Space Access Update #77  10/16/97 
                 Copyright 1997 by Space Access Society 

stories this issue: 

 - Air Force "Spaceplane" Startup Funding Line-Item Vetoed 

  ** SAS Alert: Contact Your Representative, Both Senators, ASAP ** 
       Urge Override of Defense Appropriation Line-Item Vetoes 


(Space Access Society's sole purpose is to promote near-term radical 
reductions in the cost of reaching space.  You may redistribute this 
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               Cheap Space Access Tech Development Vetoed 

On advice of Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, the President 
marked the fiftieth anniversary of Chuck Yeager's historic sound-barrier 
mission by line-item vetoing both the present and the future of ultra 
high-speed flight.  Leading the list of thirteen vetoed items from the 
FY'98 DOD Appropriation were $39m continued operations funding for the 
SR-71 high speed reconaissance/research aircraft, plus $10m startup 
funding for a USAF low-cost/fast-turnaround reusable rocket technology 
program known as "Military Spaceplane" or MSP.  (SAS has strongly 
supported MSP as having significant benefits both commercial and 

Also vetoed were the Clementine II miniature asteroid probe and an Army 
theatre ASAT technology project, plus nine other small projects the 
majority of which were advanced technology development efforts.  Some of 
these projects were controversial, but only one ("Defense Techlink Rural 
Technology") even made our Pork-O-Meter quiver.  The money saved by 
these vetoes is miniscule, $144 million out of a $248 billion FY'98 
Defense budget, roughly six one-hundredths of one percent of the total. 

We single out Hamre because at the White House press briefing he made it 
clear that he was the one who'd come up with the final list of cuts.  
(Before his recent promotion to Deputy Secretary of Defense under new 
SecDef William Cohen, John Hamre was the OSD [Office of the Secretary of 
Defense] Comptroller who shut down DC-X for most of a year by refusing 
to release its funding.)  The White House's main purpose in this action 
was apparently to establish procedures for how the new line-item veto 
power will be exercised - White House OMB Director Frank Raines said 
repeatedly that he is focussing on how this will end up changing the 
overall White House-Congress relationship in crafting funding bills. 

We believe that Deputy SecDef Hamre, in coming up with a list heavily 
weighted toward high-payoff advanced technology projects, has allowed 
institutional political biases to color his advice to the White House, 
has contravened published White House space policy, is damaging the US 
technology base (and thus future US national security), and is also 
damaging White House relations with Congress, likely with adverse 
consequences for smooth implementation of the new line-item veto law. 

In the case of Military Spaceplane, we have considerable evidence that 
Hamre has also flat-out lied in stating "these are the items for which 
we really don't have a military requirement in the Department" and in 
assuring the White House of the same.  We have a copy of a letter from 
CINCSPACE, the general commanding Air Force Space Command, outlining MSP 
progress and calling it a "key program".  We are told CINCSPACE has put 
in place a formal military requirement for this program, complete with a 
"conops" (concept of operations) and a mention in the Air Force POM 
(Program Objective Memorandum, the Air Force's future budget-planning 
document).  Hamre's office was informed of all this last Friday; they 
apparently chose to ignore these facts and plow ahead regardless. 

Without going into detail, the evidence suggests Hamre subscribes to a 
school of thought that considers radically cheaper decentralized space 
access to be destabilizing, and supports limiting the spread of 
affordable launch technology both here and abroad.  We respectfully 
suggest that basic missile/spacelaunch technology is spreading wide and 
fast despite strenuous efforts to contain it.  Rather than continue 
futile attempts to close the barn door after the horse is already gone, 
perhaps we should devote a bit more attention to outpacing the 
metaphorical horse by developing advanced affordable RLV technology? 


                           - Political Alert - 

We understand that the procedure for overturning line-item vetoes to a 
funding bill is a simple majority up-or-down vote on the whole package.  
We strongly urge all interested parties to contact their Representative 
and both their Senators, and ask them to support a vote to override 
these Defense Appropriation line-item vetoes.  Get contact info at:     (have your local zipcode ready) 

 - Background -

 - What is "Military Spaceplane"?  Nope, it doesn't necessarily have 
wings or jet engines.  What it's supposed to work toward is airplane-
like *operating characteristics* - between-mission turnarounds measured 
in hours not weeks, ground support by tens of mechanics not hundreds of 
white-labcoat types, operating bases that can be set up in days with a 
few truckloads of gear, not multi-year construction projects.  The goal 
is to be able to fly a variety of space missions on hours rather than 
months notice, for a million or so per flight rather than hundreds of 
millions.  In the near-term, this would probably mean a reusable rocket. 

And yes, Virginia, this capability would have commercial as well as 
military applications, and no, NASA X-33 even if it meets every last one 
of its stated goals will fall far short of this mark - NASA apparently 
had problems envisioning anything beyond modest incremental improvements 
to their own current capabilities in setting up X-33.  Some at NASA 
still seem to believe it's not their job to develop RLV technology for 
any missions but their own, with an implicit dismissal of military and 
commercial requirements. 

 - US National Space Policy, September 1996: Some Quotes 

       Access to and use of space is central for preserving peace and 
       protecting U.S. national security as well as civil and commercial 
        (2) The goals of the U.S. space program are to:
            (b) Strengthen and maintain the national security of the 
            United States; 
            (c) Enhance the economic competitiveness, and scientific and 
            technical capabilities of the United States; 
        (4) The U.S. Government will maintain and coordinate separate 
       national security and civil space systems where differing needs 
      National Security Space Guidelines 
       (3) National security space activities shall contribute to U.S. 
       national security by: 
        (a) providing support for the United States' inherent right of 
            self-defense and our defense commitments to allies and 
        (b) deterring, warning, and if necessary, defending against 
            enemy attack; 
        (c) assuring that hostile forces cannot prevent our own use 
            of space; 
        (d) countering, if necessary, space systems and services used 
            for hostile purposes; 
        (e) enhancing operations of U.S. and allied forces; 
        (f) ensuring our ability to conduct military and intelligence 
            space-related activities; 
        (g) satisfying military and intelligence requirements during 
            peace and crisis as well as through all levels of conflict; 
        (h) supporting the activities of national policy makers, the 
            intelligence community, the National Command Authorities, 
            combatant commanders and the military services, other 
            federal officials, and continuity of government operations. 
        (4) Critical capabilities necessary for executing space missions 
       must be assured. This requirement will be considered and 
       implemented at all stages of architecture and system planning, 
       development, acquisition, operation, and support. 
    Intersector Guidelines 
    The following paragraphs identify priority intersector guidance to 
    support major United States space policy objectives. 

   (2) Space Transportation 
   (a) Assuring reliable and affordable access to space through U.S. 
       space transportation capabilities is fundamental to achieving 
       national space policy goals. Therefore, the United States will: 
                 (i) Balance efforts to modernize existing space 
                 transportation capabilities with the need to invest in 
                 the development of improved future capabilities; 
                 (ii) Maintain a strong transportation capability and 
                 technology base to meet national needs for space 
                 transport of personnel and payloads; 
                 (iii) Promote reduction in the cost of current space 
                 transportation systems while improving their 
                 reliability, operability, responsiveness, and safety; 
                 (iv) Foster technology development and demonstration to 
                 support a future decision on the development of next 
                 generation reusable space transportation systems that 
                 greatly reduce the cost of access to space; 


 Space Access Society 

 "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System"
                                        - Robert Anson Heinlein