Saturday, May 5, 2012

Outsourcing NASA’s Goal of Extraterrestrial Research: Russia’s Role as Commercial Partner

TO: Vice President of the United States of America, Richard Cheney

FROM: Eddie Devere

RE: Direction to Lead NASA

Outsourcing NASA’s Goal of Extraterrestrial Research:
Russia’s Role as Commercial Partner

Executive Summary

The current political situation with regards to NASA is one in which the public has given no mandate. What is clear is your interest in demonstrating your technical finesse and expertise in space policy. This paper outlines the steps that you should take to become a champion of NASA’s goal to focus on extraterrestrial research. In the next four years, many of NASA’s earth observing projects will be turned over to the public section. Dan Goldin has made it NASA’s goal to get out of LEO. NASA could finally focus only on extraterrestrial matters if the cost to LEO were reduced because then more private industries would invest in LEO ventures. Currently, Russian companies hold the key to the cheapest launch vehicles. You can demonstrate your desire to advance the U.S. in space by easing Congress’s fear of technology sharing and by working with key Russian Ministers to allow Russian ICBMs be converted into launch vehicles for American private industries and scientists. The foreseeable reaction by the Republicans in office is that they will argue for budget cuts in NASA when they see certain projects being privatized. Your job will be to champion NASA’s extraterrestrial goals and to shield NASA from the whims of congressional politicians.

This paper presents three space policy proposals. The first is a proposal to assign a Senate task force the responsibility of finding a private company to act as a Center for Technology Transfer in the United States. The second is a proposal to begin a Commission with Russia to determine the feasibility of a joint mission to place a human on Mars by 2009. The third is a proposal for NASA to purchase 20 Dnepr (ex-ICBM) launch vehicles, to ship them to the US and to hold a competition of mission designs for use of the launchers. This paper has determined that the first and third proposals will best suit NASA’s and private industry’s need.


Historical Background

NASA is unlikely to see budget increases. The political situation has changed. From the end of Apollo to the present, NASA has been faced with how to deal with declining public support and the new fiscal responsibility demonstrated by the Office of Management and Budget. A heated topic is whether or not NASA needs a long-term goal for it to function ideally. Proponents for the long-term goal remember back to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs and to Kennedy’s long-term goal of getting to the moon and think that what we need is a long-term goal and NASA will be set. However, there is a problem with that argument. NASA’s ability to do well in the 1960s came from the large budgets it had and Congress’s limited financial control.

NASA will see substantial privatization in the next four years. One of NASA’s five major branches, Earth Science Enterprise (ESE), will mostly likely be handed over to private investors who expect profit selling meteorological pictures to news media and selling agricultural pictures to farmers. Other privatizations include increasing the percentage of commercial business on the ISS to more than 30%, the current work with Lockheed Martin on the Venture Star and the open invitation to private space companies to build the Next-Generation Launch Services. These last two projects are needed so that the current Space Shuttle can be phased out by 2025.[1] This will make most politicians want to reduce NASA’s budget.

Dan Goldin’s goal for NASA is to hand LEO missions to the American commercial sector. Currently, 90% of NASA’s budget is focused on low-Earth orbit. Dan Goldin sees that NASA should attempt to hand these projects to private industries in the next ten to fifteen years in order that NASA can focus on remote sensing of planets and stars.[2]

Past vice presidents championed the NASA cause. For the last eight years, VP Gore has directed NASA to focus its attention on the Earth Observation systems, but he has been unsuccessful in increasing NASA’s budget, even to increase it for inflation in the last eight years.[3] VP Quayle fought for an increase in NASA’s budget, and was able to do so by obtaining money for NASA to do more research into the feasibility of colonizing the Moon and Mars. President Kennedy used the support and backing of VP Johnson, who had proven his interest in space by working for a million pound thrust rocket engine.

The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission has left a bitter relationship between the US and Russia. VP Gore had very intimate relations with Russia Prime Minister Chernomyrdin. However, many recent reports to the House of Representatives have shown that the Clinton Administration’s dealing with Russia was very faulty. Rep. James A. Leach had to say, “It is now self-evident that U.S. policy failed, and the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission is a symbol of that failure.”[4] Rep. Christopher Cox echoes this, “Clinton's abdication to Gore of authority over the most important foreign policy opportunity for America since World War II--the rebuilding of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union--had fateful consequences.”[5] The Commission has been blamed for not creating the essential elements of a free enterprise economy.

US Quotas on Proton launch vehicles expired on 1/1/01. The quota on Russian Protons expired on Januray 1st of this year and the Congress has made no attempt to return to a quota system.[6] The original reason for quota was to ensure that the Proton entered the marketplace in line with good commercial practices. This lifting of quotas helps US companies like International Launch Systems. ILS is a Lockheed Martin company that works directly with the Russian company Krunichev to secure Proton launch vechiles, and eventually the next-generation Angara launch vehicle.

Recent space capitalism developments in Russia are promising. A company called the Russian Technology Transfer Center was created in 1999 with the goal of inviting investors into the Russian aerospace industry.[7] Another, high note is that, according to the Russian announcement, the first commercial launch of a Dnepr launch vehicle (a converted SS-18 Russian ICBM) is scheduled for March 2001, with payloads that include a satellite to demonstrate the low-cost space technologies developed by One Stop Satellite Solutions (OSSS).[8] There was a successful test launch of the Dnepr/SS-18 in April of 1999.

Statement of Current Problems

Problem#1—NASA has no mandate from the American people. Space policy was not discussed in any of the presidential or vice presidential debates. Mores specific, a recent poll by the St. Petersburg Times (FL) has determined that 46% of the American public does not support sending probes back to Mars given the recent failures. [9] While this indicates that 54% do support the probes, the general lack of interest shows that the public has little interest in the present ventures of NASA.

Cause#1—The American people desire that budget surplus to go to tax cuts or paying down the deficit. Current public interest and debates in Congress are focusing on paying down the deficit, creating a tax cut and building the National Missile Defense program. The lost of three planetary programs in 1998 has left a scar on NASA.

Problem#2—There is an unclear relationship with Russia. During the Cold War, there was a clear, but negative, relation with the USSR. Today our relationship is unclear. Russia has not been eased into European relations. It sits political in between China and the US. It also has to disagree with the US on a constant basis in order to demonstrate its strength. There has been no permanent replacement to the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission since its final meeting in 1997.

Cause#2—The Clinton administration demonstrated a weak interest in establishing a capitalistic base for Russia. The Commission stifled international business growth between the two countries because all industrial contracts had to flow through the bureaucratic commission. (See Bitter Relation in Historical Background)

Problem#3—Russia has a faltering economy and a disillusioned military/space program. The nation’s total economic collapse in August 1998 was mainly due to its defaults on debts and the devaluation of the ruble. Russia has a large military left over from the Cold War that it can’t afford to pay for. Also, there remains the framework of the world’s second greatest space command, which the government can’t afford to pay either.

Cause#3—Russia has a Corrupt Government Inheriting a large Military-Industrial Complex. The major economic problem that led to the collapse of the USSR was the disproportional government support for military and space ventures over consumer needs. This left Russia in the 1990s with tremendous military and space assets that it could not afford to maintain. The cause of the 1998 collapse was that IMF funds went to a corrupt Russian central government. US officials, most notable VP Gore, refused to acknowledge this corruption, even after the CIA produced proof of the corruption.[10] The corrupt Russian government did a poor job of distributing the relief money to private industries and it had no means of collecting taxes until Putin passed a flat 15% tax in 1999.

Problem#4—The Cost of launching assets into space is too expensive for most of the private sector. There have been many of great ideas proposed to business ventures in LEO and GEO. For instance, Bill Gates has proposed the idea for Teledesic, which will provide a global "Internet-in-the-Sky" through a constellation of 288 satellites. Many business ventures are daunted by the average $40 million dollars that it will cost to launch a satellite.

Cause#4—US launch vehicles are expensive and there are difficulties in launching in other Countries. The Space Shuttle failed to obtain the factor of ten cost reduction originally planned for it back in the 70s. The next generation of reusable launch vehicles might be able to lower the cost to space from $10,000 to $1,000 per pound. However, the best option, the Venture-Star, does not have a target launch date until 2003.[11]

Problem#5—Technology sharing with Russia has been hindered. Putin’s arrest of Edmund Pope, from the Office of Naval Research, shows that Russia is attempting to flex its muscles and stop Russia’s massive outflow of technology. This is a problem for US based space companies like ILS who profit from Russia’s launch vehicles because the government might attempt to arrest other Americans who work closely with Russian technology.[12]

Cause#5—This stems from out poor relations and Putin’s attempt to empower the central government. Since Putin took over the reins from Yeltsin in 1999, he has attempted to flex his muscles. The continued war in Chechnya is one example of his attempt to create a strengthen central government. Relations have weakened after the economic collapse of 98 because many Russians blame the West, the IMF, and the United States for intentionally leading Russia down the path of cyclical debt.[13]

Policy Proposals

Option A

Creation of a Task Force to Develop a US Private Center for Technology Transfer
This proposal entails the creation of a task for force on Technology Transfer within the Senate Committee of Commerce, Science and Transportation. The task force will be charged with the duty of finding a private company interested dealing with the new launch companies that have been recently created to market Russian Launcher systems. The company will provide the following for private companies and for science organizations.
  • Legal Support
  • Patenting and licensing
  • Technology assessment and technical transfer policy analysis
Cost:                           $500,000 for Start up Loan
Benefit:                       150% in sales of current international launchers for US payloads
                                    Minimum of 100, Maximum of 1000 new aerospace jobs
Political Analysis:       Senator John B. Breaux (D-LA), Senate Commerce, Science and Transporation Committee, agrees with measures that include start up funds for aerospace companies.
Solution of Problems: #3, #4 and #5 (see State of Problem section, p.3-5 of paper)

Option B

Restart Commission between US and Russia with Goal of Determining Feasibility of a Joint Venture to Mars

The goals of the Commission would be:
  • Place a human on Mars by 2009 with current launch vehicles
  • Encourage investment from private industry to commercialize the venture
  • Establish goals for more liberal technology sharing between US and Russia
Co-Chairmen:                                    Space:
Vice President Al Gore                                        NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin              General Director, Russian Space Agency, Yuri Koptev

Business Development:                     Science and Technology:
T.B.D.                                                 T.B.D.

Initial Cost:                             $100,000 per year to fund Commission
Possible Cost:                          TBD
Benefit:                                   Renewed relations with Russia and the possibility of becoming the symbol for the decade.
Political Analysis:                   This option will take heat from many members of the Cabinet, particularly Sec. Powell and Sec. Rumsfeld, because it could draw funds away from the DoD.
Solution of Problems:             #1, #2, #3 and #5

Option C

NASA Purchases Dnepr Vehicles for Scientific Launchings

·  NASA’s Discovery Program should hear new plans for missions based on the lowered costs that would result from purchasing Dnepr launch vehicles.
· NASA would purchase 20 launch vehicles over the next four years.
· Two competitions would be held to determine who gets to use the launch vehicles.
1)      10 vehicles for missions that enable private companies to privatize a part of NASA
2)      10 vehicles for missions that enable science organizations or private industries to explore the Solar System
· NASA would pay for the cost of launch and delivery of payload, but not for the development of the payload.
· Private companies and science organization would bid on use of the launchers. The best proposals win.
· NASA’s job would be to purchase the launchers from ICS Kosmotras at a discount and would ship the vehicles to the United States for launching. There is the possibility that ICS Kosmotras will sell all available Dnepr launchers before the US companies decided that it is economically feasible.
· U.S. companies/organizations would avoid the need to ship the launchers to Russia and they would avoid the bureaucratic process of applying for an international launcher.

Cost:                            $40 million per year for launchers
                                    $1 million for Cost of Proposals
Total:                           $161 million
Benefit:                       · Creation of 1,000 jobs in the aerospace industry in both the US and Russia[14]
                                    · NASA will lower the percentage of its funds going into LEO
                                    · Knowledge of the Solar System and Earth’s resources will grow significantly
Political Analysis:       Representative Cox, (R-Newport Beach) will support this measure if he get credit for determining the need to build a capitalistic base for Russia and if his report is mentioned.
Solution of Problems: #2, #3, #4 and #5

Best Combination of Policies

· Options A and C should be undertaken.
· Option B should not be undertaken, but this Option should be keep in mind pending the results of the Mars Orbiter Mission planned on reaching Mars in October 2001.


· The combination of Option A and C will assist NASA in realizing its goal of only doing extra-terrestrial research.
· The cost for Option A is well within the budget of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
· The cost of option C will need to be passed by the House and Senate, but this should be easy because it can be lumped into the bill for NASA’s expenditures in fiscal 2002.
· Option B would be half-hearted until the American public is behind a joint venture. The American public will have renewed interest in Mars when both an orbiter and a lander successfully reach the planet.
· Public interest with Russia could be sparked when the public find out in the next few years that US private companies are doing a lot of business because of the success of Russian launchers.
· This suggests that Option B might be possible when the public is behind traveling to Mars.


1)                  Executive Branch 
· Brief President of plan to purchase Russian launchers
a)                  VP
· Communicate with Prime Minister Putin and RSA Director Yuri Koptev of NASA’s interest in purchasing 20 launch vehicles
                                    · Introduce bill to Senate
                                    · Choose Representative to introduce into the House
· Have Press Sec. tell media that “The Vice President is championing NASA’s Goal of Focusing on Extra-terrestrial research by working with Russia on developing cheep access to LEO for private industry.”
b)                  NASA
· Publicize the acceptance of new proposals for launch vehicles
· Determine a dollar amount for companies developing proposals
· Organize a team of reviewers and set a date for the competition
· Develop a team of engineers to plan for the learning how to launch the Dnepr vehicles and for shipping them to the US

2)                  Legislative Branch
· Select Senators to work on Task Force
· Pass bills for appropriate funding

3)                  Private Industry
· Option A requires the formation of a company where the majority of its start up funds still needed to come from investors because the $500,000 loan is a nominal incentive of ‘prize money.’
· Option C requires the majority of funds to come from industries, universities and the NSF. The estimated cost per mission for the public sector is $100 million.
· The reward of this is jobs gained in both the United States and Russia. It is estimated that 1,000 news jobs will be created in the aerospace sector if option C is implemented.


· The following are the logical ramifications of implementing options A and C.
· The policy proposals stated above will be considered successfully implemented if the following happens:
1)      A poll of Americans in four years shows a change in 10% from a recent poll that says only 54% of Americas think that NASA should be funded to send robotic missions to Mars.
2)      Polls taken on Senators in two years should show that 80% believe that NASA has taken significant steps to privatize operations in LEO.
3)      The percentage of NASA’s budget in LEO missions drops to 40% in four years.
4)      The private Center for Technology Transfer has sales of $1 billion by the end of four years.
5)      NASA’s interest in Dnepr launchers spears US private companies to buy 50 launch vehicles in the next four years.
6)      Quotas are not reinstated on the Proton. There are never quotas on the Angara or the Dnepr launch vehicles.

Political Ramifications

The following are potentially dangerous ramifications of the combined policy proposal:
1)                  ESA, Japan or China voices concerns that the US has blindly focused on Russia to the expense of their own launcher systems
2)                  NASA can’t determine 10 qualified companies to privatize sections of NASA
3)                  Quotas are placed on Russia launcher
4)                  The Russian central government forbids ISC Kosmotras from selling NASA Dnepr launchers in an attempt to retaliate politically to a possible disagreement between the US and Russia in foreign policy.

Solutions to Potential Problems

1)                              The reasons for dealing with Russia over other countries are the dire relationship between the two countries and Russia’s faltering economy. It should be stated formally that the US is attempting to build the roots of capital in Russia that it should have ten years ago.
2)                              If NASA can’t find 10 companies that want to attempt to take over operations such as Earth Observation, then the Dnepr launch vehicles can be sold to private companies. The policy would not be called a failure if NASA could sell the vehicles in the US as a supplier of cheap access to space.
3) & 4)       Both of these are possible outcomes, but if either occurred it would take an analysis of the situation to determine the possible steps to demonstrate that NASA was not the root cause of the issue.

Suggestions for Leading NASA
· Focus NASA away from dealing with the Russian Space Agency and instead foster private companies to do business directly with Russian counterparts.
· NASA is in need of a champion. To separate NASA for the meddling of politicians, so that true engineering and science can be accomplished. You should argue for no more budget cuts even though NASA will go through privatization.
· You can argue that NASA would feel compelled to privatize more if it knew that it could spend more money on solar system exploration instead of operating Mission to Planet Earth.
· Government spending on NASA can be justified because the government is enablying the America people to do thing that they could not or would not do without government support.
· Have Dan Goldin report to you monthly and inform you of NASA’s current projects.
· Advice Golding and Congress to stop dealing with Russia in a ‘carrot and stick’ method. Current handling of Russia from NASA’s standpoint has been to lure Russia into big projects by showing them the money. Russia has shown in the last two years that it wants to be treated as an equal partner, not as an economically troubled country that has to sell its technology to make ends meat.


· Policy Options A and C should be implemented and evaluated after four years.
· Cheep access to LEO from Russian launchers is in the interests of both American and Russian aerospace companies. Cheap access will also allow NASA to pursue grander goals away from earth.
· A plan for placing humans on Mars does not have the backing of the American public, but this might change in the next few years when NASA and ESA send successful missions to Mars.
· Like all US bureacratic agencies, NASA needs a champion in order to keep a flat budget. NASA should keep a flat budget for the next four years even while it is undergoing privatization.
· The US will benefit through competition/cooperation with Russia.

[1] Ladwig, Alan M. and Gary A. Steinberg. Strategic Planning and Strategic Management Within NASA.  National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA) Case Study Working Group, June 1996 at
[2] Smitherman, D.V., edited. National Forum on The Future Development of Space. Marshall Flight Test Center, March 16, 1999, p.1.
[3] SpaceViews. Gore Proposes Earth Observation Satellite. Updated June 1998 at

[4] Leach, James A., Chairman. GAO Report on International Efforts to Aid Russia’s Transition. Committee on Banking and Ficancial Services, Report to the U.S. House of Representative, November 1, 2000, p 2 at

[5] Hon. Christopher Cox, Chairman. Russia’s Road to Corruption. Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Russia, Report to U.S. House of Representatives, September 2000, Executive Summary, p 5 at
[6] International Launch Services homepage, Updated January 2001 at
[7] Russian Technology Transfer Center’s Homepage. Updated January 7, 2001 at
[8] Lusignan, Bruce B. New Directions to Mars. Stanford University for the Center for International Cooperation in Space, July 2000, pg. 79-81.
[10] Cox, ch. 5 p. 1.
[11] VentureStar hompage, “Mission Updates.” Posted August 9, 2000 at
[12] Waller, J. Michael. Read ‘Em & Weep: The Edmond Pope Family and Their Letters
  to and from Al Gore. August 8, 2000 at
[13] Cox, ch. 8, p. 1.
[14] Moiseyev, Ivan M and Maxim V.Tarasenko. Russian Space Industry. 27 April 1999, Part I ch2 at

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