July 29, 1987

National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
Washington. D.C

Reply to Attn of: GK(87-32055)

Mr. S. Neil Hosenball

Suite 500
1001 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037

Re: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between UCAR and NASA

Dear Mr. Hosenball:

I have enclosed two copies of the above identified m. I request that an authorized official of UCAR sign both copies, date them, and return one signed original to me at the following address:

Mr. Robert J.Wojtal
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Code GK
Washington, D.C. 20546


Please call me if you have any questions on the MOU.


Robert J. Wojtal
Senior Attorney


The Presidential National Commission on Space, in its report to the President in May 1986, called attention to the potentially valuable artificial space resource represented by the space shuttle’s external tanks. The Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives, in its report on the proposed 1987 NASA Authorization Act, encourages NASA and the academic community to further study external tank utilization and in particular the concept that qualified academic research groups might be awarded the external tanks’ (ET) resources for space-based research. The Committee also expressed the view that universities working cooperatively with industry might dramatically increase scientific research opportunities, expand our Nation’s space infrastructure and broaden the spectrum of space enterprise if such usage of the ET is found to be feasible, cost-effective, and safe. NASA and UCAR believe an increasing number of educational and commercial institutions are moving toward the use of space for research and for the production of goods and services for profit which could potentially use the large capacity of the space shuttle external tank in orbit for such purposes. UCAR has, via its subsidiary UCAR Foundation, entered into an agreement with a commercial entity to explore the modification, maintenance and operation of external tanks in orbit with the ultimate goal being to lease space on board the external tanks to public and private sector users. If the concept proves to be viable, a substantial private investment in the project will be required, and that investment will be at considerable risk for a number of years. NASA and UCAR believe it is in the Nation’s interest to see the concept of employing orbiting external tanks for additional useful purposes explored. Therefore, NASA and UCAR agree to cooperate with each other and exert every reasonable effort to explore the concept and, provided the concept proves to have merit, take appropriate further steps to bring it to fruition.

The Understandings

NASA and UCAR (through its subsidiary UCAR Foundation) in furtherance of this Memorandum of Understanding agree as follows:

1. To mutually explore the feasibility, method or methods, quantities, and time frames for transferring title to or utilizing external tanks of the shuttle fleet to implement the foregoing concept and the terms and conditions incident to such transfer or utilization.

2. To determine availability and cost of passenger and equipment space transportation required by potential operators and users of ET facilities.

3. To consider arrangements or agreements that would allow both ET and space station habitable facilities to act as “safe havens” for each other’s personnel in any emergency.

4. To make available to each other throughout the term of the MOU consistent with applicable laws and regulations, pertinent materials and information relating to the technical, operational, cost, and safety requirements for ET orbit insertion, basic station keeping, life support, modification and use of the external tanks. If necessary, this will be accomplished with appropriate safeguards regarding use of the information.

5. To enter into exploratory discussions regarding the potential scope of a separate technical assistance agreement regarding the use of NASA’s technical expertise in furthering the successful accomplishment of the objectives of this MOU.

6. To jointly examine the technical compatibility and economic suitability of the orbiting ET for the performance of one or more NASA missions.

7. To establish procedures regarding publicity and the maintenance of proprietary information where necessary and appropriate.

8. To review jointly the status of the endeavor no later than November 15, 1987.

Administrative Provisions

1. There shall be no exchange of funds between the parties under this MOU.

2. The term of this MOU shall extend one year from the last date shown below and is subject to renewal or extension by mutual agreement. Either party may unilaterally terminate this MOU at no cost or other obligation to the other party prior to the expiration date, if either party deems that the concept described in the MOU is not feasible or practicable, or otherwise not reasonably attainable.

3. The prime coordinator for NASA for the purpose of this MOU shall be George Levin, Advanced Program Development Division, Office of Space Flight, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546.

4. The prime coordinator for UCAR for the purpose of this MOU shall be John Firor.

Signed 7/28/87

Associate Administrator for
Space Flight
National Aeronautics and
Space Administration

Signed 7/27/87

Assistant Administrator for
Commercial Programs
National Aeronautics and
Space Administration

View original Space Phoenix, SPACE POLICY, May 1988, pp 143 – 150 (pdf)

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