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ellite Communications," the SAB pointed out the urgent need for NASA to resume work in this area. Other groups, industry representatives and Congress concurred, with the result that NASĂ undertook a new program of applied research, technical development, and requirements studies directed at future civil needs for increased capacity and new civil applications of satellite communications.
It has been clear for some time, Mr. Chairman, that the market for space communications is growing and that orbit crowding will almost certainly preclude meeting the demand at the C-band and KU band frequencies now in use. Meeting future market needs will require new types of satellites operating in the 30/20 gigaHertz band. Our principal foreign competitor (Japan) has also recognized this as the next major area of development in communications satellites and is moving to exploit it. NASA, the SAB, industry, Congress and now the administration are in agreement (1) that flight test experiments in the 30/20 gigaHertz range are necessary before private sector companies can responsibly move ahead with the actual establishment of communication systems at these frequencies and (2) that the private sector alone could not assume the full cost of mounting such a flight test program.
With advice from the SAB and with strong Congressional support, NASA has now worked out a program approach in which industry will participate actively on a cost sharing basis. We understand that formal Requests for Proposals are about to bę released by NASA to industry. We hope that the Subcommittee and the Congress will continue to support the ACTS program as a vital contribution to advancing space technology which can help preserve for the United States a preeminent position in satellite communications.
Beyond ACTS, however, a broad range of new technologies is needed to respond to the diverse requirements of the very competitive and rapidly changing communications industry. The Space Applications Board believes that NASA should be sponsoring very high risk technology development which is beyond the capability of the industry. This research should include systems studies of potentially feasible advanced communications systems for new services, such as video conferencing, two-way computer transactions and mobile communications.
We believe that NASA should also emphasize high-risk research and development related to ground terminals. The market for ground terminal equipment is potentially much larger than the market for satellites, and is therefore of prime importance to U.S. industry and to U.S. users. With the advent of all-digital communications systems, ground terminals of the future will require technologies as sophisticated and advanced as those required for satellites. New spectrum-efficient and power-efficient communications techniques offer the possibility of transmitting much more information through a standard satellite transponder.
Intersatellite links may play a major role in future communications satellite systems. We can expect that regional systems employing a number of communications satellites to provide services over wide areas will be linked together by inter-satellite links, providing greater system interconnectivity and eliminating the need to relay satellite messages via ground terminals. Research is needed to study the technical and economic aspects of interlinked satellite systems.
In the materials processing area, the Board believes that NASA's activities are correctly oriented towards materials science and engineering experiments as recommended by our Committee on Scientific and Technological Aspects of Materials Processing in Space back in 1978. However, we have some concern that the program as presently funded may not make adequate provision for conducting flight experiments using the space shuttle over the next two or three years, in addition to the ground based investigations that have been underway and should continue.
OCEAN REMOTE SENSING
Recently, a panel on ocean operations under the SAB has emphasized-as has the Space Science Board's Committee on Earth Science—the great potential, from both the scientific and applications standpoints, of continuous measurement from satellites of key parameters of the ocean such as surface temperature, currents, wave motion, etc. The truncated Seasat experiments and some short duration Shuttle experiments have confirmed this promise. It is regrettable that the joint NASANOAA-Navy "NOSS” program was terminated in 1981 just as it was about to get underway. The Board believes that the initiation of an oceanic remote sensing satellite should be given a high priority for a future new start.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared comments on the major space applications programs. In closing, I would like to stress three points.
First, I would like to stress the importance of maintaining a strong level of funding for research and analysis in the applications area. While not as "glamorous" as major identifiable hardware projects, these activities are essential to support the overall space applications program.
Second, as the SAB has repeatedly stressed, it is especially important that NASA's programs include studies and experiments directly involving potential users of space applications. NASA's development of new technologies for space applications must be guided by a realistic practical understanding of the needs and problems of prospective users, and conversely, potential users need to be made aware of the possible ways in which space applications can contribute to their needs and interests.
Finally, I want to stress the Board's strong belief that space applications is a key area of NASA's activities. It plays an essential role in ensuring that the nation actually receives practical civil benefits from our tremendous and continuing investments in space technology. In many areas, such as land remote sensing and communications, it has become clear that government action, through NASA or other agencies, can make the difference between the realization of benefits or their losseither to a foreign competitor or altogether. In these areas we must all work together to find ways for the government-jointly with the private sector where feasibleto protect the broader national interests and preserve a leadership position for the United States.
This concludes my statement.
[The following information was subsequently received for the record:]
QUESTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE AND THE ANSWERS THERETO
Question. Mr. Shapley, the fiscal year 1984 NASA request contains no funding for Agristars. Supposedly, the applicable research will take place in other agencies. Why is it important that NASA continue to fund Agristars?
Is not the support of the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce sufficient for the continued maintenance of services?
What would be an appropriate fiscal year 1984 level of funding in NASA for Agristars?
Answer. While the Space Applications Board has not reviewed the combined budgets for Agristars in detail, it appears that the total amount included for Agristars in the President's budgets for Agriculture and Commerce is about $10 million short of the total amount required by all three agencies (Agriculture, NOAA and NASA) for effective prosecution of the program. In the circumstances, $10 million short of the total amount required by all three agencies (Agriculture, NOAA and NASA) for effective prosecution of the program. In the circumstances, $10 million would be an appropriate FY 1984 level of funding for NASA, assuming that Congress will approve the amounts requested by Agriculture and NOAA.
Question. Mr. Shapley your testimony indicates your approval of NASA's new Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS). How does our ACTS program, as this point, measure up to our foreign competition in this field of technology?
This program reportedly will cost NASA $350 million and will operate under a cost/risk sharing arrangement with industry. How much of the total cost would or should private industry assume?
Answer. Members of the Space Applications Board have had indications from a variety of sources that our foreign competitiors have taken a running head start in preparing to exploit the 30-20 Gigahertz technology for satellite communications. They appear to have the full support of their government in their efforts. Our feeling is that with prompt forward motion in the ACTS program, the United States can still expect to be able to complete effectively with them.
With respect to cost sharing the ACTS program, we believe the government should negotiate with the prospective industrial participants to get the private sector to assume as much as possible of the cost of ACTS with due regard for protecting the broader national and public interest.
Question. Mr. Shapley, the field of technology utilization is designed to transfer new NASA developed technology to our civilian sector. The fiscal year 1984 NASA budget request for Technology Utilization declines to $4 million, from a fiscal year 1983 level of $9 million.
Could you comment on the benefits of technology utilization and the impact the reduced funding could have on this program and on its beneficiaries?
Answer. The Space Applications Board has not reviewed the Technology Utilization program proposal in the fiscal year 1984 budget. As a general principle, however, we believe that NASA should make all reasonable efforts to promote the transfer of NASA developed technology to constructive uses in the private sector. We fail to see the rationale for a reduction in these efforts in the fiscal year 1984 budget while at the same time the administration is stressing the importance of high technology to the future of the U.S. economy.
Senator TRIBLE. Dr. Donahue.
Dr. DONAHUE. Mr. Chairman, my name is Thomas Donahue. I am a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan and chairman of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences. I also shall accept your-follow your suggestion to abbreviate my testimony and omit some portions of my prepared statement, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today to discuss the fiscal year 1984 NASA budget request and how it affects the space sciences. On behalf of the Space Science Board, I am pleased to be able to report that on the whole we are gratified by the level of support for space science expressed in the proposed budget.
From a comparison of the fiscal year 1984 budget request with trends in previous fiscal years and culminating with the fiscal year 1984 budget request, there is evidence that an important shift has taken place in the administration's assessment of the importance of the space science program. Unlike the situation in fiscal year 1983, there is balance among the major space science disciplines in the program. None are threatened with cancellation or eventual demise. Major ongoing development projects are funded adequately. A new start for the planetary program is requested. The contrast with the fiscal year 1983 request for the planetary program needs no emphasis from me. Major study efforts to develop the queue for new start candidates are supported.
I sincerely hope that what we are seeing is the emergence of a period of stability in both the fiscal and programmatic sense. If that is the case, and it will take several years to confirm, we will finally have reached a point where together we can quietly assess the state of this national resource and lay the groundwork for its secure future.
I shall address the question of support for the baseline programs for research and analysis and for mission operations and data analysis for ongoing missions separately, for we have a continuing problem in some of those areas.
To say that the space science community is satisfied with the fiscal year 1984 budget request is an oversimplification and not altogether accurate, given what has happened to the field over the last half-dozen years. The economic imperatives that have constrained the level of overall activity and threatened some of the fields represented in space science have forced a serious discussion of the value to the Nation of doing science in space and raised the question of whether there existed a level at which the future of the field could not be reasonably assured or might not be worth maintaining.
I trust that the debate is ended with this budget submission. I hope this committee and the Congress will see the budget in this
same light, so that we can begin the task of reconstituting and rebuilding the U.S. position in space science.
My assessment of the NASA fiscal year 1984 budget request is reinforced by statements that have been made recently by Dr. George Keyworth, Science Advisor to the President. Writing in the February 18 issue of Science magazine, Dr. Keyworth includes space science among the fields selected for special emphasis in the Federal R&D programs in fiscal year 1984 as likely to have the greatest long-term impacts on new technologies.
Let me now turn to some comments on the details in the fiscal year 1984 budget request. The request for an augmentation in the Explorer line item is in accordance with longstanding recommendations of the Space Science Board and its Committees on Space Astronomy and Astrophysics and Solar and Space Physics, as well as those of the Astronomy Survey Committee chaired by Prof. George Field.
Probably the most important effect of this augmentation will be to allow the Agency to increase the frequency of flight opportunities in the Explorer program. If space science is suffering a malaise these days-and it is-this state is a consequence of the dramatic decrease in the rate at which space science missions have been launched during the past decade and are presently scheduled for launch.
The delays associated with changing from expendable launch vehicles to those of the space transportation system are partly responsible for the retardation. Associated with the decrease in the rate of flight opportunities has also been a tendency for missions to grow more and more complex during the past decade.
As opportunities for flights have decreased, people have tended to hang more and more features on each precious mission as it came along. This has increased costs and decreased further the number of missions that can fit under a budget envelope, further reinforcing the temptation to increase the scope of each mission.
Unfortunately, this syndrome has also affected the Explorers, a program originally meant to provide us with a flexible, inexpensive means of getting into orbit with minimal delays. It is time to reverse this trend. If not, the impact on university and other groups that depend on flight missions for their existence will be great. This increase in the level of funding Explorers will allow us to design missions in a realistic price range, so that the average frequency of the order of one flight per year can be achieved.
The decision to request a new start for the Venus Radar Mapper Mission, VRM, is most gratifying. The Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration of the Board has identified the high resolution mapping of the surface of Venus as the objective of the highest scientific priority for the study of that planet.
The Agency and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are to be complimented for designing an imaginative, fresh approach to the problem of mapping Venus. With the spatial resolution promised by VRM, we should be able to identify important surface tectonic features, such as shield volcanoes, that will give us important clues to the structure of the interior of Venus and the evolution of the planet.
We should also be able to detect marine or surface water features, such as fossil river channels and seashores, if they exist, that will tell us something about the size of an ocean that may have covered Venus when it was a young planet and lead us to deeper insights into the origin and history of its atmosphere.
While I am on the subject of planetary exploration, I must mention one weakness in the program outlined by the Office of Space Science and Applications. This is the level of support requested for research and analysis for planetary exploration. The amount requested is below the level appropriated by the Congress for 1983. And here I must take the opportunity warmly to commend the Congress for correcting an alarming cut in funding projected for planetary exploration and for physics and astronomy last year. The action that you took then preserved these fields so that they can be exploited by missions like the Venus Radar Mapper mission that are starting this year.
The amount requested for fiscal year 1984 is not sufficient to keep in existence research groups that will be needed to analyze the results NASA hopes to obtain in future planetary missions. I have not carried out the detailed analysis needed to state just how great the shortfall is. As a reasonable guide, I would suggest, as we suggested during this committee's hearings last year, that the level of support in fiscal year 1981 adjusted for inflation, would be adequate to maintain the R&A program in planetary exploration for the near term.
The prospects for the future in the NASA planetary program are certainly enhanced by the promulgation of the long-awaited report by the Solar System Exploration Committee of the NASA Advisory Council, chaired first by Dr. John Nagle and then by Dr. Noel Hinners. What that committee has done is to identify a new and affordable way for NASA to conduct missions to the planets that can be carried out by variations on existing Earth orbital spacecraft and by the new JPL series called Mariner Mark II spacecraft.
I think that it is important to put the first type of mission on the same stable, relatively low cost basis as the Explorer satellites. Instituting a level of effort program will allow us to get out of the mode in which every planetary mission becomes an all-out effort of the Voyager or the Galileo class.
Let me turn now to a less positive development. We are all very concerned about the delays that have developed in the Space Telescope production schedule. The board has been thoroughly briefed by NASA concerning this problem. We are watching carefully.
Our concern is to minimize the damage that may be done to the overall space science program as a result of the additional cost resulting from delay in completion and launch of the Space Telescope. ST problems should not be allowed to upset the balance in space science activity.
As in the case of planetary exploration, but to a lesser degree, there seems to be the same kind of failure to build on the base Congress provide in fiscal year 1983 for the research and analysis program in physics and astronomy.
Mr. Chairman, the Office of Technology Assessment last September published a very useful technical memorandum entitled "Space Science Research in the United States." We agree with OTA's find