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As recently as a dozen years ago, stars except for novae and supernovae
The prime criteria for future space programs should be for the benefit of all mankind, but we need to assume that it is, in fact, all rather than any arbitrary subgroup.
Our next unifying goal should be to open up the entire solar system for mankind's use and benefit. This would be a relatively permanent goal providing a framework for many mission trade-offs.
Development work should be expanded in areas that make this goal more readily realizable: propulsion, large space structures, solar power in space.
The use of the remaining stellar universe as a source of basic scientific information should continue to be pursued with whatever space observations and detectors are useful to this effort.
David S. Johnson is the Director of the National Environmental
Mr. Johnson was born in Porterville, California, June 29, 1924. He attended the University of California, Reed College, Harvard and UCLA, receiving an AB in 1948 and MA in 1949, both in meteorology, from UCLA. He served in the Army Air Corps 1943-46. He was a research meteorologist at UCLA 1947-52, and an associate meteorologist with the Pineapple Research Institute in Hawaii 1952-56.
He is a fellow and past-president of the American Meteorological
He has received the Department of Commerce's Gold Medal Award for
Future Space Programs
This nation's environmental satellite system, operated by the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has progressed a long
way since its beginning in the early 1960's.
Spacecraft now operating
and on order will provide service until at least 1985 to weather fore
casting, marine activities, hydrology, solar disturbance monitoring,
and related activities.
NOAA is dependent on NASA's research and de
velopment program, such as SEASAT, Nimbus and ERBSS, for new technology
to improve NOAA's operational system and services.
Improved satellite monitoring of the ocean surface could help support
a wide variety of marine activities; to detect climate change and man's effect
on the environment; of the earth's surface in support of agriculture,
water management and flood forecasting; and atmospheric structure on a
short time and space scale for improved forecasting of severe storms.
These and other technological advances are in the offing which
should have broad utility to our society.
However, improvements are
needed in the process of going from initial space test to full operational
Future Space Programs
Committee on Science and Technology
U.S. House of Representatives
January 23, 1978
For use in connection with hearings being held by the Committee on
Science and Technology on future space programs, I am pleased to have
the opportunity to provide this paper setting forth some of my thoughts
on this subject.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the
Department of Commerce is the only civilian agency of the Federal Govern
ment with an operational satellite program.
Our involvement goes back almost to the beginning of the space age,
and I have been privileged to be associated with this program since its
Following the launch of the first Sputnik in October 1957, the first
TIROS weather satellite was developed and successfully launched on April 1,
Because of the outstanding success of TIROS in observing the world's
weather, President Kennedy, in his special message delivered before a joint
session of Congress on May 25, 1961, asked Congress to provide funds for
the Weather Bureau (now embraced by NOAA) to initiate a national operational
satellite system for worldwide weather observations.
With the creation of the Environmental Science Services Administration in 1965, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, the meteorological satellite system has expanded to an operational environmental satellite system. It now provides support to various marine, hydrologic and solar monitoring activities of NOAA and other agencies, in addition to weather warning and forecasting.
In addition, we provide instantaneous earth images with 4 km resolution
to weather forecasters around the world via a service called Automatic Pic
ture Transmission (APT. Several times each day, anywhere in the world, a relatively simple, inexpensive receiving station can be used to obtain images directly from the satellite as it passes overhead, covering an area in excess of 3 million square kilometers surrounding the station. This popular service is used by more then 500 observing stations operating in over 70 countries around the globe. It is especially valuable in developing countries and in isolated locations where conventional weather observations are sparse. Visible and infrared images of 1 km resolution also are broadcast throughout the world from the NOAA satellites. Because of the higher resolution, the ground stations cost an order of magnitude more than those for APT, but the frequency and quality of the images have wider applicability to hydrology, marine activities and agriculture, as well as weather fore
What of the future? The NOAA program got its start right after the launch of the first sputnik when this country was pressing to be first in space. The country was challenged. Our citizens supported the goal of placing a man on the moon, and the environmental satellite program flourished in parallel. We got to the moon; we are, apparently, first in space.