1980 Societal Assessment of SPS

conjunction with the Reference System studies, provided the rationale for focusing on four major issue areas—resource availability, institutional and international issues, and public concerns. Relevant societal issues are created by the interplay between the SPS and its external environment. Those components of the external environment which clearly exert control or influence over SPS and those which are most directly impacted by SPS were given primary consideration. The SPS requires large inputs of resources, the allocation of which depends on various decision making bodies or institutions. Other institutional mechanisms are required to manage program activities and control interfaces between the SPS and its external environment. International bodies would exert control over SPS because of financial interest, its space-based nature, and the need for agreements to allocate space frequencies and orbital slots and to set exposure standards for microwave radiation. Because of its global significance, the SPS would, in turn, influence international relations. Public concerns over potential social change resulting from the implementation of the program are also important components of the external environment. The studies were not intended to be exhaustive treatments of the issues addressed; rather, they provide estimates of SPS impacts commensurate with its stage of development and the needs of decision makers. Of the four major issue areas addressed in the Societal Assessment, the greatest degree of confidence can be placed in the findings regarding resource availability. The resource studies benefitted from the existence of a Reference System which provided focus and definition to the studies, as well as the availability of tested methodologies for quantitative analyses. Studies of institutional and international issues and public concerns benefit much less from the existence of a defined SPS Reference System or quantitative methodologies and rely more on understanding the complexities of consensus decision making, an undertaking which routinely requires research over a longer period of time. The Societal Assessment was carried out in two phases. Key issues were defined, and a preliminary assessment was conducted.6 On the basis of the results, a final assessment was undertaken to pursue the preliminary studies further or to undertake new initiatives which seemed to be indicated. This process has produced over two dozen issue-related studies in addition to this