88. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Rush)1 2


  • Examination of the U.S. Policies on Providing Launch Services and the Transfer of Space Technology

NSDM 187 established U. S, regarding the provision of space launchers and launch services to foreign requesters, and set forth principles to guide decisions concerning the export of space hardware, technology, and assistance.

A group of European countries has recently decided to develop an independent launcher. U.S. commercial technical assistance is expected to be sought to support this launcher development.

In light of these events, the NSC Under Secretaries Committee is requested to reexamine the policies set forth in NSDM 187, focusing on the following questions:

  • —To what extent do our launch policy restrictions impact on decisions abroad to develop independent launchers or seek launch services from others?
  • —What is the projected role of Soviet launch services?
  • —What are the implications to the U.S. of the growth of foreign launch capabilities?
  • —What might be acceptable alternative formulations of our launch policy and what would be their relation to the continuation of foreign launcher development?
  • —What posture should the U.S. take with regard to requests for technical assistance from our post-Apollo partners, when the assistance is not directly related to cooperative projects?
  • —What would our rendering technical assistance to our post-Apollo partners mean for our policy and actions toward other countries?

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Any proposed changes to our policies in this area should be accompanied by a description of diplomatic actions to introduce changes advantageously. Also, to assist in the resolution of other questions on the implementation of NSDM 187, including contentious export requests, and to surface and recommend determinations on future policy issues, the USC should recommend an appropriate interagency review mechanism.

The report should be submitted to the President by January 1, 1974. For the purpose of this study, representatives of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Telecommunication Policy, and the Council on International Economic Policy should be included on the Under Secretaries Committee.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, EB/CTA/TD Files, Lot 78 D 237, NSDM 187, 1972–. Secret. Sent for action. Forwarded on November 23 as NSC–U/SM–112–A to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Director of the Office of Telecommunications Policy, and the Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs. Above “recently” in the second paragraph is written in an unknown hand, “ESRO.” In the right margin next to the second paragraph is written in an unknown hand, “L3S (France).” In the right margin next to the last paragraph on the first page is written in an unknown hand, “Japan, PRC, India.”
  2. Kissinger requested that the Under Secretaries Committee examine and report on U.S. policies concerning launch assistance and the sharing of space technology.