that are considered vital for the mission, such as providing unique facilities (launchers, space observatories, or laboratories), instruments, spacecraft subsystems, or ground receiving stations;
- Significant net cost reductions for each partner, which can be documented rigorously, leading to favorable cost-benefit ratios;
- International scientific and political context and impetus; and
- Synergistic effects and cross-fertilization or benefit.
- Importance of reviews. Periodic monitoring of science goals, mission execution, and the results of data analysis ensure that international missions are both timely and efficient. This is particularly important if unforeseen problems in mission development or funding result in significant delays in the mission launch or if scientific imperatives for the mission have evolved since the original mission conception or development. A protocol for reviewing ongoing cooperation activities may avert the potential for failed cooperation and focus efforts only on those joint missions that continue to meet a high-priority for their scientific results.
- In the case studies considered, there may have been increased costs associated with international cooperation, but these costs were offset by the benefits. None of the case studies analyzed revealed any net cost increase resulting from international cooperation. However, it is worth noting that when international cooperation fails or breaks down, there are costs incurred that might otherwise have been avoided.
The joint committee recommends that eight key elements be used to test whether an international mission is likely to be successful. This test is particularly important in the area of anticipated and upcoming large missions. Specifically, the joint committee recommends that international cooperative missions involve the following:
- Scientific support through peer review that affirms the scientific integrity, value, requirements, and benefits of a cooperative mission;
- An historical foundation built on an existing international community, partnership, and shared scientific experiences;
- Shared objectives that incorporate the interests of scientists, engineers, and managers in common and communicated goals;
- Clearly defined responsibilities and roles for cooperative partners, including scientists, engineers, and mission managers;
- An agreed-upon process for data calibration, validation, access, and distribution;
- A sense of partnership recognizing the shared contributions of each participant;
- Beneficial characteristics of cooperation; and
- Recognition of the importance of reviews for cooperative activities in the conceptual, developmental, active, or extended mission phases—particularly for foreseen and upcoming large missions.
NASA and the international partners should reflect on the nature of the existing International Space Station (ISS) program compared with past programs that resulted in successful international cooperative efforts. Failure to ensure the elements characteristic of successful cooperation could well spell failure for the ISS and the Space
Station Utilization Programs. This is crucial, particularly for MRLS, because the Space Station is expected to be the overwhelmingly dominant platform for carrying out international cooperative research in low Earth orbit.
In its review, NASA and its partners should unequivocally define the purpose, goals, and objectives of the Space Station and the corresponding utilization programs. The Space Station's role may be abundantly clear within the agencies but does not appear to have been agreed-upon and concisely stated to the communities it is to serve. The defined goals should be stated to the scientific community, to the public, and all the governmental funding bodies involved.
Planning And Identification Of Cooperative Opportunities
Because planning, implementing, and managing are done by people, the findings and recommendations in the next two sections overlap somewhat with those in the section on personnel. Each area is vital. Even good people find it difficult to overcome poor planning. The joint committee finds the following:
Finding: Planning for international missions has typically not been well coordinated with other national programs or activities. Missions have been developed with similar, if not redundant, capabilities.
With respect to cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency, the joint committee recommends that coordination between the planning and priority-setting committees of these agencies be enhanced to ensure that in an era of declining resources, missions are carefully considered to ensure their unique scientific contribution and global interdependence as well as their national impact.
The currently constituted strategy and planning committees at both NASA and ESA should each have annual meetings in which several representatives of the other committee are invited to present and discuss strategic plans and missions under consideration. This information exchange may avoid development of redundant experiments or missions, which occurred in the very similar radar missions to monitor ocean waves that were launched by the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada. Annual consultations among the standing committees and individual members will also ensure that the interests of national pride, technological readiness, and resources are not obstacles to sensible international cooperation for future missions in space.
Regarding cooperation between NASA and European countries, the joint committee recommends that scientific communities in the United States and Europe use international bodies such as the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), and other international scientific unions to keep informed about planned national activities in the space sciences, to identify areas of potential program coordination, to discuss issues and problems (e.g., technology, data sharing and exchange, cultural barriers) related to international cooperation, and to share this information with national agencies.
Finding: Clear, open communications are particularly important for international missions in space science to ensure that the cooperative space effort has clearly articulated common goals and responsibilities and that mission results will be freely available. Missions with active science working teams and external user committees provide the best communications both within the project team and with the greater community.
Furthermore, it is critical to form an active sense of community with excellent communication among scientists, developers, engineers, and managers from all parties involved in carrying out the mission. Principal investigators2 have experienced cases in which poor communication with managers and developers resulted in science
return that was significantly below expectations. On the other hand, when scientists, developers, and managers were a true community, mission and instrument requirements were sharpened, design was improved, performance was excellent, and science return met or even exceeded expectations. Such successful cooperation usually involved a strong program scientist whose basic responsibility was to carry out the mission.
TOPEX-POSEIDON represents an example in which positive communication among various team members prevailed, whereas the case of IML-1 and IML-2 points to communication difficulties and some resulting losses in the scientific return from the mission.
Given the important role that PIs in Europe and the United States have in leading and coordinating joint PI missions, the joint committee recommends therefore that for non-PI missions (in particular, multiuser ones such as those for microgravity research and life sciences and Earth observation), two program scientists of stature, one U.S. and one European, be appointed at an early stage of joint planning to lead and coordinate the mission.
The joint committee recommends that only those international cooperative efforts be attempted in which participants consider themselves partners (even if their respective responsibilities and contributions are different) and have confidence in one another's reliability and competence as well as their dedication to the overall mission goals.
Management And Implementation
The management and implementation of cooperative missions rely not only on clearly established goals and rationale and good planning, but also on capable personnel. Similarly, poor management practices can significantly hamper even the most highly motivated team.
The joint committee found the following:
Finding: A clear management scheme with well-defined interfaces between the parties and efficient communications is essential.
The joint committee recommends that, at the earliest stages of each international space research mission, the partners designate (1) two management points of contact, one U.S. and one European; (2) a project structure led by two designated PIs or program scientists, one U.S. and one European; and (3) an International Mission Working Group (IMWG) established with the two PIs or program scientists as co-chairs.
The IMWG provides a forum for communications between and among team members and should include key mission scientists and engineers as well as industry and agency representatives. The co-chairs ensure that science goals are paramount in planning and execution of the mission, including possible changes and descoping in response to mission contingencies. The IMWG enables communication with the respective national agencies and ensures that each partner is kept informed of any changes in mission status or support. It also provides for common interface and document control between mission partners and agencies to allow for possible differences in reporting standards and practices that may be significant for international missions. During mission operations and data analysis, the IMWG also ensures the establishment of data quality and archives, accessible databases, and data
analysis tools. The IMWG should provide for the timely publication of mission results and dissemination to the public at large.
The establishment of an IMWG for each mission may take time—hence the recommendation to designate early on program management points of contact and a project structure that could be led by designated PIs or program scientists.
This is particularly urgent in the Space Station program. If NASA and its partners are committed to a scientific role for the Space Station, ISS program scientist positions should be established. Program scientists should have the responsibility for performance requirements compliance. The program scientists should also be responsible for interacting with the engineering community and the entire utilization community (national, international, and public) to coordinate how the program is defined and implemented. In addition, program scientists should be responsible for fostering relationships between the engineering community and the scientific community to build a broader integrated program community.
Likewise, program scientist positions should be continued and strengthened at the Space Station facility (instrument and experiment) level. There has been a tendency within Spacelab missions to design facilities too broad in their intent in order to accommodate a multitude of users. Also, at the facility level there have been instances where communication among scientists, developers, and managers across national and international lines was inadequate. The program scientists should be charged with ensuring the performance of facilities according to scientific objectives that do not become so generic that specific experiments are compromised. Moreover, the program scientists must build a community at the facility level.
Finding: The lessons learned show the importance of defining a protocol for reviewing the ongoing cooperative activities by independent bodies, to ensure that these endeavors are both timely and efficient and that the high-priority criterion for scientific research is still met.
The joint committee recommends that each international mission in the space-oriented sciences be assessed periodically for its scientific vitality, timeliness, and mission operations, if a significant delay in mission development or if mission descope is necessary because of funding difficulties or other factors. For each cooperative mission, the participating space agencies should appoint a separate International Mission Review Committee (IMRC) composed of distinguished peers in science and engineering to review the overall vitality and value of the mission. The IMRC should be independent from the IMWG and the mission PIs. After the prime mission phase, the extension of mission operations and funding allocations from participating agencies for mission operations and analysis phases should be assessed by the IMRC.
A prerequisite for good cooperative efforts between people is that they be recognized for their particular contributions, responsibilities, and roles (as noted also in the discussion in the section on management and implementation).
Finding: Experience shows that the roles and contributions of some partners in the success and results of a mission have not been sufficiently recognized or have been overlooked in publications and in the media.
The joint committee recommends that the participation of each partner in an international space-related mission be clearly acknowledged in the publications, reports, and public outreach of the mission.
Finding: Those missions with the smoothest cooperative efforts had project managers on both sides of the Atlantic with mutual respect for each other. Clear scientific leadership is important for all types of missions. PI-type missions such as the Active Magnetospheric Particle Tracer Explorer (AMPTE) gained from having dedicated PIs maintain fundamental objectives and ensure data quality and distribution throughout the project.
Finding: Having assessed several cases, the joint committee found that even the best and seemingly most
precise formulations of MOUs and other agreements may be subject to differences in understanding (especially in times of financial or political difficulties). This is because of cultural differences or lack of effective communication between key individuals.
Finding: Because of the observed intellectual distance among scientists, engineers, and managers, good communication among these team members is an important ingredient of successful and smooth international cooperation. These interface problems are more critical in international cooperation, because of the added barriers of culture, language, and agency procedures that can further impede effective communication.
The joint committee recommends that program and project scientists and program and project managers be selected who have (1) a strong commitment not only toward the recognized mission objectives, but also toward international cooperation, and (2) excellent interpersonal skills, since it is important that key leaders and managers seek practical means for minimizing friction in joint U.S.-European missions.
Guidelines And Procedures
Finding: The joint committee found that international cooperation has been hampered by nonessential administrative requirements, lack of timely information on both sides of the Atlantic, and changes in budget policies.
There are many examples in which the two partners in a transatlantic cooperation succeeded, having overcome the difficulties imposed by their different selection and funding sequences. In the SOHO case, for example, there were points in the cooperative processes where agencies on both sides responded quickly and effectively to handle hardware problems, schedule delays, launch difficulties, and other unforeseen challenges in order to bring the mission and the cooperative effort to fruition. Other cases were not successful, and the envisaged cooperation did not materialize.
The joint committee recommends that NASA, ESA, and other international partners review their own internal rules and processes (particularly those that influence international collaboration and cooperation) and seek changes that might foster and improve the opportunities for international cooperation. At a minimum, the agency partners should improve procedures so that the existing rules and processes can be more effectively explained to all participants. In particular, the necessary financial commitments should be provided on all sides, and contingencies should be agreed-upon. These commitments must be made more stable, especially on the U.S. side.
Finding: International cooperation may be hampered by national interests and issues involving political, economic, and trade policies that may extend well beyond the boundaries of the individual space agencies involved:
- Export-import difficulties may affect the exchange of technology or technical information critical to a joint mission opportunity;
- Data exchange policies and commercial interests may also impede access to scientific data on cooperative missions;
- Laws governing intellectual property rights may restrict information flow or lead to difficulties in bilateral or multilateral U.S.-European space cooperation; and
- Failings within the MOU process can create delays, losses of scientific opportunities, lost economic investments, and a decline in international goodwill, all of which can weaken the foundation for future cooperative activities.
In light of the importance of international cooperative activities in space and given the changing environment for cooperation, the joint committee recommends that the national and multinational space agencies
advise science ministers and advisers on the implications that particular national trade, export-import, data, and intellectual property policies may have on important cooperative space programs. As these types of problems on a particular mission arise, the agencies should encourage these ministers or advisers to bring such issues to the agenda of the next G-8 meeting.
Finding: To better phase the development of missions, the joint committee found that establishing milestone agreements in cooperative missions would be useful. The agreement between agencies (generally the MOU) is the key formal document defining the terms and scope of the cooperation. Often, the comprehensiveness and clarity of this agreement have contributed significantly to the success of international cooperation in each discipline. Conversely, some of the difficulties encountered in several case studies can be traced in part to inadequate specificity in the agreement, or to misunderstanding or differing perceptions as to the status or interpretation of the agreement and the level of commitment implied by it. The observation that bilateral agreements between NASA and individual national space agencies appear generally less problematic than those between NASA and ESA may reflect the fact that NASA is itself a national agency, whereas ESA is a multinational organization with necessarily different perspectives. NASA-ESA cooperation refers to larger, more expensive, and more complex missions than cooperative activities between NASA and European countries.
The joint committee believes that the interests of all parties are best served when agreements have maximum clarity and specificity as to the scope, expectations, and obligations of the respective agencies and relevant scientific participants. Given the inevitable mismatch between the procedures, practices, and budget cycles of NASA and ESA, in particular, the agreements must serve as essential interface control documents. Because the expectations and the level of commitment evolve as a mission is defined and developed, the need for written agreements also changes. Establishing clear agreements would be facilitated if NASA and ESA could agree in advance on a set of generic mission milestones with clear definitions and on template agreements that certify the passage of such milestones, the anticipated progress toward the next milestone, and the expectations and time line for achieving it.
The joint committee recommends that for cooperative missions in space-based science NASA and ESA establish a clearly defined hierarchy of template agreements keyed to mutually understood mission milestones and implementation agreements.
A suggested example of a set of template agreements is given in Table 4.1, which describes a progression, with the Letter of Mutual Interest, Letter of Mutual Intent, Study MOU, and Mission MOU corresponding roughly to the usual Pre-phase A, Phase A, Phase B, and Phase C/D of space science missions. Only a fraction of missions would be expected to proceed through the full cycle, and each agreement could clearly state the likelihood of proceeding to the next stage.
In light of the continuing scarcity of future resources, the volatility of the U.S. budget process, and the importance of trustworthy international agreements supporting cooperative efforts in space, the joint committee recommends that international budget lines be added to the three science offices within NASA to support important peer reviewed, moderate-scale international activities.3
Finding: The free and open exchange of data lies at the heart of international scientific cooperation.4 When it is missing (as in the case of NASA and ESA in the area of Earth science), significant scientific international cooperation is difficult, if not almost impossible.
TABLE 4.1 Hierarchy of Template Agreements for Cooperative Missions
Letter of Mutual Interest
Letter of Mutual Intent
Study Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Eventually, when necessary, appointment of an International Mission Review Committee (IMRC)
The joint committee recommends the following:
- NASA and European space agencies should make a commitment to free and open exchange of data for scientific research as a condition for international scientific cooperation after any proprietary period established for principal investigators;
- The scientific community, through their international organizations (e.g., ICSU, COSPAR), should openly and forcefully state their commitments to this concept and where there are difficulties; and
- U.S. and European space agencies should ensure that programs plan and reserve adequate resources for management and distribution of data and develop and implement strategies for long-term archiving of data from all space missions.
This report has highlighted the many and varied cooperations that have taken place between Europe and the United States. Many of these have been successful and have led to high-quality science and improved international understanding. However, the cooperative ventures have ranged from great success to complete failure.
Although there is no one way to carry out international missions that guarantees success, this study has identified common factors that should be used to maximize successful international cooperation.
Despite the long history of cooperation and clear lessons that can be learned from it, space agencies sometimes revert to practices that complicate international cooperation. For example, programs continue to be reviewed nationally, even on existing international cooperative endeavors, and international aspects are often underrepresented in such reviews.
The purpose of this report is to improve the strength and breadth of the foundation for international cooperation in space. Its value may be even more important in the future. Not only will resources continue to be scarce, but other, new tensions will arise as well. From the U.S. side, the declassification of Strategic Defense Initiative technologies and their use in small civilian satellites have generated a technological gap between the United States and Europe as far as miniaturization is concerned. The ''smaller, faster, cheaper" policy, and the resulting shorter time for responding to Announcements of Opportunity (AOs), may render cooperation with ESA and European countries more difficult, at least in terms of small satellites. Important pathfinding missions, perhaps within an international budget line, could be particularly valuable in the future. More generally, agencies should consider the international dimension in the selection of small as well as large missions to ensure complementarity in international efforts.
From the European side, following the difficulties encountered during ISPM and the Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby (CRAF) program,5 "the scientists recommend European self-sufficiency in respect to these cornerstone missions of Horizon 2000 Plus. While being open to participation by other agencies, their execution should not depend on decisions taken elsewhere."6 Such a recommendation may well mean that the likelihood of joint U.S.-European missions has been diminished for important cornerstone missions. Furthermore, the structure and financial time line of the mandatory program in space sciences results in a certain rigidity that makes it more difficult to match time frames on both sides of the ocean. Thus, the possibility of international cooperation between ESA and the United States on medium-size missions is reduced.
In addition, global political and economic environments are changing the face of international cooperation and will continue to do so. Among these factors are the following:
- New types of space cooperative efforts with Russia;
- Fundamental changes in the rationale for funding space research in the United States and Europe, and corresponding reductions in funding on both sides of the Atlantic;
- Establishment of new policies for space research activities in the United States and Europe;
- Increasing emphasis on the applications of space research having commercial and/or industrial returns, particularly in Earth observation;
- Increasing use of networks, such as the Internet, which imply the establishment of new data policies that take into account scientific and technical needs;
- The appearance of new European actors in the space arena, namely the European Union, the European Parliament, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites; and
- The establishment at the beginning of the next millennium of a new facility, the Space Station, which is likely to have an impact (either directly or indirectly) on the nature of international cooperation across the space science disciplines.
In this context, the lessons learned clearly show that there are no successful international cooperative efforts without the will for and interest in such cooperation being strongly shared among the scientific communities, programmatic entities (space agencies and/or scientific organizations), and engineering or technical bodies that design and build the missions. However, the analysis of international cooperation also shows that the will to cooperate can be hampered by excessive national pride, competition (rather than cooperation), and the need to
support national industries. In fact, underlying the natural desire that much of the scientific community feels toward cooperative ventures are fundamental questions:
- Why cooperate while having to defend national industrial policy?
- Is international cooperation the best way to carry out space research or develop specific space experiments?
- What is the balance among cost savings, scientific return, and benefits from the cooperative effort, compared with national priorities, freedom of programming, national independence, national pride, and preservation of employment?
Analysis of past experiences has shown that the answers to these questions have a strong impact on international cooperative activities and that the will of politicians to foster such cooperation is essential. In fact, the interest and value of cooperative endeavors should be measured in cost savings or programmatic constraints as well as in terms of the international benefit for the partners, the gain in science and engineering achievements, and the political benefits. There should be recognition at all levels and in all spheres that international cooperation (as represented by the programs agreed on) is good and necessary in its own right. These potential benefits accrue not only from a purely scientific point of view but also in independent cost savings, with each partner being stimulated and benefiting from the skill and experience of the best scientists (whatever their nationality) and obtaining the best scientific results from the funds invested.
If the interest and the will of governments is essential to the success of international cooperation, it is a necessity often missing in practice. When there are problems in other areas (resulting in cost overruns, for example) political support becomes essential if international cooperation is to succeed. When such governmental support does not exist, politicians may feel free to modify (deliberately or otherwise) the conditions under which a project operates, and international cooperation could be jeopardized.
Finally, political will is especially important in this age of geopolitical, economic, and agency flux. This post-Cold War era, unlike the earlier periods reviewed in Chapter 2, makes it more difficult for nations to identify space as part of a few, broad national goals and necessitates even greater attention to the overarching principles laid out above. If steps toward improved procedures and communications are set in place now, they can be a catalyst for maximizing the scientific, economic, and programmatic success of cooperative activities for decades to come.
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