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Testimony for the January 1978 Committee on
Hearing on Future Space Programs from
Dr. Bruce Friedman, Chairman of the
B'nai B'rith Energy Committee of Maryland
It is with a feeling of sincere thankfulness to the members of the House Committee on Science and Technology that this testimony is being submitted for the records of the January 1978 Hearing on Future Space Programs.
In recent years it has been quite fashionable to decry space activities as being irrelevant to the needs of the nation. However, B'nai B'rith, the major Jewish service organization, has decided, after serious consideration, that there are few if any activities which can provide as many benefits to the American Jew, to the people of the United States of America, and to every human being on this globe, as can be provided by an ever-increasing tempo of space activities aimed at the utilization of space resources for the improvement of the conditions of humanity. The fact that science and technology have advanced to the point wherein the space environment and the materials of the solar system can be economically utilized to the advantage of all is a fact of compelling importance. Consequently, the Energy Committee of the B'nai B'rith of the State of Maryland puts its full and unequivocal support for space industrialization into the public record. By space industrialization is meant the utilization of space and non-terrestrial bodies and materials for the benefit of mankind here on this planet.
The initial impetus for the involvement of B'nai B'rith in space industrialization was the energy aspect. A major reason for the creation of the Energy Committee was to help undertake whatever is necessary for this nation to attain energy independence so that it can develop and implement foreign policy free of external pressures with regard to energy.
The satellite solar power station (SSPS) is possibly the most promising means for satisfying a large fraction or maybe even all of the energy demand of the United States of America within the next thirty years. Studies have indicated that after the construction of the first few SSPS's from all terrestrial materials, the most cost-effective approach could very well be to build SSPS's from non-terrestrial materials in a space manufacturing facility (SMF).
The Energy Committee has recently formed a Space Industrialization Subcommittee to further explore and to develop the beneficial ramifications of space industrialization. For example, an influx of materials economically manufactured in space (because this cannot be accomplished on this planet) having unusual and desirable properties could lead to the employment of people in new industries without taking away anything from the old ones. In general, space industrialization should create the plentitude of meaningful jobs that are necessary to combat unemployment.
The Bakke case is an example
of what space industrialization would eliminate. Space industrialization would remove the tendency to take jobs from one group of people in order to give them to another group. To the Jewish people who have known the effects of quota systems this is very important. Space industrialization would make the pie of prosperity and employment bigger so that everyone could have a bigger slice.
The B'nai B'rith Energy Committee of Maryland (BBECM) strongly urges that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) budget be increased annually by 20% for every year of the ten year period commencing with FY 1979 in order to allow NASA to vigorously develop space-based energy and energy-related options.
The BBECM feels strongly that the space approach to energy can solve much and possibly all of our energy problems within the next thirty years in terms of supplying the nation with relatively inexpensive, plentiful, and environmentally acceptable energy.
The following projects are to be undertaken with the recommended NASA budget. The list constitutes a minimal program and could be supplemented by other projects after the initiation of the plan.
1. Near Earth Orbit Modular Space Station (NEOMSS). The initial facility would house six persons in 1984 with further expansion to a 50 person facility by 1989. The object of the NEOMSS is to develop the techniques for constructing large space structures, such as 10,000 megawatt solar satellite power stations (SSPS). The NEOMSS would incorporate laboratories and prototype manufacturing systems either physically connected to the habitation modules or floating free in the vicinity of these modules.
2. Space Manufacturing Facilities (SMF). Used in conjunction with the NEOMSS commencing with 1984, the pilot plants comprising the SMF would include the capability of fabricating solar cells in free fall conditions to ascertain if these cells can be manufactured of better quality and cheaper than on earth. Another plant, for the same reason, would produce structural composite materials. The intensity of the program should be such as to allow determination by 1989 as to which manufacturing options are most profitable and most efficacious compared to equivalent operations on the surface of the earth. To the maximal possible extent the SMF would be automated.
3. Pilot Satellite Solar Power Station (SSPS). The Pilot SSPS, rated at ten megawatts, would be constructed from space shuttle delivered components in the 1982-84 time period. It would be tested in transmissions to an earth based facility. The purpose of this project would be to ascertain more definitely than can be done with theoretical studies the values of the significant
operational parameters, in particular, the possible environmental effects of microwave transmission through the atmosphere. Data from the pilot SSPS would be of importance for the construction of commercial SSPS's in the post1989 period.
4. Space Transportation Systems (STS). These would be developed in the time between now and 1989. This program would include space shuttle improvements, an advanced shuttle upper stage or space tug for orbit to orbit operations, and an advanced lunar lander for going from lunar orbit to lunar surface and vice versa. All vehicles should be capable of being operated in both manned and unmanned modes.
5. Power Relay Satellites (PRS). At least two of these would be constructed in the 1982-84 period. One would be active while the other would be passive. The PRS's would be evaluated in conjunction with the pilot SSPS. 6. Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM). In the 1983-86 time period, an automated spacecraft would be sent to a suitable asteroid, to rendezvous and dock with it, return with it and insert it into an orbit about the earth. The primary objective of this mission would be to ascertain the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of refining asteroidal material and utilizing the refined matter for the manufacture of components for the construction of large space structures, such as 10,000 megawatt SSPS's.
7. Pilot Lunar Mining and Refining Facility (PLMRF). In the 1983-86 time frame, either a manned or unmanned project (depending on which is most feasible at the time) would emplace a facility on the lunar surface which would mine, refine, and launch materials for use at an appropriate site in space, presumably the SMF. As in the case of ARM, the objective of this project
would be to determine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of this approach to obtaining materials for construction of large space structures.
8. Large Space Antennas (LSA). This could be accomplished in the 1981-82 time frame even before the establishment of complete NEOMSS and SMF. SSPS's will require LSA. However, these LSA could be used for terrestrial communications purposes in the early 1980's for potentially profitmaking enterprises thus illustrating that large space operations can be of commercial value at an early period of the accelerated NASA program.
9. Large Orbiting Mirrors (LOM's). A series of increasingly bigger LOM's would be constructed between 1982 and 1989 in order to reflect sunlight to the earth for such purposes as illumination and enhancement of agricultural production. Although the early LOM's would only be demonstration models, the later ones could be for profit-making commercial operations. Funding in the 1990 to 2001 period would be further increased to whatever level is necessary to allow full scale commercial operation of spacebased energy sources by the end of this century.
B'nai B'rith has considered other aspects of space industrialization. For example, there is evidence that this nation could be facing severe raw materials shortages in the not-too distant future. Even stringent recycling programs with an intensive use of energy could not fully recover any particular material. Hence, if demand keeps increasing for any particular material, such as nickel, the gap etween supply and demand would continually increase. The ARM project in the B'nai B'rith list for NASA could also be used to determine the feasibility of utilizing appropriate asteroids to fully supply this country with critically needed materials by the end of this century without the necessity for environmental concerns as would have to be considered in the case of ocean mining. In addition, for many materials, the supply available from non-terrestrial sources is much greater than could be obtained from the oceans of this world.