The rise of Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) and its eventual demise represents one of the landmark episodes in the history of the American space program. The story of this failed initiative is one shaped by key protagonists and critical battles. It is a tale of organizational, cultural, and personal confrontation,
Skirmishes involved the Space Council versus NASA, the White House versus congressional appropriators, and the Johnson Space Center versus the rest of the space agency, all seeking control of the national space policy process. The demise of SEI was a classic example of a defective decision-making process that lacked adequate high-level policy guidance, failed to address critical fiscal constraints, developed inadequate programmatic alternatives, and garnered no congressional support.
Some space policy experts have argued that SEI was doomed to fail, due primarily to the immense budgetary pressures facing the nation during the early 1990’s. This book argues, however, that the failure of the initiative was not predetermined but was instead the result of a deeply flawed policy process that failed to develop (or even consider) policy options that may have been politically acceptable given the existing political environment.