Category Mars Wars

Case for Mars

Indeed, there was little public dialogue at all regarding a human mission to Mars in the decade after the rejection of such an undertaking by the Nixon administra­tion. By the late 1970s, however, the goal of human exploration of Mars reappeared within the aerospace community—primarily due to the work of a small group of space enthusiasts that became known as the “Mars Underground.” The movement began in 1978, during the quiet period between the Skylab and Shuttle programs. That year, Chris McKay, an astrogeophysics graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, offered an informal seminar on “The Habitability of Mars.” Among the roughly 25 participants were fellow doctoral candidates Carol Stoker and Penelope Boston, engineer Tom Meyer, and computer scientist Steve Welch. The study, which concentrated primarily on the examination of potential Martian terraforming,[60] continued for several years.[61]

In the spring of 1980, McKay and Boston met Leonard David of the National Space Institute at an American Astronautical Society meeting in Washington, DC. After a lengthy discussion regarding Mars exploration, David suggested that the Mars Underground organize a conference to analyze options for near-future human exploration of the red planet. The group of twenty-something graduate students enthusiastically latched onto the idea and began planning the event for the fol­lowing year. McKay, Stoker, Boston, Meyer, Welch, and Roger Wilson, another University of Colorado graduate student, sketched out the key areas to be investi­gated, including: propulsion, design, psychology, medicine, finance, life support, and materials processing. As the idea progressed, they began putting together lists of speakers for what they dubbed the “Case for Mars” conference.[62]

In late April 1981, the Mars Underground hosted the first “Case for Mars” con­ference at the University of Colorado. It was a relatively small conference, with approximately 100 attendees, but to the organizers it was viewed as an important start. Given that no official report on human missions to Mars had been released in a decade, the gathering was largely an organized brainstorming session. Over four days, workshops and presentations were given on a wide variety of topics. The most important outcomes of the conference were “first, that the participants made con­tact and communicated their ideas to the public, and secondly, [the development of] an approach to begin answering the questions of whether or not a manned Mars mission was a viable option for our space program.”[63]

During the four days of the Case for Mars conference, the participants examined not only the technologies required to carry out a future human mission, but assessed the social, economic, and political impacts of such an enterprise. The general con­sensus of the conference participants was that the exploration and settlement of Mars offered a technically feasible, unifying goal for the American space program in the 21st century. The proceedings stated, “this is not only a natural evolutionary step of space development, but it can be a new symbol of the pioneering spirit of America in the eyes of the public.” Mars was seen as a logical next step for the space program because the Martian environment provided resources that could be utilized for in situ manufacturing of life support materials. It was assumed at the time that the Space Shuttle would provide cheap space transportation services, resulting in a Mars expedition that would cost less than the Apollo program.[64]

The attendees produced a list of four precursor missions that would be required before attempting a human landing on Mars. First, to identify a suitable base site, a robotic Mars Polar Orbiter would be required to locate water resources to support the crew. Second, high resolution maps were needed to provide topographic and geological data since the base must be in a safe but scientifically interesting location. Third, a sample return mission would be essential to carryout engineering proof – of-concept tests. Finally, a mission to either Phobos or Deimos was included as a potential launching point for extensive exploration of the Martian surface.[65] The participants produced interrelated technology options to be used when designing the mission profile, which ranged from using a modified Space Shuttle External Tank as a Mars transit vehicle to mining the Martian atmosphere for fuel to artificial gravity. In conclusion, the conferees produced a list of surface activities that could be carried out by the astronaut and scientist crew during its stay. This included construction of underground habitats in a region with access to a confirmable water supply, establishment of processing facilities to utilize Martian resources (to provide air, water, fuel, industrial compounds, building materials, fertilizers, and soil), grow­ing fresh food to supplement stored supplies, and conducting scientific research.[66]

The Case for Mars conferences, which continued every three years until the mid – 1990s when the Mars Society was created (this advocacy organization now holds an annual conference), were essentially a resurrection of the “softening up” process that had been started by the space community during the 1950s. Each conference built on those preceding it, spending time studying the fundamentals of spaceflight (from payloads to orbital trajectories) and establishing a close-knit community of engineers and scientists enthusiastic about sending humans to Mars. In 1984, the second conference was utilized to design a complete space system architecture for a Mars expedition. More importantly, however, the conference attracted attend­ees with greater political influence within the space policy community, among them former NASA Administrator Thomas Paine. The following year, Paine was appointed to lead a blue-ribbon presidential committee tasked with making recom­mendations for the space agency’s future.

SEI Hits the Road

In early May, with congressional support still very much in doubt, the Space Council staff began preparing for President Bush to make a major space policy speech. The intention was that this address would provide some much needed focus for the program, and at the same time allay Congressional fears that Bush was com­mitted to a $400 billion, crash program. Mark Albrecht recalled that by this time NASA had “leaked their numbers out to everybody on the Hill, attempting the crib death of this whole initiative. We still didn’t have the full support of the space agency, I don’t believe even at this time NASA was embracing it. I think they were more worried about the space station than they were interested in setting a new course.” To combat this behind the scenes attack, the White House decided that a presidential rebuttal was needed to make it clear that the Administration was not talking about a crash program[281]

On 11 May, ten days after the space summit, President Bush delivered the com­mencement address at Texas A&I University. He utilized this speech as an opportu­nity to discuss the role the national space program would play in America’s future. Bush told the assembled graduates that SEI formed the cornerstone of his far-reach­ing plan for investing in America’s future, saying, “Thirty years ago, NASA was founded, and the space race began. And 30 years from now I believe man will stand on another planet. And so, I am pleased to return to Texas today to announce a new Age of Exploration, with not only a goal but also a timetable: I believe that before Apollo celebrates the 50th anniversary of its landing on the Moon, the American flag should be planted on Mars.” With this speech, Bush set a timetable for SEI and answered critics that argued he lacked the vision of a great president.[282] As he had done ten months earlier, he did not speak to the cost of achieving these lofty goals. When asked by reporters as he boarded Air Force One where the money would come from to fund the initiative he simply said, “Thirty years is a long time.”[283] Coming in the wake of months of strategizing within the Space Council regarding how to get SEI back on it feet, this answer was most unsatisfying. It left the impres­sion that either Bush was not fully engaged in the decisions that were being made with regard to space policy, or that the White House simply couldn’t produce a good answer to this fundamental question.

As had been the case with his speech announcing SEI the previous summer, the reaction to President Bush’s commencement address was not entirely positive. The New York Times complained he “did not give any estimate… of how much the program would cost. Nor did he discuss whether the mission would be mounted alone or with international partners.”[284] The Washington Post quoted Senator A1 Gore saying, “before the President sets out on his mission to Mars, he should embark on a mission to reality by giving us some even faint indication of where the $500 billion is going to come from.”[285] Dick Malow actually felt that setting a 30-year timeframe weakened the initiative on Capitol Hill. It was the “antithesis of the whole Apollo idea. How do you spread an initiative like this over so many presidential adminis­trations?”[286] These reactions from key Democratic leaders pointed to the difficult position the administration still found itself in due to the expensive policy alterna­tive generated within the 90-Day Study. Even some NASA officials felt that setting a timetable for the initiative was a mistake, believing it would drive costs up whereas a ‘go-as-you-pay’ program would have had a significantly reduced budgetary impact on an annual basis.[287]

Outside the Capitol Beltway, the speech seemed to play even worse. The edito­rial page of Salem, Oregon’s Statesman Journal contended, “A rocket trip to Mars begins on a foundation of common purpose and sound finances at home. A nation that doesn’t know how to balance its budget, reduce a $3 trillion deficit, and fight the decay of its citizens through the effects of drugs, disrupted families and crippled schools will never find the money and willpower to visit the heavens. Bush has given us an empty challenge. We should ask him to return to Texas and repeat the same speech. This time let him add a page at the beginning, one that spells out how this country can first get its feet back on the ground. Then we can head for Mars.”[288] The response was no better in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where the opening line of an opinion editorial read, “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to space we go!”[289] A letter the White House received from a local official in Kittery, Maine (just south of President Bush’s vacation home in Kennebunkport) suggested, “American pride will best be shown by meeting the needs of all the people here on Earth. $500 billion would make a good start.”[290] Once again, this was not the reaction the administration was hoping to elicit from a presidential address on the importance of space exploration.

A few weeks later, Vice President Quayle met briefly with the person the Space Council hoped would be able to build confidence in SEI—Lieutenant General Tom Stafford (USAF-retired). Stafford was a former astronaut who commanded Apollo 10, the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the first lunar landing mission, and the U. S. portion of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. He had recently agreed to head the Explora­tion Outreach Program, which had been created by NASA in response to the Space Council request that the agency seek out new technical approaches that might reduce SEI’s implementation costs. Under this outreach effort, the space agency expected to obtain wide-ranging ideas through public solicitations, which would be evaluated by the RAND Corporation—a California-based think tank. The most promising of these proposals, and others directly from NASA, DOD, and DOE, would then go to a “Synthesis Group” headed by General Stafford. This group’s recommenda­tions would be reviewed by the NRC and reported directly to the Space Council in early 1991. At the meeting with Stafford, Vice President Quayle expressed his belief that the Synthesis Group would serve as a vehicle for generating enthusiasm and support for SEI. He concluded the meeting by conveying his hope that the group would identify at least two fundamentally different approaches to carrying out the initiative.[291]

In early June, at the fourth Case for Mars conference, an alternative emerged that would captivate Mars enthusiasts for years to come—and would work its way into NASA planning years later. The most talked about presentation of the symposium was delivered by Martin Marietta aerospace engineers Robert Zubrin and David Baker. Named ‘Mars Direct,’ their system architecture included several key elements designed to reduce mission costs and increase scientific return, including:

• Direct flight to and from the Martian surface (which eliminated the need to use Space Station Freedom)

• No earth orbit or lunar orbit rendezvous (which eliminated the need for multiple spacecraft)

• Fueling of the Earth Return Vehicle using propellant generated on Mars from the atmosphere

• Extended operations on the Martian surface (up to 555 days)

Although this approach was considered a high risk alternative to the TSG architec­ture highlighted in the 90-Day Study, Zubrin and Baker argued Mars Direct would only cost $20 billion—approximately one-twentieth the price tag associated with the space agency plan. Because it was based on existing technologies packaged in an innovative system architecture, many in the space policy community viewed this as an option worth serious consideration.[292]

In mid-June, the Bush administration set in motion a flurry of events intended to garner public support for SEI. These activities were commenced largely in response to a House Appropriations subcommittee vote to eliminate all spending associated with the initiative.[293] This lobbying effort began with a series of meetings to brief key actors within the space policy community. Held at the White House, the presenta­tions were tailored to the corresponding audiences in a coordinated effort—with Vice President Quayle and Admiral Truly as the featured speakers. The message conveyed to a group of congressional staffers was that a failure to provide funding for SEI would create the impression that the United States lacked the political will to take risks to expand humanity’s reach into the solar system. Reporters that regularly covered NASA were told that SEI would produce significant economic, technical, and educational benefits for the nation. Finally, industry and academic leaders were informed that SEI would be part of an overarching administration strategy designed to foster innovation by permanently extending the research and experimentation tax credit and reducing regulatory burdens on corporations.[294]

These briefings were immediately followed by a major presidential address on space policy at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. After attending a fundraising luncheon for Governor Guy Hunt, President Bush arrived at the center for a tour. This included a visit to the Hubble Space Tele­scope (HST) Orbital Verification Engineering Control Room, where a NASA team was coordinating the adjustment and final checkout of the groundbreaking orbital observatory.[295] Bush then conducted a full press conference on the center grounds. Despite the setting, the majority of the event was spent detailing the American response to ongoing unrest in the Middle East. However, Bush was asked a few questions regarding the national space program, among them one directed at SEI:

Q: A question about space. How serious are you about this lunar base and Mars mission proposal? Would you go so far as to veto the bill that con­tains NASA appropriations if Congress decides to delete all the money?

A: I haven’t even contemplated any veto strategy. I’d like to get what I want. I think it’s in the national interest. I think that the United States must remain way out front on science and technology; and this broad pro­gram that I’ve outlined, seed money that I’ve asked for, should be sup­ported. But I think it’s way too early to discuss a veto strategy. We took one on the chops in a House committee the other day, and I’ve got to turn around now and fight for what I believe.[296]

Following the press confer­ence, the President took the stage before a crowd of 4,000 MSFC employees.[297] President Bush opened his remarks by recalling his campaign speech at MSFC two and a half years earlier, during which he had vowed to launch a dynamic new program of exploration.

Подпись: President Bush at MSFC (NASA History Division, Folder 12601) “I’m pleased to return to Mar­shall to report that we have made good on these prom­ises,” Bush said, “and we’ve done it the old-fashioned way, done it the American way— step by step, program by program, all adding up to the most ambitious and far – reaching effort since Marshall and Apollo took America to the Moon.” He criticized House Democrats for voting to deny funding for SEI-related concept and technol­ogy development, stating that partisan politics had led his opponents to turn their backs on progress. He compared them to naysayers in the Court of Queen Isabella who argued against Columbus’ voyage that discovered the New World. President Bush stated that during the Apollo era, significant funding for the space program had fostered a golden age of technology and advancement—one that he hoped would be equaled by a permanent return to the Moon and crewed missions to Mars. He concluded his remarks with a challenge for Congress “to step forth with the will that the moment requires. Don’t postpone greatness. History tells us what happens to nations that forget how to dream. The American people want us in space. So, let us continue the dream for our students, for ourselves, and for all humankind.”[298] The day after President Bush spoke at MSFC, the administration coordinated a full day of events aimed at further building support for SEI. Newspapers through­out the nation contained opinion editorials written by supporters of the initiative, including: Representative Tom Lewis (R-FL) in the Orlando Sentinel, former astro-

naut Buzz Aldrin in the Los Angeles Times-, Dartmouth University Professor Robert Jastrow in the Baltimore Sun-, and former astronaut Eugene Cernan in the Hous­ton Chronicle.[299] [300] [301] On Capitol Hill, Representatives Bob Walker and Newt Gingrich hosted a press conference praising Bush for his leadership with regard to the Ameri­can space program. On the Senate floor, Senator Jake Garn formally introduced the program and Senators Bob Dole, Phil Gramm, and Malcolm Wallop spoke on SEI’s behalf. In the late afternoon Vice President Quayle appeared in a series of satellite interviews in targeted states, including California, Florida, Texas, and Virginia. Finally, the Republican National Committee released radio actualities in key districts around the country.3839 By mid-June, there was a feeling that “SEI was gaining momentum.”[302]

National Commission on Space

In 1981, after the initial flight of the Space Shuttle, NASA began to formulate plans for its next large human spaceflight program. During the next two years, the space agency laid the foundation for a presidential decision in support of a space

station. NASA Administrator James Beggs regularly justified the station as the “next logical step” for the civilian space program. When policy makers outside the space agency inquired what an orbiting laboratory was a step toward, NASA officials answered that there were a great many missions that a space station could support. NASA, however, resisted pressure from President Reagans Science Advisor, George Keyworth, to link the station with an eventual human mission to Mars. Beggs, remembering the negative outcome of the STG s endorsement of an expedition to the red planet, decided that the timing was not right to associate the space station with such an undertaking.[67]

In 1984, Congress adopted legislation requiring President Reagan to appoint a National Commission on Space to develop a long-term agenda for the American space program. In March of the following year, Reagan chose Thomas Paine to lead a commission that included Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager, and UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick. The selection of Paine, who had spent the past 15 years arguing in favor of an aggressive space program, almost ensured a report that supported an expansive future for NASA. The 15-member commission, which held public hear­ings to solicit ideas, worked for over a year to prepare its report—which was com­pleted a few days after the 28 January 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger accident. This unfortunate coincidence limited any potential short-term impact the report might have had. In May 1986, Bantam Books published it in a glossy volume entitled Pioneering the Space Frontier,[68] Subtitled “An exciting vision of our next fifty years in space,” the report of the National Commission on Space was dedicated to the seven astronauts that had died in the tragic Challenger disaster.[69] That catastrophe had focused much attention on NASA’s shortcomings at the same time the commis­sion was offering a bold new vision for the future of the space program. Despite a skeptical reaction to the study from Congress, the media, and the public, the report had a significant impact on human spaceflight strategic planning in the years after 1986.[70]

The members of the National Commission on Space stated that the primary goal of the study was to provide a rationale that would set the American space program on a path to “lead the exploration and development of the space frontier, advanc­ing science, technology, and enterprise, and building institutions and systems that make accessible vast new resources and support human settlements beyond Earth orbit, from the highlands of the Moon to the plains of Mars.” To achieve those objectives, the commission put forward specific recommendations that outlined a logical approach for the future of the space agency. These proposals supported three overarching national goals for the civilian space program: earth and space science; human exploration and settlement of the solar system; and the development of space commerce.[71]

The section of the report dealing with exploration, prospecting, and settling the solar system set out a coherent phased approach for human spaceflight in the 21st century. The first phase entailed sending robotic probes to discover and characterize resources that could be used for later voyages to Mars. During the second phase, more sophisticated missions would be sent Marsward to obtain and return samples to Earth. The third phase would involve robotic and human exploration of the red planet. During this final phase, permanent Martian outposts would be established to support ongoing exploration. The overall tenor of these recommendations sug­gested that human extraction of chemical and mineral resources on the red planet would be one of the primary long-term goals of the space program.[72]

To support its bold vision for the future of the space program, the commis­sion recommended the establishment of seven demonstration programs to advance key technologies for expansion into the solar system, including: flight research on aerospace plane propulsion and aerodynamics; advanced rocket vehicles; aero-brak­ing for orbital transfer; long-duration closed-ecosystems (including water, air, and food); electric launch and propulsion systems; nuclear-electric space power; and space tethers and artificial gravity. The report further stated that the most impor­tant action the government could take to open the space frontier was to drastically reduce transportation costs within the inner solar system. The group advocated completing a new space transportation architecture—including an aerospace plane, cargo vehicle, and space transfer vehicle—that could replace the Shuttle fleet by the turn of the century. A next generation aerospace plane would be capable of provid­ing flexible, routine, and economical passenger service into low Earth orbit (LEO). A large cargo vehicle would be capable of delivering payloads into LEO at a cost of $200 per pound. Finally, a space transfer vehicle would be “developed to initiate a ‘Bridge Between Worlds.’”[73]

The National Commission on Space concluded that following its fifty-year stra­tegic plan for the future of the space program would have three tangible benefits, “‘pulling-through’ advances in science and technology of critical importance to the

Nation’s future economic strength and national security.. .providing direct economic returns from new space-based enterprises that capitalize upon broad, low-cost access to space, and…opening new worlds on the space Frontier, with vast resources that can free humanity’s aspirations from the limitations of our small planet of birth.”[74] The commission calculated that to accomplish the goals its report advocated, the annual NASA budget would have to increase threefold—to approximately $20 bil­lion a year. John Noble Wilford wrote in his book Mars Beckons that Pioneering the Space Frontier received a frosty reception because “its far-reaching proposals seemed to bear too much of a resemblance to science fiction to be embraced by political leaders. And the more modest recommendations tended to get lost in the ‘Bridge Between Worlds’ imagery of Buck Rogers spaceships.” During the mid-1980s, the American public was not highly receptive to long-range, costly space endeavors. As a result, both the White House and Congress largely disregarded the report of the National Commission on Space.[75]

Despite the negative reaction to the study, momentum began to build for a presidential decision making exploration of Mars the next objective of the human spaceflight program. One reason for endorsing this goal was the increased mission planning that the Soviets were undertaking to set the stage for an expedition to the red planet early in the 21st century. In the coming year, a dozen major publications advocated setting Mars exploration as the primary future goal of NASA—ranging from the New York Times to The New Republic. Support for Mars exploration was far from unanimous, however, with prominent space policy experts arguing for more limited programs aimed at better space science, earth science, and a permanent return to the Moon. In the face of these conflicting viewpoints, NASA decided to conduct its own study of options for the future of the space program.[76]

Losing Faith in NASA

Despite any progress that may have been made during mid-June, the emergence of a series of crises at the end of the month halted any momentum the administra­tion had gained. On 26 June, NASA held a press conference to reveal that its engi­neers had discovered a crippling flaw in the main light gathering mirrors of the $1.5 billion HST. The space agency reported that this defect would mean the largest and most complex civilian orbiting observatory ever launched would not be able to view the depths of space until a permanent correction could be made—which would likely have to wait two to three years for an astronaut visit with newly manufactured parts. Although many of the instruments aboard the HST would still be functional, the impacted wide-field and planetary camera would be inoperable (reducing by 40% the planned scientific work of the platform). Project managers announced they suspected the problem was in one of two precisely ground mirrors, although they were not sure which one. The two mirrors had tested perfectly on Earth, but once in orbit, they failed to perform together as expected—they were not tested together on the ground because of the huge potential expense and inability to replicate a zero-g environment. Associate Administrator for Space Science Dr. Lennard Fisk disclosed that the agency was forming a review board to investigate the problem.[303]

Two days after the HST revelation, NASA was forced to ground the entire space shuttle fleet because the Columbia and Atlantis had developed deadly hydrogen leaks. NASA was forced to admit that they did not know the cause of the leaks, although one possibility was a misalignment between the external tank and the orbiter vehicles. Program managers announced that expert teams of engineers were working feverishly to solve the problem before at least two missions were postponed to make way for the upcoming launch of the Ulysses spacecraft—a probe designed to study the sun. Coming on the heels of the HST announcement, this effectively killed any energy generated by recent administration activities designed to garner support for SEI.[304] The Washington Post opined, “the failure of the telescope, which two months ago rode into space amid great fanfare in the hold of a Space Shuttle, led more than a few Americans to wonder whether their country can get anything right anymore. The questioning became even more poignant…when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that the shuttles, too, would be grounded indefinitely because of vexing and dangerous fuel leakages. [These prob­lems] may foster beliefs that the United States is a sunset power, incapable of repeat­ing its technological feats of the past.”[305] On Capitol Hill, Dick Malow recalled thinking that these problems greatly hampered the administrations ability to make a case for SEI. “There were a lot of other things on NASA’s plate and that hiccup certainly was a detractor. Given the budget environment, Hubble became the focus and SEI tended to get pushed back” on the congressional agenda.[306]

During this same period, the House Appropriations Committee released its mark-up of NASA’s budget. Although the space agency would receive a significant overall increase of $2.1 billion ($800 million less than the president’s request), the entire budget for SEI was eliminated. Fears that had been raised during budget hearings in April were confirmed. The committee had surgically removed all new monies associated with the initiative (see Table on next page).

Space Station (advanced programs)


Advanced Launch System


Heavy-Lift Vehicle




Lunar Observer


Exploration Mission Studies


Pathfinder Program


Civil Space Technology Initiative




SEI Budget Cuts

The budget report indicated that the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs should remain NASA’s top priorities. It stated that even if additional funds became available in the future, they should be directed toward these important programs rather than being targeted at SEI.[307] Chairman Traxler was quoted in the Washing­ton Post saying, “We didn’t have the money.”[308] The Senate Commerce Commit­tee promptly followed suit with the release of an authorization bill that similarly eliminated funding for SEI. Senator A1 Gore, who authored the legislation, said he feared that funding the initiative would endanger on-going efforts, in particular the Mission to Planet Earth.[309]

By early July, NASA was clearly reeling from this series of setbacks—with SEI a clear casualty, and in some respects a cause, of the outspoken criticism focused on the agency. The view within the White House was that the space program had been terribly crippled.[310] In his memoirs, Vice President Quayle wrote, “The Shuttle seemed to be grounded all the time with fuel leaks; the mirror on the Hubble tele­scope couldn’t focus; and the agency was pushing a space station design that was so overblown it looked as if we were asking to launch a big white elephant. The mood

at the Space Council was grim___ I was searching for a solution for NASA.”[311] On

11 July, Vice President Quayle invited a group of space experts (including Tom Paine, Gene Cernan, Dr. Bruce Murray from the California Institute of Technology, and Dr. Hans Mark of the University of Texas) aboard Air Force Two for a meeting to discuss the systemic problems with NASA. He asked for opinions regarding the appropriate actions, if any, the administration should take. During the meeting, an idea emerged to establish a task force to examine how the space program could be restructured to better support an era of sustained long-term space operations. Quayle liked the idea.

Six days later, Vice President Quayle hosted asecond meeting at the White House with senior administration officials Bill Kristol, Mark Albrecht, Admiral Truly, and Chief of Staff Sununu to discuss procedures to create such a panel. Quayle recalled

in his memoirs:

I wanted [the study] to get NASA moving again. If that was going to happen, then the commission had to have the authority to look into every aspect of the space agency. The result was a long negotiation about the commission’s scope. Truly’s original position was that it should look only at the future management structure of NASA—that is, what would come after the space station was built. “No,” I said, “it will look at the current management situation.” Truly next tried to exempt programs from review, and I said “No, programs will be reviewed as well.” He asked that the space station be “off the table” and said that we would all be better served if both it and the Moon-Mars missions were off limits to the commission. In other words, the commission shouldn’t pay attention to all the most important things we were trying to do during the next couple of decades. “I’m sorry,”

I said to Truly, “but everything is on the table, and let the chips fall where

they may__ ” I tried to soothe Truly’s feelings by making the commission

report through him to me.

By the end of the meeting, Quayle had directed Truly to put together an outside task force to consider the future long-term direction of the space program. That same afternoon the White House announced the creation of the board. On 25

July, the White House announced that Martin Marietta CEO Norm Augustine had been selected to chair the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U. S. Space Program. The 12-member task force was charged with reporting its findings within 120 days.[312] For all intents and purposes, combined with the work being conducted by Tom Staffords Synthesis Group, this put SEI on hold for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps the final blow for SEI came when final House-Senate budget delibera­tions began a few months later. In early September, upholding the cuts that appro­priated had made earlier, the Senate released a bill that eliminated all funding for SEI. The Senates intent was to maintain NASA’s core programs and remove any funding for new projects. The report accompanying the bill explained the Senate’s motivation for eliminating support for SEI:

…the Committee recommendation includes no funds for the Moon-Mars initiative because of the very severe limits imposed upon the overall NASA

budget__ The large increase recommended by the Presidents budget…

simply cannot be accommodated within a framework that restrains all domestic discretionary programs at the level insisted upon by the

administration___ The Committee believes that it is premature to proceed

with an extensive planning and technology program oriented toward a manned mission to return to the Moon and then to Mars without a clear, sustainable revenue source available for such an undertaking. NASA’s preliminary studies on a manned mission to the Moon and Mars estimate a total program cost of over $500,000,000,000. The Committee believes that these figures will likely underestimate the potential cost of such a mission, and believe that moving on such an initiative, in the absence of providing a way to pay for it, is ill-advised in an era of enormous fiscal constraint.[313]

The following month, House-Senate conference report was released, confirming the elimination of all funding for the initiative.[314] The real world result of these budget cuts was the death, at least from a congressional perspective, of SEI.

Dick Malow recalled, “because of the budget crunch SEI was an easy target. By that time, it became viewed as a non-starter. We were barely able to fund Station and were supporting Shuttle strongly. Given the budget climate we couldn’t spend $400 billion. The initiative started to fall off the cliff by the middle of 1990. The Administration kept going through the motions, but SEI basically went from birth to death in twelve to fifteen months, and was never heard from again. Station, on the other hand, was continually pushed by the administration.”[315] [316] Stephen Kohashi concurred with this assessment, remembering, “the primary concern regarding the FY 1991 NASA appropriation was having to deal with the rising cost profile of previously initiated projects such as the Space Station, Earth Observation System, and space science missions. No one had the stomach to commit to another program start, no matter how modest the initial price given the relative magnitude of out – year costs.

The only good news during this period was the decision by the House and Senate authorization committees to reinstate a small amount of funding for SEI-related research. In middle November, the authorizers approved $21 million for explora­tion mission studies. The purpose of these analyses was to “seek innovative tech­nologies that will make possible advanced human exploration initiatives, such as the establishment of a lunar base and the succeeding mission to Mars, and provide high

yield technology advancements for the national economy___ ”[317] This would prove to

be the only funding the initiative ever received.

The Ride Report

In 1986, NASA Administrator James Fletcher asked former astronaut Dr. Sally Ride to chair a task force assigned to respond to the National Commission on Space report and to develop focused alternatives for the agency’s future. In August of the following year, the committee released its report entitled Leadership and America’s Future in Space. In its preface the study suggested that in the aftermath of the Chal­lenger accident there were two conflicting views regarding the proper course for the space program. On one hand, many believed that NASA should adopt a major, visionary goal. On the other hand, many judged that the agency was already over­committed and should not take on another major program. The Ride Committee sided with the first group, although it concluded that the space program should not pursue a single visionary initiative to the exclusion of all others. It contended that championing a solitary project was not good science or good policy making, but argued that the space program did need a strategy to regain and retain leadership in space endeavors.[77]

The Ride Report identified four candidate initiatives for study, each bold enough to restore the United States to a position of leadership in space. Those proposals included:

• Mission to Planet Earth: a program designed to obtain a comprehen­sive scientific understanding of the entire Earth system—particularly emphasizing the impact of environmental changes on humanity

• Exploration of the Solar System: a robotic exploration program designed to continue the quest to understand our planetary system (including a comet rendezvous, a mission to Saturn, and three sample return mis­sions to Mars)

• Outpost on the Moon: a program designed to build upon the Apollo legacy with a new phase of lunar exploration and development, con­cluding with the establishment of a permanent moon base by 2010

• Humans to Mars: a program designed to land a crew of astronauts early in the 21st century and eventually develop a permanent outpost on the red planet

The panel made clear, however, that the report “was not intended to culminate in the selection of one initiative and the elimination of the other three, but rather to provide four concrete examples that would catalyze and focus the discussion of the objectives of the civilian space program and the efforts required to pursue them.”

If the Humans to Mars option was pursued, the report recommended a three – prong exploration strategy. During the 1990s, the first prong would involve com­prehensive robotic exploration, concluding with a pair of Mars Rover/Sample Return missions. The second prong would entail utilizing an orbiting space station to perform an assertive life sciences program intended to examine the physiologi­cal effects of long-duration spaceflight—the ultimate goal being to decide whether

Mars-bound spacecraft would require artificial gravity. During the final prong, the space agency would “design, prepare for, and perform three fast piloted round-trip missions to Mars. These flights would enable the commitment, by 2010, to con­struct an outpost on Mars.” The panel favored one-year human missions to the red planet, with astronauts exploring the planetary surface for 10 to 20 days. The plan called for slow, low-energy cargo vehicles to precede and rendezvous with the piloted spacecraft in Martian orbit. These cargo ships would take everything needed for surface activities, plus the fuel required for the return trip. The Ride Report indicated that the ultimate goal of the initiative was to recapture leadership in space activities.[78]

While human exploration of Mars received equal footing with the other three initiatives proposed by the committee, the report argued that an expedition to the red planet should not be the immediate goal of the space agency. The committee wrote, “…settling Mars should be our eventual goal, but it should not be our next goal. Understanding the requirements and implications of building and sustaining a permanent base on another world is equally important. We should adopt a strat­egy of natural progression which leads step by step, in an orderly, unhurried way, inexorably toward Mars.” This finding seemed to mesh with the general feeling of top NASA officials. In fact, Administrator Fletcher stated at the time his belief that Americans should return to the Moon before heading on to Mars. On the other hand, supporters of human exploration of the red planet argued that developing a lunar base would utilize resources that should be applied toward a journey to Mars. Thus, in the aftermath of the Ride Report it was still unclear what strategy the American space program should adopt as it neared the 21st century—although the report had provided policy makers with four well-conceived future alternatives.[79]

The Augustine and Synthesis Group Reports

In early December, with the Advisory Committee on the Future of U. S. Space Policy largely finished with its report, Vice President Quayle held a celebratory dinner at his official residence for the panelists. What was planned to be a salutation for a job well done, however, quickly became a working session that repackaged

the groups findings. Over dinner, Quayle asked what exciting new projects the committee was going to propose. Norm Augustine told him that they had ranked five space endeavors in order of priority: space science, technology development, Earth science, creation of a new launch vehicle to replace the space shuttle, and human exploration of Mars. Following a general discussion, OMB Director Rich­ard Darman lectured the group on how budget priorities worked. Listing some­thing last, he said, was an invitation to eliminate it. He asked rhetorically whether the commission really wished to announce to Congress and the public that space exploration was so unimportant that it could be scrapped. As the dessert course was served, the panel members agreed to recast their report—space science would remain the top priority, but the report would articulate the need for a balanced pro­gram and would not prioritize the remaining project areas. As Darman left for the evening, his farewell to Quayle was, “Thank you for a fine dinner, Dan. Good thing I came. I saved your damn report.”[318]

On 10 December, Norm Augustine presented the findings and recommenda­tions of the advisory panel to the full Space Council. The group’s most important finding was that the space program needed to shift its fundamental rationale from one dominated by national prestige, national security, and foreign policy (although these remained contributing motivations) to one predicated on global economic competitiveness and environmental protection. The committee determined that a reinvigorated space program would require increases in the NASA budget of 10% annually, reaching a peak of $30 billion by the end of the decade. This appropria­tion level would support science and technology programs, Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE), Space Station Freedom, a new heavy-lift launcher, and SEI. The panel concluded, however, that if NASA could not obtain authorization from the Admin­istration and Congress at this level, then MTPE and SEI should be scaled back (if not eliminated).[319] Based on these findings, the advisory committee made five over­arching recommendations:

• Sustaining space science programs as the highest priority element of the civil space program

• Obtaining exclusions for a portion of NASA’s employees from existing civil service rules or, failing that, beginning a gradual conversion of

selected centers to Federally Funded Research and Development Centers affiliated with universities, using as a model the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

• Redesigning Space Station Freedom to lessen complexity and reduce cost

• Pursuing a Mission^»? Planet Earth as a complement to Mission to Planet Earth, with the former having Mars exploration as its long-term goal and adopting a go-as-you-pay funding strategy

• Reducing dependence on the Space Shuttle by phasing over to a new unmanned heavy-lift launch vehicle for all but missions requiring human presence.

Although the panel felt it was premature to set a timetable for a crewed mission to the red planet, it did believe that Mars exploration was a valuable long-term goal for the space program because large organizations operate better when they have a challenging objective to guide future planning. The report itself stated that without the existence of an enduring aspiration, “we would lose the jewel represented by the vision of a seemingly unattainable goal, the technologies engendered, and the motivation provided to our nation’s scientists and engineers, its laboratories and industries, its students and its citizens.”[320]

At a press conference following the Space Council meeting, Vice President Quayle declared his support for the recommendations. Fie communicated his intention to task the Space Council and OMB staffs to prepare a specific plan for implement­ing the reports recommendations within 30 days.[321] Quayle wrote later, “The report the Commission submitted…was, no matter how politely phrased and presented, devastating. ‘Among the concerns that have most often been heard,’ it noted, ‘has been the suggestion that the civil space program has gradually become afflicted with some of the same ailments that are found in many other large, mature institutions, particularly those institutions which have no direct and immediate competition to stimulate change.’ The Space Council was now the competition, at least when it came to making policy, and we wanted the programs to be cheaper, smaller, and faster.”[322] The Space Council staff actually thought the report wasn’t hard enough on NASA. Mark Albrecht recalled the findings were “a little milder than we had hoped for and anticipated, but were considered quite strong in the community at large.”[323]

Press reaction to the Augustine report was relatively muted, mainly because everyone seemed to agree that the committee had assembled a thoughtful collec­tion of recommendations. The Administration was content and Congress seemed to be equally happy. Dick Malow recalled that it was “generally considered to be an excellent study. It was well received, particularly because there was a strong emphasis on science.”[324] Representative Bill Nelson, Chairman of the House Space Subcom­mittee, called it “the report of the decade.” Early rumblings within NASA, however, signaled that the agency’s engineers and managers were not entirely happy with the report—particularly with regard to the Shuttle. While praising the study in general terms, Admiral Truly expressed his reluctance to condemn the Shuttle. In fact, he urged the administration to consider building a fifth orbiter and to preserve the capability to build additional spacecraft. This signaled a continued disconnect between the strategic direction of the Space Council and NASA.[325]

After the report was released, even outspoken supporters of human spaceflight were saying that it was time to put plans for lunar and Martian exploration on hold. Former NASA Administrator Thomas Paine (a member of the Advisory Com­mittee) was quoted saying “the ’90s are going to be a decade of rethinking and regrouping.” Ray Williamson from the Office ofTechnology Assessment concurred, stating “Humans to Mars is much more a question of when than if. But a realiza­tion is percolating through the space community that we had better back off. I think the budget issues will force rethinking as to the balance between manned and unmanned missions.” Former Director General of the European Space Agency Roy Gibson opined that “we are quite likely to cause European ministerial support for space to decline further if this moment is chosen for a clarion call for a new mam­moth [human] space spectacular.” The concern in Europe seemed to be that SEI would detract attention from Space Station Freedom, to which the international partners had already committed time and resources.[326]

The following May, with SEI in a basically lifeless state, the Synthesis Group submitted its final report to the White House. Unlike the TSG, the panel focused its architectures on specific strategic goals—which provided policy makers with a somewhat enhanced set of alternatives. Like the TSG, however, the group based all of its options on a singe technical approach. While the former group had focused on chemical in-space propulsion systems, the latter favored nuclear-thermal systems— this was the fundamental technological difference between the TSG and Synthesis Group. The architectural options introduced by Stafford’s panel included:

• Mars Exploration: the major objective of this architecture was to conduct scientific exploration of Mars, while the emphasis of activities performed on the Moon was primarily to prepare for Mars missions

• Science Emphasis for the Moon and Mars: this architecture’s prime focus was balanced scientific return from both the Moon and Mars missions, both robotic and human

• Moon to Stay and Mars Exploration: this architecture emphasized permanent human presence on the Moon, combined with Mars exploration, to promote long term human habitation and exploration in space

• Space Resource Utilization: this architecture emphasized the development of lunar resources to provide energy for Earth and the production of propellants for lunar and solar system exploration.

The first three architectures progressed in both complexity and resource require­ments (although no actual budget estimates were provided), with the third being the closest to the basic reference approach introduced in the 90-Day Study. After receiv­ing the report, the administration chose to evaluate it for a month before releasing it publicly. In early June, 40,000 copies of the colorful 180-page document were circulated to the media, industry, educators, government agencies, and international organizations.[327]

Reaction to the Synthesis Group report was decidedly mixed. Some believed it provided the alternatives the 90-Day Study had not, while others contended it was woefully short on crucial details. Vice President Quayle believed it would serve as a valuable tool in making the case for increased funding for space exploration. George Washington University’s John Logsdon, on the other hand, argued the report was “a validation of NASA’s argument that there aren’t a lot of bright new ideas out there that it hasn’t considered.” By far the most verbalized criticism of the report was that it provided no cost estimates for the various architectures it introduced. Regardless, the study had little chance of positively impacting the implementation of SEI. By the time the report came out, the initiative was no longer politically viable. The

White House was not focusing on SEI as a means to reform NASA. Instead, the Space Council was taking initial actions intended to change the space agency’s lead­ership.56

President Reagan and NASA’s Office of Exploration

During its deliberations, the Ride task force recommended that an organization be created to perform systematic planning for the nations civil space program. In July 1987, Administrator James Fletcher established the NASA Office of Explora­tion to coordinate the agency’s efforts to promote missions to the Moon and Mars. Fletcher appointed John Aaron, a longtime NASA official, as the first Assistant Administrator for the bureau. Among Aarons first assignments was to conduct a study, building on the Paine and Ride reports, looking at options for the long range human exploration of the solar system. This effort, which involved representatives from seven NASA field centers and five headquarters program offices, continued for more than a year.[80]

On 19 December 1988, the Office of Exploration submitted to Fletcher its first annual report, Beyond Earth’s Boundaries: Human Exploration of the Solar System in the 21st Century—which was the final product of the office’s year-long strate­gic study. The study team examined two different alternatives for future human exploration. First, the space agency could develop a series of expeditions that would travel from Earth to new destinations in the solar system. Second, the space agency could focus on an evolutionary expansion into the solar system that would concen­trate more on permanence and the exploitation of resources. The NASA-wide effort utilized a technique called exploration case-studies, whereby a series of technical and policy “what if” questions were asked to judge the viability of several mission options. Beyond Earth’s Boundaries examined four specific case studies:

• a round-trip human mission from Earth to the Martian moon Phobos, which would serve as a stepping stone to a landing on red planet

• a direct human mission to the surface of Mars

• establishment of a human scientific research station on the Moon

• a lunar outpost to Mars outpost plan, which emphasized the use of the Moon as a springboard for further exploration of the solar system

The study team concluded that an expedition to Phobos could be a valuable interim step to a human landing on the Martian surface, offsetting some of the uncertainties that the latter mission could encounter. They also found that utilizing the Moon as a springboard for expansion into the solar system had a number of advantages, such as learning to construct habitats, extract and process mineral resources, and operate and maintain exploratory machinery. It was also believed that using the Moon as a fuel depot would appreciably reduce the total Earth launch mass, greatly cutting overall programmatic costs. In the end, the report favored establishment of a scientific research station on the Moon as a logical stepping-stone to both a per­manent lunar outpost and a full-up Mars expedition. The study team did not sup­port a “crash” human exploration program, regardless of the alternative chosen by policy makers. Instead, it preferred that NASA conduct long-lead technology and life sciences research during the 1990s—including the completion of Space Station Freedom. It was contended that this would provide government officials with the requisite data to make a decision before the turn of the century regarding the best alternative for expansion into the solar system.[81]

During the period that the Office of Exploration was conducting its study, work was going on within the Reagan administration to generate a new national space policy. In 1982, the White House had produced a national space policy under the auspices of the National Security Council. That document stated the central role of the Space Shuttle in the national security and civil space sectors.[82] [83] In the interim, however, there had been important changes in the American space program— including the Challenger accident, a greater emphasis on commercial applications, and the National Commission on Space report. Throughout the latter half of 1987, a Senior Interagency Group (SIC) for Space conducted a comprehensive review that reflected those and other changes in the policy environment. On 11 February 1988, an unclassified summary of the Presidential Directive on National Space Policy was publicly released. The stated goals of the space policy were:

• to strengthen national security

• to obtain scientific, technological, and economic benefits

• to encourage continuing private-sector investment in space related activities

• to promote international cooperation; and, as a long-range goal

• to expand human presence and activity beyond Earth orbit into the solar system

This presidential directive was the first time since Kennedy’s May 1961 speech that human exploration beyond Earth orbit formally made it onto the government agenda. To implement this new policy, the document directed NASA to begin the systematic development of technologies necessary to enable a range of future human

* * 49


Despite the appearance that President Reagan had made a momentous commit­ment to sending humans beyond Earth orbit, many space policy experts question the strength of the pledge. American University’s Howard McCurdy argues that the policy directive was merely a “gesture designed to please NASA bureaucrats and space exploration advocates who were clamoring for an expedition to Mars.” George Washington University’s John Logsdon contends that for all intents and purposes the policy was meaningless because it committed the administration to no spe­cific new exploration program. Finally, the Congressional Research Service’s Marcia Smith makes the case that human exploration outside the Earth system was not actually part of the government agenda during the Reagan administration; it was simply part of the “space agenda.” Despite the weak commitment to the proposal, however, the presidential directive did generate further momentum for the adoption a Moon-Mars initiative by the next president.[84]

SEI Fades Away

In September 1991, two years of White House frustration with Admiral Truly came to ahead when NASA Deputy Administrator J. R. Thompson tendered his res­ignation. The job was a presidential appointment and provided the Space Council with an opportunity to select someone who would support President Bush’s vision for the future. Mark Albrecht was responsible for making the selection, but was sur­prised to find that no one would take the position as long as Admiral Truly remained administrator. Despite being an outspoken critic of the administrator, Albrecht was surprised by how widespread anti-Truly feelings were. After briefing Vice President Quayle regarding the status of the search, he was asked to assess whether there was support for Truly’s removal. In early December, Quayle and Albrecht met with three former NASA administrators—Jim Beggs, Thomas Paine, and Jim Fletcher. During the course of the meeting each of the three reiterated a common message—Truly had to go.[328] [329]

After conferring with President Bush, Vice President Quayle summoned Admi­ral Truly to the White House and requested that he step aside as administrator. He offered to appoint Truly to any open ambassadorship in the world in exchange for his resignation. The administrator said he would consider the proposal. A few days later, however, he sent a message to the Quayle stating he would not resign. “Then he went into utter radio silence for a week, maybe two weeks,” remembers a Quayle staffer. Then, out of the blue, Albrecht received a phone call from the newly appointed White House Chief of Staff, Samuel Skinner. Apparently Truly had made an appointment with Skinner, in an attempt to plead his case. Quayle and Albrecht were outraged at the administrator’s audacity. It was even more startling, however, when Truly again refused to resign when Skinner reiterated Quayle’s earlier resigna­tion request. “I want to hear it from the President’s lips,” Truly told Skinner. By this

time it was early February 1992.[330] [331]

Подпись: Admiral Truly, President Bush, and J.R. Thompson (Folder 12601, NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, Washington, DC) SEI Fades AwayOn 10 February, at about five o’clock in the afternoon, Truly was once again summoned to the White House—this time to the Oval Office. After a half hour with President Bush, he finally agreed to submit his resignation. As with most other major space policy decisions made by the Bush administration, there were mixed reactions to the decision to fire Admiral Truly. Many space experts were not terribly surprised by the White House move. John Logsdon (a newly appointed member of the Vice President’s Space Advisory Board) told The Washington Post that Truly “did an extremely valuable job in getting the Shuttles flying again, and restoring a sense of integrity to the agency… [however], Truly’s vision of the future was not compatible with the realities of the world.” Others were troubled by the signal this forced resignation sent regarding the future course of the space program. Senator A1 Gore was quoted saying, “I view this as a very troubling sign that.. .Quayle’s Space Council may have forced Admiral Truly to leave this job because of the [Space Council’s] insistence on running NASA from the Vice President’s office.”®

The day after Truly stepped down, President Bush stopped Mark Albrecht in the hallway as the former was on his way to a meeting. “Your job,” the President told him, “is to get me the best NASA Administrator in history, and do it before Truly’s resignation is effective.” Truly was to resign effective 1 April, which meant that Albrecht only had 45 days to have a replacement in place—which would mean a faster confirmation process than anyone during the entire course of the Bush presidency. Within a few days, Albrecht had compiled a short list of potential can­
didates. Everyone on the list was well known within the space policy community, except for one name that quickly rose to the top of the heap. Dan Goldin was a relatively obscure middle manager at TRW who a few years earlier had pitched an idea for a smaller, cheaper version of the NASA Earth Observation System (EOS). A mechanical engineer who received his B. S. from City College of New York in 1962, Goldin’s first job after graduating was at NASA’s Lewis Research Center—where he dreamed of sending humans to Mars. Within five years, however, he left the agency to join TRW and work on classified defense programs. He was a rising star at the company, and in the mid-1980s became heavily engaged in the nations top – priority Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Early in the Bush administration, the National Space Council staff took note of Goldin’s dynamic and innovative poli­cies at TRW—particularly his use of very advanced microelectronic technology to launch smaller spacecraft. Albrecht and Vice President Quayle believed Goldin was exactly what the agency needed, someone willing to shake things up and get results. Albrecht recalled having dinner with Goldin and thinking, “this is a keeper, he understands the confluence between technology and risk and cost and schedule.” Albrecht became Goldin’s biggest champion within the White House. “I always wanted Dan to be the guy,” Albrecht remembered, “I kept sending the Vice Presi­dent lists of names and it always had Dan Goldin on it.”[332]

The bigger question the administration faced was whether Goldin, or anyone for that matter, would want to take on the position of NASA administrator. With Presi­dent Bush’s approval ratings down in an election year, anyone who chose to take the position could easily find themselves out of a job if the Democrats retook the White House in November. For Goldin in particular, who had a high paying job in industry, there seemed to be a lot of reasons to stay put in California. Regardless, he was ready for a move and was flattered by the presidential offer. More importantly, he still maintained the love affair with space that he had when he joined NASA in the early 1960s—and he still wanted America to go to Mars. Thus, in early March, he decided to take his chances and agreed to accept the nomination to head the space agency. Just before his nomination was submitted, however, a small problem emerged. In his book Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir, author Bryan Burrough detailed an astonishing interaction between Goldin and his White House sponsors in early March.

One night Goldin mentioned to Albrecht that, by the way, did it matter that he was a registered Democrat?

Albrecht nearly choked. “Dan, you are to tell no one this,” he said. “Do you understand? No one.”

Albrecht hung up and phoned Quayle. “I’ve got fabulous news, he told the Vice President. “Dan Goldin is a registered Democrat.”

“You are kidding me.”

“No, Pm not.”

And then Dan Quayle chuckled and mentioned the obvious. In that case, Goldin ought to sail through his confirmation hearings in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

On 11 March, with this issue settled, the White House announced that it was put­ting Dan Goldin forward as its nominee to be the next administrator of NASA.[333]

Overall, the response to Dan Goldin after he arrived in Washington and began making the rounds on Capitol Hill was extremely positive. “The general reaction to Goldin,” said one backer, “was, ‘Jesus, who the hell was that guy? He’s great! Where did you find him?”’ During his senatorial confirmation hearings the panel greeted him warmly, but cautioned that he was walking into a budget mess. Goldin told the committee he intended to sharpen accountability and control costs in NASA pro­grams in a way that would win more stable funding support in Congress. Respond­ing to concerns that he would simply be a Space Council puppet, Goldin stated, “I will be in charge of NASA.” Goldin was approved overwhelmingly with a mandate for change from both the White House and Congress. On the afternoon of 1 April, Goldin was sworn-in during a brief ceremony in the Oval Office.[334] Seven months later, President Bush was defeated for reelection by Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

While it was initially unclear where President Clinton stood on space, although he had supported continuation of space station program during the election, it became obvious early in his tenure that the American space program was not a top priority on his agenda. Within weeks of taking office, he disbanded the National Space Council and tasked Vice President A1 Gore with directing national space policy. Gore had been very impressed with Dan Goldin during the latter’s confir­mation hearings the previous spring, which explains why Goldin was the highest ranking Bush appointee to remain in place under the new administration.[335] In early February 1993, the fate of the American human spaceflight effort became shock­ingly clear when Goldin was summoned to the White House. During a meeting with OMB Director Leon Panetta, the administrator was informed that President Clinton’s budget would cut funding for the space agency by 20%. As a result, there was no alternative but to kill the Space Station program.[336] “The blood drained out of my face,” Goldin later remembered. Before the meeting ended, however, Goldin had successfully lobbied for a few days to prepare a working budget that would maintain a commitment to the Space Station. He believed without the Station, NASA had no future—and would certainly never make it to Mars.[337]

Over the subsequent weekend, Goldin summoned key NASA staffers from around the country to a crisis meeting in suburban Virginia. Over the course of a sleepless 72-hours, the team generated three alternatives for shrinking the existing Station plans. The following Monday, Goldin used a collection of Lego building blocks to build primitive models of Plan A and Plan B, and a single cardboard toilet – paper holder for Plan C. That Tuesday, he used the mock-ups at a briefing for Presi­dent Clinton’s senior staff. He was pleasantly surprised at the end of the meeting to get the go-ahead to fully develop the three new options within 90 days in an emer­gency redesign effort. The space station eventually avoided cancellation, although its budget was slashed by $7 billion over five years. The Clinton administration later brought the Russians into the program as partners on what was renamed the International Space Station—this program became the primary human spaceflight initiative for the remainder of the decade.[338] It was clear that the Clinton administra­tion had no desire to fund human exploration of the Moon and Mars.[339]

Over three years later, in September 1996, the White House National Science and Technology Council released the first comprehensive revision of national space policy since the end of the Cold War. The policy stated the United States would maintain a global leadership role by supporting a strong, stable, and balanced national space program. It presented five goals for the space program:

• Enhance knowledge of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe through human and robotic exploration;

• Strengthen and maintain the national security of the United States;

• Enhance the economic competitiveness, and scientific and technical capabilities of the United States;

• Encourage State, local, and private sector investment in, and use of, space technologies;

• Promote international cooperation to further U. S. domestic, national security, and foreign policies.

Explicitly missing from the document was any mention of human exploration beyond Earth orbit. The document simply stated that “the international space sta­tion would support future decisions on the feasibility and desirability of conducting further human exploration activities.” On a campaign swing through the Pacific Northwest the day after the document was released, President Clinton said the goal of a human mission to Mars early in the next century was too expensive to pursue, and instead affirmed America’s commitment to a series of less expensive robotic probes, the first of which was scheduled to land on the planet the following summer. White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry told reporters that ambitions for human exploration of Mars, which would cost upwards of $100 billion, had met with the hard reality of the national budget. “Were not abandoning that concept,” McCurry said. “What we believe is that in the era that were managing our space exploration resources prudently, we ought to establish sufficient grounds for that type of commitment of resources. To commit those kinds of resources now, lacking a scientific basis for that, the President doesn’t think is justified.” Thus, in the early fall of 1996, human exploration of Mars vanished from the national space policy agenda.[340]

Bush, Quayle, and SEI

“There are moments in history when challenges occur of such a
compelling nature that to miss them is to miss the whole meaning of
an epoch. Space is such a challenge. ”

James Michener, 19791

By 1989, the American space program had been in a steady decline for nearly two decades. NASA had failed to find its footing in the years following the triumphs of the Apollo moon landings. During the intervening period, the space agency had become increasingly conservative, risk averse, and bureaucratic. After failing to gain support for a robust human exploration program, the agency had retreated and become an ever more cautious organization. During this time, the space program had no great supporters in the White House, nor great advocates within the Con­gress. This forced the agency to focus its political energies on protecting its turf (e. g., the Space Shuttle and space station programs) and trying to slow the regular reduc­tions in its annual appropriation. The result was a NASA that hardly resembled the organization that had taken on the Soviet Union on one of the most prominent battlegrounds of the Cold War—an agency that had won a great victory for the United States.

Despite this long interlude, there had been stirrings within the space policy com­munity in recent years that seemed to indicate that a return to glory might be achiev­able. The National Commission on Space had recommended human exploration of Mars as the appropriate long-term objective of the space program. The American [85] public had rallied around NASA in the wake of the Space Shuttle Challenger acci­dent. President Reagan had placed human exploration beyond Earth orbit back on the space agenda for the first time in two decades. Perhaps most importantly, Presi­dent-elect George Bush was an outspoken supporter of the space program—perhaps more supportive then any incoming president in the history of the space age. On the larger national stage, however, forces that are more significant were develop­ing that didn’t bode well for the adoption of an overly aggressive or expensive new undertaking in human spaceflight. In particular, a struggling economy and rising deficits were placing enormous pressure on the federal budget. This political reality would be the most important constraint facing adoption of an expanded exploration program and attempts to revitalize the national space program. In fact, the situation was so grave that it seriously called into question whether the new president should support such an endeavor at all. Despite the potential hazards, though, only a few short months after taking office, President George Bush and his key space policy advisors decided to champion an ill-defined yet exorbitantly expensive exploration plan—the Space Exploration Initiative.

George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts on 12 June 1912, the second child of Dorothy Walker and Prescott Bush, an investment banker and later Republican Senator from Connecticut. He grew up a member of the East­ern elite. Biographer John Robert Greene writes that Bush’s parents were “…mem­bers of the genteel class—well educated, well pedigreed, well mannered, and well connected. They were also wealthy— The world in which the Bush children were raised then was one in which comfort was never an issue, but neither were the constant reminders that that comfort could not be taken for granted. Prescott Bush used his wealth as a safety net for his children. They were expected to go out, earn their own wealth, and do the same.” As befitting one of this social standing, George received a private school education—first attending the Greenwich County Day School and then moving to prep school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachu­setts. On his 18th birthday, George graduated from Phillips Academy and enlisted in the U. S. Navy. Within a year, he received a commission as an ensign and became the youngest pilot in the navy. During World War II, Bush flew 58 combat mis­sions against Japanese forces, survived being shot down on a bombing mission, and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. Upon returning from the war, he entered Yale University, where he earned a B. A. in economics in only two years and gradu­ated Phi Beta Kappa. Following college, Bush spent the subsequent two decades earning his fortune as an executive in the oil industry.[86]

In 1964, George Bush made his first run for elective office when he challenged incumbent Democrat Ralph Yarborough for the U. S. Senate. Despite a good show­ing for a Republican in Texas, a Democratic Party united under the leadership of fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson stymied Bush—he only received 43% of the vote in the November election. Two years later, however, in 1966, Bush made a successful run for a congressional seat in Houston, becoming the first Republican to repre­sent that city. One of the few freshman congressional representatives ever selected to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee; he was reelected two years later without opposition. In 1970, at the behest of President Nixon, Bush made another run for the U. S. Senate. This time running against conservative Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, who had surprisingly beaten Yarborough in the primary, he lost once again, garnering only 46% of the vote.[87]

On 11 December 1970, President Nixon, who greatly appreciated Bushs willing­ness to sacrifice a safe House seat to run for the Senate, appointed him to the post of U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He served in this capacity for two years, but in early 1973 Nixon asked him to take the reigns of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in the aftermath of the Watergate break-in. In that position, Bush was an early defender of Nixon. When tapes were released that proved the president was guilty of obstruction of justice, however, he changed his stance and strongly lobbied the president to resign. In December 1975, after serving as the American envoy to China for a year, President Ford appointed Bush as the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). After Jimmy Carters election, despite a solid record of achievement at the CIA, he became the first DCI to be dismissed by an incoming president-elect. He spent the next four years preparing to contend for the Republi­can presidential nomination. In 1980, despite winning the Iowa caucuses, George Bush never recovered from his loss to former California governor Ronald Reagan in the New Hampshire primary. After an effort to create a Reagan-Ford “dream ticket” collapsed, the conservative Reagan asked Bush to accept the vice presidential nomination because he was “the most attractive surviving moderate.” Biographer John Robert Greene explains, “Bushs major task as Vice President was to be the administration’s front man on the road. Between 1981 and 1989, Bush put in 1.3 million miles of travel, visiting the 50 states and 65 different countries.”[88]

Bush, Quayle, and SEI

Vice President Bush meets Shuttle Challenger families (NASA Image 86-HC-181)

SEI, Policy Streams, and Punctuated Equilibrium

“Some say the space program should wait—that we should only go
forward once the social problems of today are completely solved. But
history proves that attitude is self-defeating.. .Many an American
schoolkid has read the story of Columbus’ doubters, and shook their
heads in disbelief that these naysayers could have been so
shortsighted. We must not let the schoolchildren of the future
shake their heads at our behavior. ”

President George Bush, 20 June 1990

As was discussed in the first chapter of this book, John Kingdon’s Policy Streams Model and Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones’s Punctuated Equilibrium Model epitomize an innovative approach to analyzing agenda setting and policy formation. Both models were developed because there was a sense that political scientists and policy analysts could benefit from overarching approaches to understanding the policy process. The policy sciences had previously been dominated by a prolifera­tion of theories that dealt with specific policy phases (e. g., agenda setting, adoption, implementation, and evaluation). The goal of the new models was to provide a more comprehensive system to improve policy analysis within large issue areas.1 Policy Streams and Punctuated Equilibrium were originally conceived to study social and [341] economic policy. One of the objectives of this book, however, is to assess whether the models are relevant to the examination of science and technology policy—par­ticularly large space policy initiatives. This evaluation led to the conclusion that the models offer useful methodologies that can be applied to further our understanding of the space policy community and long-term trends in national space policy.