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.
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)?
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.
“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.