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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop 5 Concluding Observations During the closing plenary session of the workshop, moderator Ravi Deo (Northrop Grumman), Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board member, invited all workshop participants to provide concluding observations based on what they had heard from the keynote speeches, panel discussions, and topic discussion groups. These observations are summarized below in three theme areas: pursuing space cooperation at the global level, contributing to broad national objectives, and considering new opportunities and challenges. PURSUING SPACE COOPERATION AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL In reflecting on the workshop discussions, it was clear that more than half of the comments related to an interest in pursuing dialogue and exploring new opportunities for cooperation with new and emerging space powers.1 Such interactions, one participant noted, should promote the development of open synergistic science programs with full and open access to each other’s data. The interactions, another participant observed, need not be one-way—the United States (and other established space powers) have much to learn from emerging space nations. One participant noted that space exploration can provide exciting opportunities for established space powers to interact with new and emerging ones. Other participants emphasized the opportunities for global collaboration through expanding participation in the ISS program, the Group on Earth Observations, and other activities. Global challenges such as exploring the universe and understanding climate change, several participants suggested, can best be addressed at the global level. Several workshop participants representing foreign space programs expressed interest in working closely with the United States to explore new global collaboration opportunities. CONTRIBUTING TO BROADER NATIONAL OBJECTIVES Another frequently cited theme during the workshop was identifying roles for civil space programs that contribute to broader national goals. Space cooperation offers unique opportunities in this regard, a number of participants noted. One speaker commented that we live in a globalized world, and that the time has come to pursue the U.S. space program in a manner that recognizes this fact. Doing so can have economic development and national security benefits for the United States. This, the speaker concluded, also provides an opportunity to make the U.S. space program and NASA more relevant on the national agenda. Expanding participation in the ISS program to include China and other countries was cited by several participants as a particular opportunity in this regard. Other participants cautioned that, 1 During the workshop, the discussion group with the topic “International Space Cooperation as a Tool for Engagement with New and Emerging Space Powers” listed Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Israel, Korea, and Ukraine, along with several regional entities, as possible candidates.
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop although such initiatives may prove to be attractive, they will have to be carefully considered prior to being pursued. CONSIDERING NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES During the concluding session of the workshop, a number of new opportunities and challenges were cited by workshop participants. Several speakers emphasized the opportunity and challenges associated with engaging youth—the so-called “iPod generation”—in the pursuit of space cooperation. This generation, one speaker emphasized, will be charged with carrying on the long-term projects begun in the current era. Several speakers commented on the approach the United States takes to leadership, noting that an opportunity exists for the United States to pursue a new approach. “Space is a non-sovereign, multinational place,” one speaker observed, adding that nations—including the United States—that pursue multinational collaboration should “check their hubris and ego at the door.” Some workshop participants offered comments regarding the challenges ahead. One speaker expressed the view that despite a strong imperative for cooperation, national security considerations must also be kept in mind as civil space collaboration is pursued. This is particularly important to bear in mind when changes to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regime are proposed and discussed. Other participants recalled that ITAR restrictions remain a significant challenge for those seeking to pursue new international projects. One speaker considered that international cooperation on a scale necessary for the exploration and development of space is a “fantasy” until export controls are fixed and the United States learns to implement truly equal partnerships. This, he added, may require a generational change. Another workshop participant recalled that while cooperation must be pursued, competition also plays an important role in the pursuit of government and commercial space activities. Competition can spur innovation and contribute to excellence in the conduct of space programs. It should not be overlooked. One speaker concluded that with the new and the emerging capabilities in space around the world, and recognize from that the United States cannot do everything, the question space-faring nations should ask is how to seek alignment in their programs so that the projects pursued have the greatest benefit for all. This is one of the major challenges we face, he observed. In closing the final session, Space Studies Board (SSB) chair Charles Kennel noted that the discussions during the 3-day workshop were both valuable and timely. They provided useful observations that may be of interest to the incoming administration and Congress. The workshop deliberations also have identified several initiatives that the SSB may wish to take in the coming year. One such initiative would be to begin a series of discussions and information exchanges with new and emerging space powers, and to do so in collaboration with colleagues in Europe and Japan. Another step, mentioned by several SSB members, would be to pursue some of the topics identified during this workshop during a follow-up session. Both ideas merit further SSB consideration, Kennel observed.
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