Monday, August 13, 2012

Question 7 -- International Collaboration

Should the United States conduct future human space exploration efforts on its own, like the Apollo program, or should the United States conduct such efforts as collaborative international efforts, like the International Space Station? If you recommend the latter approach, should the United States insist on taking the lead role? Why?

History shows that scientific collaboration has customarily risen above the political fray and is in effect 'border-less'. Examples abound throughout history, from the earliest cross-border collaborations of the The-Royal-Society to the Apollo-Soyuz experiments to the present day Higgs boson collaboration.

Professional-Organizations that exists today for every field of engineering and chemistry, the sciences, medicine and education, shows the international scope of science. The rosters of the IEEE, ACS, ISO, SAE, to name just a few of these organizations, are filled with American and non-American members. Information has traditionally flowed freely among these professionals, discoveries are peer reviewed and hailed globally.

Collaboration is a scientific way-of-life.

NASA should continue to invite partners for *routine* [see-last-paragraph-question#8] missions of scientific discovery. These partnerships should ideally include proportional-sharing of the cost, expertise, and responsibility. The rewards benefits the world.

Also ideally, American *scientific-missions* would include instruments and/or personnel from non-American entities, and reciprocally, missions led by our offshore partners would carry American instruments and one day include American astronauts.

American leadership in space exploration is indisputable, a fact acknowledged internationally, and as such there will be few if any objections to American commanded missions for any foreseeable shared-missions. However, if/when mission circumstances arise that such insistence is necessary, it must be reasoned upon clear and accepted sets of mission parameters.

Scientific collaboration as a diplomatic way-of-life?

NASA has an largely unused potential as a powerful-diplomatic-toolkit, not only with friends in the international community but also foes on the world-stage.

Ingratiating ourselves with less-than-friendly entities need not cost much more than the sharing of earth-science data. Diplomatic-impasses with advanced-nations might be 'moved-forward' with offers to 'reset' with shared aeronautical or space-based experiments and missions.

While those are simplistic, space-constrained suggestions, consider this, NASA can be the tool we use to realize our vision for the world.


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