1968-02-01

Views on Future Space Exploration 680375

Despite the success of the space sciences satellites and the imminent payoff of the Apollo manned missions, we have seen a de-emphasis on the space program. De-emphasis, here, really means no new starts rather than cut-backs in existing programs. Two courses for the future exist - earth orbital missions or manned planetary exploration. Defense, one of the original objectives of the space program, is best served by satellite and near-earth manned operations. This emphasis, if selected, might not produce the best possible research effort, however. The 1967 President's Science Advisory Report, in dealing with funding for the year 1972, notes this dilemma.It suggests that the ultimate objective must be a balanced program aimed at the expectation of eventual manned planetary exploration. Even though, we are not yet in a position to make a rational decision on which planet to explore. Whatever the final choice, however, the program must be flexible enough to allow scientific breakthroughs to be fully exploited. This appears to be a sound aim, for it is certainly easier to gain support for a manned rather than unmanned mission.

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