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ing that there is a crisis in space science and that its cause is a lack of stability in the support of research groups that has resulted from the strong mission orientation of NASA's space science program and the present hiatus in mission starts and launches.
I am pleased to be able to tell you that NASA at the level of the Administrator himself also recognizes the serious and fundamental nature of this problem. On the initiative of NASA's chief scientist, Dr. Frank McDonald, a panel consisting of six representatives of the academic community and six representatives of the agency has been formed.
The panel met on March 1 and 2 to begin an intensive study assessing the nature of the problem in NASA-university relations and trying to find new ways of doing business that will lead to the desired stability in the Nation's space science program. We hope this effort will address the concerns raised in the OTA memorandum and also provide new and important initiatives to put before you in fiscal year 1985.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would certainly be happy to respond to your questions now and in writing after this hearing is concluded.
[The statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF THOMAS M. Donahue, ChairMAN, SPACE SCIENCE BOARD, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
FISCAL YEAR 1984 NASA BUDGET REQUEST
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: Thank you for giving me 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 year budgets 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 a 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 on-going missions separately, for we have a continuing problem in some of these areas.
To say that the space science community is satisfied with this fiscal year 1984 budget request is an over-simplification 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 sci
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 federal R&D program in fiscal year 1984 as likely to have the greatest long-term impacts on new technologies. I do not underestimate the challenge that has been posed by the Administration in the selection of space sciences for this task. We are being asked to address a major national concern: revitalization and mobilization of the science and technology base of the United States, not only to reassume our former positions of world leadership in selected areas of science and technology but also to lead the United States toward economic recovery and growth. It is a sobering responsibility, however, one that I believe we are eminently qualified to assume. And I would be remiss if I did not point out that it is a shared responsibility, that it is an undertaking that will need very careful strategic and tactical planning and, as importantly, a sustained long-term commitment by the Administration, the Congress, United States industry, and the space science community represented in United States universities.
Let me now turn to some comments on the details of the fiscal year 1984 budget request. The request for an augmentation in the Explorer line item is in accordance with long standing 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 Professor 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-as it is-this state is a consequence of a 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 flight have decreased, people have tended to hang more and more features on each precious mission as it becomes available. This has increased cost 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 an 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 (Complex) 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 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 Explo
ration Committee (SSEC) of the NASA Advisory Council chaired first by Dr. John Naugle 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 Galileo class. The missions identified by SSEC, such as the Mars Geoscience-Climatology Orbiter and the Comet Rendezvous Mission, all conform with the strategy for planetary exploration developed by the Board's Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration. Indeed SSEC carefully used Complex reports as a guide and interacted carefully with Complex during its work.
Let me turn now to a less positive development. We are all very concerned about the delays that have developed in the Space Telescope (ST) 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. It is important that the Space Telescope, when it is finally flown, be an instrument capable of performing up to the expectations we all have for it. Given the forced relaxation in the telescope delivery schedule there is an opportunity to do more thorough testing and to perfect some of the telescope instruments. This in abstract is a good and desirable thing to do, but it will cost money-and exactly the same judgement applies to other NASA missions that are suffering delays, specifically Galileo. So we have to be careful about what we recommend-to be even handed and, as I have said, to consider the ST problem in the context of the entire OSSA program. 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 provided in fiscal year 1983 for the Research and Analysis program in Physics and Astronomy.
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 finding that there is a crisis in Space Science, and that its cause is a lack of stability in the support of research groups that has resulted from the strong mission orientation of NASA's Space Science Program and the present hiatus in mission starts and launches. I am pleased to be able to tell you that NASA at the level of the Administrator himself also recognizes the serious and fundamental nature of this problem. On the initiative of NASA's new Chief Scientist, Dr. Frank McDonald, a panel consisting of six representatives of the academic community and six representatives of the agency has been formed. The panel met on March 1st and 2nd to begin an intensive study, assessing the nature of the problem in NASA/University relations and trying to find new ways of doing business that will lead to the desired stability in the nation's Space Science program. The Space Science Board will cooperate in this study. It will receive the report of the panel and provide to NASA an assessment of its recommendations. We hope that this effort will address the concerns raised in the OTA memorandum and also provide new and important initiatives to put before you in fiscal year 1985.
I would like to express our great satisfaction that NASA has filled the position of Chief Scientist and that it has selected a person from its own family. Dr. McDonald possesses excellent scientific and personal credentials. Those of us who have interacted with him since his appointment in September have been very impressed with the incisive and insightful way in which he has been helping the Administrator and the Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications to formulate the science policy that guides NASA science programs.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I shall be happy to respond to your questions now and in writing later after this hearing is concluded.
Senator TRIBLE. Thank you, Dr. Donahue.
Let me ask you a question, if I might. The HEAO-2 data analysis program has been a very productive one for university experimenters and guest observers. The current estimate for that program in fiscal year 1983 is approximately $3.7 million. Under the fiscal year 1984 NASA budget request, the program will receive approximately $2.7 million to $2.8 million.
What in your judgment would be the consequences in this area of astrophysics if the reduced level of funding is maintained?
Dr. DONAHUE. I think it would be very unfortunate to maintain that level of funding. As you know, the Congress augmented the budget request of NASA last year for data and analysis of the HEÃO-2 mission and brought the level of funding up to roughly the fiscal year 1982 appropriation level. This year the agency has come back to you with a 17-percent cut in proposed funding for this data analysis, which just takes away the augmentation that you saw fit to give us last year.
The reasons for the augmentation are as valid this year as they were last year. This mission is the-it has produced a wealth of exciting data concerning the universe. There is no prospect of further high-energy astronomical observations until the next decade, with the possible launch of the advanced X-ray astronomical facility, AXAF. So it is vitally important that we analyze the data that we obtain from this mission.
This is a continuing problem, I am unhappy to say, with NASA. That is, the tendency to obtain data from missions and then underfund the analysis of the data. It is not a very sane kind of policy, it seems to me, to spend so much to accumulate the data and then not analyze them after they have been obtained.
Senator TRIBLE. Dr. Shapley, I have a question here from Senator Hollings. He asks that this question be asked for the record here today. So let me read this question, if I might, and then I would invite your response:
Dr. Shapley, your statement on behalf of the space Applications Board is to the point and excellent. I am concerned the space applications portion of the NASA budget is both most important for this country's economic and technological leadership and the most underfunded of the space programs in the 1984 budget.
Senator Hollings goes on:
Let me cite a few figues relating to those space applications activities of commercial and economic significance. In remote sensing, OMB provided NASA with $46.4 million; in materials processing, OMB provided $21.6 million; in communications, OMB provided $21.1 million; and for technology utilization, only $4 million. This totals $93 million for commercially significant space applications programs. In percentage terms this represents just 8.6 percent of the NASA science and applications program and only 1.3 percent of NASA's overall budget.
Dr. Shapley, I am sure you share my concern over these figures, and I am just wondering if you could shed some light as to why it is that OMB has so underfunded these critical important applications programs.
Dr. SHAPLEY. Thank you and Senator Hollings both.
As you may note from my bio sheet, Mr. Chairman, I have worked for 23 years in the Bureau of the Budget, which is what OMB was then. So I have some appreciation of their problems and the very difficult tasks that they face with the size of the deficit we have and everything else. So I think I can understand that.
On the other hand, I am not the person to answer why they did this, that or something else. I should comment that one of the inherent problems that has plagued the NASA space applications program almost from the beginning has been the difficulty in distinguishing between what the Government should do in promoting civil space applications and what the private sector should do.
Earlier today we had testimony on that matter relating to the aeronautics area. It is very encouraging to me—and I am sure to
the space Applications Board-that the administration during this past year came to a new policy declaration in the aeronautics field where they explicitly recognized the legitimacy of activity on both the Government's part, as well on industry's.
In the space applications area, including all the ones that the Senator mentioned in his question, a similarly clear delineation has really never been made. And what has happened is that each time a proposal comes forward, either out of ÑASA or out of the interested civil community, on what NASA might do in space applications, the question always comes up: If it is worth doing, shouldn't private enterprise put up the money and do it themselves?
I think the conclusion that we have all learned over 15 or almost 20 years of this kind of dialog is that there has to be a partnership on the long-range, high-risk technology areas. There is a legitimate role for the Government, no matter what your ideological outlook may be on the role of the Government generally.
As the gentlemen testified this morning, earlier this morning on aeronautics, there are the long-range, high-risk areas-those are the ones in which it is not reasonable to expect a single company to put up the money to do research and experimentation that is going to benefit all companies. And so you have to have a division in which the high-risk work is sponsored by the Government, and if you can work out any private participation in the financing, so much the better.
But to exclude or to always attempt to minimize Government financing as the primary objective, which unfortunately frequently has to be the objective in making that Government budget, this has the very unfortunate effect that we are not able to move along as fast as we can and we have a situation which disappoints, I believe, most of us.
Senator TRIBLE. Let me ask you a further question, if I might, on my own. The fiscal year 1984 NASA request contains $15 million for continued operation of the Landsat Thematic Mapper data processing system and for the engineering characterization of TM data. There is also $15 million for Earth remote sensing instruments, the multispectral linear array, and the large format camera, the former to be launched aboard the Shuttle.
What else should NASA do in your judgment to advance the technology of a land remote sensing satellite system and insure a fluid transition of that land remote sensing system to the private sector, should that transfer occur?
Dr. SHAPLEY. That is a difficult question, Mr. Chairman. In the first place, I would say that it is very important that the type of advanced research and technology in remote sensing that you mentioned, be permitted to continue, and that it be funded at a level which really permits progress to be made.
The tougher question is how do we go about providing the next improved or continuation of the satellite systems up in space? And this is tied up very directly, as I mentioned in my statement, with the question of whether there is to be commercialization and, if so, on what terms.
It is also complicated by the fact that by agreement now within the executive branch this responsibility is really no longer NASA's.