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Fabrication in space of materials for use on earth currently
shows little prospect of realization.
Finally, it seems appropriate to apprise you of one other
current undertaking at
Senators Stevenson and Schmitt and at the express request of the Administrator, we have assembled a blue ribbon committee which, even now, is examining the status of the Shuttle engine. It is my understanding that progress in the development and testing of this engine which pushes current technology to Imost its limits
is now paced by the performance of its liquid hydrogen pump which has exhibited some difficulties.
immediate principal purpose of our committee is to ascertain whether, in their view, these difficulties are of the sort that are encountered and resolved during the course of the
development of every major new technology, or whether they are mone
reflect some problem so profound as to be likely to necessitate some as yet unplanned special development program or to occasion significant delay in the date of the first full powered flight
of the Shuttle. Their report is expected in a few weeks. Mr. Chairman, it has been a high privilege to appear
before you today. Thank you, sir.
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
na Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 16
SPACE SCIENCE BOARD
12 January 1978
Dr. Philip Handler
The Board is keenly aware that in the approval of ST and JOP substantial
The National Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering
to serve government and other organisations
exploration of the inner and outer solar system. The Board has a
We are fully aware that the launch capability required for missions to fulfill the scientific strategy is almost totally dependent on the availability of the Shuttle and that development delays and cost overruns can have a serious effect on space science missions. In the case of planetary exploration missions this dependency includes the Interim Upper Stage as well as the Shuttle. Significant delays in Shuttle/IUS development or inability to achieve the capabilities required for deep space exploration can have a serious and adverse effect on those missions constrained to narrow, infrequent launch opportunities. Some scientific objectives will require a propulsion capability which is larger than the maximum to be provided by the IUS. We understand that a decision to develop a solarelectric-propulsion system to fill this requirement is under consideration. On the basis of the strategy for the period 1977-1986 and the expected levels of investigation for the following period 1986-1990, the launch capabilities required to carry out these investigations should be anticipated. We, therefore, recormend that a policy be adopted which places the overall planning and development of launch capabilities for unmanned exploration in a 10-20 years perspective and which focuses on
requirements for long-range objectives. 3. Supporting Research and Technology
We believe that high priority should be given to funding for instrument concepts and development. The previous lack of conceptual and breadboard instrument development in a timely manner has caused serious difficulties in the space science program. The SSB has strongly reconmended an increase in supporting research and technology funding for a number of years. Regrettably, support to strengthen this area has regularly been denied due to programmatic funding difficulties. We recommend that the agency redirect and give perspective to this matter, both within the area of SẮT and in the sense of mission definition, so that the development of instrumentation anticipates and adequately prepares the agency to achieve the science objectives described in the strategy. Unless there is a concerted effort to rectify this matter, the new approaches needed to achieve new objectives
will be missing and most of the program will be undermined. 4. Space Science Programs
There is one important observational area in which space plasma physics and solar physics require fundamental information. A variety of theoretical conjectures concern the emission of plasma and radiation over the poles of the Sun. This outpouring is an integral part of solar activity and is known now to influence some of the activity in the plane of the ecliptic where the Earth resides. For several years reports of the Space Science Board have emphasized the need to obtain particles and fields measurements out of the plane of the ecliptic. The further development of the subject
is becoming increasingly dependent on the acquisition of such measurements,
We recognize that the development of long range goals in any national activity must be preceded by extensive discussion and consultations among all the interested parties: the urgency for establishing such goals in space science at whatever fund level results from the long preparation time needed for these missions. The Board has operated on the premise that the conduct of space research was a fundamental requirement in the enabling legislation of the Space Act and that long-range, balanced planning is required to maximize the return on and give guidance to science investigations, to focus the national industrial, technical, and scientific competence, and to make best use of the resources available. Clearly, the current national priorities dictate that space science planning must be conservative. I believe this Board has been responsible in recognizing these fiscal realities, and that the strategies it has developed reflect the need for economies. I am obliged to note as a consequence, however, that these strategies, while designed to maintain an orderly, vigorous program, also represent a minimum activity level, below which program coherency is highly doubtful. In the absence of a substantial commitment to agreed goals, the space science strategy and programs are especially vulnerable to the stress of annual budgetary cycles. Such strategies, however, can only be fulfilled by new flight mission initiatives which can consume substantial portions of a decade. We emphasize, therefore, that science strategies and mission planning are complementary efforts whose ultimate success and purpose is now linked to an urgency for action. We are not hopeful that a coherent program can survive without a national, long-term commitment, and we believe the losses to science would be substantial and of national proportions. Up to the present time, there has been no clear statement of intent from NASA or the current administration giving their views on the significance of the space program and their assessment of the relative priorities of space science within the total program. We fully recognize that other national priorities may have taken precedence and for this period may preclude such a statement. Continued absence of such a statement of intent will lead in all likelihood to a minimal program that does not lend itself to broad guidance and planning. In such an event the present long-range strategic Planning being carried out by the Board would lose its effectiveness, and we would have to reassess our methods of operation in order to provide
useful advice. It would be very helpful if you would transmit these concerns of the Space Science Board to the appropriate executive and legislative bodies.