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One of the more important keys to the prolonged presence of mankind in space is related to health considerations. If the net effect upon
health of living in space is clearly expected to be positive, however small it may be, then there might be no visible upper limit to the number of eventual space residents. But if the net effect upon health is even slightly negative, then the number of people residing in space is apt to remain close to the minimum number required for the commercial and exploratory functions. Health aspects of space will have physical, mental, and emotional components all of which are likely to come under increasing scrutiny for the next several decades, at least. The outcome of these investigations will lead to future determinations or assessments of whether the net effects are, might be, or could become positive.
Our study convinced us that the prospects for rapid commercialindustrial developments in space will be determined more by domestic politics, social ideologies, and international cooperation than those of technical or economic feasibility. These last appear almost certain to promote prolonged growth in space ventures. However, new space vehicles, space science, space exploration, space law, multi-national space ventures, and procedures for the removal of space debris all will require a reasonable degree of national commitment and international cooperation among nations with space programs. Also, the long-term effects of military activities which facilitate space technology on one hand, could threaten the viability of some peaceful space developments on the other. The resolution of these issues over time, or the lack thereof, will have strong influences on the unfolding future in space.
Finally, the rapid colonization of the space frontier, once this possibility becomes technologically and economically feasible, might be
limited by the ability of space residents to develop acceptable social dynamics, as well as sustainable political forms and institutions, within and among the colonies. Although in the early years of their formation such colonies will undoubtedly be under direct control of institutions on earth, such connections appear likely to diminish in importance over time, leading eventually to "independent" colonies. The potential for favorable socio-political developments under such circumstances and their long-term viability is inherently uncertain. Possibly, they can only be "studied" by a scenario approach at this time. That is, a space-scenario writer can be about as optimistic or pessimistic as he chooses.
Our study, after examining the more important factors of Table 1, and after setting forth some of the relevant elements of the earthcentered context out of which space futures must spring, develops three more or less detailed 200-year scenarios expressing relatively optimistic, moderate, and pessimistic developments. A somewhat unexpected outcome was that the optimistic scenario "demanded" that nearly everyone on earth and in space should soon become healthy, wealthy, and wise--partly because of the assumption of a steady but not unduly spectacular growth over time. However, even in the pessimistic scenario, the annual worldwide effort in space after 200 years was hard to restrain to as "little" as $1 trillion (1976 dollars). This is roughly 100 times greater than the world's current total space budget and would, at the very least, be 1000 times greater in effectiveness because of projected lowered transport costs and other improvements in technology.
Thus, the future of space development from a long term perspective appears to lie somewhere between spectacular and miraculous. The pace over the near term will be determined by our current attitudes as expressed through the allocated funds.
5001 Kearny Villa Road P.O. Box 80847, San Diego, CA 92138 · 714-277-8900
DR. L. F. BUCHANAN
General Dynamics Corporation
27 January 1978
The Honorable Olin E. Teague
Chairman, Committee on Science and Technology
Congress of the United States
2311 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Thank you for inviting General Dynamics to present a statement about national space programs. Since the Corporate Space activities are centralized in the Convair Division, Mr. Lewis has asked me to reply.
The next few years will provide unprecedented opportunities for the
The Space Shuttle Orbiter opens an era of new opportunities for space utilization. Our studies consistently show that, with the advent of a reusable space transportation system such as the Shuttle provides, we will have extensive needs for significant quantities of electrical power in space. The Orbiter has limited power and time in orbit. Both of these must be extended for greater utilization of space potential. The specific system is not yet definitized but would probably be an auxiliary orbital system serviced by Shuttle and providing the electrical power and other services needed for economic advancement of Shuttle capabilities.
This opportunity has also been recognized by others, as evidenced by German planning documents which were sent to us as part of our studies previously mentioned.
I believe it is important that modest funding be provided during the immediate future so as to be prepared for full development and deployment of such a power module when the space shuttle becomes operational.
27 January 1978 Page Two
The Honorable Olin E. Teague
Time is needed for the technical community to complete these conceptual definitization studies. This time is available if modestly funded efforts are initiated now and sustained over the next four to five years. This is compatible with the heavy effort required for initial deployment of the basic Space Transportation System in the near future.
The resulting system would then be developed and deployed in an evolutionary and prudent manner, compatible with other national needs and priorities.