House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

Hearing Charter Vision 2001: Future Space

Tuesday April 3, 2001

4:00 to 6:00 P.M.

2318 Rayburn House Office Building

1. Purpose

On Tuesday, April 3, 2001, the House Science Subcommittee will hold a hearing to explore visionary concepts of America’s future in space. Four
witnesses will present testimony examining issues as far ranging as the physics of space travel to the potential for our science fiction fantasies to become
reality. As these are very broad visionary concepts, we have encouraged witnesses to let their imaginations roam.

The panel will include:

Dr. Buzz Aldrin, President, Starcraft Enterprises, holds a Ph.D. in Aeronautics from MIT, served as a USAF Bomber Pilot in the Korean War and a
NASA astronaut in both the Gemini and Apollo programs. He was the 2nd man to step on the surface of the moon in 1969. Dr. Aldrin chairs both the
National Space Society and the Share Space Foundation and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame on March 19, 1993.

Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss, Chairman of the Department of Physics, Case Western Reserve University, is an internationally known theoretical physicist
with research interests including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, the early universe, the nature of dark matter, general
relativity and neutrino astrophysics. Professor Krauss is the author of over 170 scientific publications and several acclaimed popular books, including the
national bestseller The Physics of Star Trek.

Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Director of the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, earned his BS in Chemistry at Brown University and his Ph.D.
in Chemical Physics at Stanford University. Prior to joining the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Dr. Huntress served as the Associate Administrator
for Space Science at NASA where he was responsible for NASA’s programs in Astrophysics, Planetary Exploration and Space Physics. Dr. Huntress
also served the agency previously as Director of the Solar System Exploration Division and at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He is the
recipient of a number of honors including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

Mr. Allen Steele, Science Fiction Author, received his BA in Communications from New England College and his MA in Journalism from the
University of Missouri. He became a full-time science fiction writer in 1988, following publication of his first short story, Live From The Mars Hotel.
His novels include Orbital Decay, Clarke County, Space, Lunar Descent, Labyrinth of Night, The Jericho Iteration, The Tranquillity Alternative, and A
King of Infinite Space. He has also published three collections of short fiction, while two of his novellas, The Death of Captain Future and Where
Angels Fear to Tread, received Hugo Awards for Best Novella of the year.

2. Background

In 1985, Congress created the National Space Commission to develop an agenda to carry America’s civil space enterprise into the next century. The National Space
Commission published the report Pioneering the Space Frontier the following year. The report recommends three primary national space goals: 1) the U.S. should lead
the exploration and development of the space frontier, 2) the space program should advance science, technology, and enterprise, and 3) the U.S. should build institutions
and systems that make vast new resources accessible and support human settlements beyond earth’s orbit, from the highlands of the Moon to the plains of Mars. [1]

Fifteen years later, at the dawn of the 21st Century, our nation has competing visions of its future in space. The Secretary of Defense has renewed the military’s
interest in acquiring space assets and China has developed a man-rated space capsule in its pursuit of becoming the third space faring nation. Most recently the nation
has witnessed the fiery end of the Mir mission, the assembly of the International Space Station, and the unprecedented landing of the NEAR spacecraft on the surface of
the Eros asteroid. As important as these events are, it is important to take a step back to reexamine our efforts in space as new challenges and opportunities highlight
new possibilities. This hearing will explore different visions of mankind’s future in space exploration, commercialization, and utilization.

With the end of the Cold War, the emergence of a new economy, and decades of aerospace research and development, the world is a very different place than when our
space program was first created. Some feel that the time has come for private enterprise to lead the country in the development of space. The Space Frontier
Foundation and other groups argue that if the cost of placing payloads in orbit can be reduced the business world will have the incentive to invest in space enterprises
and open the frontier to the public. In past testimony before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Mr. Rick Tumlinson, President of the Space Frontier
Foundation, identified the high cost of access to space as the central barrier to a new era in space enterprise for all people. “The development of cheap, reliable and
regular transportation to and from space is THE key requirement for opening the space frontier.”[2] These groups argue that an evolution in launch vehicle design and
operation will be needed to lower the cost of access to space and support the private development of advanced technologies. They also remain critical of what they
perceive as the government’s monopoly on access to space. This point is illustrated in a recent Space Frontier Foundation press release: “Instead of privatizing the
Shuttle years ago, or supporting commercial space transportation, NASA maintains its human spaceflight monopoly. Meanwhile, former socialists in Russia are
working with private American citizens to carry commercial passengers into space for around $20 million per ticket. What’s wrong with this picture?”[3]

Indeed, there are aerospace companies that envision the completely private development of space- a vision of a purely market driven enterprise that includes the
government as only a customer. One such company, Bigelow Aerospace, has even created the Bigelow Prize, an annual $10,000 prize, awarded to any domestic
person, organization or company outside the satellite industry that contributes the most toward the promotion and/or use of space for private enterprise purposes
without government ownership. The company envisions space tourism as the key to opening the frontier to the public. The company’s president, Robert Bigelow, has
said, “get Uncle Sam out of the field as the exclusive owner of space.”

Perhaps the more traditional vision of space is one in which government investment and government programs are the driving forces behind space activity. The idea that
the government should lead the way in the exploration of space has existed since the beginning of the Space Age. Without funding and leadership from the federal
government, the early advances in rocketry and missile technology might not have materialized as rapidly during the space race of the Cold War.

In July of 1989, drawing upon this more traditional vision, President George Bush announced his Space Exploration Initiative. This initiative was intended to lead the
country “to the Moon, back to the future. And this time, back to stay”[4] and then on to Mars and the settlement of space. This vision of space exploration was to be
a government led program that would span several decades. The program’s goals were to: 1) increase our knowledge of our solar system and beyond, 2) rejuvenate
interest in science and engineering, 3) refocus U.S. position in world leadership, 4) develop technology with terrestrial application, 5) facilitate further space exploration
and commercialization, and 6) to boost the U.S. economy.

In 1991 the Synthesis Group on America’s Space Exploration Initiative published the report, America at the Threshold, which recommended the creation, by executive
order, of a multi-agency National Program Office. This organization would include NASA, DOD, and DOE personnel. As a result of the cost, which NASA projected
to exceed $400 billion over 30 years, and weak support in Congress, the Space Exploration Initiative was never implemented. While many advocates point to the
success of the Apollo mission as an example of what government led programs can accomplish, the creation of a larger and more costly government funded program is
only one vision of what the U.S. can achieve in space.

Other groups believe that a partnership between the government and private ventures is the most effective way to utilize existing programs to promote greater access to
space. They assert that NASA could benefit from the commercialization of space by relying on the industries it helped to mature over the past several decades for
operations and support. Ms. Pat Dasch, Executive Director, National Space Society, argued in testimony submitted to the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics: 
“Private industry is a natural ally of NASA that can tap the deep pockets of Wall Street. Industry will be willing to invest in space enterprises once technologies are
validated and it is possible to generate a profit.”[5]

Space commercialization exists today as an example of this type of successful public and private partnership. The global satellite industry reached an astounding $69.1
billion in revenues for 1999.[6] Commercial interest in space has grown dramatically in recent years, with global commercial space revenues exceeding government
expenditures for the first time in 1997. The potential for profitability and advances in research and development seem limitless. Other nontraditional commercialization
ideas that are currently being discussed include asteroid and Moon mining, microgravity manufacturing, transportation (i.e. fast package delivery, high speed civil
transport, space tourism, and space servicing and transfer), entertainment, space settlements, agriculture, advertising, and space-based power generation systems.  

3. Questions

Witnesses have been asked to address:

1. What kind of space program the nation could or should pursue in the next 20 years and beyond?

2. What are the barriers to achieving this vision?

3. What needs to happen in order to realize that future?

[1] The Report of the National Commission on Space- Pioneering the Space Frontier

[2] A Space Frontier Agenda, testimony before The House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, October 1, 1998. Rick N. Tumlinson, President, The Space Frontier Foundation

[3] Space Frontier Foundation Oct. 5, 2000 press release

[4] America at the Threshold- Report of the Synthesis Group on America’s Space Exploration Initiative, 1991

[5] NSS Testimony by Pat Dasch, Submitted to Written Record for House Science Committee October 1, 1998 hearing on “NASA at 40: What kind of space agency does America need for the 21st

[6] 3rd annual Global Satellite Industry Indicators Survey, Satellite Industry Association (SIA) and the Futron Corporation (June 2000)