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The future of the United States space program appears to
consist of three separate but allied and sequential activities :
(a) scientific exploration, (b) commercial utilization, and (c) human habitation of space.
The first activity, scientific exploration, has been
under way since the end of World War II when the first large
ballistic rocket vehicles became available for launching
scientific payloads beyond the atmosphere. It has progressed and grown enormously since that time. It has contributed in
uncountable ways to our life style, to our culture, to our world view, and to our storehouse of knowledge about ourselves
and our universe. It should and must continue in the future
because the information it produces stocks the cupboards of
knowledge so that information is available for the second activity: commercial utilization,
Commercial utilization or space industrialization is the
second activity. It may be defined as the commercial, profit
making use of the unique advantages of earth-orbital space for providing services and products for customers on earth. In due course of time, this definition will have to be broadened.
Space industrialization amounts to the Third Industrial
Human habitation, space settlement, and space colonization
is the third activity. It cannot be expected to take place on
a large scale until space industrialization is established to the level that would justify the presence of large numbers
of human beings to conduct and support the off-planet
activities of space industrialization. Although we will
probably see human beings living in space for extended
periods of time beginning in the 1980 decade, such limited
habitation could not be considered as full-blown human
habitation of space...but it will be a precursor in the
evolution of the human presence in the Solar System.
Having laid a foundation based upon
definitions, let us look at what these three activities
Space exploration is not the entire space program now or in the future. Scientific exploration and experimentation
are not the reasons for having a space program or for doing
things in space to the exclusion of everything else. A Congress
responsive to the electorate will not be able to justify a
large space program based solely upon the pursuit of scientific
knowledge. I am personally in favor of doing all the space
science that we can afford, including some that may stretch our resources because of unique opportunities such as infrequent come tary passages. I would like to see more space exploration.
I venture to suggest that a great deal more space science can
be done while riding the coattails of the commercial utilization
of space. Historically, a great deal more science 18 done today
through industrial grants, contract research, and industrial research laboratories than was done before scientists made their historic and tacit arrangement with industrialists a
Space industrialization is not many things, too. It is not a program or a specific activity. It is not new and it
1s not some thing that is fifteen to twenty-five years away in
the future. It is not a space station or large space structures.
And it is not space colonization. It is government and industry working together for profit, for tax revenues, and for pragmatic benefit in utilizing this whole new ecological niche that we
have discovered and will quickly occupy: space.
Space colonization is not the next step in space. It is
not the justification for space industrialization. It may not
even take place in this century, but it will take place. It will not cost us billions of dollars in a lump sum or even in
a series of payments stretched out over twenty years. It will be the logical, evolutionary growth of space industrialization, some thing that cannot take place until space industrialization
18 an economic success... . Just as space industrialization could
not occur until space exploration was a scientific and technical success. Space colonization is an attractive long-term goal. But, in the meantime, there 18 something else that we must do
In the next ten to fifteen years, therefore, the space
program must consist of two elements: (1) space exploration,
Space Industrialization Isn't New
I need not review in detail our accomplishments in space. In general, we have to date explored near-earth space; mapped, surveyed, and sampled the Moon; sent unmanned exploration vehicles to four planets; and landed twelve men on the Moon. But it is near-earth space that is of greatest interest right now because we have spent the last twenty years learning about it. This knowledge has changed near-earth space from a hostile, alien environment to one that is useful.
We can use space. We know this because we have used space in the past. This means that we will continue to do so in the future.
Space industrialization is not new. It began on a specific date: April 6, 1965. On that date, Early Bird was launched. It was the world's first commercial communications satellite built and operated by the Communications Satellite Corporation (Comsat).
Comsat opened the era of space industrialization with
this commercial venture. It was a private enterprise operation
backed by numerous government supports and incentives. It was
not the first such high-risk venture into a new frontier that
was supported by and encouraged by a government, and our
federal government in particular.
In almost every area where a physical or scientific
frontier has become known, available, and ripe for use,
where the risks to private investors have been exceptionally
high, where the return on investment times have been very long, and where very large amounts of capital have been required,
there has emerged a government-business relationship. This
relationship has taken many forms in the past. Examples in
the history of the United States include the National Road
of the late 18th Century, the canal system of the early 19th
Century, the railroads of the mid-19th Century, the water and
land reclamation projects in the American West in the early 20th Century, and the telephone and telegraph networks, radio, television, and commercial airlines.
Comsat was a new approach to a new business challenge, a
Joint government-industry corporation of unique characteristics.
It has been successful. It returned its first dividend to
stockholders in the fourth quarter of 1970, six years after
the initial stock offering. Federal income tax amounting to
payable for 1970. Comsat has been in a profitable