Taking immediate steps

The full report of the Space Science Summer Study, Review of Space Research, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, was transmitted to NASA Administrator James Webb on 6 January 1963.11 Underlining the role of man in space exploration, the report concluded:

"Manned exploration of space is science in space, for man will go with the instruments that he has designed to supplement his capabilities ... to observe what is there, and to measure and describe the phenomena in terms that his scientific colleagues will clearly understand. A scientifically trained and orientated man will be essential for this purpose." The report urged that "trained scientist-observers be assigned to important roles in future US space missions," and asked NASA to take immediate steps to train scientists for space investigations. These steps included assigning a "scientist-astronaut" to each Apollo (lunar mission) crew to maximise the scientific return from each expedition (this only occurred on Apollo 17) and assigning meteorologists to co-pilot future manned orbiting space observatories in support of Earth resources and observation experiments, perhaps as early as the two-man Gemini missions planned for 1964. They also recommended training biologists to participate in the first manned flights to Mars (to assist in the search for life on the Red Planet) and preparing astronomers for the first use of space-based telescopes and astronomical platforms, and to assist in their maintenance and modification (as per the Hubble Space Telescope Service missions).

The report also urged the maximum possible participation of scientists in all space missions and outlined four areas of specific training for different categories within the scientist-astronaut programme:

Scientist-Astronauts would combine the experiences and resourcefulness of both professional scientists and trained astronauts (which, in the 1960s, included jet pilot qualifications for all NASA astronaut trainees).

Scientist-Passengers would include experienced and leading scientists in their fields, with adequate training in critical and emergency spacecraft operations, but principally focused on specific science mission objectives, payloads or experiments on a given mission (this would eventually evolve into the Shuttle payload specialist role over a decade later).

Astronaut-Observers would be career (pilot) astronauts with varying degrees of speciality training in scientific observations (similar to the pilot-astronauts, who trained in geology for the Apollo landing missions and in solar observation and Earth resources for the Skylab missions).

Ground Scientists would be leading scientists in specific fields, collaborating with the flight crew to accomplish specific mission goals. These could be non-astronaut support roles, but might also be a non-flight astronaut assignment (this evolved into the mission scientist concept for Apollo and Skylab missions in the 1970s).

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