Faculty Advisor

Wilkes, John M.


Space exploration is an important technological frontier that will be explored in the twenty-first century. The commercial sector is playing an ever increasingly important role in fostering innovation by demanding that aerospace companies bring down the cost of access to space. There is real competition in this field and ESA is the world leader. However, NASA is the visionary organization in the field, committed to taking mankind into space -- whatever the cost, currently 20 times as great as an unmanned mission. Can NASA ignore the commercial competition or must it change its ways and adopt their methods to be visible (such as privatizing the space station)? Can ESA continue to do without a manned space capability of its own? Until the nascent space industry reaches a self-sustaining critical mass, such questions about governmental agencies will shape space technology. This IQP examines the institutional mind-sets of NASA and ESA and thus the internal dynamics that drive their decision-making processes so as to look ahead into the near future.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 1999

Project Type

Interactive Qualifying Project


Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Social Science and Policy Studies