During the last two decades, space officials assumed that there would be a smooth and continuous transition from numerous, extended-duration space shuffle flights in the late 1980s to a large orbiting space station by 1992. We know now that this logical evolution in our capabilities will not occur; a large gap has been created by the Challenger loss and the delay in the availability of the space station.

In order to keep the United States and U.S. industry competitive, we need to fill this gap, and we need to fill it quickly. A number of scientists and companies have been forced to delay key experiments that require the microgravity environment of space. Other scientists have made arrangements with the Soviets to fly on the Soviet Mir station, a route that raises important questions about the sharing of proprietary information.

In mid-February, President Reagan presented a new National Space Policy that...

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