Valeriy Barsukov of the Soviet Union said his country welcomes participants from other nations, and he noted that scientists from 14 countries are taking part in an unmanned Soviet expedition to the Martian moon Phobos next year.
"We always welcome cooperation," Barsukov said through an interpreter.
He said, however, that "it seems to be very difficult to reach an agreement in this area with the United States." U.S. participation in Soviet programs has stemmed mostly from the initiative of individual scientists, not from intergovernmental programs, several scientists said.
Barsukov noted that a recent agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States calls for "coordination, not cooperation" in joint ventures.
"The word 'cooperation' does not appear in the agreement," Barsukov said, adding quickly that it was not his fault.
JPL Director Lew Allen, a former Air Force chief of staff, told the symposium that there are many obstacles to international cooperation in space, many of them political, some of them technical, but most of them have little merit.
He noted that there is much concern in this country over inadvertently giving away U.S. technological achievements by making instruments available for Soviet missions, but he indicated that the problem is largely imaginary. Between the time that such a program is approved and the instrument is supplied--a process that usually takes several years--the instrument no longer represents the state of the art and there is little danger of "technology transfer," Allen said.
He said the problem may be more philosophical than technical.
"I am concerned with a trend in the U.S. to turn inward," Allen said. "I think this is a dangerous tendency, and I would like to see U.S. policy shift away from this tendency."
Generally, the symposium struck American scientists two ways:
They were stunned by the scope of the Soviet program, which will send no less than eight spacecraft to Mars within the next decade, but they were encouraged by the level of candor and exchange of information with Soviet scientists.
"I am optimistic that the anguish we feel, not only because of the Challenger but because of our inability to grasp the opportunity, is leading to some response," said Caltech planetary scientist Bruce Murray.
That is an opportunity, several scientists noted, that the United States cannot afford to miss.
"We are seeing the beginning of the evolution of our species out into the cosmos," Paine said. In that arena, many scientists believe, could lie the secrets to the origin of life and the future of Earth, the only spot in the universe known to have intelligent life.