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Unformatted text preview: itics NASA Policy – Triggers Congressional Debate (2/2)
Formulation of NASA policy requires prioritization and balancing of competing interests
NASA issues trigger debate over major issues in Congress – including mission, priorities,
Morgan, Congressional Research Service spet in science and technology policy, 7-8-10
[Daniel, Congressional Research Service, “The Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress”, p.2-3,
opencrs.com/document/R41016/, accessed 6-20-11, AFB]
What Is NASA For?
During the Eisenhower Administration, after the Soviet Union’s launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik,
but before the establishment of NASA, the President’s Science and Advisory Committee identified four
“principal reasons for undertaking a national space program”:
• “the compelling urge of man to explore and to discover”;
• “defense ... to be sure that space is not used to endanger our security ... [and to] be prepared to use space to
• to “enhance the prestige of the United States ... and create added confidence in our scientific, technological,
industrial, and military strength”; and
• “scientific observation and experiment which will add to our knowledge and understanding of the Earth, the
solar system, and the universe.”6
To these objectives, analysts today add
• the potential for technologies developed for the space program to have direct and indirect (“spinoff”)
• the opportunity to use space activities as a tool of international relations, through collaboration on projects
such as the International Space Station; and
• the ability of the space program to inspire students and promote education in science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
These goals form a foundation for U.S. space policies, but policy makers differ in how they should be
balanced against each other. Is the urge to discover a sufficient reason to explore space, or must exploration
also meet needs here on Earth? Should economic benefits be an explicit focus for NASA or just a positive
side effect? To what extent should improving STEM education be a NASA function, as opposed to a
consequence of its other functions? Should the emphasis of international space programs be competition or
The priorities that Congress assigns to these objectives may determine how it balances the competing
demands of NASA’s programs. For example, if Congress believes that national prestige is a high priority, it
could choose to emphasize NASA’s high-profile human exploration activities, such as establishing a Moon
base or exploring Mars. If scientific knowledge is a high priority, Congress could emphasize unmanned
missions such as the Hubble telescope and the Mars rovers. If international relations are a high priority,
Congress could encourage joint space activities with other nations. If economic benefits are of interest,
Congress could focus on technological development, linking...
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This note was uploaded on 01/14/2013 for the course POL 090 taught by Professor Framer during the Spring '13 term at Shimer.
- Spring '13