Category NASA in the World

The End of the Cold War and Beyond: Chandrayaan-1

With the end of Cold War and the demise of Soviet Union India had to restruc­ture its foreign policy to meet the emerging geopolitical realities. The Indian political elite began to formulate new recipes to begin closer relations with the United States. India’s economic liberalization in the early 1990s and the momen­tum sustained by successive governments created a conducive environment for a closer relationship between India and the United States. The Clinton administra­tion’s grand strategy of “engagement and enlargement” was favorably received by the Indian political leadership. However, despite these expanding links, the overall political relationship continued to be undermined by the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir and India’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs.

Notwithstanding the controls on technology transfer India went alone or worked with others. It managed to keep a steady pace in developing launch vehi­cles and satellites for India’s domestic economic, commercial, and strategic needs. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, was followed by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), a technically upgraded version of PSLV. The architecture of the GSLV included a cryogenic stage that replaced the top two stages of the PSLV. Considering the pound per thrust, these were much more superior to ordinary liquid engines that used other propellant combinations.

The 1998 nuclear weapons tests by India attracted worldwide condemnation and onerous sanctions were imposed on India by the United States and many other developed countries. The United States prohibited trade with a long list of Indian entities and curtailed, for a short time, a broad array of cooperative space initiatives. The geopolitical situation that ensued after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 changed the situation again and catalyzed closer cooperation between India and the United States.

The Bush administration lifted the sanctions in September 2001 and a frame­work was established through the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) for closer technological cooperation between the two countries. Critical civilian technologies that were once out of bounds—space and nuclear— became tools for improved bilateral relations. Kenneth I. Juster, undersecretary of commerce in June 2004, indicated the various steps that were being taken by the US government to foster closer relations with India. He noted that “since the lifting of the U. S. sanctions in September 2001, only a very small percent­age of our total trade with India is even subject to controls. The vast majority of dual-use items simply do not require a license for shipment to India.” During the fiscal year 2002 (October 2001 through September 2002), 423 license applica­tions for dual-use exports to India, worth around $27 million, were approved by the US government. This was 84 percent of all licensing decisions for India that year. In 2003 the United States approved 90 percent of all dual-use licens­ing applications for India. These actions were indicative of the new strategic partnership with India.92

In March 2005, a US-India Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation was established. The inaugural meeting was held in Bangalore in June 2005. This forum was meant to provide a mechanism for enhanced cooperation in areas including joint satellite activities and launch, space exploration, increased interoperability among existing and future civil space-based positioning and navigation systems, and collaboration on various earth observation projects. At this time a memorandum of understanding was signed for a joint moon mis­sion.93 Called Chandrayaan-1 it was a continuation of the international efforts to study the lunar surface to understand origins and the evolution of the moon.94

The $83 million Chandrayaan-1 had a cluster of eleven instruments, five from the Indian side and six from foreign agencies: three payloads from the European Space Agency (ESA), two from NASA, and one from Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS). The experiments aimed to map and configure the chemical and mineralogical composition of the lunar surface using more enhanced instru­ments than previously attempted. The spacecraft was launched using India’s trusted workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)—C11. Its launch weight was 1,380 kilograms. The two instruments sent by NASA were the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR) prototype developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the US Naval Air Warfare Center to look for water/ice in the permanently shaded craters at the lunar poles, and the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3). M3 was an imaging spec­trometer developed at Brown University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was designed to assess and map lunar mineral resources at high spatial and spec­tral resolutions.

November 14, 2008, was an historic day for the Indian space program. A Moon Impact Probe (MPI) with the Indian tricolor, representing the national flag painted on its surface, made contact with the lunar soil. The timing of the MPI was coordinated to coincide with the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, who gave his passionate support to the growth of science and technology—especially nuclear and space sciences. It was a significant moment for NASA too to see the maturation of a space program that it helped to found with the scientific elite in India in the early 1960s.

European Reactions

Goldin did not want the existing partners in the space station to drain the momentum from his big-picture vision of a transformed space station that included Russia. He was advised that before moving ahead with Moscow “we needed to consult with our partners. He didn’t want to hear it. Those people didn’t last long in the agency. His plan had to go forward.”71 As was mentioned a moment ago, he and Clinton adopted a design that included a major Russian contribution in June 1993. Three months later in September 1993 the ESA member states were officially informed of the inclusion of Russia in the space station, now formally referred to simply as the ISS.

European space actors, like their American counterparts, had already moved quickly to build collaborative programs with the Russian Federation.72 Early in 1993 they signed an agreement with the Russian Space Agency to develop a European Robotic Arm and a Data Management System for the Russian

Service Module. In preparation for their Columbus contribution to the space station they also arranged for European astronauts to live and work on Mir (Euromir 94 and Euromir 95). These missions would prepare their corps for living on the space station, enable them to validate items of Columbus, and provide flight opportunities for the user community before the space station itself was operational.73

Lynn Cline was brought in by NASA to negotiate an agreement with Russia once it had accepted an invitation to join the station. The original approach was minimalist, involving as few changes as possible to the previous documents defined with the original partners. Cline explains why that did not work:

It became clear rather quickly that Russia wanted none of that, that they had very strong opinions about this partnership and what capability they were bringing to the table, and therefore, their desires on what their role should be.

So once we crossed that threshold of, “It’s not going to be minimal. There are going to be significant changes to this agreement,” what happened was, Japan pretty much didn’t want to change anything, Canada was rather flexible, and Europe came in with a whole new list of non-negotiable demands of changes that they wanted to have in the agreements as long as we’re revising them, or they’d walk away from the partnership. So when I went through these negotia­tions, I had as hard a time working out the terms and conditions with Europe as I did with Russia.

Still, she insists it went relatively smoothly since in the process

everybody recognized that Russia was a significant player, that they were bringing substantial capabilities with the launch capability, the cargo resup­ply capability, power capabilities, the main core of the Station. So there was a recognition that they had a key role. They had a right to certain demands, but also the original partners wanted us to truly bring them into the fold and have us all work multilaterally as a single integrated partnership.74

All the existing partners officially endorsed the proposal in May 1994. The programmatic advantages were evident. Russia would contribute its extensive experience of long-duration human spaceflight, and valuable hardware: the heavy-lift Proton launcher and the Soyuz capsule that could be temporarily attached to the ISS during construction. There was a “peace dividend” too. The German chancellor said he was “convinced that this international coop­eration will make a major contribution to lasting cooperation world wide and will be a beacon of hope and trust for men and women on every continent.”75 This sentiment was endorsed by the ministers of the member states meeting in Toulouse in October 1995. Here the ministers agreed to fund what was now called a Columbus Orbital Facility (COF), which had been reduced to a third of its original size, with Germany bearing 41 percent of the costs.76 France agreed to pay 27 percent of the costs of an automated transfer vehicle (ATV). The first of several ATVs called Jules Verne would be launched by Ariane, controlled from Toulouse, and would resupply the ISS with propellant, water, air, and payload experiments every 18 months.77 Its pressurized cargo bay was based on a “space barge” developed in Italy and flown on the Shuttle, and that carried equipment to and from the station. The ministerial meeting also agreed to fund the design studies of a crew transport vehicle (CTV), a “lifeboat” that could be used to rescue astronauts from the ISS.

In addition to negotiating an additional MoU between NASA and the Russian Space Agency, a new intergovernmental agreement (IGA) was needed to cover the arrival of the new partner. Barter agreements, “equivalent” contri­butions in kind that required no exchange of funds, were also concluded. ESA would provide the United States with additional hardware for the ISS while its COF would be launched free of charge on the Shuttle, rather than on Ariane. ESA and the Japanese space agency agreed to trade a – 80° laboratory freezer for the ISS for 12 international standard payload racks. ESA persuaded Russia to provide certain services in return for supplying the European robotic arm and the data management system for the Russian segment of the ISS.

The new IGA signed in Washington, DC on January 29, 1998, was based on the first version signed almost a decade before. Thus as before Article 1 of the IGA affirms that “[t]he object of this Agreement is to establish a long-standing international cooperative framework among the Partners, on the basis of genu­ine partnership, for detailed design, development, operation, and utilization of a permanently inhabited civil international Space Station for peaceful purposes, in accordance with international law.”78 “Genuine partnership” was however parsed to reflect the criticality of the different contributions to overall mission perfor­mance. The United States and Russia would produce the elements that served as the “foundation” for the ISS, those provided by the Europeans and Japan would “significantly enhance” its capabilities, while Canada’s contribution would be “an essential part” of the system. At the insistence of Russia, the management of the station was placed on a more multilateral basis than in the 1988 agreements. The United States was given the “lead role” for “overall program management and coordination,” with the “participation” of the other partners.79 The other partners were responsible for the management of their own hardware and utili­zation programs. They would also participate in all important reviews.

The change in the rules on criminal jurisdiction is also interesting.80 In the 1988 agreements the United States was entitled to exercise jurisdiction regard­ing accusations of misconduct by non-American personnel anywhere in the ISS—even if they were in or on non-American elements—if that misconduct was deemed to affect the safety of the whole station. In the 1998 agreements each partner state has jurisdiction over the behavior of its nationals in the first instance, though exceptions apply. It was also agreed that both the United States and the Russian Federation could use their elements for national security pur­poses if they so wished, but that they could not use the European elements with­out the consent of the European partner.

Throughout its history the space station has combined NASA’s determina­tion to sustain its post-Apollo momentum with a multilayered project origi­nally announced in 1969, combined with Congress’s willingness to support jobs in the aerospace industry, and with the foreign policy agendas of succes­sive administrations. The fact that it has had strong presidential support at key moments was also crucial, particularly for foreign participants. The partners in this behemoth, once persuaded that the United States was serious about a space station, had very similar domestic aims. Participation in the project would not only release more government funding for space, but it would also provide access to American technology, enhance the national technological base, and stimu­late the aerospace and related industries. It also had foreign policy components: notwithstanding their different attitudes to the United States, the 14 European ministers who met in Toulouse in 1995 saw the space station as the “greatest cooperative venture of all time, with significant scientific, technological and political implications.”81

The form that collaboration took evolved dramatically once Russia came on board. This was partly because NASA had to constantly cut back its ambitions for the station to satisfy a Congress that was increasingly impatient with rising costs and slipping schedules. It was also because Russia seemed to offer one way out of this perpetual crisis by bringing pertinent hardware and experience to the project, which no other nation had to offer, with the added advantage of pro­viding a “peace dividend” for the White House. The architecture of the station allowed for different ways of organizing collaboration with different partners depending on what they brought to the table. By contributing core elements, and by turning its institutional and financial disorder to its advantage, Russia forced NASA to make an exception to its time-hallowed principles of no-ex­change of funds and clean technological interfaces. Once the breach was made all could benefit, and all of the partners now contribute elements that are critical to mission success.82

The ISS transformed the way that NASA collaborated with its partners. The anxieties over Russian reliability and some resentment about the way in which dollars were spent by Moscow will surely make the agency and Congress extremely reluctant to give others a core role in a mission again without cast-iron guarantees that they can pay for what they do and that they can deliver. Nor is it certain that the much-vaunted foreign policy benefits that Clinton and Gore sought were achieved because Russia was integrated into the space station.83 Including Russia in the ISS was part and parcel of a wide-ranging initiative to transform the Soviet empire into a democratic, market economy, and might have played little or no role in facilitating the transition. Indeed, the ISS may not be a harbinger of a fundamental revision in NASA’s and Congress’s approach to international cooperation at all, as Pedersen hoped, but a unique experiment never to be repeated.


Science as an organized national activity gained an important place in Indian national life only after independence. The period from 1962 to 1972 was cru­cial for developing an institutional and technological base for space research in India. The growth and establishment of a domestic space program, and collab­orative relationships with organizations as well as scientists and technologists in foreign lands, was due to the active interest shown by India in the field of space sciences. NASA helped the scientific elite to create bases for sounding rockets and develop institutions along the way to shaping a space program that was geared toward the development needs of the country as defined by Sarabhai. As far as technological collaboration was concerned, US assistance during the early stages of India’s rocket program was limited to the donation of sounding rockets and the loaning of launchers; it never shared details of producing the sounding rockets locally. Homi Bhabha’s request for more advanced rockets in 1965 for testing and possible technology transfer were rejected. The attempt to acquire Scout technology after India had lost a border war with China in 1962 and the Chinese nuclear test of 1964 was rebuffed: the risk of further destabiliz­ing the region by supporting a rocket/missile program trumped NASA’s deter­mination to assist India. Other major prestige projects (such as the SITE—see next chapter) were embarked on to highlight the country’s modernizing urge without helping to rearm it, and to realign Delhi with Washington. US denial of advanced launcher technology led India to combine its own resources with help from other countries, mainly France, Germany, and the Soviet Union, to begin a launch vehicle program. By the time of Sarabhai’s death in 1971, his Profile for the Decade was accepted by the government of India, and his vision was carried further. Within a decade, incremental progress was made toward meteorologi­cal, remote sensing, and communication satellites, which were directed toward India’s socioeconomic needs. These were later launched on an indigenous Indian rocket that was developed along with a national missile program. By the end of the twentieth century Vikram Sarabhai’s famous quote “there is no ambiguity of purpose” had been fulfilled in a full-spectrum national space program.

The Impact of the International Traffic in. Arms Regulations

The export of space “technology” has always been constrained by the fear that it may compromise American national security or the economic competitiveness of US firms.1 As we saw in chapter 3, National Security Advisory Memorandum NSAM294 (on ballistic missile/rocket technology) and NSAM338 (on comsats) issued by the Johnson administration in the 1960s were intended to impede undesirable knowledge flows. Fears of technology transfer, and the need to con­trol it, hovered over the debate on European participation in the post-Apollo pro­gram, and on the sharing of rocket technology with Japan and India, described elsewhere in this book (chapters 4-6, 10, 12).

Historically NASA has favored a fairly generous policy on technology trans­fer. The key pillars of the policies put in place by Frutkin in the early 1960s—no exchange of funds, and clean interfaces—shaped the structure of international collaboration and deftly helped NASA kick-start programs all over the world without undermining national security or economic competitiveness. However, as other friendly space-faring nations matured, and as their potential contribu­tions to NASA’s program increased, the agency had to navigate between the pressure to deepen scientific and technological collaboration, and the objections of those who wanted more formal restrictions on the sharing of hardware and knowledge. The conflicts emerged with particular intensity in the early 1970s with Western Europe, and with Japan and India in the 1980s. By the 1990s NASA realized that it would have to formalize and streamline its export control system to cope with new international and domestic realities, notably a major scare over the People’s Republic of China’s appropriation of American weap­ons and space-related technologies. The more stringent implementation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) after 2000, and the onerous fines, including imprisonment, imposed for their violation caused some concern to people both in the United States and abroad. Preserving national security across a vast domain of dual-use technologies against the pressure from research and business who favor putting high walls around well-defined sensitive areas involves complex trade-offs and is a topic of ongoing interagency consultation.

Two arms of the executive branch, the Department of Commerce and the State Department, deal with most space-related export controls.2 The former administers the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which pertain to “dual-use” commodities, software, and technology, that is, items that have pre­dominantly commercial uses but that can also have military applications and that are to be found on the Commerce Control List (CCL). The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) in the State Department (the Office of Munitions Control in the early 1970s) administers the ITAR. The ITAR are intended to curb the proliferation of sensitive technologies and weapons of mass destruction by preventing the circulation of defense articles and defense services. Defense articles are listed on the US Munitions List (USML).

The USML was described in a brief by Alvin Bass (of NASA’s Office of General Counsel) as “a broad enumeration of articles which are considered as having direct or indirect military potential or applicability.” When Bass was writing, in 1970, he noted that the list covered almost everything that NASA was concerned with, including

[s]pacecraft, including manned and unmanned active and passive satellites, spacecraft engines, power supplies, energy sources, launching, arresting and recovery equipment, inertial guidance systems, and all components, parts and accessories of the above-mentioned items. Other categories [Bass went on] include propellants, missile and space vehicle powerplants, launch vehicles, rockets, control devices for any of the above, [various items] designed or modi­fied for spacecraft or space flight, pressure suits, protective garments. . . space vehicle guidance, control and stabilization systems, and the list continues.3

Bass did not enumerate the defense services that could only be supplied if per­mission was granted. Today defense services are defined as including “the fur­nishing of assistance (including training) to foreign persons, whether in the United States or abroad in the design, development, engineering, manufacture, production, assembly, testing, repair, maintenance, modification, operation, demilitarization, destruction, processing or use of defense articles.”4

The term “export” is misleading (as is the phrase “technology transfer”) if one wants to understand the scope of the control regime. These terms create the impression that only commodities are regulated. But authorization is also required (in a Technical Assistance Agreement, or TAA) to export technical data (as distinct from “purely theoretical scientific data,” which was treated more leniently). The meaning of the term “export” is correspondingly expanded. To quote Finarelli and Alexander, under ITAR, to export was defined in 2008 as “[a]ny oral, written, electronic, or visual disclosure, shipment, transfer, or trans­mission outside the United States to anyone, including a U. S. citizen, of any commodity, technology (information, technical data, or assistance), or software, or codes.”5 A second clause restricts even the “intent” to make exports of this kind to “a non-U. S.-entity or person wherever located,” that is, in the United States or abroad, and a third specifically controls any transfer to a foreign embassy or affiliate. Thus when US entities seek to transfer US technology abroad, they are triggering a process that manages not simply the “export” of commodities or “articles,” but that regulates the flow of related data and knowledge, where knowledge is inscribed in many different forms, from the statement and the image to the hardware, and transmission occurs through many different chan­nels, from the spoken word and the visual display, to shipment.

The Arms Export Control Act of 1976, often wrongfully attributed as being the genesis of ITAR, confirmed that the range of space technologies designated by Bass were indeed to be treated as defense articles, and that data exchanged regarding them was a defense service. That granted, it could always be argued by a US entity that specific items did not fall under the ITAR, and should be treated as dual-use technologies to be regulated by the less-restrictive EAR. In the case of the EAR, but not the ITAR, the decision over whether or not to grant an export license takes account of commercial factors, and above all whether or not the client could acquire the item from a foreign source if an American company did not provide it. In practice it is often found that many applications under the EAR do not need an export license, though the item must be evaluated before the determination is made and justifying documentation must be provided.

The reach of the legislation that embodies the control regime is negotiated and renegotiated between arms of the administration that have different and some­times conflicting mission-objectives. They take account of input and pressure from various stakeholders in space, notably firms interested in expanding their markets, who seek to have their items regulated by the more relaxed EAR on the grounds that they are dual-use commodities, not essentially instruments of war, but also scientists and engineers involved in international projects. Social actors who have to implement the legislation can face stiff penalties—fines, imprison­ment, loss of further government contracts—for not respecting its requirements and, in case of ambiguity, spontaneously retreat to a conservative interpretation of the law to protect themselves.

Satellite Broadcasting in. Rural India: The SITE Project

The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) was a major NASA applications satellite program for educational TV in India. The project involved the use of NASA’s Application Technology Satellite-6 (ATS-6) to broadcast edu­cational programs directly to television sets placed in different rural clusters. The agreement for SITE was signed between NASA and India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1969. The project was executed from August 1975 to July 1976 and received a great deal of media attention in the country. It was touted as a massive experiment in social engineering and was hailed by some enthusiasts as the world’s largest sociological experiment.1 The British science writer Arthur C. Clarke called it the “greatest communications experiment in history.”2

Praise for the intangible benefits of the SITE project was perhaps best sum­marized in a report to the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space:

SITE can be considered a pace-setter and fore-runner of satellite television systems particularly of those meant for development. It is an example of technological and psychological emancipation of the developing world. Its most important element was the commitment and dedication of all people and organizations involved to the one overriding goal of rural development in India. From this follows the crucial role of motivation and cooperation for the success of complex and challenging tasks.3

The official Indian reaction to SITE was very positive. The immediate vis­ible results of the broadcast, as cited by project evaluators in the rural clusters, was improved school attendance, increased concern for proper nutrition, and an awareness of sanitation and personal hygiene as methods of disease preven­tion. One of the unanticipated benefits of the program was the electrification of numerous villages, a prerequisite for television reception.4 For the Indians, the visual demonstration galvanized public opinion in favor of a space program focused on socioeconomic needs. It helped the country gain competence in using satellites for mass communication and was a systems management les­son for managing Indian National Satellite (INSAT) systems.5 SITE played an important role in the development of mass media in India, and its legacy can

Satellite Broadcasting in. Rural India: The SITE Project

Figure 12.1 Artist’s conception of ATS relay. Source: NASA.

still be seen today when one watches educational programs sponsored by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which are broadcast on national televi­sion channels on a regular basis. ISRO’s recent launching of EDUSAT, a satellite designed exclusively for educational needs, can be traced back to SITE.6

NASA, ITAR, and the Post-Apollo Negotiations

The extensive, blow-by-blow account of the in-house debates over European participation in the post-Apollo program in 1970-1971 (chapters 4-6) demon­strated the shifting perceptions of where the boundary lay between knowledge sharing and knowledge denial. So did the simultaneous debate over upgrad­ing Thor-Delta technology acquired by Japan (chapter 10). Indeed the Nixon administration of the early 1970s is noteworthy for the determination of White House staffers Peter Flanigan and Tom Whitehead, with the support of science adviser Ed David, to rein in what they saw as NASA’s profligate attitude to the sharing of knowledge that might undermine national military and/or economic security. Their concerns were reinforced by Bass’s brief mentioned earlier, which was forwarded to them amid negotiations over European participation in post – Apollo. The legal counselor argued that although the technologies of interest to NASA’s program were largely regulated via the Munitions Controls List, exports of data or articles by government agencies, including NASA, were “specifically exempt from the provisions of the Mutual Security Act and the ITAR.” What is more that exemption was extended by the ITAR when the export was in “fur­therance of a contract with an agency of the U. S. Government or a contract between an agency of the U. S. Government and foreign persons.”6 In short, according to Bass, in 1970 NASA and its contractors (like the Jet Propulsion

Laboratory in Pasadena) did not need to seek a license or other written authori­zation from the Department of State to export items on the MCL.

Flanigan and Whitehead were appalled and demanded that Ed David “develop a policy for the transfer of technology developed by NASA.”7 Bass’s report con­firmed for Flanigan that, as things stood, “NASA had no policy on keeping pro­prietary technical information developed by it available only to U. S. citizens.” NASA’s new administrator Jim Fletcher agreed that a new policy was needed to stop NASA “both by its charter and its history” from continuing “to make all its technological developments available nationally and internationally.”8 In the debate that ensued over the next six months Europe found its participation in the post-Apollo program reduced to building a module that fitted in the shuttle’s cargo bay, and that restricted transnational knowledge flows to the minimum required for mission success. Japan’s access to Thor-Delta technology was also severely restricted.

The Origins of the Project

Arthur C. Clarke first conceptualized the idea of a geosynchronous satellite for broadcasting purposes in a trade journal in 1945.7 By the early 1960s com­munication satellites such as Echo, Telstar, Relay, and Syncom were developed to transmit communications to different parts of the world.8 The technologi­cal, cultural, and political possibilities offered by these satellites prompted the US military and private corporations, notably AT&T and Hughes Aircraft Corporation, to develop communications satellites to expand America’s global outreach. They aimed to create a “single global system” benefiting the entire world but also serving the Cold War interest of the United States.9

The idea of a broadcast satellite for India appears in the middle of these devel­opments in the mid-1960s (figure 12.1). The proposal gained momentum soon after the Chinese nuclear test in October 1964. This forced a major revision in US policy toward India, whose policy of nonalignment and hostility to US-ally Pakistan had led Washington until then to keep Delhi at arm’s length.

Communist China’s nuclear ambitions and its growing popularity among Afro – Asian countries in the 1950s and 1960s exerted constant pressure on the United States to seek alternatives that could minimize the Chinese influence in the Asian region. Citing India as the world’s largest democracy, US officials hoped to estab­lish that nation as a showcase for American-backed development in the “third – world” and as an Asian counterweight to the communist model in the People’s Republic of China, PRC.10 In general, there was a pervasive notion that India was a great laboratory that would demonstrate that liberalism and democracy were the way to go, rather than the Chinese model. During 1961, while analysts at the CIA and the other intelligence agencies tried to determine exactly what progress China had made toward an atomic capability, other arms of the administration began to explore the implications of such an eventuality, and what the United States might do to lessen or eliminate its impact. Suggestions from officials in the State Department that the United States should assist India to “beat Communist China to the punch” by helping their nuclear weapons program were immediately vetoed by Secretary of State Dean Rusk who objected that such a step “would start us down a jungle path from which I see no exit.”11 Soon after the Chinese test the United States began to look for alternative programs that it might undertake jointly with India in the fields of science and technology, which could offset the damage done by the Chinese detonation to Indian prestige and self-confidence.

In January 1965 Jerome B. Wiesner, former science advisor to President Kennedy and the dean of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. J. Wallace Joyce, International Scientific and Technological Affairs, Department of State, agreed to visit India at the request of US ambassador Chester Bowles. A list of possible proposals was formulated in consultation with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and NASA. They grouped all possibilities under three major headings: nuclear energy, space, and general science.12 These moves dovetailed with initiatives being taken by Bhabha and Sarabhai in their periodic visits to Washington. Bhabha explained that India needed to make some dramatic peaceful achievement to counteract the “noise” (his term) of communist China’s nuclear explosion. He noted that the Chinese were greatly indebted to the USSR for help on their weapon program adding that if India went all out, it could produce a nuclear device in eighteen months; with a US blueprint it could do the job in six months.13 Bhabha expressed the view that “if India was to maintain its prestige relative to the Chinese in the field of science and technology two things should be done: (1) ways must be found for it to demonstrate to other Asian and African countries India’s scientific achievements, (2) a greater awareness of Chinese indebt­edness to the Soviet Union for its nuclear achievements must be created.”14

Bhabha also met with NASA administrator James E. Webb, deputy admin­istrator Hugh Dryden, and with Arnold Frutkin. During the meeting Bhabha swiftly moved away from the idea of a peaceful nuclear explosion (PNE) to dis­cussing the possibility of India developing a satellite orbiting capability. Bhabha stated that if India undertook such a project, it would wish to launch from India and do the largest part of the job itself. Hearing this from Bhabha, NASA pre­sented estimates of cost, technology, and time requirements, all of which sug­gested that this was not a project well adapted to achieve Indian objectives. NASA also pointed out that by the time India orbited a satellite, several other nations would likely have progressed so far in this field that India’s accomplishment

would appear relatively insignificant. Webb’s line of thought differed with that of Bhabha; he said that a major effort should be made to select projects that would have a meaningful impact on Indian technology and industrial growth, not spectaculars that would drain resources to no useful social effect.

Sarabhai also made a visit to the United States seeking scientific and technologi­cal aid in the area of space. As stressed in chapter 11, Sarabhai viewed science and technology predominantly as tools for socioeconomic development. He believed that a poor nation like India could only close the gap with the rich through self­reliance and self-sufficiency: “[W]e do not wish to acquire black boxes from abroad but to grow a national capability.”15 He saw high technologies such as nuclear power and space as crucial to leapfrog into modernity. Sarabhai added that there was some pressure within India to build a nuclear bomb, and to deflect this pressure India needed to do something else to demonstrate an advanced scientific capability.16

It was in this context that NASA administrator James Webb proposed a satel­lite broadcasting initiative to U. Alexis Johnson in May 1966. It was not only a technical experiment in direct broadcasting, but could also serve as a pilot project in the social impact of direct broadcasting and, through suitable program con­tent, it would contribute to the attack upon the food and population problems of India. In the memo Webb stated that the United States would build and position a synchronous satellite near India in such a way that broadcasts from it could be received over the major part of the Indian subcontinent. He went on to point out that India, for its part, could use its nascent electronics capability, now focused at the atomic energy center at Trombay, to develop improved television receivers. These could be established in perhaps a thousand rural population centers. Webb waxed lyrical about the multiple advantages the program would have for the country. Indians could learn new technological and management approaches to education and to the uses of informational media to weld together a nation-state. The government could invest in a modern electronics industry that would “mate­rially raise India’s technological base and contribute thereby to the development of other, similar industries.” Resources would be redirected from nuclear weap­ons to more socially valuable endeavors. The United States for its part “would learn more about the Indians and their most pressing problems,” and improve its global “posture” “through a generous demonstration of its willingness to share the benefit of advanced space technology with underdeveloped nations.”17

Webb’s educational satellite resonated with a scheme that Sarabhai had been playing with for some time. He began to visualize a national satellite program to provide a better way of life to the inhabitants of India’s 63,000 villages. He hoped that, thanks to the research and development activities of the space pro­gram, television would be available to 80 percent of India’s population within ten years. This project was of special significance because by providing enter­tainment and instruction of high quality, it would be possible to bring about a qualitative improvement in the richness of rural life.18

Revising the Regulatory Regime in the 1990s

In the early 1990s NASA took an important step toward formalizing and streamlining its implementation of the export control regulations affecting space collaboration in all its aspects. Two factors converged to encourage these insti­tutional changes. First, the agency and its contractors were under increasing criticism for being lax in enforcing the statutory regulations controlling exports to foreign partners—for example, they allowed Norway to acquire sounding rockets, which fell squarely under the ITAR, through the less stringent “dual­use” provisions of the EAR that regulate the export of items on the Commerce Control List. Second, new policies were needed to deal with the inclusion of the one-time space rival and communist menace, the ex-Soviet Union, as a signifi­cant partner in the International Space Station (see chapter 13). In response to this situation, in 1994/95 NASA replaced its previously fragmented program with a single export control office that handled authorizations required by both ITAR and EAR, to ensure that the different regimes were implemented coher­ently. Second, an interagency Space Technology Working Group agreed that the civil Space Station should be moved from the USML to the CCL, along with commercial communications satellites. Until that time all spacecraft except for comsats were on the USML (but see later). Henceforth (and still today), the ISS could also benefit from the greater clarity, transparency, and flexibility of the EAR over the ITAR.9 This has undoubtedly contributed to its success as a site for international collaboration.

In 1996 President Clinton ordered that the export controls over commercial comsats be placed on the CCL. This settled an ongoing dispute between the Commerce and State Departments that had simmered for almost a decade. In the late 1980s President Reagan had signed a deal with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorizing nine launches of American-built comsats on Chinese rockets. The Tiananmen Square sanctions law passed in 1990 (P. L. 101-246) suspended this policy for a few years. However the pressure to secure markets for US manufacturers led to a relaxation in 1992, when the State Department issued a directive transferring some comsats from the USML to the CCL, and so to the jurisdiction of Commerce. This transfer was completed by Clinton’s order in 1996.10 The president was keen to move from a policy of confrontation with the PRC to one of diplomatic and commercial engagement. The sale of supercomputers to China was authorized. Satellite technology for telecommu­nications was removed from the USML, and from the jurisdiction of the State Department, and placed on the Commerce Department’s more lenient CCL. And in summer 1997, at the first US-China summit meeting since the crushed protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the president hoped to conclude a nuclear cooperation agreement that would enable American nuclear reactor companies to compete for the Chinese market.

Many in Congress were appalled by this new openness to the PRC. The House’s concern was focused on allegations that two American satellite companies, Hughes Space and Communications International, Inc., and Space Systems/Loral, had illegally transferred sensitive missile technology to the PRC. This had occurred during investigations into three unsuccessful launches of their telecommunications satellites for civilian clients on Chinese Long March rockets. The possibility of such leakage led to the passage of the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999.11 This imposed new restrictions on international exchange before the Justice Department had finished its inquiry against Hughes and Loral.

Fear of irresponsible sharing of missile-related technology also led Congress to establish a bipartisan committee chaired by Representative Chris Cox (R-California) to investigate the matter. The political climate was charged: one observer has remarked that “[a] number of Republican leaders went to the floor of the House and Senate and accused the President of treason for allegedly facilitating this transfer of information.”12 The bipartisan committee’s classified report was submitted to the president on January 3, 1999; a declassified version was released on May 25, 1999 (the Cox Report).13 The account that follows deals first with the specific charges against Hughes and Loral, and then with the more general charges made in the Cox Report.

Winning Hearts and Minds

SITE offered the State Department twin benefits: a benign technological tool to offset communist China’s influence, and a technology that would help to bring literacy and development to the rural population. This was perfectly in line with what the communication scholars and media experts were promoting in the early 1960s, the idea that television and other media of mass communica­tion would help national development. Stalwarts in communication and devel­opment studies such as Daniel Lerner, Wilbur Schramm, and Everett M. Rogers based their theories of development and media efficacy on Walt Rostow’s influ­ential Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto.19 In the book Rostow stressed that the economic and technological development achieved by the Western nations were the result of increased media use. If the developing countries could follow the path of modernization initiated by the West, they would leapfrog centuries of inaction and underdevelopment and catch up with the modernized West.20 Rostow who later became the national security adviser to President Lyndon Johnson, was himself interested in putting “television sets in the thatch hutches of the world” to defeat both tradition and communism with the spectacle of consumption.21 The political value of communication satel­lites was also emphasized by Arthur C. Clark:

Living as I do in the Far East, I am constantly reminded of the struggle between the Western World and the USSR for the uncommitted millions of Asia. The printed word plays only a small part in this battle for the minds of the largely illiterate population and even radio is limited in range and impact. But when line of sight TV transmission becomes possible through satellites directly overhead, the propaganda effect may be decisive. . . the impact upon the peoples of Asia and Africa may be overwhelming. It may well determine whether Russian or English is the main language of the future. The TV satellite is mightier than the ICBM.22

India was particularly appropriate for a satellite experiment in the direct broadcasting of TV. First, there was no existing TV distribution network, which could be utilized by conventional means. The population was distributed rela­tively homogeneously throughout the subcontinent rather than concentrated in a few large cities easily reached by conventional TV, and there was a high level of Indian government support for this kind of experiment. This contrasted with other developing countries, for instance, Brazil. There, a substantial portion of the population was concentrated in coastal cities, all of which already possessed TV networks, while only the scattered inland population lacked TV. So, India stood apart as an ideal laboratory for testing the technology. Wallace Joyce, in the International Scientific and Technological Affairs of the State Department, particularly liked Webb’s idea. It had the potential for India to exert “regional leadership” in space-related educational TV for development purposes in the surrounding Asian and other modernizing regions.23

For Frutkin, the instructional television project was a constructive step forward in cooperation between one of the world’s superpowers and a progressive, neu­tral, developing nation. “For other developing countries, it should serve on a non cost basis to test the values, the feasibility, and the requirements of a multi-pur­pose tool which could be critical to accelerating their progress in an increasingly technological world.”24 There is “some measure of generalization, hyperbole, and technological misconception” when it came to direct broadcasting of television, remarked Frutkin. In order to realistically consider the problems and technologi­cal hurdles associated with direct broadcasting he sought an “actual experience

Winning Hearts and Minds

Figure 12.2 Artist’s conception of ATS-6 support. Source: NASA.

with the medium.” The experiment represented a “rarely grasped opportunity to use modern technology so as to leapfrog historical development stages.”25

The Indian space experts too were interested in exploring the potentialities of TV as a means of mass communication in a developing country. In 1967, only Delhi, the capital city of India, had television transmission services. The Indian broadcast planners organized under the Ministry of Information and Public Broadcasting (MIPB) wanted to extend the television services by first focusing on the cities and gradually extending it to rural villages through transmitters. Seeing the cities to be already “information rich” through various other media, Vikram Sarabhai, in contrast to the broadcast agency—which blamed the space agency for unnecessarily encroaching on their domain—wanted the villages to receive the high technology first. In June 1967 Sarabhai sent a team to NASA to study the prospects of using a satellite over a conventional transmission links. After looking at various options, the visitors focused in on a “hybrid system for rebroadcast sta­tions for high population areas, and a satellite for interconnection and transmis­sion to low-population density areas.” The interaction between NASA, Indian actors, and the business corporations in America planted the seed for the Indian National Satellite (INSAT), which was developed during the early 1980s.26

To test the efficiency of such a massive system for the entire Indian pop­ulation officials at NASA and the State Department conceptualized a limited one-year SITE project using the ATS-6 satellite (figure 12.2). The SITE project was not without domestic resistance, however. To reach a consensus among dif­ferent agencies Sarabhai set up an ad hoc National Satellite Telecommunications Committee (NASCOM) in 1968. SITE was finally approved after an extensive debate in the parliament.

An agreement was signed between NASA and ISRO in 1969 wherein NASA agreed to provide this satellite for one year. NASA would provide the space segment while ISRO took charge of the ground segment and programs. NASA helped ISRO by offering training facilities to its engineers at different NASA facilities and by helping in the procurement of critical components when these were urgently required at short notice. Numerous ISRO-NASA meetings held in India and America helped sort out interface problems and in acquainting each other with the progress of the SITE project. In order to plan the for the year-long project, the Indian space agency undertook a small experiment called Krishi Darshan (Agricultural TV Program). Around 80 television sets were placed in rural villages around Delhi to test “software development, receiver maintenance, and audience information utilization.”27 To prepare for the future, joint studies were also done by ISRO engineers with NASA and private corpora­tions such as Hughes Aircraft, and General Electric for configuring systems for INSAT. In 1970, ISRO engineers undertook a study at Lincoln Labs at MIT for spacecraft studies of INSAT. Sarabhai planned INSAT as a follow on after the SITE experiment.28

Hughes, Loral, the PRC, and the Strom Thurmond Act

In December 1992 the Chinese Long March 2E rocket failed to launch the Hughes-built Australian Optus B2 telecommunications satellite due to aerody­namic buffeting of the launcher’s fairing.14 Neither party would at first admit responsibility. Hughes conducted an independent investigation, and divulged information to the PRC suggesting ways in which it should modify the fair­ing by strengthening its structure. At a subsequent successful launch in August 1994 observers from Hughes noted that the fairing had been modified simply by adding rivets. This proved to be insufficient. The next launch of a Hughes satellite, the Asian Apstar 2 in January 1995, failed for the same reason as had the launch of Optus 2. This time the Chinese members of a joint accident review committee agreed that the cause of the failure was due to weaknesses in their fairing. The marginal improvement achieved by adding rivets was not sufficient to withstand the additional stress caused by the strong upper-altitude winds that buffeted the payload when it was launched in winter. Suitable corrective mea­sures were taken along the lines first proposed by Hughes—corrective measures that, some feared, would be invaluable for improving nose cones that protected nuclear warheads on Chinese ballistic missiles.

A Loral Intelsat 708 satellite was destroyed in the Long March commercial launch failure in February 1996. This time the PRC engineers quickly admitted responsibility. They suspected that the launch failure was probably due to a fault in the inner part of the inertial measurement unit (IMU) of the Long March 3B rocket guidance system, though telemetry data did not fully confirm this. The insurance company that had agreed to cover the imminent launch of an Apstar satellite (typically for about $50 million) demanded that an independent review committee be established. The committee comprised representatives from the PRC, Hughes, Loral, and Daimler Benz, and retired experts that had worked for British Aerospace, General Dynamics, and Intelsat. It placed great weight on the telemetry data, and suggested that the follow-up frame, rather than the inner part of the IMU (the preferred explanation by Chinese engineers), was respon­sible for the accident. The PRC confirmed that, indeed, a failure in the follow-up electrical servo unit was the cause of the launch failure.

Loral faxed a preliminary report of this finding to the PRC in May 1996. The State Department learned that the firm had disclosed information that some thought would significantly improve the guidance system on Chinese missiles, without first having it reviewed for sensitive content, and without an export license.

The Strom Thurmond Act signed into law in October 1998 took steps to regulate these practices. It devoted 6 pages out of 360 (Title XV. B) to a number of measures designed to control the export of satellite technology to the PRC.15 One of its most fundamental innovations (in Section 1513) was to remove the president’s authority to change the jurisdictional status of satellites and related items even if they had civilian applications. These were, and still are (August 2012), “the only dual-use items that are required by law to be controlled as defense articles.” Thus whereas normally “the President has the authority to authorize the easing of controls on items and related technologies that transition to predominately civil uses or that become widely available,” this did not now apply to satellite-related items. The export of all “satellites and related items” were put back on the US Munitions List and subject to the ITAR, and require Congressional action to remove them.16 The Strom Thurmond Act also called for new bureaucratic procedures to ensure compliance. It stipulated that any export licenses had to be accompanied by a Technology Transfer Control Plan that had been approved by the secretary of defense and an “encryption technol­ogy transfer control plan approved by the Director of the National Security Agency.” In response to accusations that security on the launch pad in China (often in the hands of private contractors) had been dismal while the satellite was being installed, the DoD was also called upon to monitor all aspects of the launch of an American satellite in a foreign country, including analyses of launch failure, “to ensure that no unauthorized transfer of technology occurs, includ­ing technical assistance and technical data.”

In March 2003, Hughes Electronics Corporation and Boeing Satellite Systems, charged with 123 violations of export laws, admitted that they had not obtained the required licenses for their dealings with the PRC. The firms acknowledged “the nature and seriousness of the offenses charged by the Department of State, including the harm such offenses could cause to the security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”17 Their $32 million civil penalty was the largest in an arms export case.