The Next Logical Step
The decision with the most lasting impact on the U.S. space program made during the presidency of Ronald Reagan was likely his commitment to developing a space station. A permanently occupied human outpost in Earth orbit had been a central element in planning for space development since even before government programs began in the late 1950s, and had been proposed in 1969, and rejected by the Nixon administration, as the major space initiative to follow Project Apollo. As they assumed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) leadership in 1981, Beggs and Mark made getting presidential approval for the space station their top priority in terms of new programs. After failing to get early approval, NASA in 1982 began to build its case for the space station. SIG (Space) undertook an interagency review of the station, aiming at a presidential decision in late 1983. The National Security Council’s Rye, who had become convinced that the station was the right next step, was a central figure in managing that review.