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seventiesnotes - The Seventies Readings 1. Chap. 1,...

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The Seventies Readings 1. Chap. 1, “Spaceflight and the Myth of Presidential Leadership.” 2. Chap. 4 and 5, “ Beyond Horizons.” 3. Chap. 1 and 2, Wheelon. Strategic Themes: 1. Retrenchment for NASA – NASA and the country out of sync. 2. A truck to nowhere – the seeds of the Challenger disaster 3. The growth of big science – Viking, Hubble and beyond 4. The seeds of use of space in war 5. The ABM treaty and the MIRV debacle 6. Détente verses competition with the Soviets 7. Growth in international and commercial space. When President Nixon took office in 1969, NASA funding was already going down. The first Moon landing occurred in July 1969. The race was won! It was like the dog that caught the truck. What would it do now? To some extent NASA was caught in a time warp. NASA felt that after the first lunar landing it should get whatever funding it needed. In September 1969, a Space Task Group chaired by Vice President Agnew reported three possible long-range space programs for NASA. The first was a manned mission to Mars by mid-eighties, an orbiting lunar station and a fifty man Earth orbiting station served by a reusable shuttle. Funding for this option was $8 to $10 billion/yr. (Recall that at its peak NASA had received 5 billion/yr.). The second plan postponed Mars until 1986 and limited funding to $8 billion/yr. The third plan chose only the space station and shuttle, with annual spending between $4 billion-5.7 billion/yr. However relative to the long gone days of the early sixties, the mood of the country and of the President had changed. Nixon came from the Eisenhower mentality that saw the big manned effort as stunts. He was also much more interested in promoting cooperation rather than competition with the Soviets and the Chinese. Further he strongly believed in frugality in government spending. All these combined to make him cast a skeptical eye on the NASA requests. The country also had changed. In 1969, we had reached the Moon. The national mood was to turn to other issues especially in light of riots in cities, the war in Vietnam, etc. Flights to the Moon seemed boring. For NASA it was a boom or bust cycle. As a measure of this, the Congress reorganized the standing space committees out of existence and Nixon abolished the PSAC. Space became a secondary issue for the political establishment. Thus the last two Apollo flights were cancelled, the Apollo Application Program was reduced to one SKYLAB and in a blow to the Air Force the MOL was cancelled. President Nixon refused to support any of the options that NASA wanted. There was no congressional support for any big new initiative so NASA started to wither. It was only the 1972 election that saved something for NASA. The declining population in the aerospace industry in the big states of California, Texas and Florida forced the President to approve something for NASA. He chose half of half of option 3. The choice was for a Space Transportation System (STS), a space truck but the place it
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seventiesnotes - The Seventies Readings 1. Chap. 1,...

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