Means and Methods of Overcoming Barriers in Cooperation: Mindset Gap as a Legacy of the Cold War and Cooperation in Exploration and Utilization of Cosmic Space
S. A. Popov
Keldysh Research Center
Both in Russia and in the United States, the foundations of the infrastructure for the exploration and the utilization of space were laid in the 1950s to 1970s time frame, i.e., when the creation of progressively more powerful means of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) delivery and space exploration with unmanned and manned spacecraft had both been the highest government priorities and served as metrics of competition between the former USSR and the United States. In effect, each of the two sides had accumulated its own experience. These experiences have shown that space can be a multipurpose venue not only for research objectives but also for practical, socially significant needs, such as economic development, defense, and security. During that period, low-Earth orbits were also viewed as an arena for the deployment of WMD-capable assets and were used for the missions of spacecraft with nuclear propulsion systems.
In the 1970s, the political leaders of the two countries strived to reach mutual understanding on a whole host of world problems. Of course, this could not have left such a priority domain as space out of the picture. A bilateral decision was made to conduct a joint space experiment in the form of the Soyuz-Apollo program. The experiment took place in 1975 and included a docking of the two piloted spacecraft—both of which had been designed by their respective countries in a standalone fashion and to their own standards and specifications—and a docked flight in a low-Earth orbit. This first experience of bilateral space cooperation had shown that, if the political will of the leadership is there, legal, economic, and technological issues can be resolved on the shortest possible notice. However, this successful experience of mutual understanding and cooperation did not receive any worthwhile continuation in the 15 years that followed.
Changes in the Russian political landscape, especially in the early 1990s, have led to a substantial change in government policies in the domain of space-related activities. In today’s Russia, space-related activities are regulated in compliance with generally accepted principles and norms of international law, international treaties to which Russia is a party, and the law “On Space-Related Activities.” A number of other laws and regulations are also in effect in Russia, including those on international military cooperation in technology, space-based nuclear energy development, and export control.
In Russia, space-related activities include the design and operation of space vehicles, related hardware, materials, and technologies; rendering of other space-related services; and Russia’s international cooperative efforts in the fields of space exploration and utilization. The list of Russia’s space priorities includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Expansion in scale and an increase in the returns from the operation of space-based systems and infrastructure and the use of space technology for economic, scientific, and social well-being needs;
Strengthening of Russia’s defense and security; and
Expansion of international cooperation to stimulate further integration of Russia into the global economic system and to ensure international security.
The vision is that Russia’s space activities should
Observe modern international law and international agreements regulating countries’ activities related to the exploration and utilization of cosmic space (including agreements made by the former USSR, as well as those in effect today);
Observe the stipulations of the regime governing the transfer of Russia’s space technologies to other countries; and
A balanced combination and development of dual-use space technologies (which have scientific or economic significance along with a defense/security application).
Currently, Russia’s exports of missile technologies, products, and technologies of dual use are conducted in a legal environment constituted by federal laws, presidential edicts,
and government resolutions and directives. These documents define the process established for the issuance of export licenses and relevant export control mechanisms. At the core of this body of law are the guiding principles of the international control regime for the export of conventional weapons and dual-use items and technologies.
The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was set up in 1987, at the initiative of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan. Its introduction was motivated by the need to prevent missile technology proliferation.
An important milestone in activities seeking to maintain the MTCR was Russia’s ascension to it in 1995. Today, a total of 28 countries support the MTCR. The main elements of the MTCR include guiding principles and export restrictions on the delivery of the items, materials, and technologies used to produce missile weaponry.
The guiding principles of the MTCR define general criteria for the control of missile technology transfer, as well as specifics relevant to the logistical side of exports. The MTCR remains the world’s only multilateral mechanism which actually counters the proliferation of dangerous missile weaponry. It has become an important part of the system of international treaties and agreements that seek to prevent the transfer of arms and technology which could be used to produce WMD or the means of their delivery.
In the late 1980s-early 1990s, the issue of a conventional weapons ban and reductions as a means of strengthening world security grew rapidly in significance, alongside the reductions in strategic arms. To respond to this development, representatives of 28 countries, including Russia, gathered in December 1995 in Wassenaar, The Netherlands, outside The Hague, to form a multilateral control regime for exports of conventional weapons and sensitive products and technologies. On June 12, 1996, in Vienna, Austria, the participants of a meeting that had just been held there made the decision to have the Wassenaar Agreement enter into force. The goal of the Agreement was to expand cooperation in the prevention of arms acquisition and dual-use items for a military end use in cases in which the situation in some country or the politics of this country’s government became a concern for the international community.
Pursuant to the Wassenaar Agreement, Russia has set up a system of export controls for sensitive items and technologies of the military or dual-use variety. At the core of the legal environment here are federal laws “On Export Control” (No. 183 of July 18, 1999) and “On Military and Technical Cooperation between the Russian Federation and Foreign States” (No. 114 of July 9, 1998) and associated presidential edicts and government resolutions.
The main objectives of export control are
To protect the interests of the Russian Federation;
To honor the requirements of international treaties to which Russia is a signatory in terms of the nonproliferation of WMD, their means of delivery, and the establishment of export controls over military and dual-use items; and
To create conditions for the integration of Russia’s economy into the world economy.
In the Russian Federation, export control is conducted through regulation of foreign economic activity. The regulation methods include
Identification of items and technologies subject to control, i.e., comparing specific raw materials, equipment, scientific and technical information, operations, services, and results of intellectual work traded in external economic transactions against items and technologies included in “control lists” approved by the president;
The process which mandates that an approval must be granted before one can engage in external economic transactions involving controlled items and technologies; it employs licensing or some other form of state regulation as a tool;
Customs control and customs clearance, upon leaving the Russian Federation, of controlled items and technologies, in accordance with Russian Customs Law;
Hard currency control over the conduct of external economic transactions in items, information, services, and the results of intellectual work, including the timeliness and completeness of hard currency transfers to accounts in authorized Russian banks; and
Use by the state of coercive measures (sanctions) against persons who have violated (or attempted to violate) the established process—spelled out in the Russian federal laws and other government regulations—for the conduct of external economic transactions in items, information, services, and results of intellectual work which could be used to produce WMD, their means of delivery, and other armaments and weaponry.
When conducting space-related activities
The Russian party has the right to attract nonbudget sources of funding, including personal savings;
Organizations and private citizens participating in implementation of space-related projects may be entitled to significant guarantees and benefits by the government;
Foreign investment in space activities associated with the execution of federal space programs may be guaranteed through the federal budget funds and federal property;
Foreign investment in space activities into space-related activities conducted by Russian entities and nationals may be guaranteed through the assets of those entities and nationals or through intellectual or other property;
Russia ensures protection of technologies and commercial secrets that belong to foreign entities and nationals engaged in space-related activities on territory under its jurisdiction;
Foreign entities and nationals conducting space-related
activities under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, as well as hardware involved in such activities, are insured against risks associated with space-related activities as per Russian Civil Code and the law “On Space-Related activities”; and
Russian entities and nationals participating in implementation of international space-related projects enter into contracts with foreign entities and nationals according to the Russian body of law, unless these contracts stipulate otherwise.
The regulatory and legal environment that guides the international cooperation of Russian high-tech and science-intensive entities attests to the fact that Russian government policies support Russian participation in international projects dedicated to missile and space technology. The only caveat here is that export control requirements mandated by Russian law and Russia’s international obligations, as they apply to nuclear and missile technologies, duel-use technologies, and the protection of Russian intellectual property, be observed.
Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of achievements in space technology may have a dual purpose, these new principles of the Russian government’s space policy have allowed expansion of the U.S.-Russian mutual interests realm manifold.
Among the most prominent projects that have been or that are being implemented by the government were joint space experiments on the Russian space station Mir and U.S. Space Shuttle vehicles (in the mid-1990s) and the ongoing International Space Station (ISS) assembly and operation program. At present, Russia’s Federal Space Program has provisions that call for the completion of international commitments to manufacture, deploy, and operate the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS. The objectives include: fundamental and applied research, ISS resupply and outfitting, and International Search and Rescue System (COSPAS-SAPSAT) satellite constellation maintenance.
The assembly, operation, and purposed utilization of the ISS are the clearest examples of international cooperation in space research. The partner space agencies participating in the assembly of the ISS expect that the cooperation and coordination of activities during the preparation and implementation of science programs on the ISS will help achieve most efficient utilization of each individual partner’s capabilities and core competencies.
Among the projects constituting the Russian Federal Space Program in the years leading to 2015, special importance is assigned to manned spaceflight and research on the ISS. The Russian side views the ISS as a base for further international cooperation on the basis of the experience of working together logistically, legally, and organizationally. In the context of future manned spaceflight projects, the already existing experience of running the ISS testifies to the need to keep in mind the notions of the compatibility, mutual complementarity, and interchangeability of life support assets provided by the different international partners. This means that when national space programs are implemented, one should also work toward the universal interoperability of various key components achieved as early in the project sequence as possible. Examples here include such systems as crew transportation vehicles to deliver crew to their long-term outposts and bring them back (both nominally and in the event of an emergency) and life support systems which make possible their life and work onboard.
It is noteworthy that both Russia and the United States view the ISS assembly and operation program as a necessary stage before future implementation of research projects and programs on the Moon, Mars and beyond can be undertaken. It also serves as a prerequisite for prospective studies of the Sun-Earth linkages, astrophysics research, and other programs intended to expand our knowledge base about the solar system and the universe. A certain number of such projects are already envisioned in the Russian Federal Space Program for implementation before 2015 and in the new U.S. Vision for Space Exploration announced on January 14, 2004. Work has already started on hammering out common approaches to multilateral implementation of new projects in a broad international cooperative setting. For instance, on November 16-18, 2004, the United States hosted an international conference attended by representatives of 19 space agencies of principal international partners.
The participants voiced their support for the idea of long-term cooperation, but they also pointed out the importance of government support of this cooperation. Continuous coordination and ongoing contacts are vital for its development. The participants also supported the idea of continuation of this dialog and equal partnership rooted in mutual respect. Finally, they expressed interest in working out the common standards needed to resolve the compatibility problem.
Therefore, it follows that U.S.-Russian projects and programs undertaken on an intergovernmental level are possible; they work and have prospects for long-term development. However, the Russian law also allows, under the government’s control and with its assistance, mutually beneficial cooperation in space-related activities on lower levels (e.g., joint ventures, the interaction of individual scientific and production facilities, and projects under the auspices of the International Science and Technology Center).
Among successful joint ventures, the Sea Launch venture can be singled out for the novelty of its organizational and technical solutions. The joint venture Sea Launch is an international company that has set up and operated, on a commercial basis, a sea-based space launch facility which combines modified Zenit booster rockets with DM upper stages. The venture comprises constituent facilities in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and Norway. The Yuzhnoe design bureau (Ukraine) is the lead organization for the launch vehicles; the Russian Space Corporation Energia is the lead
organization for the DM upper stage and integration of the launch support equipment located on the Assembly and Command Ship and Launch Platform; the Boeing Commercial Space Company of the United States is the lead organization for the payload unit; and the Kvarner Group of Norway is the lead organization for the Assembly and Command Ship and the Launch Platform. The first demonstration launch was conducted on March 27, 1999; the first commercial launch was conducted on October 10, 1999. So far, about 10 launches have been conducted.
In terms of the issues of concern which the Sea Launch joint venture has encountered, the following challenges need to be pointed out:
Preservation of scientific and technological know-how and intellectual property;
Definition and incorporation into international space law—which regulates countries’ liabilities for space-related activities—of the unique features of the Sea Launch project run by privately owned companies (i.e., the notions of “launching country” and “liability for damage to a third party” will gain in prominence); and
Provision of legal support for the project (e.g., delineating ownership rights, defining areas of liability and criminal responsibility, licensing, and insurance).
In terms of gaps in the existing body of law, it needs to be noted that aspects of the technology protection regime such as technology protection plans still have not made it into law. Still, some progress has been made:
Russian Government Resolution No. 62 of January 25, 2000, entitled “On Signing an Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America on Measures to Protect Technologies in Light of Launches from Russian Launch Sites in Plesetsk and Svobodny and Launch Pad in Kapustin Yar of U.S.-Licensed Spacecraft” and
“Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Government of the Russian Federation, and the Government of the United States of America on Measures to Protect Technologies in Light of Launches by Russia from Launch Site in Baikonur of U.S.-Licensed Spacecraft” of January 26, 1999. The Agreement was ratified by Federal Law No. 165-F3 on December 29, 2000.
Among the projects initiated by individual production facilities of the space industry, Energomash’s RD-180 engine production for U.S. Atlas boosters deserves to be mentioned. So, too, does the sale to the United States of Russian NK-33 liquid-propellant engines designed by the Kuznetsov design bureau left over from Russia’s Moon Program, granting to the Aerojet company of the United States the licensing rights to manufacture these engines; and Khimavtomatika research into upgrading of the U.S. RL-10 oxygen-hydrogen engine.
There are also examples of mutually beneficial cooperation in satellites (e.g., Bion biosatellites, hydrometeorological Meteor satellites, downlink of Earth remote-sensing data from Russian spacecraft, and the use of U.S. equipment on Russian spacecraft and vice versa. However, to ensure that favorable conditions for efficient and mutually beneficial cooperation in space technology are secured, it makes sense to provide government support to the most important innovative space and rocketry projects. The support may be provided through
Government guarantees for international loans taken to implement such projects and
Exemption from the value-added tax, duties, and other customs fees on foreign components, elements, and other units intended for a limited-number production of various Russian spacecraft needs to upgrade its orbital constellation or to ensure its extended active existence in orbit. This provision could also work for foreign experimental, simulation, or testing articles that do not have domestically produced equivalents and are procured to upgrade the facilities of lead research and development institutes.
Currently, U.S.-Russian cooperation in space exploration for defense purposes is limited to only one such project: RAMOS (Russian-American Observation Satellite). Work has been started; but in 2004, at the initiative of the U.S. side, this cooperative effort was put on hold. The project entailed joint development, launch, and on-orbit utilization of two experimental spacecraft, the Russian ROS (Russian Observation Satellite) and the U.S. AOS (American Observation Satellite), designed to monitor the target environment, detect and track launched ballistic missiles with the use of multispectral sensing equipment, and compile a ballistic missile plume spectra database. The RAMOS system could have been used for Earth observation and environmental applications. The RAMOS project was funded from the budget of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). On the Russian side, the development of ROS was led by the Khrunichev Center. Its area of responsibility included spacecraft platform design, some detection sensor work, and two spacecraft launches on the Russian Rokot delivery vehicle. The spacecraft were scheduled for launch in 2008. The U.S. side was stressing the importance of the RAMOS program for the overall security of the two countries, given the improvements in missile launch detection and early-warning technologies. However, in 2004, the NDA decided to terminate work on the RAMOS project, stating that it would make more sense to cooperate in more beneficial ballistic missile defense projects. Since both participants were supposed to have equal access to information, the U.S. side was especially concerned with the possibility of a leak regarding U.S. technologies used in early-warning sensors
and the effectiveness of the U.S. space-based early-warning system that employs them. Essentially, the termination of the RAMOS program came as a consequence of the fundamentally new political situation that materialized after the United States had decided to withdraw from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty and expedite the development of the National Missile Defense system and its space component.
Space-based nuclear power could be an important and promising aspect of the U.S.-Russian high-tech cooperation which contributes to the building of greater mutual trust. The cooperation could be geared toward the joint development of nuclear power generation, as well as nuclear propulsion systems and spacecraft that use such systems. It seems that cooperation in this field will be most instrumental for boosting the collaborative spirit and mutual understanding in the area of nuclear nonproliferation.
In the early 1990s, the TOPAZ International Program was initiated. It was funded from the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative Organization’s budget, specifically, from the line item intended for space-based nuclear power generation systems (Assessment of the TOPAZ International Program, TOPAZ Committee, Washington, D.C., 1996). The TOPAZ program included the following activities: nonnuclear testing in the United States of Russian Yenisey-class units (the TSET subprogram), flight testing of a TOPAZ II reactor in conjunction with electric rocket engines (the NEPSTEP subprogram), and development of a 40-kilowatt thermal emission unit. The TOPAZ system was not completed because of insufficient funding and, most importantly, as a result of the absence of clear plans, on the part of the United States, to launch space missions which would require nuclear propulsion. At the same time, the TOPAZ Evaluation Commission noted the need to reorient the program and recommended that it be continued on a long-term basis. That, the commission argued, would take advantage of mergers of mutually beneficial U.S. and Russian programs and utilize Russian technologies to achieve national security objectives.
In the United States, the efforts to develop new nuclear power generation systems for space use resumed in 2002 within the framework of the Nuclear System Initiative. In 2003, this program was supplemented by the development of a spacecraft with a nuclear propulsion system. The spacecraft was to explore three moons of Jupiter: Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. The program was dubbed Prometheus; the project of designing interplanetary station JIMO was started within its framework. Russia’s proposals regarding participation in the Prometheus and JIMO projects on high-power nuclear propulsion systems (100 kilowatts and higher) found no support from the U.S. side. One could venture an assumption that this has to do with national security interests because high-power nuclear propulsion may be effectively used in space surveillance systems, including those supporting the ballistic missile defense system.
Many years of U.S.-Russian bilateral cooperation in space have shown that the most fruitful and useful form of such cooperation is joint implementation of high-tech projects, including military projects. The logistical organization of such projects can vary and may include joint venture formation. The joint work of project managers and their large teams, the purpose of which is the achievement of a common objective, is most helpful in fostering mutual understanding and uprooting mutual mistrust. The mistrust may actually be a by-product of the one’s determination to secure his nation’s interests rather than a result of the negative stereotypes of the Cold War.