Introduction to the Section on Space Mission Planning

Image: ANP Jupiter Station, by Don Davis – Enzmann Archive Images

Dr. Robert Duncan- Enzmann

This conference article is reprinted from the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Volume 140, Art. 1, Pages 1-683 published by the Academy December 16th, 1966, page 449.

The Mission Planning Section is epitomized by the question: “How may we best spend terrestrial resources, equipment, and men, in space endeavors?” The endeavors may be of the scope of an Apollo Project to land men on the Moon, or just upper atmospheric sounding rockets. Regardless of the size of the projects, what is the most effective way to implement them. Space Mission Planning is in its infancy, but it is going through a swift forced growth. The infant should be in its productive youth in a surprisingly short time. In this methods section, the impingement of space activities on every aspect of human society is recognized by the presence of papers from the academic community, and touching fields from kindergarten to post graduate institutions. It may have been the first time that some of these varied contributions have presented their views in conjunction with space technologists. All concerned have shown what the exploration of space might mean to their vocational field and have suggested how this might influence the exploration of space (space spending) and might in turn be influenced by the results of space exploration and exploitation (return on spending).

The Mission Planning Section is concerned with discernable trends in future space activities, such as: transportation capabilities for multi-mission exploration, methods of optimizing resource allocations, worth analysis based on direct gains (information) and indirect gains (such as accelerated automation), global meteorological systems, supranational agreements, and the emancipation of mankind first from geocentric, then heliocentric confinement.

When the writer was a child, he often awoke in Bath, Maine, to the clip clop of horses in the cobbled streets. Later he flew in fabric covered aircraft. The growth of human capital, education, technological capital, and the increasingly efficient use of natural resources today as compared with those years before World War II, is awesome. It will be interesting, indeed, to see what the decades between now and the year 2000 will bring in the way of further growth. The population of the United States is increasing at somewhat less than 4 million per year. This will perhaps ad 140 million souls to our population by 2000 AD, a number equivalent to the teeming China of 1920! The proportion of educated people will continue to increase. the Machines available to this population will be more efficient and more highly automated than those of today. This should mean an enormous increase of wealth per capita. The gross national product is about $670 billion; it could well reach the equivalent of 2,000 billion 1965-commodity-dollars in the year 2000 AD. We currently spend something less than 1% of our gross national product for space; a continuation at this level could man a rise to 20 billion per annum by the year 2000 AD.

The manned space effort is the Dawn of a New Era. Once the ‘urbanization of space’ commences in earnest – perhaps between 1975 and 1985 – the changes in civilization will be as revolutionary as the introduction of textile mills, illumination, rail transport, automotive transport, etc. were. Should planetary engineering probe feasible, 10% of a gross national product could be devoted to space in the year 2000 AD. This could mean an expenditure of 200 billion per annum by this country alone. It would be worth it, if a planet like Venus could be made habitable. The investor in ‘space’ should not look for some special stock, but to the entire economy, for it is the so-called second and third-tier spending that will reflect space prosperity.

In conclusion: I wonder how soon Solar System mission planning for information gain will be supplanted by the need for ‘on location; engineering planning for later generations of unmanned machines, human exploration, and human colonization.