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(1) Typical university space-science centers are small. a result, they do not have the depth of personnel and financial resources commanded by NASA centers which can be redirected to
solve problems likely to arise in all hardware/development programs.
(2) Unlike NASA centers and industrial firms, universities
are not allowed to recover the costs of preparing proposals and
bids for NASA contracts.
As a result, the substantial costs of
such efforts have to be borne out of very limited internal funds.
(3) At universities, charges for laboratory test equipment, space rental, and support personnel appear as a direct charge to the project. This inflates the cost of a project in comparison with the situation at a NASA center, where these items are supplied
by the Government under a separate budget line covering the NASA centers. As a result, the universities operate at a competitive
For these reasons, NASA management is faced with an increasingly
difficult choice in the future funding of space-science missions: how to maintain and expand support to the university community,
which has produced most of the best space-science ideas in the
past, when NASA centers have greater depth of resources,
more attractive proposals, and appear to be less expensive.
I can offer no easy solution to this problem. However, I
can suggest some possible remedies for the consideration of this
(1) Affirm again that one of NASA's goals in pursuit of its
charter is "the expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the
atmosphere and space," and therefore that NASA should reaffirm
its commitment to foster space research and education about space
at leading universities.
(2) Strongly encourage NASA to implement methods for funding
proposal preparation at universities.
(3) Strongly encourage NASA to use realistic costing methods, based on the total cost of a project to the Government, in comparing the costs of doing projects at centers or at universities. This would place the universities in a fair competitive position for NASA space-science contracts.
The development of a strong national space policy
One of the most important problems facing our nation today is the management of our energy resources to meet our immediate needs and the development of viable alternate energy sources for the future.
A combination of fuel conservation and the stretchout of conventional power technologies (oil, gas, coal and nuclear fission) offer promise for near term solutions. The approach for meet ing long term energy needs can best be established by vigorous development of fission breeder reactors, nuclear fusion reactors and solar power technology.
Major economic, technical and environmental challenges must be overcome to make any of these systems a practical reality. It seems appropriate to plan and undertake carefully designed demonstrations of critical assumptions.
The Honorable olin E. Teague :
I believe that it is important to carry each of these options forward in a concurrent manner so that their relative merits and development timetables can be more clearly understood. Appropriate commitment to full scale development of the best system or systems can be made with greater confidence using this method of simultaneous support for both hard and soft energy technologies.
Grumman Aerospace Corporation has been studying the Solar Power Satellite system for the past several years. Our early study results, which we reported to you and your Committee in 1972, have been validated in our continued efforts. Such a system is technically possible and potentially economically viable although experimental data are urgently needed to establish confidence in any cost appraisal. Recent studies by ERDA, NASA and other aerospace companies have reinforced our conclusions. We believe that the next step in the development of the Solar Power Satellite is to demonstrate that each technical and economic assumption in these studies is valid.
I have enclosed a plan which describes a Power Technology Module which we recommend as the next step in the long range plan to make space solar power a practical reality. The Power Technology Module would convert the sun's energy into electrical power by means of solar arrays of advanced design, condition and store this power in batteries, and then use the power to perform SPS technology experiments. The PTM system development can be carried out within realistic budget considerations and could be operational by 1984.
During construction and assembly of the Power Technology Module, valuable lessons could be learned which could have direct application to the later development of a long term permanent Solar Power Satellite. At the conclusion of the SPS experimental work, the Power Technology Module could also serve usefully by furnishing
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The Honorable Olin E. Teague :
additional power for a variety of missions us ing the space shuttle in extended earth orbit operations. The module could be compatible with the advanced Spacelab module under consideration in Europe and provide a basis for continued cooperative international missions.
I believe that this program should be a key element in our national space program and that NASA should be named the lead agency to carry it forward.