2025 NASA Race

Background Guide

Written by: Hunter Lantzman and Adam Smith, Case Western Reserve University ​

History of Space Governance

In 1966, the members of the passed the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of , including the and other Celestial Bodies, or the for short. The resolution was primarily considered by the three nations with some at the time: the , the Russian Federation, and the . This treaty built on the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, passed in 1963, but provided some key new provisions to the treaty, namely that: ● “the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind; ● outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States; ● outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means; ● States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner; ● the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes; ● shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind; ● States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities; ● States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and ● States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.”1


Overall, this treaty established a basis for there being no territorial claims in outer space and for the peaceful exploration of space that was set to occur in the late /early .

While these guiding ideals for space treaties have held over the years, the United States in 1969 made it necessary for a slightly revised document to address the the Moon. The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies was passed in 1979, then put into effect in 1984. This agreement “reaffirms and elaborates on many of the provisions of the Outer Space Treaty as applied to the Moon and other celestial bodies, providing that those bodies should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes, that their environments should not be disrupted, that the United Nations should be informed of the location and purpose of any station established on those bodies. In addition, the Agreement provides that the Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind and that an international regime should be established to govern the exploitation of such resources when such exploitation is about to become feasible.”2

Strong precedents have been set in the past for the peaceful uses of outer space and the diplomatic relations in space by nations with outer space capabilities. The committee should strongly consider these UN regulations when taking into account actions in the international sphere, especially negotiating with foreign entities.

History of NASA

Before the establishment of the National and Space Administration (NASA), the agency known as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was established in 1915 to promote aeronautical research in the United States. Through the 1930s and 1940s, NACA provided the US Air Corps and with vital aeronautic breakthroughs and designs for famous planes like the B-17 Flying Fortress and the P-51 Mustang3. With the advent of advanced rocketry and , the US saw a strategic interest in expanding its capabilities into space with the National Aeronautics and Space Act in 1958. Prior to this, the had launched its first , Sputnik4. With the War mounting, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 for the purpose of peaceful

2http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/intromoon-agreement.html 3 https://history.nasa.gov/naca/overview.html 4https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/explorer/sputnik-20071002.html

civilian space applications. NASA began its mandate with 8,000 employees, $100 million in annual budget, and 5 research laboratories5.

One of NASA’s earliest missions, Project , was to get a person into ​ ​ orbit as a scientific show of force against the USSR. Adapted from the US Air Force’s Man in Space Soonest program, NASA began training test pilots for this important space milestone. While history was made for the first space orbit by Soviet cosmonaut in April 1961, former pilot became the first American in space in , and ,the first American to orbit the Earth in February 19626. ended in 1963. Not only had it ​ ​ paved the way for scientific excellence seen in later NASA programs, but it also served as a national source of pride, compared to the previous decade which saw serious doubts if NASA could produce results.

As a response to the growing dominance of the , NASA launched and the Program in 1961. President John F. ​ ​ Kennedy was perhaps the US’s biggest proponent of , realizing its potential for both cooperation and competition between the world’s two superpowers. On May 25th, 1961, Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress to send a man to the moon7. Between 1961 and 1967, the operating budget of NASA grew over 400%, reaching 4.4% of the US’ national budget in 19668. While Project Gemini had the objectives of extending the duration of manned Earth orbit ​ and , the had the lofty goal of setting a man on the moon. Project Gemini resulted in the first American to do an extravehicular walk ​ ​ outside a spacecraft in 1965, paving the way for a manned lunar landing.

Despite Project Gemini’s great successes, the mission became the ​ ​ first setback for the program. In , a cabin in the Apollo 1 resulted in the death of the three crew members and launched a massive Congressional investigation into NASA’s safety procedures. As a result of the investigation, Congress formed the Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) to prevent additional accidents in future NASA missions9. The mission in 1968 saw the first manned mission in orbit around the Moon along with two more successful missions for flight maneuvers. By , Neil , Buzz , and Michael became the three member team to first set foot upon the moon. In the six subsequent Apollo space flights, twelve more men would walk on the moon, collecting lunar samples and taking other lunar data. In 1972, the became the final mission to land on the lunar surface.

5 "T. KEITH GLENNAN". NASA. , 2006. ​ ​ 6https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mercury/missions/program-toc.html 7https://www.nasa.gov/feature/john-f-kennedy-and-nasa 8https://www.nasa.gov/feature/john-f-kennedy-and-nasa 9 https://www.space.com/17338-apollo-1.html

The Apollo program is regarded as one of humanity’s greatest technological achievements at the time. It was also one of the costliest American programs, accounting for $213 billion dollars, adjusted for inflation10.

The following years saw the development of permanent space laboratories, like in 1973 and the joint Apollo- test project in 1975. These projects would serve as a prelude towards the development of the International (ISS) in 1993 as a joint project between the , Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, as well as the joint Soviet/Russian - American modules. The project launched in 1993, and the first sections of the station were set up in November 1998. The ISS serves as the premier international laboratory for space experimentation, with additional sections slated for addition in 2019.

Topics for Concern

Space Force

On July 18, 2018, President Donald J. Trump announced the creation of what he calls the “” in front of the , set to be a sixth force of the United States. While the United States military does work in space currently, using and other tracking technologies to assist troops on the ground and in the air, the Space Force, while vaguely defined, would have a more specific purpose. The Space Force “would be much more focused on imposing ​ military influence on current space traffic, which is mostly unmanned spacecraft (satellites, by and large), and also consolidating the way items in space are used to guide and assist military operations on the surface of the .”11 Having a devoted branch of the military to assist with space defense would still technically fall under the purview of NASA due to its interstellar capacity.

So why the Space Force? Reports from the US government state that space is a “war-fighting domain”12, and that other nations such as Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China are already treating it as such. While no country is able to stock weapons in space, per UN treaties, some nations have been able to circumvent this to do light military testing on their own satellites. In 2007, for example, China was able to shoot down their own satellite, as part of a military exercise.13 Nations have the ability to conduct warfare in space, an important consideration to take into account when pursuing international action.

10https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/Apollo_18-16_Apollo_Program_Budget_Appropriations.htm 11https://www.cnet.com/news/trump-space-force-is-moving-forward-heres-what-you-need-to-know 12 Ibid. 13https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Chinese_anti-satellite_missile_test

The Space Force, while still conceptual at this point, has some private supporters. Elon Musk has come out in favor of a US Space Force, citing that it would be useful for not only military dominance, which seems to be the Trump administration’s goal. Musk claims that “a space force would be necessary for ‘defense in space’ and that it ‘could be pretty helpful for maybe expanding our civilization.’”14

The cost of a potential expansion into a Space Force should be heeded as well. Early estimates from United States documentation are that “The Air Force estimates that the first year ‘additive costs’ associated with establishing the new in the 2020 fiscal year, including the creation of a headquarters, would amount to $3.32 billion. The document also estimates that the Space Force will oversee some 13,000 personnel when it is officially launched.”15


From Roswell to , from E.T. to Martians, there is a long history of concern with in the United States and worldwide. Perhaps the important scientific discussion of the subject was by in the 1960s. Before the United States had even reached the moon, Frank Drake came up with the famous (seen below) to calculate N, or the number of civilizations within our with whom communication may be possible.16

While there is a large variation in the ways an answer can be reached in this calculation, it seems likely that there would be at least one other civilization in our galaxy with whom communication is possible. While the equation is merely an estimation, there are US agencies working on the issue of extraterrestrial life currently. One such predominant agency is the SETI Institute, out of Mountain View, . SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) works with NASA as a primary research contributor, and has large-scale telescope setups in California specifically searching for extraterrestrial life. These Allen Telescope Arrays (ATA) are “embarking upon a two-year survey of tens of thousands of red dwarf stars, which have many characteristics that make them prime locales in the search for intelligent life. The Institute also uses the ATA to examine newly-discovered that are found in the red dwarf’s habitable zone. There are likely to be tens of billions of such worlds in our galaxy.”17

14https://thehill.com/policy/defense/414776-elon-musk-backs-trump-on-space-force-i-actually-like-it 15https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/17/politics/trump-space-force-cost/index.html 16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation 17https://www.seti.org/seti-institute/Search-Extraterrestrial-Intelligence

Martian Exploration and Habitation

The idea of Martian colonization has existed as a conception in the minds of fiction writers since the . ’ relative similarity to Earth has given rise towards the hope of establishing permanent settlements on the planet. While NASA has sent the and landers to the surface of the Red Planet as early as 1975, it has never engaged in exploration. Apart from robotic surficial exploration, low orbit operations such as Mars Global and Mars Odyssey in 1999-2001 have given researchers information about surface and ​ volcanic activity18. In 2012, a major breakthrough occurred with rover, . It provided valuable data into Mars’ topology, , and potential for ​ microbial life. The most recent exploration to Mars is NASA’s InSight mission ​ ​ which serves as a stationary scientific observatory with seismic detection, heat sensors, and gyroscopic equipment to investigate Mars’ interior19. The next major Martian milestone will be human exploration of its surface. The last manned surface exploration to any terrestrial body was in 1972. However, human exploration does not come without significant risk. Compared to , human exploration requires significant training time, dedicated life-support modules, and deep psychological fortitude. With the advent of advanced AI decision making and nanocomputing, it is both logistically easier and less costly to send probes to celestial bodies, compared to humans20. The greatest barriers to human exploration are environmental threats. These include high levels of radiation, low surface , and unsuitable climate conditions. Mars’ lack of a breathable, oxic atmosphere can be tied to atmospheric escape - a phenomenon when solar blows off a planet’s atmospheric gases21. Any solutions towards habitation on the Red Planet must solve these adverse conditions and must also take into account methods which sustainably support inhabitants with energy, food, and breathable . Any attempt towards Martian habitation also requires an inordinately large budget, much too large for any one

18https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/a-history-of-missions-to-mars/ 19 Ibid. 20https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/21/world/mars-exploration-fast-facts/index.html 21https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a22590158/mars-houses-nasa-3d-printing/

country or private company to support alone without the promise of benefit. Although it is unlikely that we will see permanent habitation of Mars in this century, a provisional research colony would certainly be a significant and realistic step forward Martian exploration in this decade.

Scarcity of Earth Orbit Sites

One of the growing international concerns is with increasingly scarce orbital sites around Earth. (LEO) satellites occupy the space above Earth from 400-1000 miles22. LEO satellites are predominantly used for telecommunications with SpaceX, LeoSat, and OneWeb as the primary operators of these satellites. Private companies interested in setting up satellite networks pay these space transportation businesses to manage the delivery and maintenance of their equipment23. With an increasing demand for wireless infrastructure in developing countries, the private sector has seen the entrance of many new satellite startups. LEO’s proximity to Earth’s surface primarily makes it cheaper to launch, but it also decreases latency time for communication with the satellite. Despite the tremendous economic satellite poses, there are growing concerns about the available space for more and more satellites in LEO. Given the possibility of increased collisions and limited space, orbital site scarcity poses a serious problem. In 1978, NASA scientist Donald Kessler theorized that a high of space clutter would result in an escalating series of collisions, rendering LEO unusable. This theory is known as ablation cascading or, more commonly, as the Kessler Effect24. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission regulates LEO satellites to make sure that they exit Low Earth Orbit after they have expired to reduce debris. However, not every country has this level of regulation for their spacecraft. Currently, there are no international treaties regarding the procedure for LEO sites. Space clutter is one of the most exigent threats to existing telecom networks and future space missions. According to NASA in 2012, more than 22,000 pieces of debris are estimated to occupy LEO. For instance, an incident occurred in 2009 when a deactivated Russian satellite collided with an Iridium telecom satellite, resulting in both being destroyed25. Incidences like these will only become commonplace in the future with more and more satellites being launched. In this committee, it is a very real possibility that NASA could come in conflict with private or international enterprises with competing interests for LEO sites. There are real security concerns about foreign actors using orbital debris as “space

22https://www.techopedia.com/definition/8044/low-earth-orbit-leo 23https://blog.bliley.com/5-faq-answers-new-space-leo-satellite-constellations 24https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessler_syndrome 25https://www.stripes.com/news/space-clutter-a-growing-concern-for-pentagon-1.172498

bullets” to target critical telecom and defense infrastructure26. It is imperative to develop sustainable methods for the use of the Low Earth Orbit in perpetuity.



Jason Guo: Administrator of International and Interagency Affairs After heroically serving in the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, Jason Guo continued to serve his country abroad, serving for three years as the United States Ambassador to Belgium before assuming his current position with NASA in 2022. Guo is responsible for keeping open communication with other space agencies as well as foreign governments, using his scientific knowledge and diplomatic knowhow to further the agency’s goals. Guo is a proud cat owner; his pet cat, Lil’ Buddy, is the subject of the popular feline instagram account, @extrapurrestrial.

Barbara Snyder: Administrator for Governmental and Legislative Affairs Barbara “Babs” Snyder is no stranger to government bootlicking, starting her short-lived political career as an intern with the 1989 Bush Administration. After an unsuccessful senatorial bid of her own, Snyder settled for influencing Congress from the outside. Snyder acts as a liaison to Congress for all NASA activity and testifies to congressional committees to secure funding and maintain transparency. She is known to be quite spartan with her underlings, who do her bidding more out of fear than respect.

Sydney Olney: Inspector General A former forensic accountant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sydney Olney has no tolerance for corruption. She became the youngest Inspector General in NASA history just this year, and is still learning to wield the immense power she now holds. Olney is a third-party investigative body responsible for auditing NASA finances and exposing any actions that perpetuate financial fraud, waste or abuse. She is also an active alumnus of her old boarding school, Phillips Academy Andover.

Sruthi Venkatachalam: Chief Engineer Before joining NASA, England native Sruthi Venkatachalam worked closely with Elon Musk as Chief Engineer on many of his most esteemed (and notorious) projects. Never seen without her flashy Tesla Z, her grandiosity is only matched by her intelligence and efficiency in the workplace. Venkatachalam is in charge of the creation of the NASA Department’s annual strategic plan and oversees the design of all engineering projects. She dotes fiercely on her grandson, a successful child actor.

Adam Smith: Chief Science Officer NASA was fortunate to hire Adam Smith after he decided to leave his tenured position The Department for a more active career. A professor by trade, he brings a level of scholarly curiosity and academic pretension to projects in equal measure. Smith is tasked with keeping a watchful on all of NASA’s mission research activity and interpreting research data for the use of other

NASA departments. After he earned his tenure, he lost his motivation and briefly made a splash in the Chicago Super Smash Brothers Melee tournament scene under the pseudonym “SmashDad”.

Nathan Callithen: Chief Financial Officer Ex- playboy Nathan Callithen’s short two years as Chief Financial Officer have given way to unprecedented monetary success for NASA. Some praise him as a financial visionary, but his critics would argue that his climb to the top is too good to be true. Given their naturally opposing roles and incongruent personalities, Callithen has a strained relationship with Sydney Olney. He controls NASA’s accounting and budget recommendations. Callithen enjoys sports betting when he’s not busy.

Colby Saxton: Chief Information Officer Earning a BA in Science from The California Institute of Technology and an MBA from , Colby Saxton was with Facebook during their 2018 information leaks and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ensuing trial. Dismayed at his company’s incompetency, he joined NASA the following year. As CIO, Saxton is responsible for internal info regulation, cybersecurity, and data server maintenance. In his free time, Colby is a self-identifying, semi-professional poker player who has earned the ire and admiration of the casinos he frequents.

Elliott Klein: Director of the Jet Propulsion Lab Elliot Klein spent six years earning his Bachelor’s degree, switching his major four times before finally settling on mechanical engineering. He then quickly earned his M.E. from the University of Rochester with an emphasis on neural engineering. The Jet Propulsion Lab carries out space and robotics missions, determines flight trajectory for future missions, and studies and . In addition, Klein manages the deep space communication network, which is used to keep in contact with deep space aircrafts. He is a big fan of Phil Collins, and owns a signed copy of an original “No Jacket Required” album.

Director of the : Rishik Hombal Rishik Hombal only ever earned a BS in Communications, unusual for a high-ranking NASA employee. He did, however, gain significant experience in Washington as a senate aide for the US Senate Subcommittee on Operations, Safety, and Security. Currently, Hombal manages NASA facilities and activities at the Kennedy . He also oversees a team of civil servants and contractors who operate on numerous projects at the Center. His ageing parents own a large citrus farm and spend time volunteering at crocodile and alligator rehabilitation centers.

Director of the : Madison Wong Madison Wong was an intern at Bear Stearns during the 2008 Subprime Mortgage Crisis before earning her MBA from . At the Ames Research Center, she leads four technology research and development divisions, including two of NASA's critical infrastructure assets: the consolidated arc jet testing complex and the agency's primary supercomputing facility. Wong was a highly skilled kite-surfer until a shark attack left her hospitalized for several months; she married professional kite-surfer Dieter Becker-Wulff soon after.

Sidd Hariharan: Director of the When Sidd Hariharan applied to NASA, he didn’t think he would be stuck in for the better part of a decade. Unfortunately for him, he’s good at his job, which is to manage aeronautical engineering and zero gravity research endeavors. Furthermore, he is facilitates educational outreach between the center and low-income students. is His dream is to become the new owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers; as a result, he has a one-sided rivalry with Dan . His wife’s sister, Shin-Ae Yoo, is a self-made tech billionaire, but the two have been estranged for almost twenty years.

Ashley Watts: Director of the A former and Miss America contestant, Ashley Watts took over as the Director of the Johnson Space Center in 2010 a few years after giving birth to her youngest child. She directs all space communications between the Center and off-earth astronauts, and provides instructions to be relayed to the astronauts should something go seriously wrong. Without the Johnson Space Center, almost missions would likely spiral into chaos. Ashley is also a trustee of My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter for women and children.

Administrator of the Office of Communications: Lance Now in possession of a cushy office job, Lance Fowler was once a popular vlogger in the golden age of Youtube. After his controversial “I Pranked a Homeless Person!” video marked him as the most hated man of 2019, surpassing even Jake and Logan Paul’s notoriety. He finally put his MBA to use and was hired as an administrative assistant at NASA. Now, in his current position, Fowler promotes NASA’s public and spreads news of any developments in research or organization . He’s considered making a comeback, but given the confidentiality that his job sometimes requires, he is indecisive.

Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations: Ben Goldberg A first generation American, Ben Goldberg spent several long nights as a bartender earning tips to put himself through college and graduate school. He knows just as much about space as he does about mixing drinks (and he knows a

lot). Goldberg provides the agency with leadership and management of NASA space ​ operations related to human exploration in and beyond low-Earth orbit. Aside from making a mean cocktail, Goldberg is a staunch believer in the vegan diet and runs an online healthy living blog with a small following.

Director of Human Resources and Capital: Brian H. Mandel Brian H. Mandel is the author of several books on workplace equity and contributes regularly to esteemed publications such as The New Yorker and . As Director of Human Resources and Capital, Mandel ensures equitable employment practices and facilitates a safe and productive professional environment. All workplace complaints of discrimination or sexual harassment are thoroughly investigated by his office and addressed accordingly. He plays the banjo in a local folk band with a few of his work buddies, occasionally traveling to neighboring counties to perform at summer music festivals.

Chairperson of Private Sector Outreach: Elon Musk After selling Tesla to a competitor, his financial power significantly weakened, Elon Musk was hired by NASA to develop new and beneficial ways to interact with the private sector in the pursuit of effective organization diplomacy. Unable to fund his Mars ventures by himself, Musk has been searching intently for investors to him. After a series of failed relationships, the billionaire was recently spotted with a mystery woman rumored to be in the marketing profession. Whether or not these rumors can be trusted will depend largely upon confirmation from Musk.