Vision of Our Next Fifty
Years in Space
The Report of the National Commission on Space
This report is dedicated to the crew of the
Space Shuttle Challenger, Flight 51-L:
FRANCIS R. SCOBEE
MICHAEL J. SMITH
JUDITH A. RESNIK
ELLISON S. ONIZUKA
RONALD E. McNAIR
GREGORY B. JARVIS
S. CHRISTA McAULIFFE
"They had a hunger to explore the Universe and discover its truths… They,
the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers… The future doesn't belong to
the faint-hearted. It belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the
future, and we'll continue to follow them."
-PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN
The Report of the National Commission on Space
TORONTO · NEW YORK · LONDON · SYDNEY · AUCKLAND
PIONEERING THE SPACE FRONTIER
A Bantam Book /May 1986
The Original artwork created for this report was not prepaid at
Cover. A settlement on Man in the 21st Century. Courtesy Robert McCall,
Book design by Barbara N. Cohen
Cover art and inside illustrations copyright @1986 by Bantam Books, Inc.
For information address: Bantam Books, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
United States National Commission on Space
Pioneering the space frontier
Bibliography: p. 203
1 Outer Space-Exploration-United States
2. Astronautics-United States I. Title.
TL789.8.U5U565.1986 629.4’0973 .86-7958
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While predicting the future can be hazardous, sometimes it can be done.
In 1951, Wernher von Braun and Chesley Bonestell predicted a future in
space, above, with a reusable launch vehicle, a space telescope, and a
rotating space station. Below is an illustration by Robert McCall which
shows this, vision coming true. The space shuttle is a reality, the Hubble
Space Telescope will be launched In the near future, and the Space Station
wi11 be in operation by the mid-1990s.
LOOKING FIFTY YEARS INTO THE
The year is 1935. Pan American Airways is inaugurating trans-Pacific service, with additional flying boats on order to open trans-Atlantic service in 1939. The last Pony Express rider turns over his mail pouch to a young biplane pilot while newsreel cameras grind. Almost nobody expects to fly the Atlantic-that's for daredevils like Lindbergh-but half a million people per year cross in ocean liners. Washington's chief concern is the Federal Deficit: $30 billion in revenues versus $50 billion in outlays (1985 dollars).
The year is 1985. Could we explain to a visitor from 1935 that more than 25 million people now fly the Atlantic every year? That 16 years ago astronauts flew at 24,790 miles per hour to the Moon? That communication satellites are flashing color television signals around the world? That a spacecraft has transmitted pictures and data from Uranus across 1.8 billion miles , and is now flying on to Neptune? That supercomputers are being used to design next-generation spacecraft that will drastically reduce the cost of space travel? Washington's grappling with the Federal Budget deficit might sound familiar, but 50 years of cumulative technological advance would be beyond comprehension.
What will 2035 be like? The National Commission on Space has been charged
by the Congress and the President to look into the future to propose civilian
space goals for 21st-century America. It is as challenging for
us today to envision the advanced world of 2035 as it was to foresee today's
world back in 1935. Even the most visionary science fiction writer then
failed to foresee the scale of the resources that would be needed to initiate
the Space Age, and that no one imagined these would become available within
25 years. Looking to the future, we are confident that the next century
will see pioneering men and women from many nations working and living
throughout the inner Solar System. Space travel will be as safe and inexpensive
for our grandchildren as jet travel is for us. Our vision and our recommendations
are outlined in this report. Through vigorous leadership on the space frontier,
America can make this happen.
DECLARATION FOR SPACE
A PIONEERING MISSION FOR 21ST-CENTURY AMERICA 2
RATIONALE FOR EXPLORING AND SETTLING THE SOLAR SYSTEM 3
A NEW LONG-RANGE CIVILIAN SPACE PROGRAM 5
I. CIVILIAN SPACE GOALS FOR 21st-CENTURY AMERICA
ADVANCING SCIENCE 25
EXPLORING, PROSPECTING, AND SETTLING THE SOLAR SYSTEM 59
SPACE ENTERPRISE 75
II. LOW-COST ACCESS TO THE SOLAR SYSTEM
BUILDING THE TECHNOLOGY BASE 95
HIGHWAY TO SPACE 107
BRIDGE BETWEEN WORLDS 131
III. OPENING THE SPACE FRONTIER: THE NEXT 20 YEARS
AN ECONOMICAL, PHASED APPROACH 145
CONDUCTING AN EFFECTIVE SCIENCE PROGRAM 149
GOVERNMENT POLICY AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR 153
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND COMPETITION 157
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND THE SPACE PROGRAM 169
IV. AMERICAN LEADERSHIP ON THE SPACE FRONTIER: THE NEXT 50 YEARS
21ST-CENTURY AMERICA 183
WHAT OUR RECOMMENDED PROGRAM WILL DO 192
PHOTOGRAPHS OF COMMISSIONERS 194
NON-VOTING MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON SPACE 195
STAFF OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON SPACE 195