Citizens' Advisory Council on National Space Policy

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The Citizen's Advisory Council on National Space Policy was a group of prominent US citizens concerned with the space policy of the United States of America. It is no longer active.


The Council's roots date to 1980 as a group which prepared many of the Reagan Administration Transition Team's space policy papers.[1] The Council was formally created in 1981 by joint action of the American Astronautical Society and the L5 Society to develop a detailed and technically feasible space policy to further the national interest.[2] Participant Gregory Benford would in 1994 describe the activities of the council:[3]

The Council, a raucous bunch with feisty opinions, met at the spacious home of science fiction author Larry Niven. The men mostly talked hard-edge tech, the women policy. Pournelle stirred the pot and turned up the heat. Amid the buffet meals, saunas and hot tubs, well-stocked open bar, and myriad word processors, fancies simmered and ideas cooked, some emerging better than half-baked...Finally, we settled on recommending a position claiming at least the moral high ground, if not high orbits. Defense was inevitably more stabilizing than relying on hair-trigger offense, we argued. It was also more principled. And eventually, the Soviet Union might not even be the enemy, we said - though we had no idea it would fade so fast. When that happened, defenses would still be useful against any attacker, especially rogue nations bent on a few terrorist attacks. There were plenty of science fiction stories, some many decades old, dealing with that possibility. The Advisory Council met in August of 1984 in a mood of high celebration. Their pioneering work had yielded fruits unimaginable in 1982 - Reagan himself had proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, suggesting that nuclear weapons be made "impotent and obsolete". The Soviets were clearly staggered by the prospect. (Years later I heard straight from a senior Soviet advisor that the U.S. SDI had been the straw that broke the back of the military's hold on foreign policy. That seems to be the consensus now among the diplomatic community, though politically SDI is a common whipping boy, its funding cut.)


November, 1980
July, 1983
May 9–11, 1986
August 10, 1997


Spring, 1981

28 September 1983. Substantial portions of this report were later published in the book Mutual Assured Survival (Baen Books, 1984) by Jerry Pournelle and Dean Ing.

Spring, 1986

February 15, 1989

March 20, 1994


Jerry Pournelle, Chairman


Buzz Aldrin, Gerald Carr, Fred Haise, Phil Chapman, Pete Conrad

Aerospace industry[edit]

George Merrick (North American Rockwell, Space Division), George Gould, Gordon Woodcock, Gary Hudson, George Koopman, Maxwell Hunter, Art Dula

Space scientists and engineers[edit]

Lowell Wood, G. Harry Stine, Eric Laursen, Chuck Lindley, James Benford, Maxwell Hunter, George Gould

Military officers (retired)[edit]

Lt. General Daniel O. Graham, USA Ret'd; Brigadier General Robert Richardson, USAF Ret'd; Major General Stewart Meyer; USA Ret'd, Col. Jack Coakley, USA Ret'd; Col. Francis X. Kane, USAF Ret'd.

Computer scientists[edit]

Marvin Minsky, Danny Hillis, John McCarthy, David Mitchell

Science fiction authors and publishers[edit]

Poul Anderson, Greg Bear, Robert A. Heinlein, Gregory Benford, Dean Ing, Steven Barnes, Jim Baen, Larry Niven


Stefan T. Possony, Bjo Trimble, Alexander C. Pournelle, James Miller Vaughn, Jr.


  • Pournelle, Jerry; Ing, Dean (1984), Mutual Assured Survival, Baen Books, ISBN 0-671-55923-0