Space, the Dormant Frontier: Changing the Paradigm for the 21st Century

Space, the Dormant Frontier: Changing the Paradigm for the 21st Century

Space, the Dormant Frontier: Changing the Paradigm for the 21st Century

Space, the Dormant Frontier: Changing the Paradigm for the 21st Century


Rather than examining only the civil or military side of the US space program, as have many books in the past, Space, the Dormant Frontier takes a unique look at the space program as a whole. Part of the book's treatise is that the two communities must stop ignoring each other if the US space program is to move forward beyond being a science project, jobs program, or political football. How the program got into its current, semi-desperate state is also examined, as history has given space a legacy once glorious, now an albatross. The authors include information and analysis on the military and civil space programs, challenge the perspective of the Washington Beltway analyst with vested interests in the status quo, and make policy recommendations based on realism, rather than idealism.


It's déja vu all over again

--Yogi Berra

Ironically, the space policy process can be characterized either as having a long and turbulent history, or a short and languid one, depending on one's viewpoint. It is long and turbulent in the sense that it has been consistently and continually tenuous; it is short and languid in terms of having a relatively short chronology and being only sporadically important to policy makers. However one chooses to summarize the history, at several points there have been clarifying moments when, in a sense, policy began afresh because past practice was either insufficient or flawed in some fashion. Those moments have been few and widely separated by time. Indeed they have been too infrequent and hence insufficient--the exception to the incremental rule. Most notably they occurred at the initiation of the Apollo Project in 1961 and the regrouping after the Challenger accident in 1986.

Reality has often been disguised by bold gestures and pronouncements of change. the more usual pattern has been that of inertia continuing indefinitely into the future. Frustration mounts with such inaction, and real change proves to be difficult. in this chapter, we sort out and analyze some of the factors that restrain the players and contribute to this inertia, with its paralyzing effects upon space policy. We begin with the President, along with the bureaucracy he at least nominally controls, and follow with Congress. We then examine the private sector where change occurs, despite often surprising resistance. the chapter ends with a general discussion of efforts at transition that are occurring in opposition to the forces of inertia. We acknowledge that such effects are encountering substantial resistance.

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