IP 371 S
Congressional Research Service
The Library of Congress
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 .
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lYOATHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
W E R N M E N T DOCUMENTS
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
By Marshall Ingwenon
Strll writer of The Uvntian Swna Manitor
Christian Science Monitor
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
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
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,
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
"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
But the legacy of the Challenger beasterhas improved the
agency, many NASA-watchers
"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-
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
"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
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
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
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
New Manifest for Space Shuttle
Generates payload Sponsor Debate
is that elements of the organization remain out of step.
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
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
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.
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.
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
ter, a factor affecting the outlook for use
of Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as a shuttle
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
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
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.
"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
~ c ~ r a w - H i lReproduced
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
Shuttle missions now planned into 1994
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.
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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
She added: "By
eliminating the government monopoly in
space transportation. we can expand
America's fleet of launchers at no cost to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
N E W S W E E K : J A N U A R Y 19, 1997
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
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
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
M A R YH ~ c r n i nWashington
N E W S W E E K : JANUARY 19.1987