Category NASA in the World

West Germany

The trajectory of West Germany’s entry into the space age was marked by her history. The horrors of the Nazi regime, its promotion of advanced technolo­gies like the lethal V-2 missile developed by Wernher Von Braun and his team at Pennemunde, and widespread fears of a resurgence of German nationalism and militarism led the allies to impose severe constraints on the country’s scientific and technological development after the war.37 In the mid-1950s the division of Germany became accepted as a (temporary) fait accompli in the context of Cold War rivalry. The Federal Republic was given its sovereignty and entered NATO. A major effort was also made to integrate West Germany into the embryonic supranational nuclear power organization, Euratom, and into the European Common Market. The State Department actively promoted these initiatives. Its policy was guided by what diplomatic historians call double containment— restraining both Soviet expansion and German nationalism by building a strong, integrated Western Europe under American leadership.38

In October 1954 Chancellor Konrad Adenauer solemnly pledged that the country would never develop nuclear weapons on its soil. With this path to superpower status denied them, an alternative path to international signifi­cance was actively promoted by Franz Josef Strauss. Strauss was the minister of atomic affairs for one year beginning in October 1955, after which he was nominated the federal minister of defense. He was convinced that “the indus­trial competitiveness of a country as well as its international political weight was going to become increasingly dependent upon the national ability to master new technologies.”39 This national agenda was translated into his local political ambitions. As Niklas Reinke puts it, Strauss was a crafty strategist who, “not­withstanding his undoubted devotion to his homeland. . . acted with an eye to his political power base in Bavaria.”40 He adopted “a state-supported industrial policy aiming at creating innovative high technologies [. . . ].”41 When he was minister of atomic energy he actively promoted nuclear energy at Garching near Munich, and lobbied for the interests of German firms that wanted to develop civilian nuclear power. As minister of defense he ensured that the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt fur Luftfahrt (DVL, German Aeronautical Test Establishment) was also established in Bavaria. It was again Strauss who in 1961 enabled Ludwig Bolkow, who had done sophisticated design work for Messerschmitt in the Third Reich, to create a big complex of industrial research laboratories for the aerospace industry next to his military production facilities in the south of Munich.42

Germany’s pool of skilled scientists and engineers was seriously depleted by the emigration—sometimes forced—of thousands to the allied powers after the war. Those who remained gradually built up small communities of space sci­entists and engineers in the early 1950s. Helmut Trischler tells us that these groups served two important functions. First, they helped reinterpret spaceflight in the political and popular imagination as a peaceful activity, dedicated to sci­entific exploration and technological advance. Second, they built a network of space enthusiasts dedicated to rocketry and the space sciences. This network established international linkages, including with the United States, successfully lobbied for the foundation of a university chair, established officially sanctioned research institutes, and built ties with German industry.

Increasing industrial capacity, along with growing scientific interest, notably after the IGY, were not sufficient to galvanize the German government into action. Nor did the launch of Sputnik, which was seen as just another factor in an arms race between the superpowers in which Germany was not a participant.43 By the end of the 1950s “space activities enjoyed a degree of political support from various ministries, but this did not as yet amount to space politics or a space policy.” In addition the minister for economic affairs, Ludwig Erhard, did not approve of Strauss’s views on state-interventionism in the economy, and did not see space activities as being significant drivers of economic development. It took the initiative in June 1960 by two of the founding fathers of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) to build a collaborative European space effort to “arouse the authorities from their research policy torpor.”44 Eighteen months later Chancellor Adenauer put an end to interdepartmental rivalry, and gave the Atomic Affairs Ministry overall responsibility for space science and space transport research and development. This department was transformed into the Federal Ministry of Scientific Research in May 1963.

The scientific community, with industry’s support, made three main criti­cisms of the Federal Republic’s space policy in the 1960s.45 They opposed Erhard’s free-market philosophy, insisting that the federal government should take responsibility for space research and development that was far from the market, and promote it as a core national asset. Second, they insisted that it was imperative to provide sufficient funds to develop a strong national capability and to participate internationally, both with Europe and the United States. Third, they emphasized that working with other space programs was meaningless with­out significant investments in a domestic effort. As one document submitted to the now-chancellor Erhard put it in July 1965, “All experience in science and technology shows that unless national funding is at least two to three times greater than contributions to international programs, much of the money con­tributed to those programmes must be considered as subsidies on which there is no return. In those circumstances, we are simply supporting space research in other countries.”46

This financial aspect of this plea was not heeded. The political imperative of being engaged in the European program, including in the development of a European launcher, skewed space expenditure away from the national.47 As the German authorities struggled to find the right balance between a national program and a European collaborative effort, bilateral programs emerged as a means to lever limited resources to kick-start space activities: Trischler remarks that this was not indicative of a clear political strategy; it was dictated by pragma­tism. The preferred collaborators were the United States, where Germany would necessarily be a junior partner, and France, where the asymmetry between the nations was less marked.48

The first links with NASA were established by the minister for atomic affairs, Siegfried Balke, in February 1961, who visited the United States again in May 1962. Balke’s successor, Federal Research Minister Hans Lenz, crossed the Atlantic with his counselor Max Mayer in June 1963. During these visits German officials became painfully aware of the limits of US support. Rocket technol­ogy would not be shared on a bilateral basis. The amount of funding Germany intended to allocate to space research produced what Mayer called “sympathetic smiles.”49 A visit to von Braun at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville was also disappointing. Mayer asked if some of the German-born members of von Braun’s team who were “experienced policy and contract planners” could be released for a limited period of time to work with Lenz. They would be on the government’s payroll and would help the minister “put the show on the road.” Von Braun refused.50 It became clear that if West Germany was going to build a bilateral program with NASA it would have to bring something to the table. A small research satellite footed that bill.

In April 1964 a 60- to 80-kilogram scientific satellite labeled Project 625A emerged as the centerpiece of the Federal Republic’s first national satellite proj­ect.51 The concept was presented to NASA as a suitable candidate for a bilateral program six months later. Its mission was to explore the interaction between cosmic rays and the magnetosphere, notably in the region of the inner Van Allen radiation belt and of the Northern Lights, as well as during temporary changes in solar wind during eruptions on the sun. On July 17, 1965, a groundbreaking memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry and NASA.

Project 625A meshed with Germany’s wish to build its national scientific and industrial strength. Early in 1965 the Federal Research Ministry had received over 100 experiment proposals from academic institutions, independent research establishments, and industry. Seven of these were selected. As for the satellite itself, the prime contractor was Bolkow, and was responsible for payload integration, testing, and launch support. Many other firms were involved, including AEG, Dornier, and Siemens. These firms improved their technical capability by testing new processes and techniques involving components developed in the United States. As in the French case, with the help of TRW they also gained insight into NASA’s management methods to better cope with an enormous technological challenge for which, as Bolkow put it, they were “scarcely prepared.”52

The arrangement with NASA respected Frutkin’s criteria for international cooperation. It was concluded with a government ministry. There were clean technological interfaces. There was no exchange funds. West Germany’s con­tribution was some 80 million DM. NASA provided for preliminary testing of experiment payloads on sounding rockets. It also provided a Scout rocket for the launch, and initial tracking and data services for the satellite. These were later taken over by a newly created German Space Operations Center at Oberpfaffenhofen whose personnel had been trained by NASA. The only condi­tion imposed by NASA was that the German project should not duplicate work already done in the United States and that all of the new data obtained should be made freely available to the entire scientific community.

The 71-kilogram satellite was launched on November 8, 1969, when it was baptized Azur. The tape recorder failed five weeks after its launch, after which data could only be received in real-time. For reasons that are still not clear, all contact was lost with the satellite late in June 1970, over a year before its expected demise. All the same, as Reinke puts it, “the political hopes vested in the venture were not disappointed: the involvement of many firms in the Azur mission expanded the expertise of German industry and the German sci­ence community in the space sector and prepared them for many tasks.”53 Azur was not only Germany’s own spacecraft. Twenty-five years after “the end of the calamitous Peenemunde project, German science and industry had successfully demonstrated its capacity and its determination to peacefully re-enter space.”54

Another important step toward NASA-West German collaboration was taken a few months after the memorandum of understanding that led to Azur was signed.55 The plan was publicly announced at a state banquet in honor of Chancellor Ludwig Erhard a few days before Christmas 1965. In a brief toast to his guest President Johnson remarked that the time had come for the two coun­tries and other European partners, “to do together what we cannot do so well alone.” He identified a probe to the sun and a probe to Jupiter as appropriate ventures that were both “very demanding” and “quite complex.” Both would contribute “vastly to our mutual knowledge and our mutual skills.” Johnson did not fail to couple this proposal with broader foreign policy considerations, thanking Erhard for “the support which your Government has given to the common cause in Viet Nam, and which you may give in the days ahead.”56 The president’s high-profile offer to collaborate in space was also a public act of grati­tude to a faithful ally.

In February 1966 Arnold Frutkin and Homer Newell (responsible for space science) visited several European capitals to sound out their interest in the president’s proposal, which NASA had suggested to him under the label of the Advanced Cooperation Project.57 The two NASA officials began their trip in West Germany, and also visited Britain, France, Italy, and The Netherlands.58 The project was also presented to ESRO, which was NASA’s preferred partner. The American delegation emphasized that the Jupiter probe—though only illustra­tive of what might be done—was technologically and managerially challenging, and would significantly advance European industry. The solar probe would be used to investigate magnetic fields and the interplanetary environment near the sun. “The reaction,” writes Newell, “was surprising. [. . .] Only West Germany was interested in an expanded program with the United States.”59

Newell has given several reasons for European skepticism. They doubted that either project would advance European technology. With resources for space research limited, they wondered whether it would not be preferable to devote their available funds to developing applications satellites. They also suspected that NASA was less interested in promoting European capabilities than in hav­ing Europe contribute money to large projects that Congress was reluctant to support. Some critics went further. They were suspicious that “America was dan­gling the Jupiter probe in front of Europe to divert attention toward science and away from more practical projects like communications satellites.”60

West Germany’s “interest” was of course sparked by the presidential initiative during Erhard’s visit in December 1965. The German chancellor was far from enthusiastic about the idea, however.61 Erhard’s retained his skepticism about space projects as candidates for federal funding. Indeed just before he left to meet Johnson the Research Ministry was complaining bitterly about the tight – fisted approach of the administration. It had only managed to secure long-term financial support for Azur because a memorandum of understanding had been signed with NASA. By contrast, “funding for the development of a second sci­entific satellite and the conduct of further experiments, already planned under a specific program and agreed in preliminary talks with NASA [presumably the project officially announced at the State Banquet], has so far been refused” by the Finance Ministry.62

This financial prudence also reflected Erhard’s concerns about West Germany’s budget. Among a wide range of issues that were raised during his visit to Washington in December 1965 one of the most pressing concerns was the question of Germany’s offset payments to the United States. West Germany was required to “offset” with military purchases the approximate costs to the American gov­ernment of retaining US forces in its territory. From the US point of view this arrangement both provided a market for US weapon’s systems and improved the balance of payments. From Germany’s point of view, it secured an American com­mitment to hold the front line against Soviet expansion in the Cold War.

That said, the scheme was not popular in the Federal Republic. The flow of dollars abroad was significant For example, Erhard was supposed to place $1.35 billion of weapons orders in the United States by December 31, 1966, and to make a further $1.4 billion of offset payments by June 1967.63 In addi­tion, offset payments were associated in the public’s mind with a series of crashes of the F-104G Starfighter jets—ten in the first half of 1966 alone—giving the impression that the United States was selling unreliable and unnecessary mili­tary equipment to its ally.64 To add to Erhard’s woes the Federal parliament had just imposed a 10 percent budget cut on the chancellor.

The offset issue was raised when Erhard met Johnson in December 1965.65 On that occasion Johnson told him that

the Viet-Nam conflict is beginning to put a strain on our budget which will have to expand to accommodate the necessary expenditures. . . The President said he

expected the FRG to make another payment under the offset agreement this month so as not to upset the quarterly balance of US finances and not to weaken the international confidence in the dollar.

Erhard remarked that he had taken some extreme measures to meet the budget cut imposed on him at home. He assured the president that he wanted to respect his commitments, but suggested that he was looking for greater flexibility in the US approach: “The FRG would be willing to talk about this matter but at pres­ent it had considerable difficulties,” said Erhard.

Erhard returned to Washington for two days in September 1966. The American ambassador in Germany, George McGhee, advised Johnson ahead of the trip that this meeting would be “the most critical one you have yet held with the German leader.” The offset agreements were now “the greatest single source of friction” between Washington and Bonn.66 McGhee insisted that Johnson had to be flexible: Erhard’s political future depended on it. The ambassador (and others) made a number of suggestions for how the burden on Germany could be reduced, including “limited purchases in the field of space and foreign aid,” which would probably not exceed about $20-50 million annually.67

Johnson propelled space collaboration into prominence by accompanying Erhard down to Cape Kennedy during this very brief visit. In an official address in the still incomplete Vehicle Assembly Building the president personally thanked all those who had come to the United States from Germany, including von Braun, for the “great efforts” they had made to the American space pro­gram. He also enumerated the many projects that NASA had engaged in with European partners, and reiterated his desire to “vigorously pursue” international cooperation in space science, and to provide launchers for space efforts of mutual interest.68 On the flight back to Washington NASA administrator James Webb took the opportunity to talk at length with the German chancellor. As he wrote to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, he assured the chancellor

that the President was, in fact, offering him more than friendship and more than dollars. In fact he was offering a partnership in the development of technology that could permit Germany to increase its own capability, gain a better understand­ing of its own needs and opportunities for multilateral and bilateral cooperation, establish a basis for leadership in the direction it felt its leadership could be effec­tive in Western Europe, and could set a pattern of university/industry/government cooperation suited to the needs of Germany, benefiting throughout from our own experience.69

Webb left his guest with the impression that “Erhard had a different attitude when we left the Cape than when we arrived. In fact,” Webb wrote Rusk, “he did say that it was impossible to learn from pictures, television, and documents the true scope and magnitude of what was being done and that he had a much better appreciation of its importance.”70

Did the trip to the Cape also signify the president’s willingness to allow the purchase of civilian space technology to offset the German debt? Reinhard Loosch, who was engaged in these early discussions and who later had an impor­tant administrative role in the Federal Republic’s space program, says that it did. Loosch stressed that the possibility of doing a joint satellite project with the United States not only “gave us at least the feeling that we would then be at the forefront of technology,” but was also a response to the question “what can we do, mutually agreeable, in order to help in offsetting the foreign exchange expenditures of the United States government.” Loosch emphasized that the FRG authorities did not object to the principle of offset. It was the implementa­tion that was straining the alliance:

It was clear for us from the very beginning—I should say from 1955 on, when we finally came back into the international political scene—that we would have to pay for that. This was taken for granted. But then, let’s do something more than just pay, help pay for the costs, but something where we could get something out of it. And in this respect, I think, the [collaboration with NASA] was quite, quite good.71

The memorandum of understanding for the cooperative satellite called Helios was signed in June 1969, more than three years after the first official con­tacts were made with Germany.72 In December 1974 and in January 1976 two German spacecraft weighing about 205 kilograms each, Helios 1 and Helios 2, were launched by Titan rockets from Cape Canaveral into elliptical orbits about the sun. They were designed to fly closer to the sun than any previous spacecraft (approaching to within 45 million kilometers) and to provide novel scientific information about solar processes and solar-terrestrial relationships. The probes were designed, manufactured, and integrated by Messerchmitt-Bolkow-Blohm, who worked closely with the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology and the German Aeronautical and Space Research Test Center.73 Each carried ten experiments, the majority of which were German (though there were also con­tributions from the United States, Australia, and Italy). The spacecraft, which cost Germany about $100 million, were operated and controlled from a national facility. NASA provided the deep-space tracking network to support the mission, and participated in the Joint Working Group responsible for technical imple­mentation.74

Helios was the most ambitious bilateral scientific project that NASA had undertaken to date. The Helios spacecraft not only imposed advanced techni­cal requirements on German industry, particularly for the development of the on-board power system, on-board data-processing system, and thermal controls that had to survive high levels of solar radiation, it also introduced German engi­neers and project managers to the way space projects were implemented in the United States.75 Admittedly quite a bit of the equipment in these early projects was not of German origin. However, the “conscientious imitation” of successful technologies and management methods were fundamental to building an inde­pendent national effort.76

Paine’s Departure

Just before these delicate and complex negotiations got under way the Europeans lost one of their most trusted allies: NASA administrator Tom Paine.

Paine was convinced that if NASA was to going to sell its post-Apollo pro­gram, it had to adopt what he called a “swashbuckling, buccaneering, privateer­ing kind of approach.”114 He tried to enroll the White House in his ambitions plans by writing several letters to the president, encouraged by Nixon repeating publicly in March 1970 that he hoped for “greater international cooperation.”115 His energetic advocacy was not, however, matched by the administration’s sup­port for NASA.

NASA’s ambitions were reined in by transformations to the decision-making process on the budget. Nixon elevated the Bureau of the Budget (BOB) into the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in July 1970, and gave it wide – ranging powers to evaluate program performance and budgetary requests before they were submitted to Congress. This arm of the administration was thus a cardinal player in the assessment of budget requests coming up from the various government agencies (only the CIA and the DoD were apparently able to over­ride their strictures), and its officers had a crucial role in transforming general policy statements into concrete programs with a realistic (in their eyes) dollar amount attached to them.

These changes had palpable effects on NASA’s budget. Indeed between the time that Paine made his ebullient speech in Europe in October 1969 and the Congressional debate on the budget in the first six months of 1970, he saw NASA’s future funds cut by over 25 percent. His proposed budget for FY1971 was $4.25 billion, a sum that he had already reluctantly reduced by about $0.25 billion. The BOB lopped $0.8 billion off that. Senior White House staffers Peter Flanigan and Thomas Clay Whitehead pruned it further. Flanigan was an invest­ment banker who had been Nixon’s campaign manager in 1968 and who had been given oversight responsibilities for space. Whitehead was a systems analyst from RAND who was asked by Flanigan to assess NASA’s budget and planning procedures. Flanigan and Whitehead reduced the BOB figure to $3.53 billion, and then, even as Paine was announcing this to the press, cut it by a further 2.5 percent to $3.3 billion as part of an across-the-board reduction to present a balanced budget to Congress for FY1971. Paine’s budget proposal thus suffered a massive reduction of some $1.2 billion in a few months.116

Then there was the situation in Congress. A survey of Congressional opinion covering the first 11 months of 1970 remarked that ‘‘[ijnflation, increasingly pressing domestic social problems, urban decay, environmental pollution and growing popular disenchantment with Federal programs that could possibly be called technological luxuries” had pushed space well down the list of national priorities. This was exacerbated by the success of Apollo 11 and 12, which sug­gested that the United States was well ahead of the USSR in the “space race.”117

The Cold War rationale for a major space program had lost its bite, and the sat­isfaction of domestic social needs was uppermost in the minds of both Congress and the Senate.

President Nixon was also less committed personally to space than was President Johnson, who had, of course, made the conquest of space his signature item in the run up to the 1960 presidential election. What is more when Nixon spoke of international collaboration he had the communist bloc foremost in mind. European matters took second place to his concern to establish east-west detente. This was translated into the signature of major international agreements intended to stabilize the international order, including a collaborative space ven­ture that involved the docking in space of an Apollo and a Soyuz spacecraft (see chapter 7).118

In a climate where interest in space was rapidly declining, where financial restraint was imperative, where the old Cold War arguments for a major space program had lost their punch, and where the budget process was dominated by people who were determined to clamp down on expenditure and were very reluctant to authorize new open-ended projects, support for a major post-Apollo program was anything but assured. Paine was not particularly good at adapting his proposals to this political reality: he rather naively believed that his enthu­siasm and the self-evident (to him) merits of NASA’s proposals would persuade the White House to endorse them and Congress to fund them. He was even less able to manage the internal dynamics in the White House and the power that the BOB had over preliminary budget estimates, nor the hostility felt by people like Tom Whitehead to his ambitions.

In August 1970 Thomas Paine decided to return to private life. One of the last things he did was to thank Henry Kissinger for his “strong and effective sup­port” in their “joint efforts to increase international participation in the space programs of the United States.” He also expressed his “deep appreciation” to U. Alexis Johnson (State Department) for his “help and encouragement” in the past, and urged his continued “strong support [. . .] to increase substantially par­ticipation by other nations in our space program.”119

As Joan Hoff puts it, Paine’s departure from NASA on September 15, 1970, “came as a welcome relief to both the legislative and executive branches of government.”120 The reaction in Europe was just the contrary. Paine’s “convic­tion and enthusiasm,” his “friendliness and open-mindedness,” would be missed. So would his recognition, not generally shared in Washington, that “we cannot have significant international cooperation without some real dependency, each side upon the other.”121 The secretary general of ELDO spoke for all on that side of the Atlantic when he wrote to Paine that “[w]e will [. . .] be deeply affected by your leaving NASA which will mean the break in an important personal link which has been of the greatest value at this still rather provisional stage of our common enterprise.”122

NASA and the Shifting Political Climate, 1968-1972

Following this rocky period, between 1968 and 1972 Soviet-American relations encountered a point of departure at which the two maintained coordinated activ­ities—be it even on one or two projects—until the present. In 1968, the World Weather Watch entered its operational phase (the World Weather Program), at which point both Soviet Meteor satellites and US TIROS satellites circled the earth providing continuous data to researchers and forecasters alike. In 1969 the United States cancelled its biosatellite program, making the Soviet offer for coop­eration on the Bion biosatellites all the more attractive five years later. In the fall of 1970, Soviet academician Keldysh wrote NASA administrator Paine acknowl­edging that cooperation was to date “limited in character,” leading eventually to the 1970-1971 agreement for an Apollo-Soyuz docking in orbit.19

The moon race, as it were, ended. NASA, which for many had come to be viewed as a single-issue agency, was now seeking new purpose in Spacelab, the Shuttle Program, hopes for additional planetary exploration, as well as sustained research and development in remote sensing. Congress reduced NASA’s budget and priorities year after year, leading in part to the resignation of Administrator James Webb in October of 1968.20 In March of 1969, Thomas Paine took over duties as NASA administrator, but remained in office a mere 19 months. James C. Fletcher followed as NASA administrator in April 1971, remaining through May of 1977.

During this time, initiatives for bilateral collaboration were in some regards a “bottom-up” phenomena. Historian Yuri Karash indicates that in late 1969 and early 1970, cosmonauts began making rare visits to the United States. At that time, Mikhail Millionshchikiov, a vice president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, spoke at the Second National Convocation on the Challenge of Building Peace in New York City, expressing the sentiment that the time was favorable for renewed talks in collaboration. In a remarkably short period of time, October 1970, leading officials from both US and Soviet space programs met in Moscow to discuss the possibility of joint ventures.21

In January 1971, NASA’s acting administrator George Low and Arnold Frutkin met with Nixon’s foreign policy advisor, Henry Kissinger. In their meeting, Low broached the possibility of formally inviting the Soviet Union to take part in a test mission involving an Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft. Kissinger assured Low, “As long as you stick to space, do anything you want to do. You are free to commit—in fact, I want you to tell your counterparts in Moscow that the President has sent you on this mission.” (Kissinger’s condition “as long as you stick to space” stemmed from the fact that astronauts had been quoted, indicating that bilateral negotiations at the national level ought to be as easy as those for space collaboration.)22 With the Nixon administration’s blessing, negotiations led eventually to the January 21, 1971, US-USSR Science and Applications Agreement.

These individuals signify shifting political climates—as both drivers and con­sequences of their times. The competition of the early Cold War gave way to detente, and a cautiously cooperative climate shaped the character of NASA – Soviet programs in the 1970s and early 1980s. This is not to say that the thaw in US-Soviet relations overwhelmed all other challenges to collaboration: what was possible in practice was determined at once by scientific direction, security restrictions, technical limitations, and fiscal realities. Thus a study of coopera­tive work in the fields of biosatellites, atmospheric science, and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project will illustrate the structural flexibility inherent to NASA’s principles and guidelines for international projects—how a wide variety of scientific and engineering communities managed to work under these adaptable guidelines, yielding scientifically and (to many) culturally meaningful returns.23

Under the 1971 US-USSR Science and Applications Agreement (renewed in 1974 and 1977), Soviet and US space researchers agreed to exchange lunar soil samples, share biomedical results from human spaceflight, and compare findings from Mars and Venus probes. In addition to this, they set up five joint working groups that supported the continuation of meteorological sounding rocket net­works, coordinated maritime studies, joint vegetation surveys, and called for the flight of Soviet life sciences experiments on Skylab.24 A number of these opera­tions were, or led to, multilateral ventures.

Indeed, several multilateral endeavors overlapped with 1971, 1974, and 1977 arrangements between the United States and the Soviet Union. Realizing that it was in their best interest to invite the participation of other nations, policymakers on both sides of the Iron Curtain proposed cooperation in their research or at the very least opened a substantial amount of data to the public domain. Both Soviet and US lunar samples were distributed to a number of nations. Likewise research­ers released results of biomedical and planetary research to international colleagues and continued to contribute standardized data and specialized observations to World Meteorological Organization data centers. In all cases the United States, it must be said, was far more forthcoming than the Soviet Union, in line with its far more positive commitment to international collaboration and openness.

In each of these fields, Presidential initiative per se appears to have played a limited role in sustaining cooperation. Indeed, several projects carried on in spite of executive policy intended to snub the opposing superpower. Following the initial thrust of the Kennedy administration, repeatedly pressuring Premier Khrushchev to work with NASA in space, bilateral collaboration operated for the most part under the inclination of NASA headquarters, NASA centers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and researchers located at various universities. Nevertheless, presidential administrations and the Congress together shaped NASA policy by setting budget priorities, demanding rigorous justification for innovative programs, or as in the case of the Carter and Reagan administrations, opting to not openly pursue joint objectives with the Soviets, but simply tolerating collaborative projects that were less prone to publicity.

Shuttle-Mir Planning

Chapter 7 has demonstrated how from the 1960s onward, Soviet-American relations in the life sciences remained cordial, punctuated by exchanges of data and research findings, along with dozens of experiments flown by US research­ers on Soviet Bion satellites. In the years immediately preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union, life science researchers on both sides of the iron curtain continued to sustain low-budget, but scientifically meaningful cooperation. As of 1991, NASA had already shipped and installed special X-ray equipment for measuring bone density before and after extended Mir flights. As detailed in the last chapter, from 1975 through 1992, NASA’s Ames Research Center had been contributing experiments to Soviet biosatellites. In June 1991 a materials experiment “the size of two tuna cans” traveled to Mir aboard a robotic Progress M-8 cargo craft. This was a cooperative project between NASA and the Soviet Union’s Institute for Biomedical Problems (the same institutions responsible for biosatellite cooperation that bridged the Carter-Reagan gap in cooperation). Soviets lacked data on solar radiation levels outside the Mir and Americans were collecting information necessary for long-voyage engineering and, more imme­diately, Space Station Freedom design. Other advantages included the fact that the radiation experiment required no electricity from Mir and that it occupied minimal cargo room on its returning Soyuz capsule (Soviet representatives hap­pily took this opportunity to point out that Mir maintained a “backlog” of manufactured materials waiting to be returned to earth).34

Roughly three weeks before the failed August Coup against Gorbachev, President George H. W. Bush proposed a new twist. In a series of initiatives developed by the National Space Council and Vice President Dan Quayle, Bush suggested the exchange of an astronaut with a cosmonaut. Might it be possible for an American to visit Mir, if the Americans accepted a cosmonaut guest on the Shuttle?

At this early phase, NASA maintained life sciences as the primary research interest. The Soviets would provide data already gathered on long-duration flight research; both would share medical equipment for flight and participate in efforts to standardize scientific instruments and lab analysis.35 The exchange of crew held great symbolic value, foreshadowing a possible decline in secrecy of the then Soviet state. It would entail cross-training at the respective partner facilities, as well as calling for new telecommunications links between human spaceflight cen­ters. Whereas the Americans had only flown up to 84 days in orbit, their experi­ments tended to be carried out on more sophisticated equipment and performed in-flight. The Soviets, on the other hand, could boast Mir missions of a year’s length, but conducted most of their physiological research pre – and postflight and still had no freezer aboard Mir for storing blood and urine samples.36

Some warned of disadvantages. Frank Sulzman, chief of NASA’s life support branch, pointed out what critics might find less appealing. For one thing, some may fear the undue transfer of American biotechnology to Soviet counterparts, thereby enhancing their lead in long-duration flights. One official, preferring to remain nameless, speculated that the cash-strapped Russians may charge the Americans money for “the means of minimizing the effects of weightlessness on the body,” which in the short-term include nausea, fluid redistribution in the head and legs, and disorientation.37

In June of 1992, NASA administrator Dan Goldin (appointed by President Bush in April 1992) explained that the Americans and now Russian partners were advancing to the “next crucial step in expanding cooperative space activities.”38 Now, in addition to the flight of a cosmonaut on the Shuttle and an astronaut on Mir, the parties had agreed to negotiate two more international flights: an in-orbit rendezvous of craft (meaning the Shuttle would circle, but not dock with the Mir) and the eventual docking of the two craft a few months later. With the second exercise, astronaut Norm Thagard would transfer from Mir to the Shuttle for his return flight (which took place in the summer of 1995). Table 8.1 lists the Phase 1 Shuttle-Mir Flights.39

In the fall of 1992, negotiations commenced between Rockwell International (since 1972, the prime contractor on the Shuttle orbiter) and NPO Energia for the use of a Russian-designed Mir-Shuttle docking module.40 In the meantime, as NASA staff settled into cooperating with the Russian Space Agency Roskosmos (itself only five months old) and Rockwell began work with Energia, the American press discussed the likelihood that American firms and NASA might take any number of courses: purchase Mir outright, invite Russian participation on the Space Station Freedom, or commence with plans for an i nternational human

Shuttle Flight


Primary Objective






Experimentation with SPACEHAB-2, attempt to grow semiconductor film materials for use in advanced electronics

First flight of cosmonaut on Shuttle (Sergei Krikalev)





Experimentation using SPACEHAB-3, deployment and retrieval of SPARTAN-204 satellite, Shuttle and Mir rendezvous

First female Shuttle pilot (Eileen Collins)





First Shuttle-Mir docking (S/MM-01)

Spacelab-Mir combined science and logistical transfer mission






Delivered docking module and two solar arrays (one built by Russia and one by the United States





S/MM-03, research and transfer of supplies using SPACEHAB

Linda Godwin and Michael Clifford conduct first US EVA around two mated spacecraft (MEEP experiments)





S/MM-04, experimentation using SPACEHAB-05

Shannon Lucid departed Mir for earth after setting US record for time in space (188 days)





S/MM-05, experimentation using SPACEHAB double module

Largest transfer of logistics between two spacecraft (approx 6,000 pounds to Mir and 2,400 pounds to






S/MM-06, SPACEHAB double module

One-year anniversary of US continuous presence in space





S/MM-07, SPACEHAB double module

Fourth exchange of US astronauts, first joint US-Russian EVA during Shuttle flight





S/MM-08, SPACEHAB double module supplied Mir with more than 8,000 pounds of scientific equipment, logistical hardware, and water

Fifth and last crew exchange





S/MM-09, SPACEHAB experimentation

Last Mir docking mission, first time high-energy particle magnetic spectrometer placed in orbit

Source: Judy Rumerman, NASA Historical Data Book Volume VII: NASA Launch Systems, Space Transportation, Human Spaceflight, and Space Science 1989-1998 (Washington, DC: NASA History Division Office of External Relations, 2009), NASA SP-2009-4012.

mission to Mars. But this was all speculation. At the time, Russian ties to the Space Station Freedom (by 1992 a disheartening eight years in the making—see chapter 13) were limited to a study contract, exploring whether or not the Soyuz might be employed as an ACRV “life boat” on the space station.

At the beginning of the Shuttle-Mir Missions, the Mir Space Station con­sisted of four modules, launched incrementally.41

Mir Base Blok (also: FGB Universal Blok Salyut or FGB Universal and Adaptable Space Apparatus (SA)): This module, derived from the military space station Almaz, had been used to provide power, station-keeping reboost, tug­ging, and docking to a number Russian missions—human and robotic alike. A report provided to NASA by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Facility highlighted the adaptability, variability, and compatibility of the FGBs, explaining that they were identical, predesigned systems with the same engines, tanks, control units, thermal systems, and so on. Russian engineers achieved variability among FGB craft by moving engines, adding or subtracting tanks, or changing electrical power ratings. Thus, the FGB blok was compatible with all Salyut, Mir, and eventually Russian ISS modules and had provided power to at least seven robotic Kosmos missions as well as Mir’s Kvant-2, Kristal, Spektr, and Piroda modules.

Kvant-1: This blok was launched in 1987, carrying instruments for scientific experimentation as well as six gyrodynes and a Salyut 5-B digital computer for station orientation.

Kvant-2: Launched in 1989, this module included an extravehicular activity (EVA) airlock, solar arrays, and additional life support equipment.

Kristal: Docked in 1990, carrying scientific equipment, retractable solar arrays, and an androgynous docking mechanism.

Spektr: A derivative of the FGB apparatus, Spektr had originally been designed for Soviet military experiments, but had never been launched due to a lack of funding. “Rescued” by US-Russian cooperation, this module was launched in May 1995. Americans and Russians used it for earth observation and atmo­spheric study.

Priroda: Supplied additional remote sensing capability, along with hardware for materials processing, meteorological and ionospheric research. Priroda also carried equipment for US, French, and German research.

NASA, Japan, and the International Space Station

Sweeping adjectives abound when one reads about the construction of the International Space Station in scholarly journals, newspapers and trade publications.

True to its name it brings together a team of international players—mostly devel­oped countries—to contribute components for assembling in orbit a platform for basic scientific research and for ambitious future exploratory missions (see chap­ter 14). Japan is one of the key partners in this international venture, and this col­laboration remains to date the largest space effort between Japan and the United States. By deciding to participate in the space station in the early 1980s Japan gained the needed visibility as a space-faring nation. The 1980s also saw Japan’s participation in many international scientific programs and joint science and tech­nology collaborations with the United States.

Japan’s main contribution to the Space Station comes in the form of an in-or­bit floating laboratory called the Japanese Experimental Module (JEM) or Kibo meaning “hope.” The first element was successfully added to the International Space Station in the spring of 2009, the complete package was assembled in fall 2009.41 Kibo’s main purpose was to create an ideal environment for the study of the earth’s environment and perform microgravity experiments.42 It will also house the world’s largest wide angle X-ray camera for galactic studies. The mod­ule consists of two facilities: the pressurized module that simulates a condition similar to what we experience on Earth and an exposed facility for long-term experiments in outer space.

Kibo was not the only contribution foreseen for the ISS. JAXA also planned to build a Centrifuge Accommodations Model (CAM). CAM’s core was a 2.5- meter-long centrifuge that would have provided controlled exposure of various biological specimens to a range of gravity levels from as little as 0.01 g to 2 g. The program was cancelled as part of NASA’s response to President Bush’s January 2004 Vision for Space Exploration.43 That vision called for the develop­ment of a Crew Exploration Vehicle (Orion) to take astronauts to and from the moon and the ISS, and a Crew Launch Vehicle (Ares I). It also directed NASA to restrict research on the ISS to elements that supported the vision. To meet these requirements NASA reduced the number of launches to the ISS before September 2010 from 28 to 16, and dropped plans to launch Russia’s Science Power Platform and Japan’s CAM, whose flight model, along with the engineer­ing model of the centrifuge rotor had already been manufactured.

The Japanese motivation to cooperate in the Space Station dates back to the early 1980s when Japan’s space program was still in its growth phase—it was yet to build its own application satellite and launch vehicles. The earlier invitation by the United States to cooperate with the space shuttle was turned down by Japan because of deep concerns about its own technological capabilities and the financial commitment involved in a cooperative endeavor when it was struggling with its fledgling space program. In the words of John Logsdon, “Japan, forced to sit on the sidelines during Shuttle development, was determined not to be left out of the next major cooperative opportunity.”44

Though the invitation to participate in the space station was made during President Reagan’s State of the Union address on January 25, 1984, the nego­tiations and planning started much earlier. Significant meetings were organized in 1982 and 1983 to plan for the space station with potential partners that included Japan. In May 1981, a special Space Station Task Force was formed under the Space Activities Commission in Japan to coordinate station-related activities through interaction with other government, semigovernment, and private agencies. Though Japan was positive about participating in the Space Station, the financial commitment to develop their own indigenous H-II launch vehicle demanded negotiations with their own space team for simultaneously committing resources for both projects—the H-II and the space station.

As Japan wanted to be an international player in human space flight, it committed itself to contributing to the Space Station. It efficiently allocated its resources and did the preparatory work well in advance. The Kibo module remained steadily on course throughout the period from approval in 1989 to arrival at the Tsukuba space center in 1997, weathering the storms of the trans­formation of the station from President Reagan’s Freedom to President Clinton’s International Space Station that included Russia. For Japan, the ISS in general and its own module in particular offered the opportunity for a permanent par­ticipation in manned space flight and a platform where research could be carried out into manufacturing technologies in weightlessness and vacuum.45

Japan’s participation in the space station was not welcomed by many scientists and policy analysts in the country. They saw it as a needless drain on resources when Japan should be concentrating on building a robust space program.46 As John Logsdon put it, this led the government to recognize that “it could not both accept the U. S. offer and satisfy its other space objectives without increas­ing its financial commitment to space.” Having decided to do so, a broad con­sensus was brokered between government and industry from 1982 to 1984 in favor of collaborating with the United States in exploring the potential of human space flight.47 Seen in this light, the Space Station has both increased resources for the Japanese space effort and contributed to building that autonomy in space that the country has pursued for the last 60 years.

NASA and the Politics of Delta Launch Vehicle Technology Transfer to Japan

As described in the previous chapter, Japan’s quest for the development of an indigenous launch capability began with the pioneering efforts of Itokawa and his team at IIS in the 1950s and at ISAS in the 1960s. Their program to develop solid propellant vehicles (Kappa, Lambda, Mu) for launching mini satellites to low earth orbit was thwarted in the late 1960s by three consecutive technologi­cal failures along with ongoing internal problems. These setbacks left the field open for the rival solid – and liquid-fuel program being undertaken by the NSDC, which progressed from developing a three-stage Q rocket in the 1960s to an N series constructed with American help in the 1970s. This was established with an intergovernmental agreement in which Washington undertook “to provide to the Japanese Government or to Japanese industry under contract with the Japanese Government, unclassified technology and equipment [. . .] for the development of Japanese Q and N launch vehicles and communications and other satellites for peaceful purposes.”1 This chapter focuses on the circumstances leading up to this arrangement, which was strongly promoted by the State Department, and the difficulties that NASA faced in interpreting its scope, and in cooperating with its implementation. That experience, in turn, enabled Japan to develop a “home­grown” H series of rockets in the 1980s, the latest being H-IIA capable of placing application satellites weighing more than two tons in geosynchronous orbit.2

As mentioned in the previous chapter, Hideo Itokawa’s determination to build solid-fuel rockets without foreign assistance caused some consternation in the United States. The State Department noted that the Japanese were not only offering these rockets for sale—which it “did not consider to be a sig­nificant source of proliferation of solid fuel technology”—but were also offer­ing licensing arrangements for their production abroad, especially to Indonesia and Yugoslavia—which was of considerable concern.3 The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) that was set up as an independent body by Congress is 1961, specifically to deal with all aspects of arms control, nonpro­liferation, and disarmament, emphasized the possibility that the rockets could morph into strategic nuclear-capable ballistic missiles within three years no mat­ter what America did. The United States, it suggested, could counter this devel­opment by offering Japan liquid-fuel rocket technology. As the ACDA put it in

September 1966, the United States had the “ability to influence the course of Japan’s rocket developments” by making “certain areas of space-rocket technol­ogy” that were less relevant to missiles “more attractive.”4 Such a move would also bolster Japan’s prestige and would be in line with the kind of support the United States was offering to the European program in ELDO (see chapter 3).

The moves made by the State Department in the mid-1960s to engage Japan in closer collaboration with the United States in the wake of the 1964 Chinese nuclear test (see previous chapter) were part and parcel of a general effort to contain Tokyo’s nuclear aspirations, if they should ever emerge. As a memo sent to the embassy in Tokyo put it, “[G]iven Japanese capability to develop—if it chose to change current policy—nuclear weapons delivery system unilaterally and without foreign assistance,” space cooperation could serve US policy objectives “of both discouraging proliferation tendencies in Japan and encouraging contin­ued Japanese focus on exclusively peaceful exploitation of space.” The alternative, “denying to Japan certain unclassified technology relating to space exploitation,” would, the State Department suggested, “encourage unilateral program and very nationalistic tendencies and suspicion of U. S. which could stimulate decision by the government of Japan over next decades to exercise its nuclear option.”5

These views were part and parcel of an evolving quest for collaboration with Japan, notwithstanding Kaneshige’s gloomy prognosis in summer 1966. An offi­cial visit by Prime Minister Sato in November 1967 provided the occasion for a collective reaffirmation of US policy by officials in NASA, the Department of Defense, the Office of Munitions Control, and the science team in the State Department. A white paper prepared in anticipation of the state visit expressed continuing concern regarding Japan’s determination to pursue an independent peaceful space program. It reiterated the advantages to Tokyo of working with the United States: savings in time and money, increased prestige in Asia vis-a-vis the People’s Republic of China. And it suggested that Sato’s visit provided an appropriate occasion for the United States to once again express its “willingness to broaden space cooperation with Japan.” There were, though, a couple of areas in which that cooperation would have to be qualified: the launching of comsats, which had to satisfy Intelsat’s conditions (see chapter 5), and “assistance in the development of Japanese launch vehicles including guidance systems [that was] limited by our policy against the proliferation of nuclear weapon systems.”6 In these areas, requests for technological support would be handled on a case-by­case basis: there could be no blanket technology transfer agreement.

On November 15, 1967, President Johnson and Prime Minister Eisaku Sato agreed that the two countries should look more closely into the possibilities for space cooperation. Possible avenues for collaboration were then reviewed thoroughly in Washington. A policy statement outlining the nature of prospective cooperation with the Japanese was agreed by State, NASA, Defense, ACDA, and the White House. It was forwarded to the US ambassador in Tokyo, U. Alexis Johnson, on January 5, 1968, with authorization to inform the Japanese government of the readiness to negotiate a space agreement. The offer was conveyed to the prime minister shortly thereafter, and 18 months later, on July 31, 1969, an exchange of diplomatic notes confirmed the terms of a new US-Japanese collaborative space project. It explicitly narrowed the scope of collaboration to technology and equip­ment for the peaceful development of launch vehicles and communications and other satellites.7

This arrangement deviated significantly from the white paper drafted in inter­agency discussions before Sato’s visit. Not only did it identify as core items for collaboration just those items that had been singled out as particularly sensitive— launchers and comsats—, but it also made no explicit mention that technology sharing in these two areas would be decided on a case-by-case basis, as NASA had insisted.

Privileging launchers was defended in general terms by the State Department as essential to curbing potential militaristic ambitions in Japan. As one official put it to the secretary of state, “[T]o deny cooperation in unclassified technology oth­erwise available to European partners would stimulate suspicion of U. S. motives, encourage nationalistic tendencies and could well contribute to an eventual deci­sion by the Japanese government to exercise its option to develop a military deliv­ery capability.”8 U. Alexis Johnson himself later reiterated the argument in his biography: as he put it there, “since space launchers always presented the possibil­ity of conversion to military rockets [. . .] we would be much smarter to be in bed with Japan from the outset rather than have it develop a new rocket of which we would be ignorant.”9 The deal would also “benefit U. S. business interests and help with our balance of payments.”10 Johnson stressed this aspect in response to the criticism that the United States was “gratuitously providing the Japanese with scientific and technological data of inestimable worth”: US industries who were “interested in this matter estimate that the return to them and our balance of payments should amount to a total of approximately $350 million by 1975.”11 This was a not insignificant sum when “by the mid-1960s the trade balance was beginning to swing in Japan’s direction as its manufactured goods, especially elec­tronics, began to make big inroads in the wide-open American market.”12 There was, then, more than one good reason for agreeing to share launcher technology with Japan: it was quite another matter, of course, to explicitly encourage Japan to develop with American help the most sensitive components that had been identi­fied as candidates for technology sharing, namely, launchers and comsats.

Needless to say, neither NASA nor the Department of Defense were happy with this arrangement: Frutkin in particular “resisted it as strongly as I could [. . .].”13 The State Department was able to override their objections by arguing that it was in the overall foreign policy and national security interests to foster closer collabora­tion with Japan in these crucial technological sectors. They did have to make one concession to their opponents however: the US government undertook “to per­mit United States industry to provide to the Japanese Government or to Japanese industry under contract to the Japanese government” access to the unclassified technologies mentioned earlier.14 By identifying US industry as the agent of the exchange Washington effectively construed the agreement as a commercial arrange­ment between the Japanese and the manufacturer of the Thor-Delta rocket.

There is no doubt that U. Alexis Johnson, ambassador to Japan from 1966 to 1969, and then undersecretary of state for political affairs from 1969 to 1973, was the driving force behind the agreement. Frutkin was explicit about this in interviews:

See, the prime advocate of a generous hand to Japan on a vehicle was Alex Johnson.

He worked awfully hard for that in all the positions he had, first as ambassador to Japan, then in State, and then this ultra special committee dealing with intel­ligence and so on. I felt it was wrong for policy to be pushed by a single person. He was very much interested in the Japanese interest in launch vehicle technology and tried to encourage us to be more forthcoming to them. Now, in my opinion, he should have known a lot better, because he was a member of the little intelligence group, an interagency intelligence group, that would have known far better than I did that the U. S. was not interested in Japanese access to launch vehicle technology [at that time].15

Johnson himself was unambiguous about the importance he attached to the agree­ment. Writing to Robert Seamans, the secretary of the Air Force, in 1969, he emphasized that “[t]his is a project close to my heart on which I did the original spade work with Prime Minister Sato.” He added that, “on balance, I think it is very much in our national interest to proceed with the project as rapidly as we can.”16 U. Alexis Johnson made an immense contribution to the growth ofUS-Japanese relations during his tenure first as ambassador to Tokyo and then as undersec­retary of state for political affairs. In both positions, he played a crucial role in facilitating the return of Okinawa to Japan and in space cooperation. In an inter­view with John Logsdon he stated that “he had always wanted to find a way to counter balance what he perceived as a pro-European bias in U. S. foreign pol­icy by increasing U. S. interactions with Asia, and particularly Japan.”17 Johnson chaired the Space Council subcommittee on international cooperation between May and October 1966 and thus was quite familiar with the discussion regarding increased US-Japan space interactions. When Johnson was named US ambassador to Japan in October 1966, he carried with him the desire to use space coopera­tion as one way of strengthening the overall Japanese-US alliance. He was sensi­tive to Japanese “national pride” and its “technology capacity” to develop launch vehicles and satellites. Seeing the earlier overtures toward space cooperation from the United States to be ill-defined—“we had offered several times in general terms to cooperate with Japan but never spelled out what we meant”—he began work­ing closely with Washington for a “specific proposal” to engage with the Japanese space effort.18 During the spring and summer of 1969 in anticipation of the July 1969 exchange of notes, Johnson worked hard for such a specific agreement with the Japanese, something that would entice them and give substance to the more general proposals that had been in the air since 1965. Seeing no progress made by the staff of the undersecretary’s committee, he emphatically stated that

[t]he present course can have no result other than the Japanese going it alone or forcing them into the arms of the Europeans. As you know, I deeply feel that this would be contrary to every interest that we have with the Japanese; also, it is obvi­ously urgent that this matter be resolved before the Cabinet Committee meeting in Tokyo at the end of July.19

In the event it was resolved to his satisfaction, and thanks to his passionate and determined pursuit of his objective. Indeed as Johnson explained in an oral interview in 1975, he was a “great believer in getting things done, going to the core of the problem. It’s been very, very rare in my career that I ever write a memorandum to anybody or do a ‘think-piece’ about something. [. . .] I like to sit down and write the telegram” giving instructions to the ambassador in the field.20 This close identification with the project and his determination to “write the telegram” rather than draft policy papers surely helps to account for

Johnson’s tenacity in bringing the US-Japan agreement to fruition on terms that strongly favored Tokyo, against strong opposition in other arms of the adminis­tration, and in NASA in particular.

NASA-ESA Relations in the 1970s and 1980s: The Hubble Space. Telescope and the International Solar Polar Mission

The European collaborative space program went through a number of crises in the early 1970s that were resolved by making some important institutional and programmatic changes. ESRO’s mission was broadened to include both applications and scientific satellites.77 The European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) was dissolved, France took the lead in providing Europe with an autonomous launch capability, and a new body, the European Space Agency (ESA), was formed. ESA, like NASA, was now responsible for all aspects of the collaborative European space program (though countries could still pursue bi – and multilateral programs in parallel). To satisfy the diverse and sometimes conflicting needs of its member states, however, no single country was obliged to participate in a program if it did not want to. The exception to this was the science program that was mandatory: no government could opt out of it.78

This section discusses two programs to illustrate NASA-ESA relations in this period, the contribution to the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM), which was renamed Ulysses. While the former can be counted a success, the latter, in which NASA withdrew its spacecraft from a two-satellite mission, has been regarded by Europeans as a cooperative failure never to be repeated. As Roger Bonnet, who became director of ESA’s Scientific Programme in 1983, puts it, “No one can deny that the ISPM crisis had a pro­found and lasting effect on the attitude of ESA toward NASA and on interna­tional cooperation in general.”79 For this reason alone it commands more space than the Hubble.

The Hubble Space Telescope was, as its historian Robert Smith tells us, “designed to be the most powerful optical telescope ever constructed.”80 Its centerpiece was a 2.4-meter primary mirror, whose collected light was reflected back through a hole in the mirror to be analyzed by five instruments and the telescope’s fine guidance system, which served as the sixth instrument. The main scientific justification for the Hubble was “the large increase in capability promised by the instrument’s resolving power, rather than its ability to tackle any particular scientific questions”81 Free from the interference of atmospheric absorption, the giant telescope made observations at wavelengths ranging from 120 nanometers to 1 millimeter, covering the ultraviolet, infrared, submillime­ter, and optical regions of the spectrum. The telescope was approved by Congress and the White House in 1974, construction began in 1977, and it was launched by the Space Shuttle in 1990.

During the planning stages of the Hubble (the famous astronomer’s name was actually only added in 1983) NASA discussed a possible contribution from Europe. A Faint Object Spectrograph was one interesting candidate for European participation that NASA quickly ruled out: it was seen as one of the most impor­tant instruments on the telescope and the major partner was obviously not going to hand it over to a junior participant. The alternative that emerged was a Faint Object Camera (FOC) that made use of a technique called the Imaging Photon Counting System developed by University College, London. The FOC’s task was to examine exceptionally faint objects that could only be “seen” by collect­ing light during many orbits of observation time. NASA agreed that this instru­ment could be one of those included in the system. What is more it was willing to accept Europe’s demand that this contribution need not be subject to open competition with other instrument proposals coming from the space science community. A place on board was guaranteed—on condition that NASA was satisfied that the Europeans had the technological capability required to build such a sophisticated piece of equipment.

A “tiger team” of US engineers and astronomers visited the laboratories and industrial plants engaged in the project to see for themselves. They concluded that the technology, the facilities, and the expertise required to build an FOC existed in Europe. But they were unhappy with the design being proposed. They felt that the inclusion on the camera of two possible light paths and a spectro­graph complicated the device’s mechanism unnecessarily and might cause cata­strophic failure in orbit. It was an FOC “with bells and whistles attached.”82

The negotiations over the space telescope were not without conflict. Some European scientists felt that it was unnecessary to use scarce resources for an expensive, dedicated instrument when NASA was soliciting proposals for experi­ments in open competition. Others resented the implication in the United States that European industry was not up to building a device as complex as the FOC. In any event it took an “unaccountable number of meetings” to find a suitable agreement.83 Nancy Roman, who was responsible for astronomy at NASA, was a central figure in these negotiations and is fondly remembered by the Europeans for her generous hospitality. The final arrangement gave ESA 15 percent of the observing time on all instruments in return for contributing one of them. This has been more than respected: in fact Europe’s share of observing time has been closer to 20 percent after proposal selection through NASA’s competitive peer review system (and thanks to their additional contribution of solar arrays, later replaced by the United States).84

The ISPM “was born to be the paradigm of ideal cooperation between NASA and ESA.”85 Its aim was to send two spacecraft, symmetrical with respect to the plane of the ecliptic, to simultaneously fly above the opposite poles of the sun. Each agency would develop its own satellite, and scientific instruments from both sides of the Atlantic would be accommodated on each in open competition after peer review. There would be no exchange of funds, and both were to be launched together on the Shuttle in February 1983.

In November 1977 the ESA space science community selected its satellite, along with participation in the Hubble, rejecting four other proposals. One of the reasons ISPM won out was that “the dual mission, to which ESA with its spacecraft would make a major contribution, offers the basis for a clean interface and fruitful cooperation with NASA.”86 The experiments were jointly chosen in February 1978, offering a place on the payloads to more than 200 scientists from 65 universities and research institutes in 13 countries.

The funding procedures were very different. Funding was secured on ESA’s side by the policy of ensuring cost-to-completion for projects once they were accepted by the member states. Budgetary control was exercised by demanding that the cost for the development of the satellite, its launch, and its operation did not exceed 20 percent of the envelope estimated at Phase B (project definition phase). In short, once ISPM was accepted it was extremely likely that Europe would maintain funding to completion. On the US side Congress gave the go – ahead for the ISPM by including the satellite in the FY1979 budget. At this stage of development this was, of course no more than a statement of intent, not a commitment to complete. NASA’s appropriation is renegotiated annually in what is sometimes a bruising battle with the White House, the Senate, and the House. The agency is obviously never granted all the funds that it applies for, and sometimes has to make hard choices that can seriously impact the viability of some missions. In the United States, in other words, there is no guarantee that a project will be funded to completion when start-up funds are allocated to NASA. Budgetary control takes place annually.

The Europeans were aware of this. They hoped, though, that the interna­tional MoU detailing their respective obligations in the ISPM mission, while not having the force of a treaty, would bind NASA and the US administration tightly into the collaboration, and protect ISPM from the annual vagaries of the budget allocation process in Washington. This despite the clause in the MoU stipulating that the execution of the project was “subject to the availability of funds” by both partners. “Unfortunately,” as Bonnet and Manno put it, “the events which followed shattered this quiet conviction and initiated a new era in the relations between ESA and NASA.”87

NASA’s difficulties with this mission were created by the need to complete the Shuttle and by increasingly deep cuts to its space science budgets by suc­cessive administrations. The warnings were there when NASA was instructed by the Carter administration to slash its budget for FY1981 in advance of the elections. One measure that it took was to postpone the launch of ISPM by two years to 1985. This decision was discussed with the Europeans, who reluctantly accepted it. Once President Reagan entered office in 1982 the downward pressure on NASA’s budget increased further. David Stockman, the new director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), was determined to reign in federal spending. NASA responded to his cuts by reducing its budget for space science by 30 percent. In doing so it eliminated its ISPM satellite without consulting ESA.

ESA’s director general and the director of the science program objected strongly. The cancellation of NASA’s spacecraft degraded the scientific objec­tives of the dual mission and eliminated about 80 European and American inves­tigators at a stroke. If ESA followed suit and cancelled its mission it stood to lose about $100 million. NASA stood firm. It would continue to provide the launch, a radioisotopic thermal generator that was on the payload, and the retrieval and dissemination of data from ESA’s satellite.

Faced with this situation, ESA officials came up with a new idea: that Dornier, the prime contractor on the European spacecraft, should produce a second unit for NASA at little additional cost to the agency. It would not be as sophisticated as the original American satellite but most of the scientific mission would be salvaged. In a desperate attempt to save the dual mission, the ESA executive visited Congress, the State Department, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of Management and Budget. Congress was sympathetic, and NASA was willing to reinstate the ISPM, but only if it was granted addi­tional money by the OMB. It had other international obligations—to Galileo (with West Germany) and to the Hubble Space Telescope (with ESA). It was not prepared to jeopardize either to save ISPM. NASA administrator James Beggs delivered the coup de grace in September 1982: he informed ESA director gen­eral Erik Quistgaard that the agency would not include any request for a second ISPM spacecraft in its new budget request. ESA decided to go it alone with one spacecraft, renamed Ulysses, whose launch was further delayed by four years by the Challenger accident in January 1986.

In their account of this unfortunate affair, Roger Bonnet and Vittorio Manno are uncompromising in their critique of the way NASA and the US administration handled matters, notably the failure to consult.8 8 NASA offi­cial Lynn Cline understands the frustration but noted that the European view doesn’t capture the full picture of what NASA faced on its side. As she put it,

We were going through our budget review between NASA and Office of Management and Budget. NASA was directed to take a large cut in its budget, and we were told that we weren’t allowed to take the cut in certain areas. So that left us with some science programs as the particular area that was under debate. So the question was, did we take a budget cut in Hubble Space Telescope, [that] was one of the options. That happened to be a cooperative project with the European Space Agency, and obviously, for our science community, a very prestigious, high – priority project. The second option was to take a cut in the Galileo mission, and I happened to be the German desk officer, so that was the one I was working on, [and I saw] all the reasons why we shouldn’t do that. And then the third option was to take the budget cut from the International Solar Polar Mission. All three of those were international missions, two with ESA, one with Germany.89

Why then was the ISPM cut? Cline explains:

One reason was that you could cut out one spacecraft and not terminate the entire mission. Secondly, NASA would still be able to provide the launch and all of the tracking capabilities, as well as its science instruments, for the one remaining spacecraft. So while we were losing a portion of the mission by eliminating one of the spacecraft and losing some of the flight opportunities for science instruments, that was less severe than lose a Hubble mission or lose a Galileo mission, and so that was the lesser of the evils, if you will.

Why did NASA not discuss this decision with the Europeans before it was made public? Why the failure to consult? Cline points out that this procedure was not of the agency’s choosing:

NASA went to the Office of Management and Budget and asked for permission to talk with Europe about this, and we were told by the administration that the bud­get was embargoed and we were not allowed to consult with the European Space Agency on this. So the first time we were able to directly address it with Europe was when it was broadly [. . .] public and a fait accompli, which obviously was not well received, and we went through all of the protests from Europe about not consulting and weren’t there other options and can we restore this, and a whole series of activities.

The legacy of the ISPM affair lives on in relationships between the United States and Europe, notwithstanding the fact that Ulysses mission was carried out, and, more generally, that this was an isolated, if unfortunate case, and did not in any way signify a retreat from a commitment to international cooperation. As Lynn Cline put it,

Now fast-forward to years later when I was lead negotiator for the Solar Terrestrial Physics Program, which was a NASA-ESA collaboration, at virtually every nego­tiating session I was treated to a lecture from the Europeans on how horrible we were as a partner, and new language they needed in the agreements to guarantee some greater protection for them on consultations and follow-through from the U. S., as a result of that experience. I heard about it again when I did Cassini, and I heard about it again when I did the International Space Station negotiations.

It has to be admitted that the United States handled the ISPM situation badly through lack of consultation, though even here NASA had its hands tied by the administration. More fundamentally, though, this kind of situation is always possible because the budget of the US space program is subject to annual review and cuts. The central lesson of the ISPM affair is that this procedure cannot be overridden by legal instruments like a memorandum of understanding, even at the international level. Hard choices are imposed by the funding regime under which NASA is obliged to operate and—as the ISPM affair illustrates—no inter­national partner can count on their collaborative project being immune to unex­pected budget cuts, or even to cancellation.

European Participation in the Post-Apollo. Program, 1971: The United States Begins to. Have Second Thoughts—And So. Do the Europeans

Bumps on the Road to Engaged Collaboration

On February 5, 1971, the Apollo XIV Lunar Module touched down on the surface of the moon. This was followed a few weeks later by the release of the President’s Report to Congress on Foreign Policy in the 1970s.1 The report used the successful completion of the Apollo XIV mission to reiterate that the achievement was not simply a reflection of American scientific and technological capability. “It is equally a measure of an older American tradition, the compul­sion to cross the next mountain chain. The pressurized space suit is, in a very real sense, today’s equivalent of the buckskin jacket and the buffalo robe. Apollo XIV is the latest packhorse, and its crew the most recent in a long line of American pioneers.” It ingeniously introduced the international dimension by stressing that “mutual help and cooperation” was “essential to life on the American fron­tier.” In a reference to the new climate of detente it noted that NASA and the State Department had been instructed to pursue broader collaborative projects with Moscow “with the utmost seriousness.“ Congress was also advised that while “substantial participation” was being sought in the post-Apollo program, “the result is uncertain, for there are very real difficulties to be solved.”2 Two of those concerned the scope of NASA’s international commitments.

White House staffer Tom Whitehead was particularly outspoken in this regard.3 In a memo to Peter Flanigan, who had oversight responsibilities for NASA’s budget, he wrote that the agency was failing to “make a transition from rapid razzle-dazzle growth and glamour to organizational maturity and more stable operations in the long-term.” Its overheads were too high. The agency lacked direction. Above all its pursuit of European funding for post-Apollo had not been thought through. The White House had not yet decided what the shape of the program would be, yet if the Europeans were to commit $1 billion to it, “the President and the Congress will have been locked into NASA’s grand plans because the political cost of reneging would be too high.” What is more,

“the kind of cooperation now being talked up will have the effect of giving away our space launch, space operations, and related know-how at 10 cents on the dollar,” to the disadvantage of US business. Whitehead, in fact, thought that it would be better to take space operations out of the political realm and anchor them more firmly in the commercial area, where they would be free from “inter­national bickering” and better serve the needs of American high-technology industry. What NASA needed now, he wrote, was “a new Administrator who will turn down NASA’s empire-building fervor,” and present the OMB and the White House with “broad but concrete alternatives.” “In short,” Whitehead wrote, “we need someone who will work with us rather than against us, [. . .] and will shape the program to reflect credit on the President rather than embarrass­ment.” The man eventually chosen for that job was James C. Fletcher, who took over as NASA’s administrator in April 1971.

Comsat leveled additional criticism of NASA and the State Department’s handling of European collaboration. In a sharply worded letter to U. Alexis Johnson dated December 29, 1970, Comsat president Joseph Charyk spelt out his concerns.4 Charyk noted that, in the negotiations over the definitive Intelsat agreements that were drawing to a close, “we had assumed that the United States would refuse to provide launch services for a separate regional system unless the Assembly of Parties, with the concurrence of the United States, found that the proposed system would be technically compatible with the Intelsat system and would not do significant economic harm to that system” (a positive finding, as explained in chapter 4). From what he had heard, however, it seemed that the United States would be prepared to launch regional satellites for Europe under a quite different set of conditions (a negative finding). Comsat’s entire strategy and, in particular, its willingness to retreat from its initial negotiating position— that no separate system should be tolerated at all—was being undermined by the kind of concessions Johnson was making to the Europeans (see table 5.1).

For Charyk the only condition under which the United States should launch a separate system would be if the Assembly of Parties, by the required two-thirds vote and with the concurrence of the United States, made a positive finding.5 Anything else would “appear to us to be indefensible” (table 5.1). He ended by asking the government “to clarify its intentions,” and to provide Comsat and the US delegation with the “clearest possible assurances” on the conditions for launcher availability. This would have a “direct bearing” on the US delegation’s willingness to accept the very diluted version of Article XIV(d) in the definitive agreements due to be signed soon. Put bluntly, what Comsat could not achieve at the negotiating table it wanted the State Department to achieve by exploiting the United States’ monopoly of access to space to deny launcher availability to regional comsat systems unless they could be shown to do no economic harm to the single global system.

Comsat’s “attack,” as Pollack called it, placed NASA and the State Department in an acutely difficult position.6 It took several weeks for Johnson to work out his position in discussion with Low, Charyk, Frutkin, and Whitehead. To draw closer to Charyk, Johnson decided to reverse the position he had discussed with Lefevre in October, and to align himself (partially) with Charyk (table 5.1). As Johnson explained, this meant that if earlier Intelsat had to prove that the sepa­rate system did do it economic harm (i. e., the presumption was that it did not),

Table 5.1 Changing State Department position on implications for Intelsat if United States launches a comsat for a foreign entity

Position taken by

United States will launch a separate comsat system

Pertinence of US vote

Johnson to Lefevre, Sep-Oct 1970 (negative finding)

Unless two-thirds majority finds that the separate system would do significant economic harm to Intelsat (and may even launch if it does)

Need not have voted with the majority

Charyk to Johnson, Dec 1970 (positive finding)

If two-thirds majority finds that the separate system would not do significant economic harm to Intelsat

Must have voted with the majority

Johnson to Charyk, Jan 1971 (positive finding)

If two-thirds majority finds that the separate system would not do significant economic harm to Intelsat

Need not have voted with the majority

Johnson to Lefevre, Feb 1971 (positive finding)

If two-thirds majority finds that the separate system would not do significant economic harm to Intelsat

Need not have voted with the majority

now “the proponent(s) of a regional system [would] bear the burden of persuad­ing two-thirds of the Assembly that the proposal will not cause significant eco­nomic harm to Intelsat and will not prejudice the establishment of direct links to the global system.”7

Johnson would not go all the way with Charyk, however. He insisted that the international structure of Intelsat obliged the United States to accept an affirmative vote that achieved the required majority, even if the United States was in the minority position (table 5.1). Nor would the State Department yield on this point: a two-thirds positive finding, with or without US support, was “absolutely necessary in order to reach any agreement with the Europeans.”8 To reassure Charyk and the Comsat Board, Johnson pointed out that it was very unlikely that a regional system could achieve a two-thirds favorable finding if the United States was opposed to it.

NASA was not happy with this concession to Charyk. The Europeans would obviously be furious. Low feared that the reversal of the more flexible position previously suggested to Lefevre “will effectively kill the chances for post-Apollo participation by Europe.”9 The only way to “soften the blow,” he said, would be to make an advance commitment to launch Europe’s planned operational satel­lite system, Eurosat, foreseen for the early 1980s. This decision had to be taken before the next Lefevre mission to Washington, scheduled for early February. Low felt so strongly about this that, according to Frutkin, “if we could not arrive at a policy decision and so inform the Europeans, he would feel obliged to tell the President that he could not expect to carry out the President’s charge to NASA to develop post-Apollo participation.”

Eurosat, to be situated in a geostationary orbit at longitude 5°E, would have 3,000-5,000 circuits by 1980, and 8,000-20,000 circuits by 1990.10 It would carry part of the intra-European traffic in telephony, telegraphy, and telex of the CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) and Eurovision TV programs on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Coverage would include Western Europe and the Mediterranean basin, and extend to the five Nordic countries as well as Turkey. NASA concluded that Eurosat would do significant economic harm to Intelsat only if it provided televi­sion as well as voice, record and data services between all of these countries. If, however, it provided television to the Mediterranean basin exclusively, and a full range of services to the remaining countries, it would cause “measurable but not significant economic harm.”11 This was the configuration of the satellite that, in Low’s view, Johnson would have to launch for Europe if he did not want the rever­sal of his position to sabotage all hope for post-Apollo negotiation. Unfortunately, Johnson made no mention of Eurosat in his conciliatory letter to Charyk.12

LBJ and Webb: Seeking Balance for the 1970s

Johnson’s leaving the White House in 1969 did not necessarily end a decade of unflagging executive support to NASA. In their determination to maintain the Apollo landing deadline of 1969, the Johnson administration wound up trim­ming or eliminating other scientifically meaningful projects from the NASA program. As numerous historians have noted, this placed NASA administrator James Webb in a complicated position, forced to prioritize among the Apollo timetable, post-Apollo projects, earth science, planetary exploration, and NASA’s many other pursuits. James Webb fought bitterly for the funds to sustain robotic planetary exploration, fundamental research, the Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application, all the while concerned for the minimum requirements for the Apollo mission.25

As development of Apollo spacecraft neared completion in the mid-1960s, operating budgets dwindled and initiatives cut back. Webb and his colleagues had anticipated flagging support and when negotiations commenced regarding post-Apollo priorities and funding they adopted a cautiously defensive posture. Former NASA chief historian Roger Launius observes that when the Johnson administration pressed Webb for post-Apollo objectives, “Webb was quite reluc­tant to commit NASA to specific goals and priorities in advance of any expres­sion of political support.”26 In his 1965 “Summary Report: Future Programs Task Group” the administrator’s only recommendation was that NASA plot out a “continued balanced program, steadily pursuing continued advancement in aeronautics, space sciences, manned space flight, and lunar and planetary exploration, adequately supported by a broad basic research and technology development program.”27 Webb emphasized that he saw no need to require an “overriding emphasis” in any of the aforementioned fields, nor did he believe that a new Apollo-style space race would secure the administration’s future. NASA required a balanced (if self-contradictory) program, one that would meet demands for cost-effective administration, meanwhile maintaining a “pre-emi­nent role in aeronautics and space.”28

By the mid-1960s and into the years following Apollo, lawmakers and the pub­lic alike frequently questioned the fiscal and political sustainability of speed-driven “crash” programs. Some critics voiced their doubts regarding the worth of space sprints such as Apollo or the rush to respond to Sputnik. Still others questioned the opportunity costs of space exploration as a whole—believing that the same funds that put men on the moon might somehow be reallocated to “urban blight,” for­eign aid, or be forfeited altogether to reduce tax expenditures.29 In such a political environment, projects emphasizing the cost-benefit analysis of spin-off technolo­gies or good stewardship of the earth’s resources promised a logical counter to the harshest criticisms against “space spectaculars” both at home and abroad.

Reforming Soviet Infrastructure: The Gore-Chernomyrdin. Commission’s Many Initiatives

[Y]ou have to see this [space station] not as a tinker toy, not as particular project,

but as an infrastructure and as new kind of infrastructure.

—Clinton administration official42

With the Clinton administration, plans for the Shuttle-Mir flights adopted an important new meaning as “confidence building measures” between the United States and Soviet Union. Rather than being the end product, Shuttle-Mir became a means to more intensive cooperation in space that culminated in what eventu­ally came to be known as the International Space Station Program. Thus, after August 1993, the Shuttle-Mir flight planning came to be retroactively defined as Phase I of the ISS. The Shuttle-Mir and ISS projects were bound in part by a comprehensive $400-million contract between NASA and the Russian Space Agency as well as by administrative jurisdiction—both projects operated under the International Space Station Program Office.

To appreciate the greater significance of NASA’s collaborative work with the Russian Space Agency in Shuttle-Mir, and later the ISS, space exploration must be recognized as but one element within a clearly defined regime of the policy objectives of the Clinton administration. These fields fell under the jurisdiction of the 1993-1998 US-Russian Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation (also known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission or GCC). Through agreements reached by Vice President Al Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the White House aimed to reshape Russian bureaucratic and free market relations for the protection of American investments, long-term political stability of Russia, and the control of weapons knowledge and hardware.

These objectives are evident in three fields. (1) They refined fiscal, admin­istrative, and insurance procedures to make international trade safer for inves­tors. (2) They set up bureaucratic mechanisms in the field of defense conversion and demobilization intended to aid Russia in the retooling of military produc­tion facilities for consumer goods and producer durables. (3) The commission introduced environmental measures enlisting Russian resources and personnel in the Mission to Planet Earth Joint Working Group (MTPE/JWG), the Earth Sciences JWG, and by founding a Russian Environmental Task Force. The point bears repeating: these working groups and task forces provided opportunities for collaboration in space as well as “non-space” activities.

Led by the Russian Academy of Science and NASA, the JWGs assembled entities that had since the early 1960s been swapping data and working in col­laborative research projects. In addition to the RAS and NASA, these included the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, formerly the Weather Bureau), the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (also known as ROSGIDROMET, and formerly the Soviet HYDROMET), and the new authority on civil space, the Russian Space Agency. As of 1994, these agencies were engaged in approximately 22 activi­ties. The most notable included the world’s only orbiting ozone spectrometer, correlative measurement of the ozone layer, climatology studies, studies of the productivity of Russia’s Boreal Forest, health, fire risk, and context in the global carbon cycle, American watershed research by satellite, vulcanological studies of Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula, tectonics studies, a study of gravity and magnet­ics in Tibet and China, and ocean studies by satellite. One sign of the times: the agencies included joint work in Internet connectivity between NASA and Moscow’s Institute of Space Research (IKI).43

In a gesture coupling demobilization and environmentalism, the Russians agreed to assemble an Environmental Task Force (ETF), fashioned after the example set by the Americans. This task force worked to combine geophysi­cal research needs with data and images available only in classified systems and databases. Both the United States and Russia charged their ETF panels with “assessing the potential application of classified intelligence and defense systems and data to environmental studies.” Classified data and information holdings were then reviewed to see if they were relevant to environmental researchers.

Eventually, the United States and Russia would swap old reconnaissance images, but as of 1994, the partners agreed to operate autonomously. Indeed, in the 1994 draft terms, the Americans explicitly noted that this cooperation was by no means an exercise intended to open Russian classified data to the West.44

Another project joining demobilization and environmental policy was that concerning the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometers (TOMS). Flown on NASA craft since 1978, these instruments had monitored ozone concentrations and, in particular, annual depletion over the southern hemisphere and the Antarctic ozone hole.45

The first TOMS instrument to fly on a meteor was launched in 1991 from the Russian launch facility Plesetsk. Carried into orbit aboard a Cyclone launcher (designed as an ICBM during the Cold War), the TOMS was key to Soviet-American implementation of the Vienna convention on the protection of the ozone.

Unlike the earlier Bion satellites, TOMS instrument packages were not insu­lar passive passengers. Instead, they demanded compatibility of electrical power supply, control, synchronization, data transmission, mechanical, and thermal utilities.46 NASA engineers refurbished a Nimbus-7 TOMS Engineering Model, retrofitting it with an Interface Adapter Model (making it possible to “plug in” to the Russian Meteor-3).47 One unanticipated advantage was that the Meteor TOMS was able to record the effects of the Philipino volcano Mt. Pinatubo (which had erupted two months before the TOMS launch). For a full two years, the Meteor-3 TOMS indicated that ozone had been affected by the scattering effects of the stratospheric sulfate aerosol layer from the volcanic eruption.48

In addition to the policies here, the two nations agreed in principle to a joint conference to “help Russian environmental scientists establish their data needs and begin to match those needs to Russian sources of relevant information.” This conference would explore Russia’s highest priorities in the environment, equipping researchers for studies in radioactive pollution, air and water quality, methods for dealing with industrial/ecological disasters, the effects of defense conversion, soil degradation, and forest management/deforestation.49

The two nations entered into a joint technology development project explor­ing alternative energy sources that linked environmental initiatives with private innovation. The vice president and the prime minister instituted an Environmental Equipment Commodity Import Program, providing $125 million in grants for the export of US-manufactured equipment to Russia, seeking to improve energy efficiency in production, transport, and use.

In trade and investment, the White House helped reshape Russian tax and tariff structures to better protect American investors. Additionally, the US Export-Import Bank, the Russian Ministry of Finance, and the Central Bank of Russia entered into a Project Incentive Agreement offering financial support for “project risk transac­tions” in all sectors of the economy. The two nations agreed to a new protocol for income taxation, intended to stimulate American investment in Russia. They implemented a memorandum of understanding for an American Business Center. Backed by $12 million, this program was intended to help US businesses invest capital, transfer technologies, and provide business-related training to Russians. The agreement provided $110 million in financing and insurance against transna­tional business deals for the Overseas Private Investments Corporation (as of 1993 centering on mineral companies and truck manufacturers). Similar plans abounded for “model” American gas stations, guidance in materials and product quality con­trol, all intended to aid the transfer of US business models and practice.

In the fields of the environment, energy, and the complicated task of keeping educated nuclear industry workers employed, Russia agreed to review the safety of its older nuclear reactors, enhance their integrity, and participate in studies for research and development in the field of nuclear power generation. At the same time the two nations set up a legal framework, protecting US firms from liability when supplying safety assistance to Russian nuclear power plants. In addition to this, they planned an Oil and Gas Technology Center Announcement to facilitate the exchange and use of technologies between the two nations, hoping to improve the recovery of oil and gas and reduce production costs in Russia. Both sides believed that facilitating Russia’s transition to a market economy still required that the US government adopt a degree of liability on behalf of American investors, Russian businessmen, and the ailing Russian state. Where tax revenues were not at stake, credibility was.

As the two countries methodically dismantled nuclear weapons arsenals under SALT-II, they drafted agreements on the principles and methods of defense conversion and the diversification of former defense industries. In addition to protocol for converting defense firms to civil production, the two parties set aside $20 million in Nunn-Lugar funds to help Russian industries retool for producing modular housing.50

Space exploration and research occupied a fourth field of collaboration, bridging the environment, trade, and science writ large. As noted earlier, most projects being pursued at this time (including the Shuttle-Mir, Phobos lander, Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometor-Cyclone, Konus, and WIND experiment) predated the Clinton administration but were in many regards appropriated into the defense conversion regimes of the Clinton White House. Table 8.2 illustrates the range of projects pursued and relative costs.51

Human spaceflight programs figure most prominently among these projects, though between FY1993 and 1997 the Bion 11 and 12 spaceflights accounted for $16 million.52 Meanwhile, the space sciences accounted for roughly 14.5 percent of all program costs, as detailed later. At the five-year anniversary of the GCC, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin reported that overall commodi­ties turnover between the two nations had doubled in the past five years and that American investment accounted for one-third of foreign investment in the Russian Federation.53

In 1995, the Office of Technology Assessment evaluated the situation. In his foreword, Director Roger Herdman noted that “much of the motiva­tion for the expansion of cooperation with Russia lies beyond programmatic considerations.”54 In particular, the report pointed out that continued coopera­tion, including large payments for Russian space goods and services, might help stabilize Russia’s economy and provide an incentive for some of Russia’s techno­logical elite to stay at home, so contributing to the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Whether intended only to stabilize the internal structures, or to control the flow of weapons knowledge outside the former Soviet Union, the need to maintain vibrant research programs in Russia were “essential pro­gram justifications” for cooperation, linking the survival of scientific communi­ties with collective security.55

Table 8.2 NASA-Russian activities: summary of agency programs and costs with the Russian Republic ($ in millions—provided to Congress March 1995)






Russian Space Agency





Mir missions






Space station-related







Space science






Earth science






Space access





Tracking and data






Total [761.7]






Source: US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, US-Russian Cooperation in Space OTA-ISS-618 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, April, 1995), 56. These figures include the initial $400M agreement for Shuttle-Mir and ISS cooperation, plus cooperation in other fields and increases to the initial contract detailed below. See table 8.3 in this chapter.

As early as 1992 collaborators had begun to take a new host of factors in international relations into account. Similar to the fields of trade, nuclear energy, and environmental regulation, space exploration and research became levers of reform. In 1998 Boris Yeltsin explained that the principle role of the Gore – Chernomyrdin Commission projects had been to “create a solid economic foundation for the system of relations between Russia moving along towards market reforms and the United States.” Yeltsin concluded that they had suc­ceeded, observing, “We are working very closely together in a number of key directions—the development of science, technology, health care, environmental protection, the peaceful use of space, and reduction of the nuclear threat.”56 Cooperation with the Russians supported growing bureaucratic, commercial, and intellectual infrastructures between the world’s two leading space programs. Thus, Russian-American cooperation on the International Space Station mapped on to administrative reform in the Russian space complex as well as NASA and its contractors. In 1993 and 1994 NASA narrowly managed to save the Space Station Freedom program from the White House and congress by streamlining management, cutting spending, and linking cooperation in space to post-Cold War regimes of international security—believing that space cooperation would keep Russian science workers employed, but also linking the promises of com­merce and ISS cooperation to treaties such as the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Implementing the 1969 Agreement

When the 1969 Agreement was signed there were no less than 24 pending requests for the transfer of launcher technology from the United States to the Japanese fledgling N-program. Here is a typical example of one such case that was pending in June 1969. It indicates how difficult it was to decide what could reasonably be passed on to Japan, and the importance that NASA officials attached to the final terms of any agreement between the two nations21:

Case No Company

64-69 TRW

a. Commodity: Assistance in performing a “Sizing Study” of the Japanese N launch vehicle, including computer simulations.

b. Comments: NASA finds it difficult to evaluate the significance of this case. It recommends that a final decision should be left in abeyance until after the agree­ment. DOD, in an interim reply on the case, said it would not object to those parts of the assistance that are within the scope of the agreement. ACDA gave an unqualified no objection.

The agreement itself authorized American industry, with US government per­mission, to provide “unclassified technology and equipment [ . . . ] for the devel­opment of Japanese Q and N launch vehicles and communications and other satellites for peaceful applications.” As regards launchers, an attachment speci­fied that the agreement would hold “up to the level of the Thor-Delta vehicle systems, exclusive of reentry and related technology.”22

This was fine as far as it went, but it did not specify just which Thor-Delta con­figuration was to serve as a benchmark. Successful implementation, in the view of a State-DOD-NASA team, thus required the formulation of “a package guideline that a) would enable the Japanese to reach their objective of placing a synchro­nous satellite into orbit, b) would not raise any security problems for the U. S. and c) more importantly would serve as a yardstick to measure specific cases, as to whether they are within the scope of the agreement and therefore approvable.”23 The task of setting that yardstick was entrusted to a multibody group called the Technology Advisory Group (TAG). It was composed of representatives from the DOD, NASA, the State Department, and the OMC (Office of Munitions Control).24 First chaired by Mr. Vincent Johnson, deputy associate administrator of NASA for Space Science and Applications, the TAG broadly acted as a control mechanism for limiting the technology that was transferred and made sure that the equipment that was offered to Japan provided the bare minimum configura­tion to place a satellite in geostationary orbit.25

The immediate task before TAG was to clarify the wording of the agreement that was signed in 1969. This baseline would be used by the OMC to evaluate the licenses for exporting technology and equipment. However, as Vincent Johnson

Table 10.1 Thor-Delta baseline configuration definition agreed by TAG

First Stage

Second Stage


Spin Table

Third Stage

DSV-2L-1B TX 354-5 Adapter Section DSV-3L-2



DSV-3E-17 (TE-364) DSV-3E-5 (FW-4)



Attach Fitting DSV-3E-6

Source: Vincent Johnson to John W. Sipes, October 30, 1970, RG 59, Box 2962, NARA.

put it, “[T]he task of generating an explicit, single faceted and easy to administer definition of the level of technology authorized and/or intended under the U. S./ Japanese Space agreement [was] not a simple one.” He pointed to the agreement providing “reasonable latitude in interpretation” notably as regards the “level” of the Thor-Delta technology that could be shared.26 Since the level could be interpreted differently depending on the specific set of conditions surrounding a particular situation, the TAG wanted to have an unambiguous baseline to use as a yardstick against which to evaluate specific requests for release. The TAG provided OMC with such a detailed Thor-Delta definition on October 30, 1970 (see table 10.1).

The TAG chose Thor-Delta 58 as the baseline launcher for collaborative pur­poses. This was the model that provided the first two stages of Thor-Delta 71, the vehicle in use when the US/Japan space cooperation Agreement was signed in July 1969, and it had a geosynchronous capability of 156 kilograms. Thor-Delta 58 was the least sophisticated launcher capable of achieving the geosynchronous target of 120-130 kilograms the Japanese had set for their first experimental test satellites. It had also been used in May 1969 to place an Intelsat III communi­cations satellite weighing about 145 kilograms into geostationary orbit. To the above baseline TAG inserted this caveat:

It should be clearly recognized that such a definition cannot be used as the sole criteria for approval or rejection of a given request. Many cases will arise where it is either impractical, undesirable, or not in our own best interest to provide the specific hardware and/or technology defined in the base line system. In these instances the judgment must be exercised as to the need, suitability and relation­ship to the general Thor-delta “level” or “class” of hardware and/or technology.

In these instances, a rationale should be provided setting forth the reasons for departure from the base line system.27