Ehrenfreund, Pascale; McKay, Chris; Rummel, John D.; Foing, Bernard H.; Neal, Clive R.; Masson-Zwaan, Tanja; Ansdell, Megan; Peter, Nicolas; Zarnecki, John; Mackwell, Steve; Perino, Maria Antionetta; Billings, Linda; Mankins, John and Race, Margaret
Toward a global space exploration program: a stepping stone approach.
Advances in Space Research, 49(1),
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In response to the growing importance of space exploration in future planning, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Panel on Exploration (PEX) was chartered to provide independent scientific advice to support the development of exploration programs and to safeguard the potential scientific assets of solar system objects. In this report, PEX elaborates a stepwise approach to achieve a new level of space cooperation that can help develop world-wide capabilities in space science and exploration and support a transition that will lead to a global space exploration program. The proposed stepping stones are intended to transcend cross-cultural barriers, leading to the development of technical interfaces and shared legal frameworks and fostering coordination and cooperation on a broad front. Input for this report was drawn from expertise provided by COSPAR Associates within the international community and via the contacts they maintain in various scientific entities. The report provides a summary and synthesis of science roadmaps and recommendations for planetary exploration produced by many national and international working groups, aiming to encourage and exploit synergies among similar programs. While science and technology represent the core and, often, the drivers for space exploration, several other disciplines and their stakeholders (Earth science, space law, and others) should be more robustly interlinked and involved than they have been to date. The report argues that a shared vision is crucial to this linkage, and to providing a direction that enables new countries and stakeholders to join and engage in the overall space exploration effort. Building a basic space technology capacity within a wider range of countries, ensuring new actors in space act responsibly, and increasing public awareness and engagement are concrete steps that can provide a broader interest in space exploration, worldwide, and build a solid basis for program sustainability. By engaging developing countries and emerging space nations in an international space exploration program, it will be possible to create a critical bottom-up support structure to support program continuity in the development and execution of future global space exploration frameworks. With a focus on stepping stones, COSPAR can support a global space exploration program that stimulates scientists in current and emerging spacefaring nations, and that will invite those in developing countries to participate—pursuing research aimed at answering outstanding questions about the origins and evolution of our solar system and life on Earth (and possibly elsewhere). COSPAR, in cooperation with national and international science foundations and space-related organizations, will advocate this stepping stone approach to enhance future cooperative space exploration efforts.
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