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From: "Jeff Greason" <>
Subject: Re: "NASA Delenda"
Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 16:26:58 GMT

Derek Lyons <> wrote in message
> "Michael R. Irwin" <> wrote:
> >After 40 years of expensive R?D by NASA where is that equipment and why
> >aren't the processes used to routinely manufacture it public domain
> >knowledge?
> *Why should they be*?  Just because the goverment purchases a product
> or service, does *not* mean that the processes involved become public
> domain.

Quite true.  But if the government funds the entire development of a product,
the government owns the information.  As for what they should do with it, I
can do no better than consult the legislation creating NASA.

From the 1958 space act, as amended (which you can view at: )

"(a) The Administration, in order to carry out the purpose of this Act,
(3) provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of
      information concerning its activities and the results thereof;
(4) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest
     commercial use of space; and
(5) encourage and provide for Federal Government use of commercially
      provided space services and hardware, consistent with the requirements
      of the Federal Government. "

Later in the same legislation, we find:

"Sec. 303.  (a) Information obtained or developed by the Administrator
in the performance of his functions under this Act shall be made available
for public inspection; except (A) information authorized or required by
Federal statute to be withheld, (B) information classified to protect the
national security; and (C) information described in subsection (b):
Provided, That nothing in this Act shall authorize the witholding of
information by the Administrator from the duly authorized committees of
the Congress.

(b) The Administrator, for a period up to 5 years after the development of
information that results from activities conducted under an agreement
entered into under section 203(c)(5) and (6) of this Act, and that would
be a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is
privileged or confidential under the meaning of section 552(b)(4) of title
5, United States Code, if the information had been obtained from a
non-Federal party participating in such an agreement, may provide
appropriate protections against the dissemination of such information,
including exemption from subchapter II of chapter 5 of title 5, United
States Code."

So, anything developed under NASA funding should, within five years,
be available -- according to our elected representatives who theoretically
have jurisdiction.

In my experience, NASA information is generally available *if you can
find it* -- and nothing in NASA's charter requires them to make it easy
to find or to organize it in a manner useful to researchers.  I'm not sure
they always live up to the spirit of the "widest practicable and appropriate
dissemination", however.

"Limited funds are a blessing, not         Jeff Greason
a curse.  Nothing encourages creative      President & Eng. Mgr.
thinking in quite the same way." --L. Yau  XCOR Aerospace
   <>                <>

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