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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop 3 Perspectives on Space Cooperation and Competition The second segment of the workshop consisted of four panel discussions1 and provided an opportunity for all participants to hear perspectives from a variety of viewpoints—including representatives from government, industry, and academia, both U.S. and non-U.S.—on previous, current, and prospective international collaboration and competition. COOPERATION—LESSONS LEARNED The first panel discussion on lessons learned from previous cooperative projects was moderated by Space Studies Board member Joan Vernikos (Thirdage LLC) and included presentations by Jean-Pierre Swings (European Science Foundation), Linda Moodie (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Margaret Finarelli (George Mason University), and Mark Albrecht (International Launch Services, former president). Panel participants reviewed rationales for and lessons learned from international cooperation activities in space science, Earth science, human spaceflight, and commercial programs. Space agencies cooperate, Peggy Finarelli observed, to make programs more affordable, expand program scope, eliminate gaps and reduce overlaps, add legitimacy, and pursue foreign policy objectives. The panelists also mentioned a number of impediments to international collaboration. In space science these include misalignment, called attention to by Jean-Pierre Swings, between the budget cycles of NASA and some of its international partners.2 Space science collaboration has also been constrained by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Swings also observed that some European organizations are reacting to the impediments created by ITAR by seeking to develop space systems that no longer use U.S.-built technology (termed “ITAR free”). Linda Moodie mentioned several impediments to cooperation on Earth observations projects, including differing national security and economic agendas of the prospective partners, differing budget and approval cycles, divergence of policies on data availability, and ITAR restrictions. Mark Albrecht observed that in commercial collaboration close ties to governments can help projects succeed initially, although later these ties can sometimes hinder the project’s growth. International commercial projects fail, he observed, when the value added disappears, when ad hoc governmental initiatives are not converted into ongoing commercially viable ones, and when partners decide that individual government business is more attractive than co-partner commercial business. Partnerships succeed best when the leadership of one partner is well established and when normal partnership contractor/subcontractor relationships are formed. 1 See Appendix B for the names of session moderators and panelists. 2 For further background on findings and lessons on U.S.-European space collaboration, see National Research Council and European Space Science Committee (ESSC), U.S.-Europe Collaboration in Space Science, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998). For background on impediments to U.S.-European space see, for example, ESSC-European Science Foundation, Future of International Collaboration in Space Science, ESSC-ESF Position Paper, ESF, Strasbourg, France, November 2000.
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop Looking ahead to future collaboration, panelist Peggy Finarelli observed that, given the increased capabilities of its partners, the United States might wish to re-examine its approach to leadership of major international space programs. One alternative (as opposed to excluding partners from involvement in critical-path elements), she observed, would make all key partners dependent on the others for successful implementation. Workshop participants then discussed models and approaches to collaboration in robotic and human exploration. In response to several questions, Finarelli observed that NASA’s approach to collaboration on space exploration has been pursued from the bottom up, whereas the collaboration on the International Space Station (ISS) program was pursued from the top down, beginning with a presidential-level effort to engage prospective partners at the political level. Participants also discussed multilateral collaboration on the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters3 as well as the Group for Earth Observations.4 Several participants noted that the engagement of new and emerging space powers in multilateral Earth observations initiatives is growing; China and Brazil have been particularly active in this regard. COMPETITION—LESSONS LEARNED Although the main thrust of the workshop concerned international cooperation, the planning committee recognized that there were lessons to be learned from international competitive activities. This was the focus of the second panel. The panel discussion was moderated by Space Studies Board member Joan Vernikos (Thirdage LLC) and included presentations by Clay Mowry (Arianespace), Mark Brender (GeoEye), and Andrew Aldrin (United Launch Alliance). During the discussion the panelists reviewed their companies’ international business experiences and highlighted several generic problems that have had an impact on commercial space activities. internationally. Clay Mowry commented that in space launch services there is significant overcapacity, with eight countries currently having demonstrated space launch capabilities and five more countries emerging in the field. He further observed that this situation is driven by a variety of individual national interests. Once a nation establishes a launch capability there is tremendous pressure to maintain it through commercial sales, underpinned by government support. Although the situation is very inefficient and counterproductive, it is unlikely to change. Mark Brender observed that significant competition also exists in the commercial remote-sensing-satellite sector. GeoEye and DigitalGlobe, the two U.S. space remote sensing companies, compete in most markets. Additionally, competition is increasing from the growing number of foreign remote sensing satellites. Further, the U.S. government has stated a desire to build and operate its own commercial-class satellites to provide basic broad-area Earth coverage. If realized, these satellites would compete with the commercial data providers in the U.S. government market. Looking ahead, he observed that commercial remote sensing satellites are contributing to increased global transparency through release to the general public of images of natural disasters, areas of conflict, and military installations. Clay Mowry was of the opinion that a potential opportunity exists for space launch service providers in Europe, Japan, and the United States to develop a parallel path for delivering cargo—under a mixed fleet approach—to the ISS. During the panel session, several participants commented on space competition with China, particularly with respect to how the situation today differs from the Cold War era competition with the Soviet Union. Andrew Aldrin observed that U.S. competition with China today is largely economic, not ideological, as was the case with the Soviet Union. Trying to generate political support for the U.S. space program based on a space race with China would be ill-advised, he added, because China stands to gain much more from competition than the United States. One workshop participant agreed, noting that the United States is not in a space race with China. 3 See http://www.disasterscharter.org/index_e.html. 4 See http://www.earthobservations.org/.
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop NATIONAL SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS The third panel discussion focused on space cooperation and competition from a national security perspective. The panel discussion was moderated by Space Studies Board member Warren Washington (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and included presentations by A. Thomas Young (Lockheed Martin, retired) and Eric Sterner (independent consultant). Both panelists noted that because space is a critical element of U.S. national security, national security considerations will always be taken into account by the administration and Congress as civil space programs are pursued. Panelist Eric Sterner (former staff member, U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and Science Committee), observed that Congress does not have a common viewpoint with regard to “national security.” Congress does, in general, view international space cooperation as positive, although it is not a major area of interest, Sterner observed. International space cooperation does occasionally get congressional attention when the proposed collaborative project impacts a domestic issue of interest to members of Congress. One such concern is the need to ensure that the United States preserves its industrial base to conduct national security activities. In some cases, Sterner observed, congressional officials express interest in cooperation with a specific country, because of their overall interest in U.S. relations with that country, and necessarily because of the substance of the joint project. Sterner added that most congressional officials who focus on national security matters do not believe that collaborative space projects will fundamentally improve the behavior of another country, such as Russia, toward the United States. The panel paid particular attention to the impact of U.S. export control regulations on international cooperation—in particular ITAR. Young noted that while it is necessary to maintain an ITAR regime, the implementation of the current regulations has had unintended consequences that may in some cases be hurting U.S. national security objectives. The current ITAR regime, for example, may have accelerated, not slowed, the efforts of some countries to become space capable. Both panelists took the position that ITAR has had a significant impact of space cooperation between the United States and other countries.5 One consequence of these difficulties, a panelist observed, is that increasingly the United States is no longer viewed as the partner of choice. The panelists and workshop participants discussed in considerable detail the current impact of and prospects for modifying the ITAR regime. Although improvements to the ITAR process have been made in recent years, further improvements, such as issuing “blanket” licenses on a program basis (for the ISS program, for example), should be considered, several workshop participants suggested. The lack of such “blanket” program-level licenses can inhibit effective communications among the partners, and in some cases could present serious threats to the success and safe conduct of joint projects. Several workshop participants thought that reform of the ITAR process should be treated as a higher priority by the new administration and Congress. Others, including the panelists, noted that some administration and congressional officials are very concerned that any changes to the ITAR regime could undermine U.S. national security. The fact that the ITAR regulations have stimulated foreign manufacturers to develop “ITAR free” satellites is a small price to pay, in the view of these officials. The negative impact that the ITAR regime is having on U.S. industry and on scientific cooperation is also not compelling to those in Congress who prefer to maintain the current ITAR regulations, if doing so will save one American life. As a consequence, changes to the current ITAR regime will be difficult to achieve, they both observed. Several participants expressed interest in taking a proactive approach with the new administration and Congress on how the ITAR process could be revised to make it more efficient and effective. A point to be emphasized in such discussions, one panelist noted, is that the ITAR regime as it is currently being implemented is having counterproductive consequences in some cases. 5 For a more thorough discussion of the impacts of ITAR on space science, see National Research Council, Space Science and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations: A Workshop Summary, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2008.
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Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop The national security panel also discussed prospects for closer civil space cooperation with China. Eric Sterner suggested that if the administration pursues collaboration with China on the ISS, this would introduce the controversies of U.S.-China relations into the space program, such as disagreements over human rights, which could have negative consequences for congressional support for NASA. A workshop participant also noted, however, that a U.S. invitation to China to participate in the ISS program could be viewed as part of an overall effort by the United States to improve its relationship with China. During the national security panel discussion several participants noted that although civil and commercial space cooperation have sometimes been impeded by national security constraints (e.g., ITAR), cooperation can also contribute to increased national security. If through cooperation space becomes a more routine place for doing business, this could support U.S. national security goals, including the protection of U.S. assets in space, Lennard Fisk (University of Michigan) observed. He added that closer space collaboration with China—which already has extensive trade and financial relationships with the United States—should perhaps be considered from this perspective. COOPERATION AS A TOOL FOR FUTURE ENGAGEMENT The fourth panel discussion considered cooperation and collaboration in space activities as a tool for future engagement. The panel discussion was moderated by former Space Studies Board chair Lennard Fisk (University of Michigan) and included presentations by Gregory Kulacki (Union of Concerned Scientists), Yoshinori Yoshimura (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; JAXA), and Gib Kirkham (NASA). The panel members discussed current and prospective collaboration activities of the United States and Japan as well as the space activities of China and U.S. interactions with China. Panelist Gib Kirkham discussed the origins and evolution of the Global Exploration Strategy,6 which was developed through the collaboration of fourteen space agencies working to develop a document that provides a rationale for exploration as well as common themes and objectives for internationally coordinated space exploration activities. The agencies participating in the GES, both existing and emerging space powers, also have established a coordination mechanism-the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG)7 where space agencies can exchange information and consider opportunities for future cooperation. The ISECG has set up a working group that is currently focusing on different aspects of an initial international lunar exploration architecture. Several workshop participants commented that the approach taken by the ISECG participants is a positive step, although one participant suggested that participation in the ISECG should be elevated to the program-head level. Panelist Yoshinori Yoshimura reviewed Japanese space activities and interests. JAXA cooperates closely with NASA and NOAA on a variety of joint projects, the largest of which involves Japanese participation in the ISS program. One challenge facing JAXA is to ensure that—since Japan’s hardware elements are only now arriving at the station—Japan’s investment in the ISS is fully utilized. The ISS is part of Japan’s exploration program, Yoshimura stated. JAXA is also actively participating in the ISECG and looks forward to collaborating with the United States and other ISECG participants on future exploration projects. Panelist Gregory Kulacki provided historical background on China’s space program and addressed U.S.-Chinese interactions on space matters. A primary driver of China’s human space program, he noted, is to inspire young people and encourage them to pursue careers in science and engineering. Though they are frustrated over U.S. efforts to contain their space activities, the Chinese do not today view themselves as competing with the United States in human spaceflight he added. At the same time, Kulacki observed, there is considerable uncertainty in China over U.S. intentions and motivations with regard to future space collaboration between the two countries. 6 ISECG, The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Coordination, May 2007, available at http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/isecg/Global_Exploration_Strategy_Framework.pdf. 7 See http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/exploration/InternationalCoordination/ISECG_ToR.pdf.