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responsibility is seen as not being a great burden on NASA.

While we agree that NASA's technical and administrative

capabilities in the area of operating experimental and scientific satellites are formidable, we question whether NASA possesses the necessary marketing and service develop

ment capabilities to best ensure the overall success of an

operational ERIS.

The discussion contained in the reports focuses

primarily on the technical and administrative qualifications

necessary to operate the space segment of an ERIS.

Such

technical and administrative qualifications also exist within the private sector, but the private sector possesses a further

qualification which we believe is of critical importance to

the success of ERIS and which NASA does not possess.

We

believe the private sector would contributo a capability

not only to operate a system, but also to better assess

actual user requirements, develop services to meet needs, and incorporate sensing systems which satisfy those needs.

This is a much more sophisticated and complex subject than

is generally recognized and we believe the successful imple

mentation of an ERIS will require substantial efforts in

these areas.

Private sector capabilities, which focus on

market demands, tailoring of services, development of new services and operational economies are best suited to perform

such functions.

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The assignment of responsibility suggested for

the data handling segment assumes that such responsibility

should be "centralized" and that it should be performed

by the Department of Interior's EROS Center.

While it is

recognized that other Government departments and agencies should be able to access the satellites directly and obtain

raw data, apparently no such similar opportunity would be

provided to private sector interests.

In other words, the

EROS Center will be the sole channel through which most of

the world other than the U. S. Government will obtain data.

Since ERIS may incorporate data sources other than the
Landsat class of satellites, the function of the EROS

center will increase significantly.

We question whether

this is the most efficient manner in which to ensure that

data products and services are delivered to users in a

timely manner and in a format in which they desire.

Rather than assuming that efficiencies will result

from the Government being the sole source of raw data and

basic data products, we believe alternative concepts should

at least be considered. Given the existing capabilities in the private sector to provide data processing and distribution services, a more desirable policy would appear to be

to provide greater encouragement to private entities to

market the products of the system, and to develop and offer

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new and imovative services rather than precluding the offering by private entities of earth resources services

to end users.

Should the system be put on a "pay as you go" basis and what should the pricing policy be?

We agree that valuable ERIS data should not be

given away and that it is not being given away at the present

time.

However, relative to the costs of the Landsat

programs, it is almost being given away. Recognizing that someone must always "pay the piper," we believe an overall

objective should be to transfer the cost burden of ERIS

from the taxpayer to the user at the earliest practical time. However, since the Government is a major user of

data, the taxpayer would always bear some portion of the total system cost even if operational responsibility for an ERIS is transferred to the private sector.

Contrary to the statement in the report, we believe

it premature to conclude that the possibility does not exist

in the near term to recover an investment in ERIS.

Perhaps

such statement is true if only Landsat type systems are

considered and only revenues from non-governmental sources

are considered.

However, more economical systems than

Landsat can be envisioned and since the Government is a

major user of data, the value of such data to the Government

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also must be taken into account.

Thus, by using more cost

effective technology which also satisfies the requirements

of a larger user community, by designing low-cost systems,

by selling services to the Government, and by aggressive

market development, we believe that a private sector ERIS

with a reasonable assurance of an adequate return on invest

ment can be achieved.

1/24/78

THE LAST EMPIRE ?

by

Carleton S. Coon.

As Harry Stine is fond of quoting from one of my books, increases in the use of energy drawn from outside the human body automatically produce corresponding increases in the complexity of human institutions manufacturing, commercial, political, religious, and associational, as

with unions.

This growth also tends to homogenize the

ways of life of the peoples of the world, brewing trouble.

If space platforms to mine the moon and asteroids succeed, we will put ourselves in a position like those of Cyrus, Alexander, Augustus, and other emperors of the an

cient world.

Have we the will or the means to accept such power?
Will rival nations let us do this without a fight?

If our space factories are to succeed. our first requirements are a rigid selection of personnel and utter discipline.

Can we, with our polyglot and polychrome society, hit

the mark?

Let us not forget, men are more vital than

the machines they fabricate.

If this new age shall come to pass, let us not step

into it as if it were a Children's Crusade,

Coulton sooon

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