1.2 Merging Conflicting Interests
― 対立する利害を融合させる ―

During 1970, NASAs leaders hoped to secure White House approval for developing a fully reusable vehicle to provide routine and low cost manned access to space. However, the staff of the White House Office of Management and Budget, charged by Nixon with reducing NASAs budget, was skep-tical of the value of manned space flight, especially given its high costs. To overcome these objections, NASA turned to justifying the Space Shuttle on economic grounds. If the same vehicle, NASA argued, launched all government and private sector payloads and if that vehicle were reusable, then the total costs of launching and maintaining satellites could be dramatically reduced. Such an economic argument, however, hinged on the willingness of the Department of Defense to use the Shuttle to place national security pay-loads in orbit. When combined, commercial, scientific, and national security payloads would require 50 Space Shuttle missions per year. This was enough to justify ュ at least on paper ュ investing in the Shuttle.

Meeting the militarys perceived needs while also keeping the cost of missions low posed tremendous technological hurdles. The Department of Defense wanted the Shuttle to carry a 40,000-pound payload in a 60-foot-long payload bay and, on some missions, launch and return to a West Coast launch site after a single polar orbit. Since the Earths surface ュ including the runway on which the Shuttle was to land ュ would rotate during that orbit, the Shuttle would need to maneuver 1,100 miles to the east during re-entry. This "cross-range" requirement meant the Orbiter required large delta-shaped wings and a more robust thermal protection system to shield it from the heat of re-entry.

Developing a vehicle that could conduct a wide variety of missions, and do so cost-effectively, demanded a revolution in space technology. The Space Shuttle would be the first reus-able spacecraft, the first to have wings, and the first with a reus-able thermal protection system. Further, the Shuttle would be the first to fly with reusable, high-pressure hydrogen/oxygen engines, and the first winged vehicle to transition from orbital speed to a hypersonic glide during re-entry. Even as the design grew in technical complexity, the Office of Management and Budget forced NASA to keep ュ or at least promise to keep ュ the Shuttles development and operating costs low. In May 1971, NASA was told that it could count on a maximum of $5 billion spread over five years for any new development program. This budget ceiling forced NASA to give up its hope of building a fully reusable two-stage vehicle and kicked off an intense six-month search for an alternate design. In the course of selling the Space Shuttle Program within these budget limitations, and therefore guaranteeing itself a viable post-Apollo future, NASA made bold claims about the expected savings to be derived from revolutionary technologies not yet developed. At the start of 1972, NASA leaders told the White House that for $5.15 billion they could develop a Space Shuttle that would meet all performance requirements, have a lifetime of 100 missions per vehicle, and cost $7.7 million per flight.*4 All the while, many people, particularly those at the White House Office of Management and Budget, knew NASAs in-house and external economic studies were overly optimistic.*5
これらの幅の広いミッションをこなすことができる機体を開発し、なおかつそれをコスト的に効果的なものとするためには、宇宙技術の革命が必要でした。スペースシャトルは最初の再使用型宇宙船であり、翼を持った最初の宇宙船であり、最初の再利用型の耐熱システムをもつことになります。さらに、シャトルは再利用可能な高圧水素/酸素エンジンを持ち、再突入時には軌道速度から超音速へと移行しながら滑空する最初の翼をもった乗り物でした。しかし、設計が技術的どんどん複雑なものになっていくにもかかわらず、行政予算管理局はNASAにシャトルの開発と運用のコストを低いままに保たせる、もしくは保つことを約束させようとしました。1971年5月、NASAは今後5年間、どんな開発プログラムを行うにしても、合計5,000,000ドルを超える予算は与えないと宣告されます。この予算の上限は、NASAに完全に再使用できる2段構成の機体を諦めさせ、他の案を検討するためにさらに6ヶ月の研究を強いることになりました。これらの予算制限の中でスペースシャトルプログラムを売り込む過程で、シャトルをポストアポロの確実な未来として保障するために、NASAは大胆な主張をしました。NASAはいまだ開発されていない革命的な技術から期待されるコストの節約を強調したのです。1972年の始めには、NASAはホワイトハウスに対して、全ての性能要求を満たすスペースシャトルをを5,150,000ドルで開発できるといいました。これは、1機あたり100回のミッションをこなす寿命をもち、一回の飛行にかかるコストが7,700,000ドルというものです。*4 この間、多くの人々―特にホワイトハウスの行政予算管理局は、NASA内外のコストに関する検討があまりに楽観的すぎることを知っていました。*5

Those in favor of the Shuttle program eventually won the day. On January 5, 1972, President Nixon announced that the Shuttle would be "designed to help transform the space frontier of the 1970s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980s and 90s. This system will center on a space vehicle that can shuttle repeatedly from Earth to orbit and back. It will revolutionize transportation into near space, by routinizing it. [emphasis added]"*6 Some-what ironically, the President based his decision on grounds very different from those vigorously debated by NASA and the White House budget and science offices. Rather than focusing on the intricacies of cost/benefit projections, Nixon was swayed by the political benefits of increasing employment in key states by initiating a major new aerospace program in the 1972 election year, and by a geopolitical calculation articulated most clearly by NASA Administrator James Fletcher. One month before the decision, Fletcher wrote a memo to the White House stating, "For the U.S. not to be in space, while others do have men in space, is unthinkable, and a position which America cannot accept."*7

The cost projections Nixon had ignored were not forgotten by his budget aides, or by Congress. A $5.5 billion ceiling imposed by the Office of Management and Budget led NASA to make a number of tradeoffs that achieved savings in the short term but produced a vehicle that had higher operational costs and greater risks than promised. One example was the question of whether the "strap-on" boosters would use liquid or solid propellants. Even though they had higher projected operational costs, solid-rocket boosters were chosen largely because they were less expensive to develop, making the Shuttle the first piloted spacecraft to use solid boosters. And since NASA believed that the Space Shuttle would be far safer than any other spacecraft, the agency accepted a design with no crew escape system (see Chapter 10.)

The commitments NASA made during the policy process drove a design aimed at satisfying conflicting requirements: large payloads and cross-range capability, but also low development costs and the even lower operating costs of a "routine" system. Over the past 22 years, the resulting vehicle has proved difficult and costly to operate, riskier than expected, and, on two occasions, deadly.

It is the Boards view that, in retrospect, the increased complexity of a Shuttle designed to be all things to all people created inherently greater risks than if more realistic technical goals had been set at the start. Designing a reusable spacecraft that is also cost-effective is a daunting engineering challenge; doing so on a tightly constrained budget is even more difficult. Nevertheless, the remarkable system we have today is a reflection of the tremendous engineering expertise and dedication of the workforce that designed and built the Space Shuttle within the constraints it was given.

In the end, the greatest compromise NASA made was not so much with any particular element of the technical design, but rather with the premise of the vehicle itself. NASA promised it could develop a Shuttle that would be launched almost on demand and would fly many missions each year. Throughout the history of the program, a gap has persisted between the NASA has used to market the Space Shuttle and operational reality, leading to an enduring image of the Shuttle as capable of safely and routinely carrying out missions with little risk.
NASAの大きな妥協は、技術的な設計の特定のある部分というより、むしろシャトルの前提そのものにありました。NASAはシャトルを好きなときに打ち上げられ、毎年何回もの打上げをこなすことができるものとして開発すると約束しました。シャトルプログラムの歴史を通じて、NASAがスペースシャトルを売り込むために使ったレトリック― シャトルが安全で継続的に、わずかなリスクでミッションを行うことができるというという永続的なイメージ ―と現実の運用のギャップが無くなることはありませんでした。