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One of the more important keys to the prolonged presence of mankind
in space is related to health considerations.
If the net effect upon
health of living in space is clearly expected to be positive, however
small it may be, then there might be no visible upper limit to the number
of eventual space residents.
But if the net effect upon health is even
slightly negative, then the number of people residing in space is apt to
remain close to the minimum number required for the commercial and explor
Health aspects of space will have physical, mental,
emotional components all of which are likely to come under increasing
scrutiny for the next several decades, at least.
The outcome of these
investigations will lead to future determinations or assessments of
whether the net effects are, might be, or could become positive.
Our study convinced us that the prospects for rapid commercial
industrial developments in space will be determined more by domestic
politics, social ideologies, and international cooperation than those of
technical or economic feasibility.
These last appear almost certain to
promote prolonged growth in space ventures.
However, new space vehicles,
space science, space exploration, space law, multi-national space ventures,
and procedures for the removal of space debris all will require a reason
able degree of national commitment and international cooperation among
nations with space programs.
Also, the long-term effects of military
activities which facilitate space technology on one hand, could threaten
the viability of some peaceful space developments on the other. The
resolution of these issues over time, or the lack thereof, will have
strong influences on the unfolding future in space.
Finally, the rapid colonization of the space frontier, once this
possibility becomes technologically and economically feasible, might be
limited by the ability of space residents to develop acceptable social
dynamics, as well as sustainable political forms and institutions, within
and among the colonies.
Although in the early years of their formation
such colonies will undoubtedly be under direct control of institutions
on earth, such connections appear likely to diminish in importance over
time, leading eventually to "independent" colonies.
The potential for
favorable socio-political developments under such circumstances and their
long-term viability is inherently uncertain. Possibly, they can only be
"studied" by a scenario approach at this time.
That is, a space-scenario
writer can be about as optimistic or pessimistic as he chooses.
Our study, after examining the more important factors of Table 1, and after setting forth some of the relevant elements of the earth
centered context out of which space futures must spring, develops three
more or less detailed 200-year scenarios expressing relatively optimistic,
moderate, and pessimistic developments.
A somewhat unexpected outcome
was that the optimistic scenario "demanded" that nearly everyone on earth
and in space should soon become healthy, wealthy, and wise--partly because
of the assumption : of a steady but not unduly spectacular growth over time.
However, even in the pessimistic scenario, the annual worldwide effort in
space after 200 years was hard to restrain to as "little'' as $1 trillion
(1976 dollars). This is roughly 100 times greater than the world's
current total space budget and would, at the very least, be 1000 times
greater in effectiveness because of projected lowered transport costs
and other improvements in technology.
Thus, the future of space development from a long term perspective
appears to lie somewhere between spectacular and miraculous.
over the near term will be determined by our current attitudes as expressed
through the allocated funds.
5001 Kearny Villa Road P.O. Box 80847, San Diego, CA 92138 714-277-8900
DR. L. F. BUCHANAN
General Dynamics Corporation
27 January 1978
The Honorable Olin E. Teague
Chairman, Committee on Science and Technology
Congress of the United States
2311 Rayburn House Office Building
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Thank you for inviting General Dynamics to present a statement about national space programs. Since the Corporate Space activities are centralized in the Convair Division, Mr. Lewis has asked me to reply.
The next few years will provide unprecedented opportunities for the
This opportunity has also been recognized by others, as evidenced by
I believe it is important that modest funding be provided during the immediate future so as to be prepared for full development and deployment of such a power module when the space shuttle becomes operational.
27 January 1978 Page Two
The Honorable Olin E. Teague
Time is needed for the technical community to complete these conceptual definitization studies. This time is available if modestly funded efforts are initiated now and sustained over the next four to five years. This is compatible with the heavy effort required for initial deployment of the basic Space Transportation System in the near future. The resulting system would then be developed and deployed in an evolutionary and prudent manner, compatible with other national needs and priorities.
Dr. L. F. Buchanan
PLANNING FOR FUTURE SPACE PROGRAMS
General Dynamics has participated in the nation's space program since its beginnings. We are deeply interested in the plans for the future and trust that the following will help to affirm and accomplish these plans.
The next few years will provide unprecedented opportunities for the United States to use space to satisfy broad civilian and military needs. The pioneering phase of space utilization is over; the usefulness of space has been demonstrated in terms of very tangible benefits. Our activities in space have resulted in significant advancements in communications, weather forecasting, medical science, crop prediction, and mineral survey, to name but a few in the civil sector. The enormous contribution to defense needs no amplification.
The proper direction for future activities seems clear: NASA's earlier development of communications satellites has set the pattern for evolving space applications to the point where commercial investment can follow. With the advent of the Space Shuttle, we have a similar opportunity to develop a capability in space to serve an even broader spectrum of our society. With a very modest initial investment, a service center can be developed that will significantly expand the utility and economy of the Space Shuttle.
The principal guiding criteria for future space programs must center around their benefits, an economic justification, and public acceptance. Improved communications at low cost, information for better planning and forecasting of earth-based operations, disaster warnings to avert human misery, new products for use on earth, and security from man's own misadventures are clearly benefits. But there are also benefits in scientific investigations that advance the frontiers of knowledge. They too have a place in the space programs of the future. For example, we need to know more about the sun and how it affects the earth's environment. The ability to forecast cyclical climatological behavior is of enormous social and economic significance. Lunar and planetary explorations provide basic scientific data fundamental to the advancement of knowledge and help satisfy our cultural imperative to explore and understand the unknown.