73. Memorandum From the Acting Chairman of the National Security Council Undersecretaries Committee (Johnson) to President Nixon1 2


  • International Space Cooperation—Technology and Launch Assistance

The Ad Hoc Committee on International Space Cooperation, which was established at your direction under NSSM 72, has completed a review of policies respecting cooperation with other countries in space technology. The Ad Hoc Committee’s report is forwarded herewith (Annex D).

In reviewing the Ad Hoc Committee’s conclusions, the Under Secretaries Committee* has given special consideration to the following factors:

  • —Although the United States has long been committed to cooperation with other countries in space activities for peaceful purposes, there is no statement of specific objectives to provide guidance for the several interested agencies.
  • —Although we have a policy on providing launch assistance to Western European countries, there is no overall policy on launch assistance.
  • —Although our policies on cooperation in space technology are adequate for many purposes, certain aspects of these policies—some of which date from the mid 1960’s—have been overtaken by changing conditions.
  • —As opportunities for cooperation in the development of new space technology and new space systems emerge in our post-Apollo programs and in the space programs of other advanced countries, there is a growing need to assess these opportunities, their values and costs, and the conditions under which cooperation would or would not serve our national interests.

The purpose of the attached report and the recommendations below is to provide a basis for decisions which fully reflect the foregoing factors. The recommendations are supported by all members of this Committee except in specific instances noted below. If you approve these recommendations, they would be implemented in a manner consistent with your decision of June 1, 1972, that—apart from such tasks as the Europeans might perform in connection with development of the space transportation system—future joint programs should stress joint payload and utilization activities and that joint development and production in the non-payload area not be undertaken.

Objectives of Space Cooperation

A proposed statement of U.S. objectives in space cooperation is presented in Annex A. This would clarify our objectives in terms of four areas of the national interest:

  • —advancement of science and technology;
  • —furtherance of our foreign policy;
  • —enhancing national security; and
  • —obtaining economic advantage.

Objectives in these areas are interdependent. The desirability of each cooperative space activity should be judged within the framework of all objectives.

Since successful cooperation requires the engagement of significant interests of all parties, we must expect to give as well as gain in any specific cooperative effort. On the basis of the proposed objectives, we can usefully proceed with cooperation of mutual value to ourselves and others—including cooperation in the development of space technology in cases where, substantial inputs may be made from abroad and where careful controls (discussed elsewhere in this memorandum) are observed.

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The Under Secretaries Committee recommends that you approve the proposed statement of objectives (Annex A) as the basis for encouraging cooperation, including cooperation in space technology projects of mutual value to the U.S. and others.

Approve ________
Disapprove _______

Launch Assistance

Our willingness to provide assurance that we will assist in launching foreign satellites can influence the decisions of other countries concerning their space programs. This, in turn, can affect our own program under the following circumstances:

  • —Where a substantial portion of the resources and effort which other countries allocate to space activities might be committed to collaboration with us instead of being reserved for development of their own launch capabilities; or
  • —Where foreign space projects of interest to us may be adversely affected by uncertainty as to the availability of launch services.

In view of these effects on our own space activities and interests and in view of the relevance of U.S. launch assistance to achieving a number of the proposed objectives for cooperation in space activities, we believe the U.S. should provide assurance of launch assistance wherever reasonable and practical to do so.

In September 1971 we clarified our position on this matter in the case of member countries of the European Space Conference.* This position provides assurance of launch assistance as consistent with our obligations under relevant international agreements and arrangements, our national security interests, and relevant U.S. laws.

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We believe the position adopted in the case of member countries of the European Space Conference is applicable as the overall U.S. policy on launch assistance for all countries and international organizations. Because of our special interest in communications satellites, the policy should not be extended to countries outside of the European Space Community until the definitive arrangements for Intelsat come into force (between April 1972 and February 1973). Meanwhile, should such countries request assistance in launching communications satellites, we would continue to be guided by NSAM 338 (July 12, 1967), which imposed limitations on assistance for this purpose.

The Executive Secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council believes that “our thinking was not well developed in granting assurances to the ESC [European Space Conference] members” and that “we should think further about the implications before widening the assurance.”

As Chairman of the Under Secretaries Committee, I wish to point out that our position on providing assurances concerning launch assistance to members of the European Space Conference was adopted following extensive high-level review by all interested agencies. The proposal to extend such assurances to other countries has also been carefully examined. Provided the proposed conditions are met (that is, consistency with our obligations under relevant international agreements and arrangements, our national security interests, and domestic laws), we should, in my view, proceed on a nondiscriminatory basis as between the Europeans and others.

A draft policy on launch assistance is presented in Annex B. The Under Secretaries Committee, with the exception of the Executive Secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, recommends:

that you approve the proposed statement of policy on launch assistance (Annex B), this policy to become effective in the case of countries outside the European Space Conference upon the entry into force of the definitive arrangements for Intelsat;
that you make this policy known to all interested countries, possibly by issuing a public statement at an appropriate time.

Approve _______
Disapprove ___________

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Transfer of Space Technology and Hardware

U.S. policies governing the export of space technology (for satellites as well as launch vehicles) have distinguished between specific intended uses of technology but have generally not distinguished between different types of technology. The latter differences are recognized in considering export cases from the viewpoint of national security, but such differences also are important from the standpoint of other U.S. interests, particularly our economic interests.

Proposed transfers need, for example, to be evaluated from the standpoint of such considerations as the following:

  • —the implications of releasing technology which involves commercial “know how”;
  • —implications for the competitive position of the U.S. aerospace industry;
  • —the need for a reasonable return on the American investment in space technology; and
  • —possible effects on domestic employment and our balance of payments.

Such considerations would, of course, vary in specific cases. To provide a strengthened basis for taking them into account, we believe our policy on transfer of space technology should distinguish between two categories: (a) hardware and related technical information (in general, end products produced in the U.S.), and (b) technical assistance (technology, data, and “know how”).

As regards these two categories:

  • —Proposals or requests for export of space technology should be met through provision of hardware and related technical information rather than technical assistance, whenever possible and reasonable to do so.
  • —Technical assistance should be provided only under adequate safeguards dealing with its use and protection (as in the U.S.-Japanese Space Cooperation Agreement).

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A proposed directive on technology transfer is presented in Annex C. In addition to incorporating the distinctions discussed above, the directive would clarify procedures for handling specific cases. Insofar as the directive would apply to communications satellite technology, it should become effective only upon the entry into force of the definitive Intelsat agreement. In other respects it should be promptly implemented.

It should be noted that the proposed directive would not prejudice controls over space technology imposed for security purposes under other directives—e.g., NSAM 294 (April 20, 1964) would continue to be overriding with regard to proliferation and the development abroad of strategic weapons delivery capabilities. Should this directive be made public at some future time, specific reference to NSAM 294 should be deleted.

The Under Secretaries Committee recommends:

that you approve the proposed policy directive on transfer of space technology (Annex C);
that in cases where space technology is intended specifically for use in operational satellite projects to provide telecommunications services, the policy directive on transfer of space technology should become effective upon entry into force of the definitive arrangements for Intelsat.

Approve __________
Disapprove _________

Related Actions

If you approve the foregoing recommendations, then—as a “bookkeeping” matter as the new policy directives come into effect—NSAM 354 (July 29, 1966) and relevant sections of NSAM 338 (July 12, 1967) should be rescinded. Other sections of NSAM 338, which are not germane to this report, could usefully be reviewed by the interested agencies.

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In addition, the Director, Office of Telecommunications Policy, points out that although the proposed statements of objectives and policy contain all essential policy conditions that should be considered in the decision process on any given program, they are expressed in broad terms and would not in themselves resolve a number of intra-governmental differences in specific cases. He believes, therefore, that it would be desirable to specify the decision process through which the polices will be applied. As Acting Chairman of the Under Secretaries Committee, I believe this aspect was beyond the scope of the present report; however, you may wish to have this aspect considered separately.

U. Alexis Johnson
Acting Chairman
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–236, NSDM 187 (1 of 2). Secret. Annexes A, B, and C are published as part of Document 75. Annex D is attached but not published.
  2. Johnson reported the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on International Space Cooperation.
  3. For purposes of this report, this Committee has included, in addition to regular members, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Science and Technology, the Office of Telecommunications Policy, and staff of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.
  4. The member countries of the European Space Conference are Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the Vatican. In addition, the following participate as observers: Austria, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Monaco, Portugal and Canada.