Summary: Nations pursue spaceexploration for a variety of reasons.The United States was rocked by the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the Soviet Union’s subsequent
success in putting the frst man
into orbit. The American response,energized by President Kennedy,culminated in the Apollo moonlandings.The current reviews of space policyin Europe and the United Statesoffer an opportunity to advancehuman exploration as well as un-manned science missions. But todo so, President Obama and hisEuropean colleagues must charta new route. Europe and theUnited States should togetherview space exploration not as theexclusive domain of scientistsand government agencies, butof our entire societies. To engage the best of our societies in spaceexploration, we should return to that tested method of encouraging exploration, the prize.
Foreign Policy and Civil Society
On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 launchedrom Cape Canaveral. A ew days later, onChristmas Eve, its crew became the rsthumans to enter the gravitational pull o another body away rom the home planet.Te crew’s reading o Genesis rom lunarorbit captivated a worldwide audience, andthe astronauts brought home what may have been the most proound photographin history until that moment—the amous“Earthrise” showing the blue planet Earthrising over the moon’s desolation, suspend-ed in the dark o space. Tis was a stunningmoment in the history o exploration, amoment that had seen NASA pull throughenormous technical challenges, with greatrisk and sometimes atal ailure, to lay thegroundwork, or the spacework, or theApollo 11 landing only a ew months later.On October 23 o this year, EU govern-ments met in Prague and agreed tosupport a major investment in robotic andhuman spaceight in cooperation withother spacearing nations, including theUnited States, Russia, Japan, China, and In-dia. Te European Union deerred dicultdecisions on resources or this endeavoruntil next year.In the United States, with celebrations o last July’s 40th anniversary o the Apollo11 moon landing now a memory, U.S.President Barack Obama’s administration isexamining its own space priorities.
Obama inherited a 2004 vision or spaceexploration announced by ormer U.S.President George W. Bush ater the loss o the Space Shuttle Columbia. Bush chargedNASA to complete the International SpaceStation (ISS), retire the Space Shuttle in2010, return to the moon, and proceedwith human exploration o Mars. Likethe EU’s decision this year, Bush’s visionstatement was imprecise on the resourcesnecessary to implement his guidance.
Now, the Obama administration is pon-dering the recommendations o an expertpanel, led by ormer Lockheed MartinChairman Norm Augustine, on the way orward or U.S. manned space exploration.Te panel delivered its report to the WhiteHouse the day beore the EU meeting inPrague. Te report’s authors laud the Bush vision as a “wise choice at the time” butgo on to note that times have changed,especially in the area o nancial resources.Te panel oered the administration arange o possible courses o action, includ-ing the possibility o canceling the new Ares1 rocket, successully tested recently but
Europe and the United States: SpaceExploration the Old Fashioned (and Smart) Way
by Joseph Wood
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 745 3950F 1 202 265 1662E email@example.com
December 22, 2009
Joseph Wood is senior resident fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of GMF.
Earthrise from Apollo 8 (Photo credit: NASA)