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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop
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