[FPSPACE] FW: [New post] International Competition versus Cooperation in Space
ljk4 at msn.com
Thu Mar 24 06:10:25 EDT 2011
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 12:15:52 +0000
To: ljk4 at msn.com
From: no-reply at wordpress.com
Subject: [New post] International Competition versus Cooperation in Space
International Competition versus Cooperation in Space
launiusr | March 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Tags: 1960s, Apollo, cold war, History, international relations, International Space Station, JFK, Moon, Moon race, NASA, presidential power, public perceptions, public policy, space shuttle, strategy, U.S. Civil Space | Categories: Apollo, Cold War Competition, History, International Space Station, Lunar Exploration, Politics, Science, Space, Space Shuttle | URL: http://wp.me/pwYu1-ln
President John F. Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and various congressional leaders watch the nationally televised launch of John Glenn's Mercury-Atlas 6 space mission.
The U.S. civil space program—so striking an enterprise, in many ways so successful—has been dominated from the outset by the nation's concern with international affairs. Manifested in the context of both competition and cooperation, international concerns have been a powerful shaper of the U.S. civil space program since its beginning.
This was present from the outset, when the U.S. decided to orbit its first satellite as a result of decisions made in the International Council of Scientific Unions to sponsor investigations about the Earth as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY), held between July 1, 1957, and December 31, 1958. This international scientific organization asked the United States and other nations to develop Earth-observing scientific satellites whose data would be made available to all Union members on an equitable basis, and on July 29, 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the U.S.'s intention of beginning the Vanguard project as an international scientific endeavor.
The Apollo program, properly viewed as an outgrowth of international competition between the U.S. and the USSR, came close in 1962 and 1963 to becoming a truly international effort. This is often lost in the rhetoric of memory of this great episode in American history.
Almost fifty years ago, on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the American commitment to reach the Moon with astronauts by the end of the 1960s. We will celebrate that anniversary in just a few months. What most people are unaware of, however, is that in the autumn of 1961 he also explored the possibility of reshaping the program from one of competition into one that fostered international cooperation by bringing the Soviet Union, then the only other spacefaring nation, into it as a full partner.
The President's vision sought to remake Apollo into a program that instead of heightening Cold War rivalries with the Soviet Union would lessen them and build bridges between two great nations. His concerns prompted NASA and State Department officials to open negotiations with Soviet leaders, but the timing was inappropriate for cooperative ventures. However, a series of early crises—Berlin, the Cuban missile crisis, etc.—mitigated efforts at genuine cooperation.
As late as September 1963 President John F. Kennedy before the United Nations suggested the possibility of a U.S./USSR:
joint expedition to the moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty;...why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries—indeed of all the world—cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending some day in this decade to the moon not representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.
He closed by urging, "Let us do the big things together."
Kennedy's cooperative vision, unfortunately, elicited no response from the other side, save dismissals by a few Soviet officials who pronounced it "premature."
During the years of the Space Shuttle's development, from the 1970s into the mid‑1980s, the competition lessened, for after the Americans bested their Soviet competitors in the Moon race the Soviet Union appears not to have participated in any serious race for a shuttle, preferring expendable rocket boosters for space tasks. Nonetheless, international considerations did not lessen. In 1970 Richard Nixon asked NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine to make the shuttle an international program, and by 1972 he had negotiated a series of agreements with European nations that would have provided for true cooperation.
The International Space Station as it appeared to the crew of STS-117.
A coalition of groups, however, were concerned about the problems of program management in an international context and with emerging European interests in science and technology and consolidation of the continental economy. The result was that the cooperative thrust became less compelling over time and only the Canada arm and Spacelab on the Shuttle were truly international technologies embraced. The expansion of cooperative scientific programs, and the flying of international astronauts helped to expand on this cooperative thrust.
When it came to constructing and supplying a space station, the principal destination for the American shuttle, the U.S. chose to emphasize cooperation with its allies—the European Space Agency, Canada, and Japan—in building a permanently occupied and large space station Freedom. By the middle part of the 1980s, however, competition had dropped to a low ebb, and ceased altogether with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1989.
The bringing of Russia into the international coalition constructing what became the International Space Station was a path-breaking achievement. It has been a difficult relationship, of course, but unquestionably a stunning success. When the ISS is remembered in a century or more, I believe it will be not only for the stunning technological achievement, but especially for its peaceful cooperative nature among many nations and civilizations.
This suggests that international competition has not been the sole driving force in the U.S. space effort, and presidential leadership in undertaking it. Sometimes the successes of a program turn out to be more than envisioned, and such is the case with such U.S. space cooperative ventures as ISS. In the passage of years into the twenty‑first century the international use of satellites for telephones and for television and for guidance of ships at sea and for weather observation and for managing the Earth's natural resources has made a large difference in the shape of world affairs, in bringing nations together.
Perhaps the most important change in spaceflight has been a steady movement from U.S./U.S.S.R. competition to widespread international cooperation. To be sure, in NASA's statutory statement of 1958 a mandate appeared for international cooperation: "The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind." President Kennedy asked the nations to "do the big things together." The vision of a slain President nearly fifty years ago, for true international cooperation may yet be the future of space exploration. I would like to think so.
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