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I expect continued, steady progress in improving the application
of space technology to Earth environmental observations.
development programs are vital precursors to future improvements in
NOAA's operational systems.
In the past, NASA's TIROS and Nimbus satellites led to our current
series of NOAA satellites in polar orbit.
NASA will soon launch TIROS-N,
the prototype of our third generation operational satellite in polar
In a similar manner, NASA's Applications Technology Satellites
(ATS) and Synchronous Meteorological Satellites (SMS) were the pre
cursors of NOAA's current Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellites (GOES) operating over the equator at 75°W and 135°W longitude,
providing continuous coverage of the Western Hemisphere.
The TIROS-N and GOES series of operational satellites now on order
are expected to provide continuous coverage until at least 1985.
ments to be introduced at that time will be based on the results of NASA
research and development programs, and the outcome of program priority
evaluation in light of incremental costs versus probable value to the
The results of this process are more difficult to forecast than
However, I think the technology is emerging, and a
need exists, for important new satellite monitoring of:
The ocean surface in support of a rapidly growing variety of
Ocean dumping, deep water ports, petroleum
and mineral extraction, fishing, transportation, defense.
launches in 1978 of SEASAT-A, the first all microwave sensing
satellite devoted to ocean observations, and Nimbus G will be
important milestones in developing this capability.
The ocean and atmosphere to detect changes in the climate and
the effects of man's activities.
Nimbus G and the Earth
Radiation Budget Satellite System, as well as the NOAA
operational satellites, are important here.
The earth's surface (e.g. soil moisture and temperature,
radiation fluxes, rainfall and snow mount) for use in agri
culture, water management, flood forecasting and climate
Atmospheric structure on a short time and space scale to improve
forecasting of severe storms (e.g., thunderstorms, hail,
NASA is developing an atmospheric sounder which
will fly on one of NOAA'S GOES satellites about 1980 to demon
strate this capability for the first time.
In many cases, these new developments can be incorporated in the
NOAA operational satellite system in an evolutionary way.
This is the
case where the technological perturbation is relatively small and low
in cost and the value to the nation is defined adequately.
other cases additional, new spacecraft may be required.
Here it may be
difficult to demonstrate the incremental value without a new phase of
activity which I call "operational demonstration".
After the initial development and test of extensive and complex new
technical capability, the operational utility may be promising but not
adequately developed and demonstrated.
Experience has shown that unless
the user community can be identified clearly and be fully involved at
this state, future progress in applying the technology will be very slow. with the fully operational phase.
If one or a few Federal user agencies can be identified for a given
applications area (e.g., NOAA for oceans and atmosphere), they can work
with NASA in formulating and conducting the operational demonstration.
NASA would be concerned primarily with the space segment and the user
agencies with the ground segment; each agency should fund its part of
the joint program.
To be successful, the operational demonstration phase must be con
figured and maintained just as though it was fully operational, including
all phases through to service to the end-users.
That is why it is
essential to have the total involvement of key user agencies in the
The period of the operational demonstration must be long enough to
"work out the bugs", establish the routine use of products in the user
community, provide for evaluation of utility, and reach a governmental
decision to continue, modify or terminate the new capability. Experience
indicates that the minimum time period would be five years, where the
user interfaces are well established and simple.
The decision point must
be early enough in the operational demonstration that the transition to
full operational status can be made without interruption.
The NOAA-NASA procedure, wherein NASA serves as NOAA's "prime
contractor" for operational spacecraft and launchings in accordance with
system specifications provided by NOAA and NOAA operates the total system,
may be a useful example to follow when it is finally decided to proceed
At this stage, the key user agency
provides funds to NASA for the operational spacecraft and launching.
In summary, there are many technological advances in the offing
which should have broad utility to our society.
are needed in the process of going from initial space test through to
full. operational implementation.
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Howard G. Kurtz, President
War Control Planners, Inc
Chairman Olin E. Teague
For a very few more years the United States will have a dominant world
As the Congress now clarifies, or refuses to clarify, U.S. long range
In response to your invitation, I submit for pro and con and creative discussion just a few highlights from more than twenty years study, work, observation, writing and editing in the field of the ever-expanding Kremlin/White House science and technology and strategic power race, working jointly with my wife Harriet until her death on June 17,1977.
Discussion is invited under the following headings: