Gregg Easterbrook's article {Outlook, Aug. 23} on "cheap and easy ways" of getting back into space reinforces my belief that our society desperately needs better information on space activities. There are no "easy" ways into space.

Some of the suggestions made in the article are contradictory. For example, Mr. Easterbrook recommends that we scrap the replacement shuttle orbiter and modify the three remaining orbiters for long-duration (30-day) missions to eliminate the need for a space station. The long missions and even longer turnaround times, however, would make it difficult to support more than six or seven flights a year -- unless NASA builds additional orbiters.

The military's Advanced Launch System (ALS) is exactly the kind of big booster that Mr. Easterbrook would like to see built, yet he dismisses the project apparently because of its name, "Advanced."

Mr. Easterbrook says: "Scientists working in a shuttle-based Spacelab would be able to accomplish 99 percent of what they could aboard an autonomous space station for perhaps one percent of the cost." I seriously doubt this. Many factors must be considered, such as the launch cost of carrying lab and power facilities on every flight, rather than taking them up once and leaving them there.

Another suggestion made in the article is to drop plans to use the shuttle for commercial satellite cargo launches. This is hardly a novel idea, since it was done months ago. And, contrary to what we are told, NASA did not expand the shuttle's design to accommodate commercial satellites and eliminate expendable rockets. NASA expanded the design to meet specific military requirements.

One of the most important efforts needed to bring down costs is not even mentioned: automation at ground facilities to reduce the army of people needed for launch and in-flight monitoring.

Another problem is that, unlike the Soviet program, our space effort has been unable to maintain assembly lines for hardware. Instead, NASA procures rockets and payloads on a single-unit or small-batch basis.

This may be changing, at least in the military. The Defense Department is studying the feasibility of replacing some of its large, expensive satellites with constellations of small, cheap ones.

There are ways to deal with our problems, but they're not quick and easy. And they all must cope with political realities. JAMES A. VEDDA Assistant Professor of Space Studies Center for Aerospace Sciences University of North Dakota Grand Forks, N.D.