IV Congress of the Association of Space Explorers
Sofia, Bulgaria
October 3-7, 1988


February 29, 1988

The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations on the National Space Policy initiative released by the White House on February 11. We read the two documents "Fact Sheet on National Space Policy" and "The President's Space Policy and Commercial Space Initiative to Begin the Next Century" with great interest, and commend you for the leadership you are providing on this vital and exciting issue. We submit here for your consideration a specific recommendation which we feel to be consistent with, and at the same time an extension upon, the general terms of your policy initiative. We further believe that the timely and critical nature of our recommendation makes it appropriate to be raised in your upcoming summit meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev this Spring.

By way of introduction, the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) is the international and non-political professional society of astronauts and cosmonauts established in 1985 for the purpose of bringing together in an organization individuals from around the world who have flown in space. The ASE holds an annual Congress of these individuals and is involved in various educational projects which emphasize the importance of space in our human future. We believe international cooperation to be, in the long run, the most effective means by which to maximize human benefit from and within the space environment.

At its 3rd Congress in Mexico City last October, the ASE recommended that the national space programs commit to undertaking a jointly sponsored study to determine the requirements for and the mechanisms for support of a universal space rescue capability. We invite you to consider the following four factors which we believe warrant taking such an initiative at this time.

1. People all over the world believe in saving lives. Current international agreements for rescue on the high seas and in the air result from and underscore this feeling. When people's lives are endangered, there is a strong human motivation to do everything possible to protect them.

2. While ASE members come from sixteen of the nineteen countries so far represented in space, all of these individuals have been up in either the American or the Soviet space programs. In the near future, however, other countries and groups of countries will be developing their own manned space systems. Before we start moving in directions which lack coordination, an initiative should be taken so that rescue considerations may be built into the plans of all of the space programs.

3. The current space cooperation agreement between the US and the USSR is based primarily on unmanned activities. The only cooperative manned space activity with the Soviets we have undertaken to date is the Apollo-Soyuz Project. Pure scientific research is indeed among the highest priorities of space exploration. However, people around the world identify directly and personally with manned space flight and the well-being of astronauts and cosmonauts. Space rescue as an extension of the cooperation you have initiated with the Soviet Union would therefore realize broad public support.

4. Since dangerous situations in space will be inevitable as we spend more and more time there, we should not find ourselves unprepared to respond rapidly and effectively to impending catastrophe. If such an international space rescue is actually executed, people everywhere will laud the foresight and vision that went into preparing for such an occasion.

We hope you will consider these ideas as you prepare for the upcoming summit and as your space policy initiative begins to be realized. Again, congratulations on your accomplishment.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Taylor Wang
Rusty Schweickart

United States Members,
Executive Committee
Association of Space Explorers

cc: Administrator James Fletcher
Admiral Richard Truly
Senate and House Committees
NASA Astronaut Office


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