Section 3: Sourcing-and Sustaining-Optimum Financing

Thanks to our discoveries and our methods of research, something of enormous import has been born in the universe, something, I am convinced, will never be stopped. But while we exhaust research and profit from it, with ... what paltry means, what disorderly methods, do we still today pursue our research. (de Chardin 1972, p. 137)

In words President George Bush quoted from a news magazine, the Apollo Program was "the best return on investment since Leonardo da Vinci bought himself a sketchpad" (Chandler 1989).

Admiral Richard Truly, NASA Administrator, concurs. He believes that no space program on Earth today has the kind of technology and capability that ours does. Our space program is an integral part of American education, our competitiveness, and the growth of U.S. technology. Compared with other forms of investment, the return is outstanding: A payback of $7 or 8 for every $1 invested over a period of a decade or so has been calculated for the Apollo Program, which at its peak accounted for a mere 4 percent of the Federal budget. It has been further estimated that, because of the potential for technology transfer and spinoff industries, every $1 spent on basic research in space today will generate $40 worth of economic growth on Earth.

Spinoffs from NASA's development of space technology not only provide products and services to the society but also are a significant boon to the American economy. Among the hundreds of examples are this sensor for measuring the power of a karate kick and this thermoelectric assembly for a compact refrigerator that can deliver precise temperatures with very low power input. Estimates of the return on investment in the space program range from $7 for every $1 spent on the Apollo Program to $40 for every $1 spent on space development today.

The critical factor driving productivity growth is technology. The percentage of our national income that we invest in research and development is similar to the percentages invested by Europe and Japan; however, since our economy is so much bigger, the absolute level of our research and development effort, measured in purchasing power or scientific personnel, is far greater than Europe's or Japan's (Passell 1990). But our ability to sustain an appropriate level of investment in R&D is being threatened. We are overwhelmed by our national debt, our decaying infrastructure, and the savings and loan bailout, which alone is expected to cost the Government $300-500 billion, possibly more. To pay these debts would cost each and every American taxpayer. (A table illustrating the Expenditures per year by U.S. Citizens), between $1000 and $5000, and this is a payment that will not enhance national security, promote economic growth, or improve public welfare (Rosenbaum 1990). This obligation is orders of magnitude greater than the commitments U.S. citizens have made to their space program.

We have a military budget of $300 billion (compared to $200 billion per year spent on legal gambling), yet we are too broke to do anything (Baker 1990). Further, our return on investment in research and development is not as effective as it once was. It is possible that military spending is draining critical research efforts; it may be that the American emphasis on basic research has freed Japanese scientists to skip the gritty groundwork and focus on commercial applications; or is it that American corporations may not be good at turning research and development into marketable products? (Passell 1990).

Half of all Federal tax dollars go to the Pentagon. These large expenditures have hurt the competitive position of the United States and have kept the level of investment in the civilian economy, as a share of gross national product, lower than in Europe or Japan. For example, in 1983, for every $100 we spent on civilian capital formation, including new factories, machines, and tools, we spent another $40 on the military. in West Germany, for every $100 spent on civilian investment, the military received only an additional $13. And in Japan, for every $100 spent on civilian investment, a mere $3 was spent on the military. Military spending is 6 percent of GNP, but it pays for the services of 25 to 30 percent of all of our nation's engineers and scientists and accounts for 70 percent of all Federal research and development money, $41 billion in 1988 (Melman 1989).

A "peace dividend" is in prospect, if Congress will cut military spending. A peace dividend offers an opportunity for a political leader to capture attention and resources and do great good. The total dividend through the year 2000 could be as much as $351.4 billion (Zelnick 1990). How the peace dividend should be spent calls into play one's values. Many alternatives are mentioned (the savings and loan bailout, for instance), but NASA is never mentioned as an option.

Under this scenario of declining technological edge, constrained financial resources, and a budgeting process that subjects approved financing to annual revisions and potential cuts, how can NASA adequately source-and sustain optimum financing?

Potential Sources of Funds
The traditional source of financing for any nation's space program is government financing of the national space agency. But government financing alone has proven to be inconsistent and unreliable in the long term, as the space program is forced to compete with other national priorities. Furthermore, as the scale and scope of space projects increase, it becomes beyond the capabilities of a single national government to assume the risks alone-it is effectively wagering national wealth on projects of varying levels of risk.

The stakeholders in the various space development activities can and increasingly should be called upon to participate in the financial risks and enormous potential rewards of innovation that is driven by the "consumers" of Planet Earth, our need for advanced technological capabilities, and our desire to develop livable destinations in space. These stakeholders include

If these capital reserves were added up per stakeholder category, sources of funds for Planet Earth problem-solving and space development could readily be uncovered in abundance.

Opportunities for Sustainable Collaboration
Examining how these capital resources are allocated, we can readily see that there are billions of dollars being invested in research, design, development, and improvement efforts which overlap and duplicate each other among organizations in the United States, as well as around the world. Many efforts fail to achieve any significant technological advancement precisely because funds are not adequate or scope of authority is not sufficient to make any significant change. For example, if it were decided that automobiles were too heavy, causing the serious deterioration of our nation's infrastructure, and that our automobiles and roadways should be redesigned to achieve a major technological advancement, such an agenda could not be decided on by General Motors alone or the U.S. Department of Transportation alone. Technological advancements of such scale, and more importantly of such global significance, need to be mounted under leadership so engaging and with a vision so encompassing as to ensure that all the key players involved make their capital resources, technological expertise, and access to market demand available to the project.

To take the discussion of our transportation networks one step further, the facts make it clear that the need for technological innovation is not hypothetical but quite real:

The key players responsible for shepherding such events include the national, state, and city transportation agencies, auto manufacturers, oil production and retail companies, propulsion focused R&D groups, and automobile buyers and drivers. Their diversity of interest and scope of responsibility and the lack of a single shared vision bodes poorly for formulating an imperative solution to this global time bomb.

An inter-organizational consortium can be formed to address such a problem, whether pertaining to elimination of pollution or development of technology, infrastructure, or resources. Shared risk and responsibility can be established through negotiation and cross-contracting to define the vision, pool capital, share technology, and create market demand of sufficient magnitude to bring such megaprojects to fruition.

Since all prospective players are currently citizens of Planet Earth, the scope of their consortium collaboration can be international as well as national. The scope is determined by the scale of explanatory causes to be uncovered or effects to be achieved through project development. Consortia can be assembled to achieve five possible purposes:

Life Cycle of NASA's Funding Responsibility
The financing required to realize the full array of missions currently on NASA's plate is truly monumental. The exploration projects alone are expected to require more than $60 billion, with more than $100 billion required to operate the various exploratory instruments in space (see figure 14. This table illustrates the LIfe Cycle of NASA's Funding Responsibility ) (Broad 1990d).

If NASA's leadership role is to be the exclusive herald of the vision, if its financing role is limited to research and development, and if its charter is clearly defined as syndicating involvement in space exploration and development activities with the private sector, a more realizable long-term agenda emerges (see figure 14. This table illustrates the LIfe Cycle of NASA's Funding Responsibility ):

We stand at the base of a learning curve that extends to the end of time. The expertise we hold in hand is equivalent to our very first steps, and the targets of our shuffling are most undaring-our closest neighboring planets. Our notions of "high tech" living are being edited daily, as our planetary civilization rushes toward its rendezvous with destiny.

There is new expertise to be honed, new products to be invented, new processes to be engineered. The reality of geotechnology, "which spreads out the close-woven network of its independent enterprises over the totality of the earth" (de Chardin 1972, p. 119), suggests that there is not much point to going it alone technology is meant to spread like wildfire.

The specific mission objectives sketched out in this paper may not endure; the objectives may change, or from the resulting innovations may come small steps that lead to a higher insight. Advances in our ability to move swiftly and surely up the learning curve are as critical to our future success as our specific achievements. How business systems can be redefined to protect the planet, how technologies can be pushed to their highest performance levels, how new technologies can be created, how sites can be developed in a more humane fashion, how a massive multiorganizational endeavor can be coordinated as if it were a single body, these are the methodologies we are in search of perfecting, equal in importance to the truths we are striving to uncover.

Less than microscopic creatures from the vantage point of the Moon, totally dependent on our 1-pound brains and less-than-1-pound hearts to navigate us toward the unknown and decipher its messages, we human Earthlings have no more powerful resource at hand than our ability to visualize, commit, lead, and actualize-truly incredible abilities that effectively create our future. Our willingness to center ourselves in a common vision-a shared notion of greatness-will abundantly energize us toward fulfillment of even our most elusive goals.



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