During plenary and panel discussions, workshop participants offered ideas for opportunities and challenges in future space cooperation and competition. These suggestions for further consideration are focused on the four panel discussion topics:
Engaging new and emerging space powers in international cooperation,
International cooperation in the future of space exploration,
International cooperation in support of climate change and sustainability, and
Approaches to international cooperation in an era of limited resources.
The results of these discussions were presented at the workshop and are summarized below.
The first of the four groups, led by Space Studies Board (SSB) chair Charles Kennel (University of California, San Diego), focused on international space cooperation as a tool for engagement with new and emerging space powers.1 These countries, the participants observed, may be interested in collaborating with the United States on space projects for a wide variety of reasons, including a desire to enhance their prestige, accelerate their economic and technical development, and gain greater access to knowledge, experience, and technology. Likewise, the participants observed, the United States could benefit from pursuing greater collaboration with new and emerging space powers. Possible benefits include supporting U.S. foreign policy goals; facilitating U.S. access to key decision makers; gaining insight into capabilities, approaches, and plans; identifying new ideas and new technologies; reducing U.S. costs; and expanding instrument flight opportunities and data analysis capabilities.
The discussion group participants considered in depth possible approaches to enhance U.S. space cooperation with new and with emerging space powers. They observed that a number of existing mechanisms are already in place that promote dialogue, particularly in non-governmental multilateral forums and at the scientist-to-scientist level. At the same time, the group observed that to strengthen the current relationships, additional efforts could be made by the United States. One particularly valuable effort, the group noted, could involve the convening of forums through which existing space powers could 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.
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4 Opportunities and Challenges During plenary and panel discussions, workshop participants offered ideas for opportunities and challenges in future space cooperation and competition. These suggestions for further consideration are focused on the four panel discussion topics: • Engaging new and emerging space powers in international cooperation, • International cooperation in the future of space exploration, • International cooperation in support of climate change and sustainability, and • Approaches to international cooperation in an era of limited resources. The results of these discussions were presented at the workshop and are summarized below. ENGAGING NEW AND EMERGING SPACE POWERS The first of the four groups, led by Space Studies Board (SSB) chair Charles Kennel (University of California, San Diego), focused on international space cooperation as a tool for engagement with new and emerging space powers.1 These countries, the participants observed, may be interested in collaborating with the United States on space projects for a wide variety of reasons, including a desire to enhance their prestige, accelerate their economic and technical development, and gain greater access to knowledge, experience, and technology. Likewise, the participants observed, the United States could benefit from pursuing greater collaboration with new and emerging space powers. Possible benefits include supporting U.S. foreign policy goals; facilitating U.S. access to key decision makers; gaining insight into capabilities, approaches, and plans; identifying new ideas and new technologies; reducing U.S. costs; and expanding instrument flight opportunities and data analysis capabilities. The discussion group participants considered in depth possible approaches to enhance U.S. space cooperation with new and with emerging space powers. They observed that a number of existing mechanisms are already in place that promote dialogue, particularly in non-governmental multilateral forums and at the scientist-to-scientist level. At the same time, the group observed that to strengthen the current relationships, additional efforts could be made by the United States. One particularly valuable effort, the group noted, could involve the convening of forums through which existing space powers could 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. 1 Participants agreed that new and emerging space powers include countries capable of developing and/or launching spacecraft, which could include China, India, Brazil, Korea, Argentina, Israel, and Ukraine. 13
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The discussion group participants, including those from Europe and Japan, suggested that the SSB might wish to consider implementing such forums and do so in a collaborative fashion that involves the European Space Science Committee and a counterpart organization in Japan. COOPERATING ON SPACE EXPLORATION The second discussion group, led by Margaret Finarelli (George Mason University), considered the role of international cooperation in the future of space exploration. The participants in this group observed that the world today has become interdependent. For space activities to offer maximum benefits, they must be conducted in accord with this larger reality, i.e., internationally, cooperatively, and in genuine partnerships, so that benefits flow to all partners, and interdependency underlies the relationships. The group also considered international cooperation on space exploration in the context of the broad benefits it can provide to the United States. Participants 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), expanding the economic sphere into space, and demonstrating that the United States is a cooperative society desiring to work productively with all nations (which could improve the image of the United States). The discussion group did not attempt to develop a programmatic approach to international collaboration on space exploration. However, the participants did identify several 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 that the United States does. Considering the significant U.S. investment in space activities, group participants observed that the administration and Congress will want to continue referring to U.S. leadership in defining and pursuing the global space agenda. But the group also discussed steps that the United States could take to pursue its goals in a fashion that is sensitive to the interests and needs of its partners. These steps include forging high-level, long-term commitments; ensuring that the tone of U.S. space policy statements reflects a global role; and revising current export control regulations. During their consideration of U.S. space exploration cooperation opportunities, participants focused on the ISS program. The group was of the opinion that the ISS program offers unique opportunities for engaging new and emerging space powers with human spaceflight capabilities and/or interests. When focusing their attention in particular on China, which today is the third nation with independent human spaceflight capabilities, participants recognized that the ISS partnership could be expanded to include other nations. The ISS, the they noted, provides an excellent opportunity for the current partners to work with their Chinese counterparts, and in so doing, to learn about one another’s program management practices; communication, decision-making, and confrontational styles; design practices; approaches to documentation; and so on. Group participants also observed that if the ISS were to be seriously considered as a tool for engagement, its operations would have to be extended beyond 2016. This step would also provide greater opportunities for the current partners to achieve an acceptable return on their investments. The European and Japanese laboratories, participants noted, have just arrived at the International Space Station (ISS). Participants pointed out that a great deal of research can be done on the space station in areas such as the effects of long-duration weightlessness and exposure to radiation, as well as physical, biological, and 14
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chemical aspects of life support⎯activities that could provide opportunities for international collaboration in preparation for future robotic and human exploration missions. A number of comments were raised by workshop participants at the conclusion of the space exploration cooperation presentation. Several participants noted that bringing China into the ISS program would be politically controversial and could have a negative impact on NASA. Other participants disagreed, stating that China’s participation in the program could be part of a broader foreign policy initiative to engage China. Two participants added that in considering the risk of collaboration with China, it is important to take into account the experience of U.S. industry, which has made massive investments in China that exceed the U.S. civil space budget. Another participant questioned the assumption with regard to extending the ISS operations beyond 2016, noting that this is a complex step that needs to be considered very carefully, given the funding impact it would likely have on other NASA programs, including lunar exploration. The space exploration cooperation group moderator agreed that continuation of the ISS beyond 2016 would represent a significant undertaking that must be considered carefully by the United States and the other ISS partners that would have to provide the funding. COOPERATING IN SUPPORT OF ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABILITY The third discussion group, led by Conrad Lautenbacher, considered the role of Earth observations in supporting international efforts in climate and sustainability. In beginning of their discussion, participants noted that revising their charge to “the role of international space cooperation in Earth research and operations in support of climate and sustainability” would better suit the objectives of the workshop by putting emphasis on coordinating international activities instead of supporting them and by emphasizing space-based observations. The group agreed on several starting principles as the basis for their discussions: • “Global warming is unequivocal and humans’ actions are heading towards abrupt and irreversible climate changes and impacts” (IPCC, Fourth Assessment, November 20072). • Earth observations are national and global imperatives that are fundamental to climate, sustainability, our economy, and society. • Climate monitoring requires timely access and quality controlled, continuous measurements of the Earth system. The group also discussed a number of key issues, including inadequate levels of investment in remote sensing capabilities by national governments; lack of worldwide, open access to many public- good datasets; limited or degraded release of national datasets due to security concerns; the ad hoc or undefined role of the private sector in international coordinating bodies; and the lack of public understanding and awareness of the value of space assets in Earth observations. In considering the role of international cooperation in support of climate and sustainability, the discussion group elaborated a number of possible paths forward, including: • 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 U.S. leadership and support to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO);3 • Encouraging other GEO member nations to provide adequate resources for space-based Earth observation systems; 2 See Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers, available at http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf. 3 See http://www.earthobservations.org/. 15
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• Working with GEO to facilitate more comprehensive engagement with public and private sector users to integrate their needs into future plans; • Supporting expanded GEO principles for full and open exchange of national datasets; • Pursuing, through the Committee on Earth Observations Satellites (CEOS),4 a global architecture for continuity and coherence of space segment datasets 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; • Encouraging efforts like GEONETCast,5 GEOPortal,6 and Google Earth that provide open user access across all borders; • Seeking improved communications between GEO and industry through establishment of a mechanism for industry representation in GEO; • Improving data availability for the international community through national government reviews of remote sensing licensing restrictions; • Encouraging governments to review restrictive export controls with the aim of facilitating international collaboration in Earth observations; and • Making the public aware of impending challenges and consequences of global change as well as the necessity of space-based Earth observations to address those challenges. APPROACHES TO INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION The fourth discussion group, led by Molly Macauley (Resources for the Future), considered new approaches to global space cooperation in a time of limited resources. The group considered several factors that might influence future approaches to global space cooperation, including the addition of new partners (China, India, and several other nations), new sponsors (philanthropic and military organizations), new opportunities (e.g., space solar power and participatory technologies), and threats (e.g., global climate change and asteroids). The discussion group also noted that the global environment is different today than in the past; national economies and technology bases are increasingly globally integrated. New barriers to global space collaboration (such as ITAR) have emerged. Nations have newly developed space capabilities, and the capabilities of some current space-faring nations are expanding. Group participants observed that it is less obvious today which country is dominant in civil space activities. The group also recalled that limited availability of resources for space activities is not a new factor, and noted too that the constraints facing space-faring nations are perhaps greater today than in the past. The discussion group reviewed current and prospective structures for international space cooperation. The “benchmark” approach, the group noted, involves bilateral and multilateral projects arranged between governments (intergovernmental arrangements), where some space activities are conducted under treaty arrangements, such as those of the European Space Agency. The discussion group further observed that space activities are sometimes pursued under United Nations auspices, for example through the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.7 Participants reviewed several advantages and disadvantages of each of these current approaches. The group discussion then examined three potential additional approaches to collaboration: through public/private utilities such as INTELSAT8/INMARSAT9 and spaceports, through military alliances, and through philanthropic initiatives. Collaboration through public/private utilities could be 4 See http://www.ceos.org/. 5 See http://earthobservations.org/geonetcast.shtml. 6 See http://www.geoportal.org/web/guest/geo_home. 7 See http://unfccc.int/2860.php. 8 See http://www.intelsat.com/. 9 See http://www.inmarsat.com/. 16
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user/consumer driven and provide opportunities for private-partner roles and cost sharing. Such activities would typically focus on a specific application or commodity. Collaboration through military alliances such as NATO10 might involve cost sharing with defense organizations, could benefit from existing operational and coordination structures, and could be “ITAR friendly” for participating countries. At the same time, military alliance collaboration might be limited to the existing partners and might create public-acceptability concerns in countries where civil and national security space activities have been pursued separately. Collaboration that involves philanthropic organizations offers the potential of utilizing foundation seed funding, could stimulate public interest, and perhaps could be initiated rapidly. On the other hand, philanthropic-related initiatives are likely to be limited in scale and to focus on single “one off” activities rather than sustainable projects. Such philanthropic activities may also not be compatible with national space program priorities. The discussion group concluded their review by noting that a lot has been learned from past collaborative initiatives. Based on these experiences the group believes that bilateral and multilateral projects arranged between governments (intergovernmental arrangements) have evolved, and today provide a proven and workable collaboration approach. Cooperation through an intergovernmental arrangement approach has the advantage of creating focus among the partners and providing unique benefits to each participant. The discussion group members considered, however, that the intergovernmental arrangements approach can add complexity and be affected by changes in the contributions of partners during long-term projects. The group participants suggested that lessons from past projects among governments should be taken into account as new projects are structured. The group participants were also of the opinion that the intergovernmental approach would likely be well suited to projects undertaken with new and emerging space partners such as China. At the same time, the discussion group participants also observed that cooperation initiatives that focus on clear threats, such as those associated with near Earth objects and climate change, might better be served through the establishment of treaty-based collaborations. They also noted that in cases where the cooperation involves new economic opportunities (for example, involving energy) the public/private utility approach may be best. In its consideration of current and prospective cooperation approaches, the participants listed three questions that might merit further consideration, perhaps as discussion topics in a future SSB workshop: • How will emerging space companies, philanthropic initiatives, and so on, interact with traditional organizations pursuing space cooperation? • How will participatory technologies be incorporated into space collaboration efforts? • Can evolutionary paths and approaches lead to better outcomes for space cooperation? For example, can a philanthropic initiative evolve into a public/private utility, and could the ISS program evolve into a treaty organization and eventually into a public/private utility? 10 See http://www.nato.int/. 17