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1.         Practical appreciation of the long-range international aspects of space activities from the viewpoint of the United States requires study of space plans and events in terms of: the technical features of space projects, United States policies on the uses of outer space and on the goals and conduct of foreign affairs, and the available and required characteristics of institutional arrangements for implementing these policies.

2.         The need for increased numbers of individuals with the breadth of understanding for coordinating the international aspects of the technical social, legal, economic, and-political problems of space programs suggests study of the ways in which existing training for these tasks is adequate or can be improved. In particular, attention needs to be given to discovering means for incorporating pertinent knowledge from the behavioral sciences into the training and experience of natural scientists and administrators.


Technological characteristics, costs, and international participation

1.     The many novel technical features of existing and proposed space projects can be expected to introduce unusual international situations. These features and conditions associated with them include: the technological requirements for world-wide telemetering and satellite tracking; the relative dependence of specific programs on access to specific geographic areas; inspection and regulation through built-in technological characteristics of systems; operation of earth satellites launched anywhere in the world; transport of men into outer space and their recovery; the possible uses of obsolete space hardware and related equipment abroad for non-space purposes. Each of these invites study to elucidate the international problems posed and to provide answers to them in the light of American space policies and foreign policies. A related area which merits special attention has to do with problems and opportunities pertaining to international sharing of costs, project planning, and operations.


Multinational personnel participation

1.     The fact that great numbers of personnel will be needed to implement world-wide space activities presents the United States with opportunities to advance its space and foreign policies through the use of skilled foreign personnel in connection with our own or multinational space projects. It may also be possible to provide training generally useful for other technological purposes, as well as for space activities, for nationals from countries presently developing their scientific and technical resources for the first time.


2.     Certain problems, however, are implied in the use of multinational personnel in space programs. Complications could be introduced by differences in political and scientific procedures, security standards, and language. Equitable apportionment of professional recognition may be difficult, and interpersonal problems may arise from national differences in styles of team research and from differing ideas of the goals and means for space programs. Much research will be necessary to determine the specific potentialities for multinational personnel participation and to solve the problems involved in realizing these opportunities.


Space policy as related to foreign policy

1.         The general objectives of United States foreign policy may be significantly affected by our space programs and space policy. Study is thus desirable concerning the implications for foreign policy of space activities that influence the attitudes of and the nature and degree of support or opposition forthcoming from international organizations, allies and adversaries, neutral nations, and individuals and special groups, including scientists. The military aspects of some of our space activities and the actions of nations with competing space systems will be additional important factors affecting the application of space policy to foreign policy -- and these too will merit study. In particular, study is necessary on the inclinations or disinclination’s of other nations to support or participate in U. S. space programs as a result of deliberate or inadvertent mixing of U. S. civilian and military space activities.


2.         Opportunities to advance and coordinate the objectives of United States space and foreign policy may be provided by systematic advanced planning for legally based regulation and control and appropriate methods for inspecting, observing, and operating space projects and related activities. Such plans and methods require study. In particular, detailed examination is suggested of the operations of existing national, international, and nongovernmental organizations which have had experience implementing and guiding other technical-political activities. Research is also necessary to discover means of evaluating how new types of space programs and new forms of organization might further United States space and foreign policy objectives, including the possibility of multinational or totally international space programs.


In connection with such research, it would be useful to re-examine the assets and liabilities of administrative and diplomatic distinctions such as those between private and official, technical and political, and military and peaceful activities or functions in the light of the profound interrelations of these factors and space programs and policies. There is also need to study the possibilities of using space activities to facilitate other needed international rules, regulations, or controls.


3.         Scientists and engineers, acting in their various capacities as nationals, private scientists, and cosmopolitans, may have important roles in influencing space policy and various national reactions to our space policies and those of other nations. Whether or not such influence is likely to be an important factor, and, if so, under what conditions, needs examination.


4.         The factors involved in assessing and interpreting national prestige and in the behavior of other nations and individuals toward a nation assessed as having or not having prestige are poorly understood and would benefit from field studies and experiments. To the leadership and public of an underdeveloped nation, for instance, a display of our space activities may suggest only that United States' efforts and money might be better spent on further-assistance in raising their standard of living and in solving social problems that are more importantly pressing to them than the problems of space use. For other such nations, however, an opportunity to participate in the United States space program may be seen as a means for gaining or enhancing their own international prestige and for training personnel in technologies that would also be useful for other technical and scientific tasks of value to national development. More needs to be known about the effects of space activities on evaluations of our humanity and usefulness to other nations.


7.         Specific space projects may confront some nations with problems which, given prevailing national attitudes, values, and social and institutional arrangements, they may not be able to manage easily. For example, adjusting to the requirements for applying scientific methods and for operating functionally designed organizations may involve completely unfamiliar behavior patterns. Research begun now could help such nations to begin altering certain of their life ways so as to permit them to take advantage, with a minimum of disruption, of the future opportunities that space activities may provide.


8.         To the extent that the United States intends to compete with the USSR in forwarding its space program in the international arena, it would be desirable to explore systematically the assets and liabilities in certain “asymmetries” in the international positions of the two nations. Such factors as secrecy vs. publicity, feasible alternative space programs, effective internal competitors for funds, relations with scientists in other countries, and access to other nations' territory may be of advantage or disadvantage to one side or the other in pursuing specific space programs for national policy purposes.


Because of the likelihood that international cost sharing may produce results useful for forwarding a peaceful space program, it is recommended that background research be initiated to determine:

•     The size and nature of costs that may be sharable for facilities or pieces of hardware required for world wide networks associated with contemplated space activities. Alternate means for such sharing should also be examined.


It is recommended that a study be made of the problems and opportunities which may be produced by those international

organizations which by their purpose and procedures do not make clear distinctions between technical and political subjects (or the other distinctions mentioned above). Understanding of the possible unique contributions of a space program, or its planners and implementers, to the promotion of international cooperation would. be aided and policy planning benefited by a study of:

•     The distinctive, complementary, or competing space roles played by existing international groups including the United Nations, UNESCO, the Committee on Space Research, the International Astronautical Federation and others in existence or proposed.


Long-Range planning for United States space activities as part of our foreign policy, and the advantages of optimum use of extranational resources for forwarding a peaceful space program make research desirable to produce:

•     A systematic and comprehensive identification of significant political, legal, social, and technological asymmetries in the positions of the United States and the Soviet Union as they may affect the international implementation and effectiveness of possible space projects. (Such a study should include historical and theoretical analyses of the concept of political parity between the Soviet Union and the United States.)


As a prerequisite to further study of the effects of space activities on the attitudes and behavior of decision makers in other countries, research should determine:

•     How, in other countries, particular types of space activity influence specific people and the institutions in the governmental decision making process. What other factors enter into the decision making process which may vitiate or amplify, to our benefit or detriment, the effects of particular space activities?





1.         Science and technology and space activities in particular have the potentiality of reinforcing or changing attitudes and values. A democratic government sensitive to the implications of its public's opinions, especially in connection with government-sponsored programs, benefits from exploring and anticipating the impact of its programs on attitudes and values. A major product of space activities has been a variety of stated opinions about the present and future impact of space activities on attitudes and values. Whether or not these statements are valid, they have become common currency and hence can affect public opinion and the interpretation by decision makers of that opinion. Thereby, research on these supposed implications is warranted.


2.         The impact of space activities on the attitudes and values of the more thoughtful members of the various publics discussed below is evidenced by their concern with problems of national goals and strategies: i.e., in terms of national needs and world responsibilities, what is the proper apportionment of our aspirations, funds, and scarce creative manpower? Space, because of the great claims it is expected to make on all of these, thus becomes central to discussions about social, political, and moral priorities, and research is badly needed to supplement these concerns with knowledge and methods for setting priorities.


Selected publics

1.         Many of the scientists and engineers directly associated with space activities are enthusiastic about their work and the uses to which it is being put. Others show varying degrees of disillusion and cynicism, to which a number of factors apparently contribute; it is not known, however, how widespread such attitudes may be. The extent and specific aspects of the situation need study, as do the consequences it may have for space activities and for other activities which can also use these special competencies. If the attitudes are widespread and persistent, creative personnel may leave and the type of personnel attracted to space activities may change. Research would help reveal the implications of such changes for the quality of creative work going into space activities. If the situation is serious, research will be needed on how to produce a more satisfactory relationship between the scientists and engineers of the space community and those who have the responsibility of using their creations for various purposes.


2.     The attitudes of astronauts now in training, and their perception of the attitude held toward them and their efforts, may have important implications for their training, their ultimate performance capabilities, and the selection and training of future astronauts. Research is needed on the relation of attitudes and values to aspiration and fulfillments of performance requirements in this specific situation.


3.     There is a range of reactions among scientists outside the space community to space activities. Some are delighted with them as tools for other areas of research; others are indifferent or hostile. If scientific space programs are to expand, they must depend partially on the ideas and support of many scientists -- including some of those in the latter group. Research is necessary to supply a better understanding of the reasons for and extent of these unsupportive attitudes and their implications for the harmony of the science community, for research in areas other than space, and for space activities. Study is also warranted on means of encouraging participation in space activities by both the natural and social scientists who are favorable to space activities but unfamiliar with the opportunities for making contributions to their own fields through them.


4.         Given the role of business in politics and economic life, the attitudes and values of business executives as affected by space events may have important consequences for the future direction and intensity of the space effort. Interviews indicate much enthusiasm, especially for the activities in which science plays a major part. However, further research is necessary to determine the tenacity and depth of enthusiasm and what expectations are held regarding the payoff from space.


5.         The impact of space activities on the attitudes and values of today's children is likely to be much stronger than on those of today's adults. Space is “real” to them, since they are not encumbered by a lifetime of attitudes and values that had no need to consider the uses of space. Study of their attitudes and values now and as they change over time under the further impact of space activities and other events, should help in foreseeing the role of space activities in future years as these children become voters and doers.


The general public

1.         As with other matters not central to day-to-day living, the public, considered as a whole, is probably only selectively attentive to and knowledgeable about space activities. The relationship between the impact of events on indifferent or only occasionally interested people and their attitudes and values is but partly understood and needs further study.


2.         It has been alleged that the “public” is optimistic about space activities. If this is so and if the optimism is widespread, the present support it generates for the space program may not be lasting if the difficulties inherent in space efforts have not been appreciated enough to make the failure of specific projects understandable. The resulting disillusionment may be a serious factor in reducing public support as space efforts become more grandiose, the consequences of payoff more exciting, and the losses from failure more dramatic. On the other hand, this optimism, if it exists, may produce a state of mind tolerant of failures. The factors affecting optimism, realism, and tolerance of frustration need more study as an aid in preparing for this situation. The roles of the promoter spokesman and the mass media in encouraging expectations of great and imminent accomplishments are integral to this problem area and would benefit from research.


3.         The conviction that space activities will broaden man's horizons are presently based on the perspectives and special interests of a relatively few people in western societies. The claim may be justified, but there is need for research to assist understanding of the conditions under which innovations broaden or narrow perspectives in various cultures. For example, sufficient emphasis on space as the proper expression of man's highest aspirations may result in the evolution of a broadly based belief that this is so. But whether or not this is likely to be the case cannot now be decided in view of our limited understanding of how new ideas disseminate through societies. If and as horizons were broadened as a result of space activities, other aspirations would compete with them for attention and resources, and continuous study would be required to evaluate the appropriate position of space in this competition.


4.         Though intelligent or semi-intelligent life conceivably exists elsewhere in our solar system, if intelligent extraterrestrial life is discovered in the next twenty years, it will very probably be by radio telescope from other solar systems. Evidences of its existence might also be found in artifacts left on the moon or other planets. The consequences for attitudes and values are unpredictable, but would vary profoundly in different cultures and between groups within complex societies; a crucial factor would be the nature of the communication between us and the other beings. Whether or not earth would be inspired to an all-out space effort by such a discovery is moot: societies sure of their own place in the universe have disintegrated when confronted by a superior society, and others have survived even though changed. Clearly, the better we can come to understand the factors involved in responding to such crises the better prepared we may be.


5.         Man-in-space programs in their early days will confront some groups with value conflicts over the proper circumstances for risking life, family integrity, etc. Arguments are already intense on the merits, or lack of them, of investing heavily in man-in-space efforts. Later efforts may expose astronauts to living conditions with which many of the public cannot, or will be reluctant to identify. The threat and isolation of space thus emphasized may repel many people, especially as urban living becomes ever more the life pattern, and support for these efforts, therefore, might be less forthcoming. In some people, however, the adventures of the astronauts may fire a latent pioneer spirit; support for man-in-space programs might be strong among this group -- but it also might be displaced by their newly stirred personal pioneer aspirations. There may be possibly profound effects on attitudes and values if through the astronaut experiences it is found that the extraordinary abilities sometimes displayed under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress can be made available to man for use in-more normal circumstances.


However, it should be kept in mind that intense solar radiation and heavy-particle cosmic rays may make more than an occasional manned essay into deep space too dangerous to be practical during the time period under examination. If so, the consequences for attitudes and values are not clear. Understanding of the impact of the man-in-space program on attitudes and values in general, and on those toward the program itself in particular would benefit from a series of studies of public expectations and beliefs as these change over time.


Since commitment of effort to competing programs for social betterment fundamentally depends on attitudes and values about their relative merits, a research area with potentially profound implications for society and space activities, which is also urgent for policy purposes, concerns the development of:

•     Systematic methods for assigning priorities between competing scientific and social efforts (where competition may be over the long term and involve personnel, money, public support, and conflicting attitudes and values).

A variety of more specific studies on public opinion and values as affected by space activities will depend on research providing trend data describing:

•     The state of knowledge, values, and attitudes regarding space activities, both on-going and contemplated; and what assumptions, expectations, and values underlie the attitudes and interpretations of this knowledge. What are the effects over time of new knowledge and events on attitudes toward space activities, and what are the effects of the sources of information on the acceptability of the information?


In view of the conflicting attitudes and values so far expressed about the Mercury program, and in view of the possible favorable and unfavorable consequences of astronaut launchings, it is urgent to plan studies that would provide information on what the public needs to know and would assist in interpreting public reactions by determining:

•     Present public knowledge and expectations about and underlying attitudes toward, the Mercury program and the astronauts. These should be continuing studies so that the impact of events can be anticipated, evaluated, and planned for.

While the discovery of intelligent life in other parts of the universe is not likely in the immediate future, it could nevertheless happen at any time. Whenever it does occur its consequences for earth attitudes and values may be profound. Hence a long-term research effort, which would aid in preparing for this possibility, could usefully begin with:

A continuing determination of emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life.


While space activities offer a special opportunity to study the relationship of innovation to social change, understanding the relationship will require examination of other innovation situations, too. Research is recommended to determine:

•     What factors historically have entered into support or rejection of new ideas or technologies. What was and wasn't appreciated about the potentialities (or lack of them) in the innovation and under what personal and social circumstances did this occur? In particular, what were the roles of physical environment, politics, personalities, limited systems analysis capabilities, insufficient communications to decision makers, etc.?










Genesis and Intentions

THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ACT of 1958 states that among other things “the aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to... the establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.” In furtherance of that directive, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration contracted in November 1959 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.”


It is especially desirable that the space effort be concerned with the consequences of its own activities, for it will very probably be the most costly of the various exploitation’s of technology and science that present societies are currently prepared to undertake during peacetime. The exploration of space requires vast investments of money, men, material, and creative effort ­

-investments which could be profitably applied also to other areas of humanendeavor, and which may not be so applied if space activities overly attract the available resources, inspirations, and aspirations. Hence, there is a pressing need to examine carefully the claimed benefits and goals and the possible consequences and problems of space activities both in relation to their implications for social institutions and in relation to other potentially competing endeavors also aimed at benefiting man's lot.


A conclusive demonstration that some space activities provide superior means for benefiting mankind is still in the future -- but possibly a near future. Meanwhile, they are already an established factor in our society that confronts mankind with special problems. Major breakthroughs in science and technology have always produced acceleration in the rate of succeeding innovation, but space activities appear to be pushing the pace of innovation to unprecedented levels. Thus it is especially important that the implications be recognized, understood, and planned for -- and soon -- if we are to avoid the too usual and profoundly disturbing lag in personal and social readjustment to technological innovation.


It must be clearly understood that this report does not attempt to predict what will happen to society as a result of space activities nor to anticipate all the implications of a given space activity. The interactions of the products of space activities and our present social institutions cannot be foretold precisely. But by posing questions regarding what might happen and specifying those contingent factors which may affect the likelihood of one implication being realized rather than another, we will be better prepared to take advantage of the implications of space activities than we would be without such inquiries.

The report identifies areas worthy of research and, when feasible to do so, suggests which studies merit high priority attention. In explaining why particular areas of research appear necessary or desirable the report indicates the potential utility of the research for:

1.         Aiding policy-making

2.         Increasing enlightened public participation and understanding

3.         Providing a better understanding of the processes of social change, and

4.         Helping to fit space activities into a balanced program with other competing and complementary national and multinational technological and social efforts.


The research areas were discovered by examining the implications of such overlapping aspects of space activities as (1) hardware, such as a weather satellite, (2) events, such as a landing on the moon, and (3) ideas, such as those embodied in statements about the desirability of competing in space developments. Clearly, the implications are contingent upon other factors operating in national and world society both before and at the time the space product is applied. Therefore the potential interrelationships of various possible economic, political, technological, and social developments and their objectives to the possible uses of the results of space activity were examined to provide the basis for the proposed research and the priorities assigned to some of it.


In general, three types of research are proposed:

1.         Research aimed at developing a better understanding of specific implications for society of particular space activity results - for example, the economic, legal, political, and personnel requirements for a world­wide ground-based weather data collecting and processing system necessary for use in conjunction with weather satellites.

2.         Research on methods for anticipating and evaluating specific impacts of space activities -- for example, how to incorporate important non­economic factors more effectively into formal cost and benefits economic studies.

3.         Research on fundamental aspects of human behavior and institutional processes where an understanding of these is necessary to take full advantage of the products of space activities - for example, an examination of the processes which determine the rate of acceptance of innovations in different societies.


Space activities are wide ranging and therefore so too must be the research regarding their implications. To assess the possible implications, in many cases research on the associated social environment will be mandatory. Further, since it is obvious that space activity will not affect all of society equally, research is frequently suggested here on the implications for “specific publics” -- scientists, the “general public,” farmers in developing countries, astronauts, and so on. 1/


The report also endeavors to:

1.         Suggest persons and institutions that might conduct such re search. For the most part such recommendations are implicit in various references throughout the report, and especially in the footnotes, to persons, research projects, research institutions, and the professional literature. The listing should by no means be considered exhaustive or definitive'.

2.         Suggest possible means for conducting, monitoring,-and sponsoring such research as herein recommended.


Methodology and Philosophy

Some limitations on foresight and hindsight

The conceptual problems involved in developing the sort of research program presented here are typical of those in similar efforts at foresight: they have not been solved with complete success. Even with hindsight, it is exceedingly difficult to assess exactly the impact or implications of a particular event or development; much of historical theory has to do with attempts to cope with the difficulties inherent in such analysis. In trying to use foresight on innovations, one must be able not only to imagine how older methods can be bettered, but also to understand that innovations create ideas and needs not thought of before. The situation both for the historian and the speculator on the future has become progressively more complicated in recent years as the rate and complexity of societal interaction have increased. Most of the many new technologies have far-reaching potentialities, and communication facilities make access to information about the potentialities available in a far broader social context than was the case a generation or so ago.


There is, furthermore, a risk that all extrapolations into the future take. The rate of introduction and magnitude of what appear to be technological “discontinuities” in social trends, as represented by the atomic bomb, radar, the transistor, the modern rocket, and the like, make it especially risky to attempt to foresee in detail the particular pattern of implications to be expected from presently existing technologies and social structures, even though we are well aware that our future social and technological context is changing rapidly and probably radically, and that the world may very well be profoundly different a generation hence. 2/


Developments growing out of space activities themselves could possibly change the operation and character of the social context to such a degree that it would not be profitable to recommend research now on the implications of space activities for the new social context. For example, the development of a compact thermonuclear fusion power source for space craft would undoubtedly open up space for many kinds of large-scale activities -- but it would very likely also change the political, social, and economic features of the earth radically, since unlimited power for all uses would soon be available, The resulting interaction between space and society would be comprised of factors too broad and too complex for useful speculation in our study. So, too, with such developments as anti-gravity, a face-to-face meeting with intelligent extra-terrestrials, or an intensive pan-national attitude favoring all-out scientific research (as a result of the salutary consequences of space research).

[-5] The foregoing constraints on foresight, however, by no means reduce the opportunities and, indeed, the requirements for research on the implications of peaceful space activities. There are two reasons for this. First, there are presently a number of space activities already under way which clearly have important consequences for the immediate future. The implications of these can certainly be studied intensively and effectively. Second, there are logical implications in certain space activities which are very likely to arise if these activities occur in the next twenty years or so, especially if it is assumed that no technological, ideological, or social invention fundamentally alters the generally expected trends of history. To be sure, variations in social context may still affect in some degree the importance of the particular implications, and the report will point up some of these variations.


How far is it profitable to look ahead?

There was general concurrence among those consulted that it would be futile to recommend research about the implications of space activities based upon speculations for more than about twenty years ahead. The social pressures and changes that could possibly accumulate within the next twenty years might be so great as to make present speculations footless, about specific interactions. In fact, there was some opinion that only speculations concerning events of the next decade could be truly fruitful, given the complex political and social problems facing all nations and the many imminent technological developments -- other than those related to space ­that are expected to evolve rapidly in the next decade.


Most of the social and natural scientists interviewed also agree, in view of the political and social prospects of the near future and the tremendous physical and social engineering efforts required to develop reliable equipment and personnel for the more glamorous space proposals, that it seemed highly unlikely -- “barring just plain fantastic good luck” -- that lunar colonies and manned-flights to Mars will be more than newspaper headlines in terms of their implications for the man on the street during the next two decades. Thus, while we have discussed research on the symbolic effects of such events, we have risked underestimating the rate of evolution of space activities and have not attempted to derive research areas assuming more direct interaction between these dramatic aspects of space and the public at large. On the other hand, such space products as communication and weather satellites have been examined in detail, although they may not actually result in full-scale operating systems with large implications for society within our chosen time period. There is, however, a very good chance of substantial implications being generated by them in the next two decades, and therefore it seemed important to describe research areas concerning them.


Within this time frame, the implications for society of space activities can be examined in two temporal categories: (1) on-going implications, which are effects on society presently under way, and (2) those implications, deriving from hardware and social situations which will not be realized for some years and which depend on the successful development of a sequence of as yet unfulfilled space activities and organizational developments.


The “Problem Area” approach

It was decided that the report could be organized more effectively by considering aspects of space activities as problem areas than by grouping parts of each aspect under the headings of such traditional disciplines as political science, sociology, economics, anthropology, law, and so on. The, problem area approach also serves to emphasize that an interdisciplinary strategy for the suggested research would be the more useful approach since the impact of innovation on society is no respecter of differences in academic disciplines. We are convinced that the utility of the findings will usually depend on using the several disciplines and their techniques in concert. Further, we feel that the researcher reading this report will appreciate that those parts of the various problem areas of special interest to him are best illuminated within the context of the total, many-faceted problem., NASA's internal social science capability (see Chapter 2), by judiciously combining these interests and techniques, may thereby gain research results broad and deep enough to meet the many problems and opportunities specific space activities will present.


The chapters of the report (excluding Chapter 2) each reflect a major problem area representative of the implications of space activities as derived from the many interviews and conferences and the extensive reading which have provided the background for this report. We believe that, within the context defined for the report, no important area has been left out, but the reader, depending on his predilections, may find the problems which interest him distributed among several chapters, where the economic, political, ox other aspects of different problems recur.


There was, of course, no way to insure that we had foreseen all the implications of a particular space activity and appreciated all the specific factors affecting the implications. Certainly, one area of research for NASA is to:

• Develop effective methods to detect incipient implications of space activities and to insure that their consequences are understood. **


Research on research

How much research should be done to determine what research needs to be done? The answer must necessarily be arbitrary, partially bounded by the requirements of time and limited resources. But the answer is also partially a consequence of the present state of the social sciences where a variety of theories are used to account for and predict a variety of events, and where no adequate means are generally available for continuously and systematically coordinating the multiplicity of research efforts under way. The situation is further complicated by the obvious fact that a study such as this must embrace all fields of social and methodological research; therefore, the study could not afford the luxury of confining itself to special theories and special problems in order to arrive quickly at a precise determination of the utility of available research and the need for further research. 3/ Moreover, it was necessary to devote a good deal of attention to deciding whether or not the implications of a particular space activity were likely to be distinctive or important enough to merit careful examination as areas needing research to better understand and plan for them. In this regard it was necessary to separate the non-space activities that are significantly involved with space from those that are trivially or not at all involved but which regularly claim association with this glamorous technology.


** The asterisks indicate priority assignment. See page 10 for discussion.


Thus, the “design of a comprehensive and long-term program of research” seemed best accomplished by devoting major attention to discovering, reflecting on, and describing the major research areas that could be revealed through the combined approaches of interviews, conferences, and reading of special reports and the pertinent literature.


The specific research problems recommended are not to be considered exhaustive. We are confident that research personnel both within and outside of NASA will discover many additional pertinent projects, not herein listed, in the light of individual competences and interests. 4/ Nor is it intended that all the research recommended should or could be sponsored directly by NASA. Some of the proposals are more properly, for instance, within the interests of nongovernment groups. To suggest a research program it is necessary to examine a wide range of implications needing study, irrespective of who might conduct the research.


There is a special and important consequence of our approach to “research on research” which must be kept in mind while reading the report. One example will help to clarify this point. The communication satellite may well have a potentiality for affecting teaching methods in developing areas. On the basis of what is already known about teaching via television, further research is clearly necessary if such methods are extended to people in developing areas, regardless of the source of the signal. 5/ However, for the purposes of this report we obviously could not survey the monumental literature on learning from audio-visual devices in order to determine precisely what research still needs to be done and what completed research is directly applicable to this special case of learning. A research project of first priority in this area, then, would be an assessment of the literature, to determine what more needs to be done and what can be used.


The footnotes for the report (which are bound separately for easier use) are intended to serve three special purposes. (1) In order to keep the discussion in the body of the report short and straightforward, much of the supporting evidence for the positions taken is placed in the footnotes. (2) For the technically sophisticated social scientist there are references to related research and essays which can provide a deeper appreciation of the particular implication under examination. (3) Many of the technical studies referred to in the footnotes will provide a variety of leads to appropriate methodology for undertaking the research suggested in connection with a particular implication.


What is meant by research?

The term “research” is broadly used in this report to refer to a variety of approaches -- including “think-pieces,” sophisticated logical and/or mathematical evaluations and analyses, and empirical studies in the field. Some readers may find this research approach more speculative than the traditional examination and explanation of past or on-going social phenomena in that it is preoccupied with exploring future results of possible future actions. It is an approach, however, that has in recent years attracted ever more interest in a growing variety of social sciences; combined with the methods of operations research, systems analysis, and decision theory it holds much promise for aiding the policy planner and decision maker.


A particular utility of “anticipatory” research is the attention it draws to the need for methodological developments which permit better assessments of the consequences of alternatives. For examples throughout this report research is recommended on the costs and benefits of particular developments or applications. In some cases a rigorous economic interpretation of cost and benefit studies cannot be applied because the non­economic factors which will importantly define the situation cannot now be delineated sufficiently to permit their assessment. Better means of measurement for future social costs and social benefits are needed, and the exercises undertaken herein should help to indicate what these methods should be able to measure.


The report, however, also emphasizes that whatever the alternatives or possibilities envisioned, our capacity to cope with them and turn them to the good depends on the application and extension of what we now know about man, his institutions, and his ways of life. Thus, those who prefer to work with extant social phenomena will find much to interest them in the substantive research recommended, as well as in the methodological problems posed by some of it.


The phrasing of many of the recommended projects deserves comment here. A problem is usually couched in terms of space activities, since the report's purpose was to emphasize the implications of space. However, much of the ­research suggested could be equally stimulated by or applied to a number of major scientific developments presently on-going or contemplated, such as automation, the widespread use of small atomic energy units, synthetic photosynthesis, the broader use of computer facilities, and similar developments. This is not surprising; after all, space exploration is a product of an on-going technology and on-going socio-cultural environment. As such, its development and its applications are subject to most of the same basic struggles, perspectives, ambitions, distortion, and ideals which characterize any other important activity in our culture. Thus, much of the research here recommended, if successful, would be equally useful for planning and understanding the consequences of other major technological changes either under way or contemplated.


Space activities can also be seen as tools for developing a basic understanding of human behavior and especially social change and its relation to innovation. The proposed research, and clearly the research areas, should be considered not only for their utility to the “applied” social sciences, but also for the extraordinary opportunities they provide for fundamental social science research. Indeed, much of the applied research recommended can only be fruitfully undertaken if the requisite fundamental studies are accomplished first.


Assigning research priorities

When feasible, high priority research will be designated. (The typographical device of two asterisks at the end of a study proposal is used to indicate the priority recommendation -- as on page 7 of this chapter.) Considerations which have entered into priority assignments are:

1.         That the results of the research would have very important applications to the consequences of specific space activities (e.g., the discovery of means for resolving international differences over wave length allocations and control would have important consequences for the use of communication satellites).

2.         That the study is urgent in order to identify and resolve operating and policy problems associated with imminent or on-going developments (e.g., there is need to understand the factors affecting public expectations and attitudes about our man-in-space program).

3.         That the study is nondeferrable in that, while the methods and findings may not be used for a long time or for a particular purpose, it is necessary to begin now to acquire them (e.g., base-line data and measuring techniques for obtaining such data, where changes are

3.         What pertinent technological or social developments and events have evolved more rapidly than expected.

4.         The depth at, and inclusiveness with which, a particular research area is to be explored.

5.         The personal interests of NASA executives and the in-house social science research personnel.

6.         Whether at a given time a particular research area is seen as peripheral or, through the evolution of events, has become a central problem.

7.         Whether or not previous projects have paid off as expected.


No assumption has been made about whether or not study is already under way in some of the areas recommended for research. If some areas or parts of areas have already been adequately studied or are being studied this, too, will affect NASA's choice of high priority projects.


Finally, the magnitude and direction of a long-range research program in the social sciences will depend on the organization NASA establishes to select, monitor, and conduct this research. The resolution of the priority problem can be more fully understood after the reader is familiar with the proposals concerning the organization and functions of a NASA research facility as set forth in Chapter 2.