Space Issues

LC /4-2/2: IP 371 S C S z Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress c) Washington, D.C. 20540 SPACE ISSUES IP371 S A f t e r more than 25 y e a r s i n s p a c e , t h e United S t a t e s h a s come t o a t u r n i n g p i n t i n i t s s p a c e program. A s a r e s u l t of t h e a c c i d e n t o f t h e s p a c e s h u t t l e C h a l l e n g e r , t h e United S t a t e s f a c e s many d e c i s i o n s a b o u t space policy including g e t t i n g t h e space s h u t t l e o p e r a t i o n a l a g a i n , management of t h e N a t i o n a l A e r o n a u t i c s and Space A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , t h e p r o p e r r o l e s of expendable l a u n c h v e h i c l e s v e r s u s s h u t t l e s , t h e i s s u e o f c i v i l i a n v s . m i l i t a r y p a y l o a d s , t h e commercial p o t e n t i a l of s p a c e , and t h e b u i l d i n g o f a permanently-occupied space s t a t i o n . T h i s I n f o Pack a d d r e s s e s t h e p r o s and cons o f t h e s e i s s u e s . Members of Congress who want a d d i t i o n a l i n f o r m a t i o n on t h i s t o p i c c a n c a l l CRS a t 287-5700. Other CRS r e p o r t s c a n b e i d e n t i f i e d i n t h e Guide t o CRS P r o d u c t s ( f o r c o n g r e s s i o n a l u s e o n l y ) under "Space p o l i c y " and i n Update under " S c i e n c e and technology." C o n s t i t u e n t s may f i n d a d d i t i o n a l i n f o r m a t i o n on t h i s s u b j e c t , p r i m a r i l y i n p e r i o d i c a l s and newspapers, a t a l o c a l l i b r a r y t h r o u g h t h e use of i n d e x e s s u c h a s t h e Readers' Guide t o P e r i o d i c a l L i t e r a t u r e , P u b l i c A f f a i r s I n f o r m a t i o n S e r v i c e B u l l e t i n (PAIS), G e n e r a l S c i e n c e I n d e x , and t h e New York Times Index. We hope t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n i s u s e f u l . lYOATHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY LIBRARY W E R N M E N T DOCUMENTS COUECTION Congressional Reference Division NASA has shaped up since Challenger was lost. But it's not standing tall yet. Some say US space programs still lack long-range purpose. Others wonder about foreign competition. Today, the Monitor looks at projects affected by the explosion; tomorrow, the people. The year since Challenger US spreading the space load moving fonvard again. The shuttle hardware is being revamped Miami for greater safety, NASA management has A year after Challenger's tragic 73sec- been reoganized, Challenger is being re ond flight, the National Aeronautics and placed with a new orbiter, and the shuttle Space Administration has picked itself up Discovery will likely be flying again in early and dusted itself off. 1988 even if not by NASA's Fkb. 18target After an exmciating season of public date. Ultimately, it was planning solely around hearings last spring revealing a trail of NASA misjudgments and weaknesses that the space shuttle that left the United States led up to the Jan. 28 accident, the agency with no access to space at all for a time last that planted an American flag on the moon is ReasesseNASAbodcpege By Marshall Ingwenon Strll writer of The Uvntian Swna Manitor - Christian Science Monitor @ l987 January 26, 1987 p1,32 The Christ~anScience Publishing Society. Reproduced by the Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service with permissionof copyright claimant. year. This happened when both the Titan and Delta rocket launchers failed. But the revived shuttles will not be the nation's one-size-fltsall space truck fleet of the p r e Challenger era. The nation no longer wants all its eggs in one basket. As a result, the shuttles and NASA itself will have somewhat diminished roles. Even though the military will use about twethirds of the shuttle payloads for a decade, the Air Fbrce is fast developing its own unmanned space launch fleet. Most commercial satellite companies are going to have to look to private launch companies, here or abroad, to reach orbit. The US currently has no private launch capacity, but the shuttle will no longer have room for most commercial cargo. NASA administrator James Fletcher announced last week that the agency's own plans will once agnin includc unmanned, expendable rockets. Suffering most perhaps are space science and exploration projects. 'ho-thirds of them have been canceled. The rest are running at least a decade behind schedule. "lt has just been a catastrophe," says Bruce Murray, a California Institute of 'kchnology professor of planetary sciences. Mr. Murray is also the former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We had been forced to put all of our eggs in -that [shuttle] basket," when most missions could be launched more cheaply and easily on unmanned rockets, he says. But the legacy of the Challenger beasterhas improved the agency, many NASA-watchers think. "I think i t h a s changed [NASA] quite dramatically, says a former NASA head, Robert Seamans of the Massachusetts Institute of 'khnology. "1 think it has changed it for the better." NASA administrator Fletcher, who returned to the agency last spring after running it in the early 1970s, is getting high marks for vigorously pursuing the recommendations of the presidential commission that investigated the accident. The commission, run by former Secretary of State William Rogers, found that the flawed hardware that caused the accident grew out of deeper flaws in the NASA organization, saying the organization succumbed to flight schedule pressures. Dr. Fletcher has shifted the shuttle management from Johnson Space Center in Houston to NASA headquarters, opened a new safety ofice, and given astronauts more control and visibility in the program - "like it used to be," says Mr. Seamans. The directors of all three major space centers have been r e placed since the accident. So have all the managers directly involved with the ill-advised decision to launch the Challenger on an unusually cold morning last January, including Lawrence Mulloy. He headed the booster rocket program at Marshall Space Flight Center in HunstviUe, Ala., and took much of the heat for the decision. T h e t h r u s t of Fletcher's moves is to open up cleaner lines of authority and communication so that critical safety concerns are not again lost between space centen and management layers. The effort to redesign the shuttle haidware is traveling a rockier course. Some outside experts still question whether the rejigging planned for the booster joints goes far enough. But the new joints - with an inside lip added to keep them from twisting slightly apart under pressure .- will have to survive four fullscale test flrings before NASA will fly them. NASA has also decided to equip the shuttle orbiter with a limited bailout capability. The system may not be in place in time for the Discovery's &st launch in 1988. It would not have saved the Challenger crew, who were lost during the highly stressed k t two minutes after launch. But future shuttle crews will have parachutes, and blowoff hatches will be installed in the crew cabins. The agency is still considering whether to use extraction rockets to pull crew members clear of the shuttle. For all of NASA's progress in Rnding its feet again, observers still voice strong concerns about the future of the space program. Many even see the space sta- 3 tion, NASA's next big project, as subject to the same pitfalls that ensnared the shuttle program NASA tried to justify the shuttle through its commercial potential and found itself pressed into set ting unrealistic flight schedule: and underestimating costs. Like the shuttle program be fore Challenger, s a y s J O ~ Logsdon, a George Washington University space policy expert the space station "is still promis ing to be all things to all people." Most outside analysts believc the space program lacks a visio~ or long-range purpose to makc sense out of its more immediate decisions. "We drifted into the fourth orbiter decision [replacing Chal lenger] without knowing exactly why," says Lou Friedman, direc tor of the Planetary Society ir Pasadena, Calif. "The space sta tion is the big driving activity now, yet we don't know what it's for." Dr. Friedrnan believes the na tion should decide to land a hu man on Mars in the next cent ury and build its space progr:ull ; around that goal. That could b t 3 achieved, he at NASA'., current budget levels. Nex Roland, a Duke Univcr sity historian of the space pro gram, believes that NASA's concentration on manned project3 like the shuttle and the space station bleeds money away fro11 more useful endeavors, such a.r Rnding cheaper ways to launcl unmanned vehicles. NASA's problem is still that it has to scrape for its budget every year on an increasingly skeptical Capitol Hill. Although s u p p o r t t h e r e h a s held u p through the crises of the past year, says former associate administrator Jack Kerrebrock, "The agency's budget is still stretched tight as a drum." SHUTTLE PAYLOAD MANIFEST -LB-. New Manifest for Space Shuttle Generates payload Sponsor Debate is that elements of the organization remain out of step. Washington-A new space shuttle pay"I'm not sure everybody is working to load manifest forcing fundamental the same music," Truly said. The astrochanges in shuttle flight operations is be- naut office, program office and NASA ing criticized by U. S. and international centers were cited by Truly as elements payload sponsors, and questions are being that need closer coordination. raised about whether the flight rate will be Truly agreed that the shuttle recovery able to keep up with even the constrained effort remains too broad, rather than being narrowly focused on returning the payload plan. As a rault of the new manifest, com- program to flight. He said a particular munications satellite operators are threat- concern is ensuring progress is made in ening lawsuits against NASA, and foreign receiving and implementing decisions governments are bringing diplomatic pres- from the multiple committees, both inside and outside of NASA. looking at dl assure on the U. S. By 1993, according to the manifest, the pects of the shuttle program. "I am not space shunle program will become almost satisfied we are doing that well enough entirely devoted to space station assembly right now," he said. and Defense Dept. space missions. Major science payloads important to U.S. space Annual Flight Rate The manifest is baKd on an annual leadership, such as Hubble Space Telescope, are set for launch early in the new flight rate starting with five missions. incrusing to 10 in the second year and manifest. First launch of the space shuttle follow- gradually building to 16 per year. A National Research Council report to ing the Challenger accident has been set for Feb. 18, 1988. Experienced space man- the House Appropriations subcommitte+ agers and astronauts said, however, that overseeing NASA, just released, said howthe shuttle recovery momentum does not ever, that even with a fourth orbiter. an exist to achieve that target, and the first annual fight rate of 11-13 missions is the launch is unlikely until mid-1988 or early maximum that should be expected from NASA, except for shon surge periods. 1989. Defense Dept. payloads including nuNavy Rear Adm. h c h a r d H. Truly, who heads the shuttle program, told AvI- merous Navstar satellites are a sigruficant ATION WEEK & SPACETECHNOLOGY he element in I8 of the 30 missions on the also is concerned about the current mo- new manifest through mid-1991. EIeven of mentum, but disagrees that it already has those flights arc entirely devoted to military payloads. affected schedule. Several of the Defense missions m the Truly said, however, that if be is unable to impiement some changes in the way the new manifest will be USAF/Central Intelrecovery effort is proceeding, the shuttle ligence Agency imaging reconnaissance will not be able to make the February, satellites launched into relatively high in1988, target. He said one of the problems clination orbits from Kmnedy Space CenBy Craig Covault Aviation Week and Space Technology @ 19i8 6 ter, a factor affecting the outlook for use of Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as a shuttle launch site. In light of the Kennedy Space Center's capability, and the ability of the Titan 4 booster to launch heavier payloads from Vandenberg into polar orbit than is possible with the shuttle, the U. S. Air Force i now likely to abandon launch of space shuttle altogether from Vandenbug, many space managers believe. Other elements of the new manifest are: k r t v ~ t i o n a pressure--West l Gmany and Japan are concerned that a threeyear delay (to 1991) in the hunch of the German D2 and Japanese Spacelab mhsions seriously will inhibit their prepam tions for participation in the space station project. Both countries have v o i d concern to NASA and the State Dept. In West Germany's case. that effort resulted in a somewhat earlier launch for D2.The European Space Agency has ken equally frank in expressing its concern on delays to the Ulysses mission to Jupiter and the Sun. Small p y l o a b N A S A will ask Defense Dept. to any some smaller civilian middeck, Getaway Special and Hitchhiker payloads on shunle flights primarily dedicated to military space operations. Manifest Development "Since the accident. the development of the shuttle manifest has been one of the most complex and difficult things we have had to cope with," Truly s a i d . - ~ r u land ~ other managers said none of the payload sponsors are p l d , but that dclays in launch d a t a were dealt out fairly. Major international missions such as the West German and Japanese Spacelab flights October 13, 1986 p.22,23 ~ c ~ r a w - H i lReproduced l by the Library of Congress. Congressional Research Swvica with permission of copyright claimant. . maintained their chronological relationship when slipped, he said. The manifest ,would have been ready' about July but was held up by the White House Economic Policy Council, which decided to make key decisions on communications satellite aspects of the document. The Administration group included members unfamiliar with significant spacefiight issues. NASA space propam personnel belicve the process introduced political concerns, complexity and delays into deci; sions that many NASA managers said should have been left for space program officials. Shuttle missions now planned into 1994 are: 1988--The first flight in February will launch a tracking and data relay satellite. It will be followed in May, 1988, by a geosynchronous orbit Defense mission and by a second military mission in July expected to be a large imaging reconnaissance satellite. The TDRS-D satellite is set for a late September, 1988, launch and the Hubble Space Telescope will be the fifth mission of the year set for launch Nov, 17, 1988. m 198"TLe Astro-1 ultraviolet telescope attached payload mission is set for launch in mid-January, 1989, followed by a military geosynchronous payload in March. The Magellan Venus radar m a p per is set for a late April, 1989, launch, followed by a Strategic Defense Initiative Spacelab mission in early June, 1989. The fifth flight in late June, 1989, also will be defense-oriented, carrying two USAF Navstar satellites, but also a NASA materials science pallet. Two dedicated military missions will be flown in July and early September, followed by another defense-oriented mission in late September, 1989, again carrying two Navstan and the materials pallet. Either Galileo or Ulysses could be launched toward Jupiter during a November, 1989, slot while a December, 1989, launch is set for NASA's first Spacelab Life Sciences mission. 199CL-The Gamma Ray Observatory is set for launch in January, 1990, followed by a Defense mission in February and the International Materials Science Spacelab flight in April. 1990. A multidisciplinary mission including a USAF Navstar, McDonnell Douglas electrophoresis processor and space station heat pipe test is set for May, 1990, followed in late May and early July, 1990, by dedicated Defense Dept. fllghts. The British Skynet4 military payload, which was commercially booked, is set for launch in late July, 1990, followed by a Defense mission in late Aueust. 1990. and . bother Galileo or Ulysses launch opportunity in Ocyober, 1990. The joint U. S./ Italian tethered satellite will receive its first test in October, 1990, on a flight that will also deploy India's Insat and USAF Navstar payloads. The last Bight in 1990 is set to launch a Syncom-4 payload and finally retrieve the long-duration exposure facility, with the majority of its payloads ruined by spending nearly five yean longer in space than desired. The flight schedule in 1991 opens with a Spacelab pallet mission, focusing on atmospheric data and a large structures control experiment. It is followed in February, 1991, by a Navstar/materials pallet flight, a Defense mission in March and then launch of the European Eurefa unmanned spate platform in April, 1991. In 1991 the manifest stops assigning flights, simply naming the highest-priority payloads and establishing which quarter they are scheduled for launch. Specidc flight rates are not assigned during this period. The Japanese Spacelab mission is set for the second quarter of 1991, while the West German Spacelab D2 mission is set for the third quarter of 1991, dong with shuttle's first revisit to the Space.Tclescope for refurbishment. Retrieval of the European Eurcca is set for the fourth quarter of 1991. Commercial missions such as Intelsat and Inmarsat do not begin to show up on the manifest in f o r e until a b u t 1992. In 1993, the first five space station construction flights arc planned. In 1994, the manifest is composed almost entirely by Defense missions d o n g with seven space station assembIf flights. El n deciding to fund construction of a reIReagan placement Space Shuttle orbiter. the Administrat~onalso cleared the way for development of a new US commercial expendable launch vehicle (ELV) industry. Stated. US President Reagan: "It has been determined ... that NASA will no longer be in the business of ,launching private satellites .... NASA and our Shuttles can't be committing their scarce resources to things which can be done better and cheaper by the private sector .... NASA will keep America on the leading edge of change; the private sector will take over from there. Together, they will ensure that our country has a robust, balanced, safe space program." Despite the August go-ahead for development of new, non-reuseable space launchers, the US aerospace industry has hardly created a 'stampede' to the doorsteps of the nation's ELV manufacturers for bookings. Indeed, the response by Shuttle users has been restrained and it appears that they are awaiting pending decisions by the Reagan Administration as to how many strictly commercial payloads will in fact remain on the Space Shuttle manifest. But it is a fact that a large number of payloads will be taken away from NASA as a result of the Space Shuttle grounding. And most new commercial customers will be turned away. On 15 August, Reagan gave NASA the authority to build a replacement for the Challenger Space Shuttle orbiter that was destroyed last January. In doing so, the White House ordered NASA out of the commercial launch business. the point being to permit NASA to concentrate on Shuttle launches of national security, foreign policy and scientific applications. For the nation's aerospace industry, the long waiting game ended. Ever since the Challenger tragedy, the nation's ELV industry had been expecting a clear signal from the Reagan Administration as to whether NASA would continue to be a major competltor for private-sector rocket launch o p erations. The much awaited decision to build a new Shuttle orbiter almost seems insignificant when compared with the implications of the new space launch policy. This decision, coupled with the Pentagon's desire for additional heavy boosters and medium launch vehicles (MLVs), should create new opportunties for the US aerospace industry for years to come. Also to benefit are Arianespace's Ariane ELV and new launchers being developed by Japan and the People's Republic of China. The Reagan Administration, in effect, has moved to encourage development of a private rocket industry. But the White House made it clear that no company should expect to be subsidised by the US Government except as a recipient of government contracts for launch services. White House spokesman Larry Speakes said a fourth Shuttle orbiter is required if NASA is to accomplish planned missions. such as Space Stat~on construction. He remarked that the space launch policy decision "eliminates the major roadblock, or the major fear that the private sector has." Developing- the US commercial space launch industry , by Ramon L. Lopez It was noted that NASA was committed to launch 44 commercial payloads via the Shuttle fleet. An inter-agency working group is developing a 'priority list' among the 44 commercial customers because only 15 commercial spacecraft can be launched by the Shuttle fleet between now and the end of 1992. In all. 29 commercial spacecraft will be taken off the Shuttle manifest, said Speakes. According to the White House. commercial payloads that can expect Shuttle launch will be those which (1) are Shuttleunique and (2) have significant national security or foreign policy implications. In this category would be foreign broadcast spacecraft, such as Indonesia's Palapa satellite series. The White House decision was greeted with less than enthusiastic acclaim by NASA administrator James C. Fletcher. who said that NASA was "pleased" with the decision to build a new orbiter. But Fletcher did not laud Reagan's decision to yield the bulk of its commercial launch base to the private sector. He said simply that the President's decision "accurately reflects the attitude of the majority of Americans." Later, Fletcher indicated that NASA might be able to launch a larger number of commercial satellites than the 15 mentioned by Speakes. ' W e plan to accomme date most of the commercial satellites that w e are committed for," he said. Richard H. Truly, NASA's associate administrator for space flight. said he was "delighted" with the orbiter decision but declined to express disappointment at the prospect of losing space launch fees from the commercial satellite industry. Others, however. were beside themselves in applauding the White House space launch decision. DOT Secretary Elizabeth Dole predicted that US ELV manufacturers will begin launching commercial satellites by 1989 as a result of Reagan's decision. It is Dole's government agency which is in charge of developing a private-sector space transportation agency. DOT'S Office of Commercial Space Transportation has issued interim regulations that outline the policies and procedures for licensing commercial launches. Dole said the greatest barrier to developmegt of a commercial launch vehicle industry has been "the highly subsidised Shuttle system". She added: "By eliminating the government monopoly in space transportation. we can expand America's fleet of launchers at no cost to the taxpayer." The DOTsaid that, by the early 1990s. US firms could have about 50 per cent of the anticipated worldwide market of 15 to 20 commercial satellite launches per year, with the rest going to Ariane and other foreign competition. 4 The US bunch industry began its r€-cWerV this summer w ~ t hthe successful ortnt~npof the NOAA-10 polarorblt~ngweather satellite on 17 September, f0ilowing numerous 'play-safe' delays. 1% bun+ vehicle was an Atlas E, made by General DyMmlCs. This Picture show the more powerfulAtlas G version, top!Jed with a Centaur cnlogenlc upper stage. According to Dole. Martin Marietta (maker of the Titan ELV series) has had "about 21" formal requests for commercial launch services, while General Dynamics (the Atlas Centaur manufacturer) has had 14 requests for launch proposals. She added that Transpace Carriers, responsible for marketing the McDonnell Douglas Delta ELV. has already signed contracts to launch two commercial satellites. ; Understandably, both Martin Marietta, which is offering the Titan Ill, and General Dynamics, aiming to enlarge Atlas Centaur production, have been less than forthcoming in describing the level of interest by satellite manufacturers and users in their launch services. Both companies are seeking formal negotiations for launches, and both have been contacted by several firms concerning pricing and schedules. A Martin Marietta spokesman said his company has talked to a halfdozen .firms concerning a launch total of between 21 and 25 spacecraft. A General Dynamics official said his firm has contacted about seven companies regarding Atlas Centaur launch of 25 commercial satellites. probably as from 1989. In September. Martin Marietta disclosed that it had signed a contract to launch a commercial satellite for Federal Express. It said that the express mail company paid a $100,000 down-payment for a Titan Ill launch in 1989. (The Titan Ill is a commercial version of the Titan 34D.) At press time. the full cost of the launch services was not finalised, but Federal Express expects to pay Martin Marietta around $40-50 million. The Federal Express deal represents the first firm reservation to be placed with a US ELV company. The spacecraft to be launched via the Titan Ill. to be called Expresstar, will be used to relay voice, data and video messages. Federal Express holds an option for a second Expresstar space craft launch that could take place the following year. A Federal Express official is quoted as saying that his company turned to Martin Marietta after failing to win a launch commitment from Arianespace. However, another spokesman said his company still held an option for Ariane. Transpace Carriers, meanwhile. says that two customers have indeed signed launch reservation contracts for the McDonnell Douglas Delta, the launch vehicle it has long planned to operate commercially. In addition. Transpace Carriers' Rck Endres says that the customers are US companies that do not wish to reveal their identities until NASA's role in future commercial launch operations is finalised. "We are currently looking at the fourth quarter of 1988 for both launches, if all goes well." said Endres. However, firm launch dates will depend on whether Transpace Carriers can gain access to long-lead Delta pans. Launches would be from Cape Canaveral aboard the first and second commercial flights of the Delta 3920, according to Endres. Although Transpace Carriers says that its pricmg policy is currently under review, the company has previously quoted figures in the mid430 million range for a dedcated launch, plus payload assist module (PAM) booster. The decisions of the nation's ELV manufacturers to enter the commercial space launcher sweepstakes were not taken without consideration of the emerging US military market. For, equally affected by the Challenger loss is the Pentagon, which, as it turns out, made the right decision in not relying 100 per cent on the reuseable Space Shuttle for placing military payloads in orbit. Aside from procurement of the Titan IV (previously called Titan 34D7), the USAF is in the process of selecting the manufacturer of the MLV which will be used to launch NavstarIGPS spacecraft. With start-up and production costs paid for by Uncle Sam, the MLV winner would be well positioned to move into commercial production. Whether a second or third space launch company can also find business remains to be seen. "These actions by the USAF will provide the essential, on-going production base Martin Marietta's Titan Ill (formerly the 340) is competing for the US Air Force med~umbunch vehicle contract and (in a slightly modified version) has secured a reservation to fty a Federal Express Expresstar satellite in 1989. Martin Marietta is offering two launch deals: a mnventional launch into geostationary transfer orbit or. for former Shuttle customers stuck with a payload assist module which they cannot resell. a flight to low orbit only. The Titan Ill can put payloads with a total weight (including P A W of 31.4001b (14.470kg) into b w orbit or of 12.5001b (5.670kg) into transfer orbit. A& tematively. it can inject 4.2001b (1.905kg) directly into circular geosynchronous orb~t. Martin Marietta intends to stay in the commercial launcher market wen if it does not win the USAF MLV contract from which commercial launchers can be drawn," according to one senior US aerospace official. Prior to the White House announcement, the USAF said it "could not afford to rely on a single launch system." It revealed a space launch recovery plan which places heavy reliance on ELVs. The USAF is buying at least 23 Martin Marietta Titan IVs, which incorporate the seven-segment United Technologies UA 1207 solid strap-on boosters (replacing the 5.5-segment boosters used on the Titan 340). The current Titan's liquid-fuelled core first and second stages remain unchanged.The USAF will also buy at least 12 MLVs which will be used. beginning in 1989, to launch NavstarIGPS spacecraft and other military satellites in the same weight class. Consequently, the USAF plans to increase the rate of Titan IV launches from the Kennedy Space Center from about two per year to four per year. It will also convert the Titan launch pad at Vandenberg AFB for Titan IV launches at the rate of two per year as from 1989. (The USAF is delaying activation of the Vandenberg AFB Space Shuttle launch complex until 1992.) The USAF said the MLV will be smaller than the Titan IV and more capable than the existing Titan II. In early August, the USAF awarded initial MLV R&D contracts to McDonnell Douglas, Martin Marietta. General Dynamics and HughesIBoeing. The initial $5 million six-month contracts will fund design work on existing or modified launch vehicle configuration. Candidate MLV boosters include a version of the Martin Marietta Titan using just the 348 core vehicle, with upgraded General Dynamics Atlas Centaur and McDonnell Douglas Delta rockets. The MLV must be capable of lifting a 2.1001b (950kg) payload to a 10.000nmi orbit. For example, Hughes Aircraft. teamed with Boeing Aerospace, is proposing an MLV design that combines Saturn launch vehicle propulsion systems with structures and electronics derived from the Space Shuttle. According to a USAF official: "The established MLV production base should facilitate US industry entry into the space launch arena. The additional commercial production will in turn benefit DoD by expanding the production base and lower the unit cost of the launch vehicles to the Government and industry." A long-term MLV production rate of about four rockets per year is expected. In addition to this, while NavstarlGPS launches are currently the only firm requirement for the MLV program, the majority of commercial, payloads also fall within the MLV payload and orbital launch capability. It was noted that MLV bidders are being required to outline adaptability of the MLV for commercial usage and to consider future growth versions. Aside from a build-up in Titan IV production and MLV procurement, the Pentagon plans to begin work on a heavy-lift ELV to be available in the late 1990s. It would be used to launch payloads of 150,000300.000lb (68,040-136.080kg) into low Earth orbit. The Reagan Administration's plan for ELV usage into the next century comes as welcome news to the US aerospace industry. But equally important have been recent ELV launch successes after a series of catastrophes eariier in the year. In April, a USAF Titan 340 exploded shortly after launch from Vandenberg AFB; aboard was a secret DoD satellite. And in May, the Delta 178 rocket launched from KSC was destroyed after it veered off course; it was carrying a NOAA GOESG weather satellite. Officials later ordered minor modifications to both rockets and declared, them operational. In early September, a Delta booster carrying a classified SDI experiment was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral. Later in that month. NASA succeeded in launching the NOAA-G weather satellite with an Atlas ELV from Vandenberg AFB. Dole has stated that the US ELV industry faces "a market as vast as space itself". She says that the new space launch policy will allow for "a bold leap into the heavens" But so far, little has transpired in the way of commercial ELV bookings since the August announcement. And the US aerospace industry appears content - for now - to take a 'wait and see' attitude. ++ TECHNOLOGY - - Is the agency building a laboratory, factory, diner-or he NASA engineers who dreamec up the space shuttle wanted i truck that would ferry astronaut: and cargo to a permanent, mannec station in space. Twenty years lat er, their vision of a US. colony in the heav ens has been blurred by budget cutters political infighting-and the Challenge] disaster last January. Hurting, NASA wil finally take its first steps toward building the space station next month. The projeci may cost a t least $12 billion as current11 proposed. This plan calls for a giant orbit, ing station built like a galactic Tinkertoy As long as one football field, it will be assembled by outer-space construction workers. Ultimately a crew of six to eight astronauts will man its duty posts. Will NASA repeat the design mistakes that seared the US. space program after the explosion of Challenger a year ago? "The big question about the spacestation is whether there willbea demand or whether they will just sit up there playingcards and measuring each other's heartbeats," says space expert John Pike, of the Federation of American Scientists. So far, much of the thinking behind the space station mirrors early decisions leading to the shuttle. NASA'sstrategy is uncomfortably familiar. In 1972 the agency chose a design that made it cheaper to build the shuttle but far more expensive--and arguably more dangerous-to operate. To win funding from Congress, NASA downplayed the risks and costs and promised that the shuttle would reliably serve many competing customers, hauling military payloads and commercial satellites into orbit and serving as a lab for short-term scientific experiments. The agency's leadership is the same. NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher shepherded the shuttle through Congress in the early '70s-and now has returned to take over a n organization still in shock from the Challenger disaster. Facing similar budget pressures, NASA is taking the same Swiss Army knife approach to the space station. It promises that the station will be an orbiting observatory and a scientific laboratory for experiments in life sciences, physics and materials research. And a factory in space for commercial customers. And a forum for international cooperation-NASA is negotiating with the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan and Canada to be partners in the venture. If the United States ever flies manned missions to the moon again or to Mars, the space station will serve as a diner on the interplanetary highway as well as a n assembly station and launch pad. In December the Pentagon said it wanted to use the space station as well. The interest led doubters to fearthat thestation might also become a space-age Trojan horse, a military outpost in civilian disguise. Under NASA's current plan, astronauts will haul the spacestation components into orbit aboard the space shuttle. A construction crew will stay in space, building the structure in orbit. NASA officials estimate that it will require a t least 17 shuttle Bights to launch the components. Floating in space, the astronauts will assemble two long trusses built of interlocking lightweight materials :hat will form the twin back,ones of the structure. Crew p a r t e r s and laboratory modd e s will be attached to the keel. rhe space station will mostly lse large parabolic mirrors for 2ower. Unmanned platforms in )ther orbits will accompany the JAMES L LONG A S C C I A T P nanned station: one will carry Getting ready to fly again: The Discouegv in X-ray telescope, another vill carry instruments foraathr i n g data to study climate and weather new project. It has yet to rule out entirely the possibilities in backing the shuttle up )atterns on earth. Veteran crew: Before the Challenger blew with one-shot, expendable rockets. "The ~ p NASA , had hoped to have the station questions are whether we are building the n orbit by 1992, in time to celebrate the right station and whether we're confident iOOth anniversary of Columbus's voyage enoughin the shuttle capabilities to build a o the New World. No more. Last week shuttle-dependent station," says John ?ASA began to bury the Challenger Logsdon, a space-policy expert a t George neckage in a n old missile silo a t Cape Washington University. "There's the pos:anaveral. It also announced a veteran sibility of compounding the error if the ~ve-mancrew to fly the next mission, now shuttle isn't fixed properly and the station cheduled for February 1988, aboard the isn't properly conceived." NASA altered the design of the station )iscovery. After that, NASA wants to reurn gradually to a regular program of last summer after some astronauts and huttle flights and to launch the parts for space experts objected to it. Originally NASA planned to use relay teams ofspacehe space station in the mid-1990s. The evidence demonstrates how risky walking astronauts from the shuttle to he technology of space shuttles has be- build the structure. The teams would have 3me. Even so, NASA still plans to rely on had about 48 hours to work during each ne tiny U.S. fleet of shuttles to build the shuttle flight. Then they would return to -.. .. 52 N E W S W E E K : J A N U A R Y 19, 1997 Trojan horse? @ .- -.. 19 8 7 Newsweek, lnc. Reproduced by the Library of Congress. Congressional Research 'Will they just sit up there playing cards?' An artist's rendering of the space station earth while another shuttle took off with more cargo and a fresh work crew. After the astronautscomplained that thescheme was impractical, NASA changed the design. The new plan allows urork crews to live in space for months at a time while doing construction in one of the station's orbiting modules. NASA also revised the design toenclose more ofthe space station's equipment, thereby cutting down the time astronauts will have to spend spacewalking to fix and maintain the gear. NASA's plans to proceed with the space station have sharpened a question that has divided scientists from the earliest days of the space program: are manned flights even necessary? Some top space scientists, like physicist James Van Allen, don't think they are. This school of thought believes that scarce funds could be better used on unmanned flights. The equipment to protect human crews in spaceflight greatly magnifies the cost of an expedition. And on a practical level, astronauts may inadvertently interferewith thedelicate optical or microgravity experiments. Indeed, many of the greatest scientific accomplishments of the space age have been made on roboticspacecraft such as the interplanetary Viking mission to Mars and Voyager missions to theouter planets. Advocates of the space station argue that a manned laboratory in outer space will open a new scientific frontier. David Black, NASA's chief spacestation scient kt, believes basic research in life sciences and materials research will be important, especially research into basic phenomena involving gravity. He envisions growing large, pure crystals and returning them to earth for analysis or studying why the body loses calcium in the near- weightless conditions of space in hopes of finding ways to prevent osteoporosis. Like any pioneering scientific effort, the results may not always be predictable. "The real benefits come not from what you knew would happen but from the discoveries .and capabilities you run into when you open the new horizon," says Black. "If we do our job well and attract the right people, a Nobel Prize should come from working in this environment." Black is more skeptical about the immediate prospect for manufacturing in space: "It is too early to say with any certainty what the commercial opportunities might be." Next month NASA will solicit h a l proposals and bids from contractors. Ronald Reagan's new budget includes $767 million in development money for the space station, and the project has the support of some key NASA players in Congress. "We need to proceed because it is a naturai frontier from which important national gains can be achieved," says Sen. Donald Riegle, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA. Overseas flak But the space station's future on Capitol Hill is by no means assured. And NASA has run into flak abroad: its negotiations with the European Space Agency, Japan and Canada were put on hold when the Pentagon showed renewed interest in the project. A Defense Depaft ment spokesman said that the military wanted to protect its option "to conduct scientific research on nationalsecurity o p tions." The Pentagon won't be more speiific, but such research might include work with advanced electronics, lasers and o p tics. "This is a civilian program for peaceful purposes," says NASA's Black. 'That means the space station won't be used for operational military activities, but if they want to do basic research, that's OK." In fact, with Reagan's commitment to Star Wars, the Pentagon's space budget is twice as large as NASA's. The Soviets have already launched the core of their thirdgeneration Mir space station. ' m e notion that space is the next military frontier is a view held by the president and thoseofhigh a c k around him," says Riegle. "That puts ;he civilian space program in great jeoparly." If it doesn't fall of its own weight. 3ringing off this extreterrestrial triple Aay--Star Wars, a retooled shuttle and thespace station-may be toomuch for any American outside of Hollywood. W I L L I A MD.M A R B A C with H M A R YH ~ c r n i nWashington N E W S W E E K : JANUARY 19.1987 53