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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop Summary With the end of the Cold War, space and Earth science research and space exploration were no longer dominated by competition between two superpowers. Numerous countries and regions now have very active space programs, and the number is increasing. These maturing capabilities around the world create a plethora of potential partners for cooperative space endeavors, while at the same time heightening competitiveness in the international space arena. In assessing the effectiveness of specific past and present cooperation or coordination mechanisms and in seeking to determine how best to proceed in the future, it is important to recognize that the world has become more globalized. International cooperation and coordination on both a bilateral and multilateral basis have played a significant role in civil space activities since the beginning of the space age. Generally speaking, cooperation involves two or more countries working together, each contributing to the execution of a single mission. Coordination involves two or more countries that keep each other apprised of their activities in order to minimize duplication of effort and to obtain the maximum return through complementary activities. International cooperation and coordination have occurred extensively in Earth and space science research, Earth applications from space, human spaceflight and microgravity science, and to a lesser extent satellite telecommunications, satellite navigation, and launchers. Currently, most space-faring nations have space-related aspirations that exceed the resources available to them individually. At the same time, more countries are working to enter the field. Thus, it is appropriate to review the models for international cooperation and coordination that have or have not worked in the past to identify the most effective approaches for the future, including how best to involve nations with an emerging space capability. There are also lessons to be learned from the competitive space arena that may have relevance to developing future modes of cooperation. In opening the November 2008 workshop, Space Studies Board chair Charles Kennel noted that the ongoing globalization in today’s world and the current global financial crisis have implications for space. He expressed the opinion that the international order is going to be restructured, with major shifts in international relationships that will impact space. In his view there will therefore be a need for the space community to respond by working to develop a global approach to space. While the workshop’s charge covered both cooperation and competition, workshop discussions tended to focus more on cooperation, given the backgrounds of the majority of participants. WORKSHOP PLENARY DISCUSSIONS Following keynote presentations by former NOAA administrator Conrad Lautenbacher, entitled “Scientific and Technological Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World” (Appendix D), and historian Roger Launius of the National Air and Space Museum, entitled “Governmental Space Cooperation and Competition During and After the Cold War—Lessons Learned” (Appendix E), the workshop moved to panel sessions with four panels addressing different aspects of space cooperation and competition. The first panel on lessons learned from previous cooperative efforts emphasized space and Earth science cooperation, with the International Space Station (ISS) as one model; the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), seen as a space cooperation inhibitor; and international cooperation within the commercial sector.
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop The second panel discussed lessons learned from past and present competitive activities. Speakers were drawn from commercial launch services and commercial remote sensing sectors. The third panel addressed space and national security. Major issues that surfaced related to ITAR, attitudes of the U.S. Congress with regard to international cooperation, and the implications of seeking to engage China in future cooperative space activities. The fourth panel focused on the potential offered by space cooperation as a tool for the engagement of new and emerging space nations. Particular emphasis was placed on continuing activities within the Global Exploration Strategy/International Space Exploration Coordination Group, U.S.-Japanese space cooperation, and China’s emergence as a major space power. Following panel presentations, workshop participants collectively discussed the issues raised. WORKSHOP DISCUSSION GROUPS Following the plenary discussions, workshop participants were divided into four parallel discussion groups that were each given one of the following topics to address: International space cooperation as a tool for engagement with emerging space power, The role of international cooperation in the future of space exploration, The role of Earth observations in supporting international efforts in climate and sustainability, and New approaches to global space cooperation in a time of limited resources. The views of discussion group participants were reported back to the final plenary session and are summarized below. They do not represent consensus findings or conclusions on the part of the National Research Council, the Space Studies Board, the workshop as a whole, or any other group. Engaging New and Emerging Space Powers in International Cooperation The discussion group on engaging new and emerging space powers in international cooperation observed that new and emerging space powers may desire to cooperate with the United States on space projects for a variety of reasons including: Enhancement of their prestige; Acceleration of their economic and technical development; and Greater access to knowledge, experience, and technology. From a U.S. perspective, the group identified benefits from collaboration that included: Support for U.S. foreign-policy goals; Increased access to key decision makers; Insight into capabilities, approaches, and plans; Identification of new ideas and new technologies; Reduction in U.S. costs; and Expansion of instrument flight opportunities and data analysis capabilities.
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop Opportunities for the Future One particularly valuable effort, the group suggested, could involve the convening of forums through which existing space powers could engage in dialogue with new and emerging space powers. Such forums could provide opportunities to: Improve mutual understanding of capabilities, programs, and plans, Assess the current state of cooperation, Identify potential collaborative programs, Recommend promising mechanisms for continued joint consultations, Promote open participation, and Develop personal and institutional relationships. The discussion group members, including participants from Europe and Japan, noted that the Space Studies Board might wish to consider implementing such forums and to do so in a collaborative fashion that involves the European Space Science Committee and a counterpart organization in Japan. International Cooperation in the Future of Space Exploration Participants in the discussion group on international cooperation in the future of space exploration observed that with the world becoming increasingly interdependent, space activities need to be conducted in a manner consistent with this reality. For international space activities to offer maximum benefits, they must be conducted in genuine partnerships, where benefits flow to all partners and interdependency underlies the relationships. The discussion group members also observed that increased space collaboration can provide broad benefits to the United States by making space a routine place for all nations to operate (thereby enhancing the security of space assets), by expanding the economic sphere into space, and by demonstrating that the United States is a cooperative society desiring to work productively with all nations (which could improve the U.S. image). Opportunities for the Future The workshop group identified a number of steps that could be taken into account by the United States as it pursues future space exploration projects. These include: Assessing cooperative opportunities on their merits instead of excluding “critical path” roles for potential partners as a matter of policy; Developing a workforce (at all levels) capable of and interested in working on international programs; and Recognizing that U.S. partners need to be able to demonstrate the political and economic benefits of collaboration to the same extent as the United States. The group observed that the ISS program offers opportunities for engaging new and emerging space powers with human spaceflight capabilities and/or interests. China presents a unique opportunity in this regard, the group observed. They added that if the station becomes a tool for engagement, then ISS operations would necessarily have to be extended beyond 2016—a step could provide greater opportunities for current ISS partners to achieve acceptable returns on investments. The consequences of expanding the ISS partnership to include China and the potential impact on NASA of continuing the
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop program beyond 2016 engendered considerable discussion during the workshop, including the broader political context of U.S. engagement with China and the impact on other NASA program areas. International Cooperation in Support of Climate Change and Sustainability Initial discussions in the workshop discussion group on international cooperation in support of climate change and sustainability concerned a redefinition of its title and mandate. The group decided that the topic should be “the role of Earth observations in supporting international efforts in climate change and sustainability,” which would be more consistent with overall workshop objectives. They observed that: Global warming is unequivocal and human actions are contributing to abrupt and irreversible climate changes and impacts; Earth observations are national and global imperatives that are fundamental to monitoring and understanding climate change, achieving sustainability, and protecting our economy and society; and Climate monitoring requires timely access and quality controlled, continuous measurements of the Earth system. Opportunities for the Future The workshop group then elaborated a number of potential “paths forward” in international cooperation which included: Allocating the necessary resources to establish a national Earth observing system, including vital research and operational elements, as part of a comprehensive global effort; Continuing to provide U.S. leadership and support to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)1; Engaging other GEO member nations to provide adequate resources for space-based Earth-observation systems; Supporting expanded GEO principles for full and open exchange of national data sets; Pursuing, through the Committee on Earth Observations Satellites (CEOS), a global architecture for continuity and coherence of space segment data sets that includes, for example, virtual satellite constellations from multiple providers; Encouraging, through GEO and CEOS among others, nations to promote open utilization of remote sensing data; Seeking improved communications between GEO and industry through establishment of a mechanism for industry representation in GEO; and Making the public aware of impending challenges posed by and consequences expected from global change as well as the necessity of space-based Earth observations to address those challenges. Approaches to International Cooperation in a Time of Limited Resources The group discussing approaches to international cooperation in a time of limited resources initially considered several factors that might influence future approaches to global space cooperation and coordination, including the following: 1 See http://www.earthobservations.org/.
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop Additional country partners (e.g., China, India, and other countries), New potential sponsors (philanthropic and military organizations), New opportunities (e.g., space solar power and participatory technologies), and Threats (e.g., global climate change and asteroids). They noted that today’s global environment is different from the past. The growth of space capabilities around the world, including those of new players, means that it is not always clear which country is dominant in a particular sphere of space activity. Opportunities for the Future The group reviewed various current and prospective models for international space cooperation, including the “benchmark” bilateral or multilateral government-to-government cooperation, and the advantages and disadvantages were noted. The group also discussed the potential for collaboration through public/private utilities (such as INTELSAT), military alliances, and philanthropic initiatives. Group participants noted that cooperation initiatives that are based on clear threats (e.g., near Earth objects and climate change) might be better served through the establishment of treaty-based collaborative mechanisms. They also noted three questions that merit further consideration, perhaps as discussion topics in a future Space Studies Board workshop: How will emerging space companies, philanthropic initiatives, and so on, interact with traditional organizations pursuing space cooperation? How will participatory technologies2 be incorporated into space collaboration efforts? Can evolutionary paths and approaches lead to better outcomes for space cooperation (e.g., could the ISS program evolve into a treaty organization and eventually into a public/private utility)? CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS During the final workshop plenary session each of the participants offered concluding observations focused on the following themes: Pursuing a dialogue and exploring new opportunities to cooperate with new and emerging space powers. Identifying roles for civil space programs that contribute to broader national goals (space cooperation offers unique opportunities in this regard, several participants noted); Engaging youth in the pursuit of space cooperation; Modifying the U.S. approach to leadership; and Revising ITAR regulations to make them more efficient and effective. 2 “Participatory technologies” refers to the popular Google Sky, Google Mars, and other examples of technological tools used as a means of “seeing” space and “almost being there,” from the three-dimensionality of the Google visualization. It also refers to opportunities to see images sent by the cameras on rovers such as Spirit and Opportunity—you can use your computer and pan around for different camera angles. In the future, perhaps people will be able to propose where they would like a rover to go and virtually “drive it” from their computer. In short, people could virtually be in space.