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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 the national Research Council' current Stimulated by concerns expressed by


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 which pushes current technology to

testing of this engine
its limits

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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.

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During the last two years the principal activity of the Space Science Board's
committees has been the preparation of strategic documents for review and
adoption by the Board.

As a brief progress statement, we note that our report on space plasma physics
is completed and under Academy review. During the next few months we shall
begin the development of a science strategy for space plasma physics based upon
the study just completed. We are presently beginning review of the report on
a strategy for exploration of the inner solar system. Advice on planetary
quarantine is contained in a special report of the Board about to begin Academy
review. Also in preparation is the report of our summer study on space biology
and medicine. We are continuing work on the completion of the strategy in
space astronomy and astrophysics. A study will be initiated of the major
scientific goals to be achieved by the investigations of comets and asteroids.
A new effort has been initiated to assess the scientific content of activities
in terrestrial and space applications. In this regard, the SSB has identified
the understanding of the global aspects of the earth sciences as an integral
part of space research. To advise NASA in this matter, the Board has
established a Committee on Earth Sciences to define and prioritize various
studies which have been carried out within the National Research Council.

The following subjects are of particular concern to the Board at the present time, as they bear upon the future viability of our present strategic studies:


Space Telescope and Jupiter Orbiter Probe

The Board is keenly aware that in the approval of ST and JOP substantial
progress was made in achieving some of the goals for space astronomy and
planetary exploration. The ST should initiate a major step in the new
astronomical revolution resulting from earth orbital observations. This
facility will require a proper management plan to permit optimum utilization
by the general scientific community. The National Academy of Sciences has
made recommendations to NASA for such management in its report
Institutional Arrangements for the Space Telescope. The JOP mission, with
proper concern for scientific priorities, should provide us with the
composition, structure, and environment of the largest planet in the solar
system. This mission is one of the components in the strategy for

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 organizations

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Dr. Philip Handler 12 January 1978


exploration of the inner and outer solar system. The Board has a
responsibility to assess whether the key scientific objectives of
these missions will be attained. Consequently, we wish to emphasize
the importance of placing instruments on these spacecraft designed to
obtain critical measurements with the precision required by the
scientific objectives.

Transportation Capabilities

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 solar-
electric-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, recommend 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 recommended 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 SRT 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.

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

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Dr. Philip Handler

12 January 1978

is becoming increasingly dependent on the acquisition of such measurements,
and we emphasize once again the timely nature of such a mission.

The new phenomena presently under investigation in high energy astrophysics
have a revolutionary impact on the entire field of astronomy, so that the
continued capability to study these phenomena has a very high priority for
future initiatives. The present series of High Energy Astronomy Observatory
(HEAO) spacecraft, just beginning their observational programs with the
launch of HEAO-1, provide new observational capabilities of greater
sensitivity and angular resolution. These spacecraft have design constraints
which severely limit their useful observing lifetimes. The Board recommends
that NASA take reasonable measures to extend the useful operating lifetimes
of these spacecraft, since the United States will enter a period without
x-ray and gamma-ray observational capabilities after these lifetimes have
terminated. It will be important to plan for an early launch of post-HEAO
instrumentation of enhanced capability.

The Board is pleased to note that the approval of the major elements of the
FY 78 Office of Space Science budget has checked the negative funding trend
in planetary and lunar exploration. With the approval of the JOP mission,
a lengthy absence of new starts has ended, and we earnestly hope that it
marks the beginning of a positive outlook for the planetary exploration
program. We have no doubt that the goals and objectives of planetary
exploration will lead to major advances in our knowledge of the solar system
over the next decade and strongly believe, therefore, that the program should
receive continued, consistent funding, in consonance with a continuing
national commitment in this area.

Global measurement of the physical and chemical character of the inner
planets Mars, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon are of high general scientific
importance and are basic to any program of planetological studies. The
Board considers, however, that the planets Earth, Mars, and Venus constitute
a triad which should receive the major focus in exploration of the inner
solar system for the next decade. The comparative planetology of these
terrestrial bodies with atmospheres is a key to understanding the formation
of the Earth, its atmosphere and the physical and chemical conditions which
led to the origin and evolution of life. The atmosphere-free terrestrial
bodies, Mercury and the Moon, are complementary bodies of high scientific
interest. The identification and selection of science objectives for future
Mars exploration is now being completed by the Board utilizing the achieve-
ments of the Viking mission. A strategy for Venusian exploration is under
development based on the known results of Venera 9 and 10 and Mariner 10 and
the anticipated results from Pioneer Venus. Substantial efforts have been
undertaken to identify the areas in which the U.S. and USSR planetary
exploration programs might be mutually supportive and ultimately coordinative
or cooperative.

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I would now like to turn to a fundamental issue about which the Board is deeply concerned. We refer to the continued absence of any statement of intent which provides substantial goals for long range U.S. space activities.

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Dr. Philip Handler

12 January 1978

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.

Yours sincerely,

A. G.W. Camern

A.G.W. Cameron


Space Science Board

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