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?