Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs …..
The Brookings Report
1. In November 1959 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration contracted with the Brookings Institution to “undertake… the design of a comprehensive and long-term program of research and study regarding the social, economic, political, legal, and international implications of the use of space for peaceful and scientific purposes.”
2. The long-term program of research set out in the report (and briefly outlined in this Summary) includes:
a. Sufficient description and evaluation of speculations on the implications of space activities to provide a basis for judging which implications may have sufficient impact on human affairs to merit research.
b. Specification of criteria for selection of high priority research.
c. Specification, when feasible of high priority research areas for initiating a long-range research program; specification of other research areas which will extend the utility of the initial research; and specification of research which may become central under later circumstances.
d. Suggestions as to methods, persons, and organizations that might assist the conduct of research. (The suggestions are made chiefly through footnote citations of pertinent publications and projects and are therefore not included in this Summary, which carries no footnotes.)
e. Suggestions on the organization and function of a NASA research capability to implement the program (Chapter 2).
3. Space activities require great investments of money, men, material, and creative effort and thereby compete with the needs of other areas of human endeavor. They contribute to rapid rates of technological change and thereby give rise to social and personal readjustment problems. Thus it is most desirable that the problems and opportunities they may imply for society be understood. Since the potentialities of space activities are wide ranging, so, too, must be a research program on their implications: examined herein are the problems and opportunities that may be introduced by hardware (such as a weather satellite forecasting system); events (such as the adventures of astronauts in space); and ideas (such as those embodied in discussions of the degree to which national prestige may be dependent on success in space accomplishments), certain
implications may be directly related to aspects of a specific social
environment; in such cases, these aspects will be examined.
4. Research on the implications of space activities requires a reasonably clear picture of the associated larger social context. Given the complex problems facing various components of world society and the technological developments, that are believed possible in fields other than space, it appears impractical to speculate beyond the next twenty years, and perhaps even beyond the next ten. Even within this time span, however, the consequences of space activities can be foreseen only in part, since the effect of any given development in space may be vitiated by unexpected but contingent scientific, technological, or a society developments. This report, therefore, does not attempt to predict what will happen to society as a result of space activities. Rather, it poses questions about what might happen and specifies contingent factors which may affect the likelihood of one implication being realized rather than another,
5. Certain potential products or consequences of space activities imply such a high degree of change in world conditions that it would be unprofitable within the purview of this report to propose research on them. Examples include a controlled thermonuclear fusion rocket power source and face-to-face meetings with extraterrestrials.
6. The impact of innovation is no respecter of differences in academic disciplines. To stress the interdisciplinary nature of research on the implications of space activities and to permit a coherent exploration of specific products, events, and ideas the report is organized into chapters that (except for Chapter 2) each represent a major area of problems and opportunities. Within these major areas., all pertinent aspects of the problems are discussed, whether economic, political, or social, or combinations thereof. Certain chapters necessarily overlap, since some of them cover general aspects of problems which are specific to the subjects of other chapters.
7. Time, resources, and especially the lack of a single formulation of social science theory, broad-ranging enough to encompass the variety of problems involved, imposed arbitrary limitations on the amount of research undertaken to back the speculation underlying the report. Thus, the report is not exhaustive in its research recommendations, but the descriptions of the problem areas (developed through interviews, conferences, and reading) are intended to provide the reader with a basis for proposing specific research projects in connection with the study areas recommended here. It is important to note that, as a consequence of this approach, the first specific research project to be undertaken with regard to many of the problems here discussed should be an assessment of the literature to determine what existing knowledge, if any, can be applied directly and what further study needs to be done.
8. Suggesting a comprehensive research program makes it necessary to examine the range of implications needing study, irrespective of who might conduct the research. Not all -the research suggested should or could be sponsored directly by NASA; some proposals are more properly within the interests of other groups.
9. “Research” is broadly used herein to refer to a variety of approaches, including “think-pieces,” sophisticated logical and/or mathematical evaluations and analyses, and empirical studies in the field. Studies would range from broad programmatic research to detailed inquiries. Most of the projects are phrased in terms of space activities, but many of the suggested investigators could as well be stimulated by or applied to a number of other major on-going or contemplated scientific developments. Examination of the implications of space activities also provides a new standpoint from which to observe human behavior before, during., and after social change resulting from innovation. This, the proposed research program offers extraordinary opportunities for fundamental social science research as well as applied.
10. The recommended high priority research areas (listed at the end of each Summary section) are intended to provide NASA with a “mix” of projects to be an initial basis for a long-range research program. The priority criteria emphasize:
a. That the results of the research would have important applications to the social consequences of specific space activities.
b. That the study is urgent in order to identify and resolve operating and policy problems associated with imminent or on-going developments.
c. That the study is non-deferrable in that if the data and methods are to be available when needed it is necessary to begin acquiring them now;
d. That the study would significantly forward the development of a program of peaceful and scientific uses of space.
e. That the study would, through the development of methodology, facts, or theory, contribute exceptionally to understanding or foreseeing the social implications of space activities.
Which projects NASA may choose to implement, even among those which might be thought of as urgent, will depend on factors not within the purview of this report, including budget, availability of research capabilities, important events which have transpired, and the extent to which previous research has paid off.
11. Research areas are included in the report which are not now considered of high priority, but which are likely to become so as social developments and space activities evolve and as high priority research is completed.
12. No assumption has been made as to whether that or not specific studies are already underway. If an area recommended for study is presently being competently researched, the priorities here assigned to the area would alter.
13. The magnitude and direction of a long-range research program on the social effects of space activities will depend on the organization NASA establishes to select, monitor, and conduct the studies. One of the most pressing and continuing research challenges for this capability will be to:
• develop effective methods to detect incipient implications of space activities and to insure that their consequences are understood.
14. Each section of this Summary corresponds to a chapter of the full report and sets forth the main points of the chapter and the recommended high priority research for the problem area. In the body of the report, the presentation of potential implications involves discussion of and suggested research on all the issues that seem to be pertinent to a problem area including some that do not warrant research at the present stage of the problem area’s development, and some that it would be inefficient to study until other recommended research is completed. This supportive discussion constitutes the bulk of the report and in a summary can only be suggested. Its intent, however, is to make clear (1) the significance of the research recommended, (2) the variety of the projects implicit in the research areas, (3) the order in which related projects could be carried out, and (4) the opportunities for approaching various problems in broad or narrow contexts of research and application. Therefore, although for some readers this Summary chapter may provide sufficient information
-since these four clarifications may not be of central interest to them — itis assumed that the potential researcher will find it essential to read the body of the report.
II. COMMENTS ON THE ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONS OF A NASA SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH CAPABILITY
1. An integral part of the research program as proposed herein is the development of a research facility capable of conducting and evolving a series of long-range research projects pertinent to NASA’s directive to study the problems and opportunities implied in peaceful and scientific space activities.
2. To develop within NASA an understanding of the need for these studies and support for their conduct, to assure the maximum likelihood that the research findings will be applied, and to keep in close touch with the technical developments which presage social implications, it is recommended here that the research capability consist of a NASA inhouse core of senior social scientists, which would have available to it over time the services of outside organizations. Which functions can best be conducted in-house and which might be handled through the services of outside organizations can only be determined as the scope and pace of the program evolves.
3. The functions that a social science research facility must be able to perform if it is to organize and implement a long-range research program include the following:
a. Identification of problems to be researched. (This report is intended to be a major aid in this area, but its suggestions will need frequent revision, redefinition, and supplementation.)
b. Selection of high priority research. (This report suggests criteria for selecting research, but these must be supplemented by criteria pertinent to NASA goals and circumstances.)
c. Determination of resource allocations, including funds, available research personnel, and field situations for specific studies.
d. Informing and stimulating potential researchers in other government organizations, universities, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and private research organizations.
a. Developing and stimulating potential supporting facilities to provide research tools and other services.
f. Selecting, developing, and implementing research proposals.
g. Liaison – – with divisional groups within NASA, with potential research personnel, and with interested government agencies whose research or activities have significance for the social implications of space activities.
h. Assessing the progress and direction of research in progress, to insure that the studies continue to be pertinent to the evolving situation and that their quality merits continued support.
i. Distributing the research findings to those for whom they were specifically developed and to other pertinent professional people and organizations.
J. Assisting in the application of the findings. (Arrangements regarding applicability of findings should be initially planned, with the participation of the user, during the early definition and selection of the research to be undertaken.)
k. Keeping track of pertinent social science research that is applicable to space activities research, but not a part of NASA’s program.
4. In establishing an organization to fulfill these functions, three general points are important:
a. The research which NASA will regard as appropriate to sponsor directly will vary with circumstances. Systematic means should be devised for (1) anticipating the important studies which other research organizations, foundations, and government agencies might be better adapted to carry out and (2) encouraging participation by other research facilities in the program.
b. Recommended research will vary in duration from a few months to several years. Operations procedures for supporting research will differ for longer and shorter time spans, and these procedures will need to be developed.
c. Research is also a device for training researchers. It will be beneficial to support a certain amount of research whose aim is in part to help train social scientists to deal with the implications for society of space activities.
5. To provide the necessary intellectual stimulus for the development of a vigorous program and to carry out the intricate and varied tasks that will be required, it is recommended that no fewer than three senior social scientists of high competence compose the professional staff of the inhouse core. Their first tasks are seen as including:
a. Selecting first-order research.
b. Establishing in-house relationships.
c. Establishing outside connections with the research fraternity.
d. Laying the organizational groundwork for the conduct of the firstorder research.
e. Establishing a library of selected social science materials especially useful for fulfilling the functions of the facility.
6. The research facility, as a staff function, should have access to those concerned with the over-all interests of NASA. Formal arrangements should also be made to insure the social science staff access to information on technical, political, and economic aspects of the space developments that derive from NASA’s divisional activities. Such information will familiarize the social scientists with the space program’s operating problems and with the possible research opportunities implicit in them.
7. A person familiar with both the social sciences and the technological activities of NASA and versed in interagency relationships should be responsible for arranging interagency liaison so that research on the social implications of space activities will be forwarded efficiently through the sharing of information on pertinent activities.
8. A committee is needed to assess and review research in progress.
9. A committee analogous to the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences is needed to keep the in-house organization cognizant of on-going or anticipated social developments related to an evaluation of the implications of space activities.
10. Aside from the liaison function and the awarding of contracts and/or grants, other functions could, as time and circumstances dictate, gradually be transferred to outside organizations. However, the in-house core will need to keep in close touch with assisting services and with personnel carrying out research projects to insure participation at all stages of those who will most directly use the findings and to maintain its essential role as the spark and drive of the program.
III. IMPLICATIONS OF SATELLITE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
1. Involved scientists and engineers believe that in a relatively few years the world will be wrapped in a communications net based on the several advantages of communication satellites. The problems and opportunities associated with financing the development and application of communication satellites, with legal and political arrangements for their use, and with their specific applications are closely related to their technological characteristics. Research and development efforts have been concentrated on two operational types of systems: the passive reflector (e.g., “Echo”), which requires very large ground-based transmitting and receiving antennas and powerful transmitters, and the active repeater, which is itself a complex transmitting and receiving station, and thus requires much less large ground-based transmitters. Under many circumstances, signals from repeater satellites could be received directly on private receivers. Careful scheduling is required, however, if active satellites are not to be overloaded, whereas passive satellites can be used anytime they are in range of any facility with transmitting and receiving antennas. To varying degrees, technological problems remain to be solved for both systems — problems having to do with system capacity, reliability, weight, and the use of higher frequencies for radio and television.
Organizational problems and implications
1. The economics, technology, organization, and utilization of satellite communications cannot be resolved wholly within the framework of the United States’ interests and operating methods. Since such a system will be of major utility to international communications, planning must take into account the potential users abroad and the problems that international use will imply. Research will be necessary to delineate and suggest resolutions for such organizational and operational problems as these:
a. Frequency allocation and/or sharing. Here and abroad, frequency control is already rife with economic, social, and legal problems which would be intensified by the broad coverage and relative nondirectionality of satellite signals and the different frequency control requirements of active and passive systems.
b. International agreements or comparability of equipment components used by various nations and produced by various manufacturers.
c. Privileges and priorities of satellite use. Cost-sharing arrangements may be more difficult to enforce with passive systems, and the scheduling of messages requires special agreements when the active satellite system is used.
d. Receiver antenna control and sharing (and in some cases, transmitter antenna, too).
e. Access to audiences: privileges and priorities. Active satellites provide better opportunities for control over transmission. Passive satellites provide better opportunities for control over reception.
f. Program content control, including: amount and type of propaganda, advertising, entertainment, information, and education.
2. Central to the resolution of these organizational problems are the national philosophies which have defined the structure of local operational procedure and organization of present telecommunication facilities. The difference between one philosophy and another as to the purposes and proper use of telecommunications may have substantial implications for the way satellite systems might be used and for the negotiations and organizational inventions necessary to reconcile competing interests within each involved nation, competing national interests, and international interests. Systematic study of these problems is recommended.
3. The United States’ role in developing and using a satellite communications system is complexly bound up with questions covering the relationships of our national (government) interests and private profit motives. For example, under what circumstances should the United States government provide launching facilities and research and development in connection with satellite development? If taxpayers are to finance portions of the technological development of communication satellites, what provisions are to be made about patent ownership and satellite utilization? If the government is the major devel ….. Read More