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

By Joan Johnson-Freese; Roger Handberg | Go to book overview

3
Space As a Government Domain

Because of the great cost of getting into space and operating there, governmental policy still determines what happens in space to an overwhelming degree. In our country [the US], lack of clear presidential leadership--and, more important, lack of the necessary underpinning of support--can be fatal. 1

Space policy is often mysterious to those outside the immediate environs of the participants. This reflects the fact that space in the United States began as an exclusively governmental (in truth, military) sphere that only later opened up to incorporate nonmilitary and private activities. This original government, albeit largely military focus, continues to affect how policy is made and, more crucially, what is considered doable. The government-centered focus structures how observed changes in the world are processed and, more critically, what are perceived as viable solutions to problems. In that sense, the field is only slowly removing the blinders of the past and confronting a world that is much more complex and diverse than before.

This chapter provides a brief historical overview of the origins of space as a major area for human activity, the abrupt separation of the civil sphere from the military sphere, and the gradual separation of the commercial sphere from both. This historical context is important for it explains how deeply the roots of the Cold War paradigm have burrowed and consequently why change remains so difficult. Such an overview illustrates that the space program was never planned as much as it simply happened. Plans were often overtaken by events or rendered irrelevant. In this context, we examine the historical development of space transportation vehicles and how their legacy has evolved to be perhaps the single most influential factor affecting space development

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Acronyms ix
  • I - THE BIG PICTURE 1
  • 1 - Repackaging the Dream 3
  • Notes 29
  • 2 - Policy Overview: If You Don't Care Where You'Re Going, Any Road Will Take You There 33
  • Notes 62
  • II - THE SITUATION 67
  • 3 - Space As a Government Domain 69
  • Notes 91
  • 4 - History As Inertia 95
  • Notes 120
  • 5 - The Economics of Space, Breaking the Dependency Cycle 123
  • Notes 146
  • III - THE OPPORTUNITY 149
  • 6 - Semidesperate Times 151
  • Notes 177
  • 7 - Seeking New Opportunities 181
  • Notes 204
  • IV - The Method 209
  • 8 - Convergence: Merging the Space Technology Bases 211
  • Notes 225
  • 9 - Change the Paradigm: Incorporate Politics and Emphasize Economics 229
  • Notes 246
  • 10 - A Parallel Development Plan 249
  • Notes 264
  • Selected Bibliography 267
  • Index 271
  • About the Authors 278
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