Over 20 years ago in a speech at Moscow State University, President Ronald Reagan noted the implications of space-based information technologies: "Linked by a network of satellites and fiber-optic cables, one individual with a desktop computer and a telephone commands resources unavailable to the largest governments just a few years ago. . . . Like a chrysalis, we're emerging from the economy of the Industrial Revolution."2
The linkages between space, information technologies, and the global economy have accelerated and become even more profound with the widespread use of global positioning system (GPS) technologies and remote sensing imagery and the deeper integration of satellites with terrestrial communications networks. Traveling toward the Earth from deep space, one encounters whole fleets of satellites in geosynchronous and polar orbits that feed and transfer information to their commercial, military, and scientific users. Even a few educational and hobbyist payloads are in orbit or hosted on other spacecraft.
Given the scope and diversity of these space systems, it is impossible to imagine the modern global economy—not to mention modern U.S. military forces—functioning without them. This dependency in turn has led to concerns about potential attacks against space systems. While media and academic debates focus on the prospect of weapons in space—in particular, the offensive application of force from space—in actuality, existing or even prospective military capabilities are nonexistent.3 Instead, the United States has focused on improving space situational awareness, defensive counterspace (that is, protecting friendly space capabilities from enemy attack or interference), and repairing military space programs that have encountered cost, schedule, and technical difficulties.
Spacepower has been a difficult concept to define even with a half-century of global experience with space flight and operations. Although the topic has been raised in professional military circles for decades, space-based forces lack widely accepted military doctrine, which is not the case for land, sea, and air forces. Part of the challenge is that space systems do not directly represent "hard" or traditional military capabilities. Rather, space systems enable these capabilities. Space systems tend to represent or imply other capabilities that may have great political significance (for example, the Soviet demonstration of its intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] capabilities with the launch of Sputnik and the U.S. demonstration of precision strike using GPS in the first Gulf War). These capabilities take time to comprehend and understand. Even purely civilian space activities, such as the Apollo missions to the Moon or the creation of the International Space Station, can be forms of spacepower. They shape and influence international perceptions of the United States, even though they have no direct relation to U.S. military capabilities. Finally, the ability to design, develop, and deploy space systems is also a form of economic power. Not only can U.S. entities create the hardware and integrate the systems, they also have the business management skills needed to raise funding in open markets across international boundaries.
The use of space today reflects the full range of national and international interests, and its use tomorrow likely will reflect those same interests. If humanity succeeds in expanding civilization beyond Earth, what will be the values and the national and international interests that shape the expansion? Spacepower is not the same as, and need not imply, space-based weapons (which do not exist). Nor can spacepower be considered a purely symbolic concept given the criticality of space to military and economic systems. As will be argued, spacepower will be shaped and defined by national security and commercial objectives, and more generally by the competing and cooperating interests of the public and private sectors.
What is Spacepower?
In an analogy to airpower and seapower, the term spacepower would seem to imply the employment of military forces operating in a distinct medium (the space environment) to achieve some national goal or military objective. A decade ago, U.S. Air Force doctrine defined spacepower as the "capability to exploit space forces to support national security strategy and achieve national security objectives."4 It also defined air and space power as "the synergistic application of air, space, and information systems to project global strategic military power." These definitions were criticized as incomplete, as they did not capture important realities of existing and potential military space activities.5
First, there was the implied assumption that the identification of military space forces alone provides the necessary and sufficient conditions for understanding the strategic power of the Nation with respect to space. Yet the reality of modern space activity is that civil and commercial systems also play an important role in the Nation's space capabilities and affect their ability to achieve national security objectives. Partnerships between military, civil, and commercial communities are vital to the successful execution of national and military security strategies (for example, communications, environmental monitoring, and logistics). Thus, spacepower should be understood as more than military forces. As General Hap Arnold said of airpower: "Airpower is the total aviation activity—civilian and military, commercial and private, potential as well as existing."6 The same thought can and should be applied to a complete definition of spacepower.
Second, the definitions implied that spacepower was focused on "global" and "strategic" concerns alone. This is understandable, as national security space capabilities (including military and intelligence uses) have historically been thought of as enabling strategic functions for nuclear operations and national-level intelligence collection, for example. This is, however, an overly narrow view that became outmoded by the first Gulf War. Through the 1990s, space capabilities were becoming increasingly visible and vital to military operations. They assisted in the execution of hostile actions but also played a role in peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. Consequently, space forces were recognized as more than a tool for achieving strategic global objectives, as was the case during the Cold War. They became an integral part of how U.S. forces operated across the spectrum.
Third, the definitions gave the impression of being taken at one point in time—that is, at the instant during which power is being projected in support of a national objective. Power can be thought of as the ability to not only employ forces but also to shape the battlespace before the initiation of conflict. As with other forms of national power, both absolute and relative capabilities are important: what are my forces capable of doing, and how do they compare with those of potential adversaries? Since space-power is more than military forces alone, it should be understood as something that can evolve. The ability to shape the actions of others may be as significant as what can be accomplished unilaterally.7
As with any evolving military field, one can expect intense debates over doctrine. Like the emergence of airpower and seapower, spacepower is both similar to and different than other forms of military and national power. As the following examples illustrate, spacepower has many different facets depending on one's perspective and objectives. From the viewpoint of the tactical commander, spacepower represents capabilities that can help put "bombs on target." To the regional commander, spacepower represents capabilities that shape the entire battlespace, including the provision of logistical support and the use of joint and combined arms. The regional commander's view is broader than the lower level commander's view.8 From the viewpoint of the President and Congress, the battlespace is only one of several areas of concern. Domestic political support, relations with allies and coalition partners, and economic conditions also must be considered. Spacepower, therefore, is connected to other forms of national power, including economic strength, scientific capabilities, and international leadership. National leaders may use military spacepower to achieve nonmilitary objectives or exploit nonmilitary capabilities to enhance military spacepower.
An assessment of spacepower should include all of the Nation's space capabilities, at all levels and timeframes, even in peacetime before conflict begins. In this regard, spacepower would be more properly defined as the pursuit of national objectives through the medium of space and the use of space capabilities.9 Although broad and general, this definition focuses on national objectives, the use of space as a medium distinct from land, air, or sea, and the use of space-based capabilities. The effective exercise of space-power may require, but is not limited to, the use of military forces.
More recent Air Force definitions of spacepower have become more inclusive:
Space power. a. The capability to exploit space forces to support national security strategy and achieve national security objectives (Air Force Doctrine Document [AFDD] 1). b. The capability to exploit civil, commercial, intelligence, and national security space systems and associated infrastructure to support national security strategy and national objectives from peacetime through combat operations (AFDD 1–2). c. The total strength of a nation's capabilities to conduct and influence activities, to, in, through, and from space to achieve its objectives.10
The first definition is a traditional, military-focused one, while the second includes use of nonmilitary capabilities to achieve national security objectives. The third definition refers to the total strength of the Nation. However, there are no definitions that refer to using nonmilitary capabilities to shape the environment before conflicts occur or using military capabilities to advance nonmilitary national objectives. This chapter focuses on the nature and uses of spacepower at strategic and policy levels in both military and nonmilitary applications.
Schools of Thought in Space Advocacy
Pioneering space advocates, such as Wernher von Braun, readily adopted the idea that government can and should fund space work. In a series of articles for Collier's magazine in the 1950s, von Braun sketched out his vision for space development. First came orbiting satellites, followed by manned reusable vehicles, then a space station, bases on the Moon, and finally an expedition to Mars. The color drawings were vivid and realistic, and the magazine was inundated with inquiries on how one could become an astronaut. The "von Braun paradigm" of space development—represented by the step-by-step creation of reusable shuttles, space stations, lunar bases, and Mars expeditions—seemed so logical and direct that it continues to hold sway years later.11 Over the past few decades, reports recommending future space activities have repeatedly endorsed these same basic elements, building progressively more complex capabilities on the basis of government-funded research.
Disappointment with the ending of the first lunar explorations and reduction in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) spending in the 1970s led space advocates to form educational and advocacy organizations, including the National Space Institute and the L5 Society. The latter was particularly interesting in that it did not advocate a variation of the von Braun paradigm but rather envisioned creating large settlements in free space, mining the Moon and asteroids for resources, and constructing solar-power satellites to beam energy back to Earth. In reaction in part to the "Limits to Growth" arguments, which predicted a looming disaster due to overpopulation, accelerated industrialization, malnutrition, dwindling resources, and a deteriorating environment, these advocates saw space as a means to adventure and a solution to environmental and natural resource problems on Earth.12 American space advocates typically shared the view that human expansion into space was both desirable and inevitable. This new form of manifest destiny was consistent with U.S. history. The frontier always has been viewed as a utopian wilderness, ripe for satisfying various philosophical and emotional needs, while at the same time being subject to extensive military and economic government interventions to meet those needs.13 Examples of government interventions on the frontier include land grants, support for education and transcontinental railways, and the use of the Army to protect settlers and traders.14 In contrast to the westward expansion across North America between 1800 and 1890, however, much more substantial technical, economic, and political constraints exist that hinder space development. These constraints quite literally create higher barriers to entry. This has prompted some advocates to support greater government spending, while others have looked to private enterprise to "open the frontier."
In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan called for a Strategic Defense Initiative to use space weapons to defend the Nation from ballistic missile attacks. Multiple groups formed educational organizations, such as High Frontier, to support space development as part of a stronger national defense. In a variation on the von Braun paradigm, advocates supported the creation of massive launch systems and a space infrastructure to support a global defense network. With this infrastructure in place, other space activities, such as mining the Moon or sending probes farther into the solar system, would become easier and more affordable.
A common thread running through the various "post-Apollo" visions was the need for a revolutionary effort, like Apollo, to meet some overarching goal. In some cases, the motivation was to solve an energy crisis; in others, it was to defeat a military threat. The L5 Society thought that space could be colonized by a large number of people who could create whole new societies and earn their way through exports of energy back to Earth. But even they saw the need for government involvement and leadership to start the process. While the details may vary, the fundamental rationale for a national-level space effort has remained unchanged. The Nation pursues space as a way to secure scientific knowledge, security, international cooperation, and other benefits to humanity.
Meanwhile, new commercial space capabilities grew independently of the government, and now commercial investment exceeds government spending (civil and military) on space.15 Rather than a government-driven, revolutionary development, the growth of space commerce has been largely a market-driven, evolutionary one. Given the cost of access to space, it is not surprising that the primary "cargo" now being transported between Earth and space is massless photons carrying bits of data. But these bits are part of a larger global information infrastructure that has created a new "skin" for the planet. Some of this skin is buried under the sea and underground in cables; some of it is composed of microwave relays and cellular phone networks; and some of it is in orbit, consisting of communications, GPS, and remote sensing satellites. Some of these satellites are purely commercial, while others are government-owned but used by private companies for commercial applications. The term dual-use in space systems, therefore, encompasses both "civil-military" and "public-private" applications.
The growth of commercial space capabilities calls attention to the interplay between public and private interests in dual-use space technologies, which include launch services, communications, navigation, and remote sensing. These technologies have great potential to shape which national capabilities actually occur and whether American interests are advanced or harmed as they are adopted in global markets. In contrast to when the von Braun paradigm was created, the size and scope of commercial space activity are immense. Events such as SpaceShipOne's 2004 suborbital flight and Bigelow Aerospace's 2006 demonstration of an inflatable structure in space, and private financing of new launch vehicles, such as SpaceX's Falcon, indicate the increasing sophistication of space entrepreneurs. The combination of well-established industries and dynamic new entrants is creating opportunities for governments as well. The Defense Department hopes to use the Falcon launch vehicle for small payloads, and NASA hopes to buy commercial launch services to support the International Space Station after the administration retires the space shuttle in 2010. Public interest in space tourism was not created by government policy; private citizens have expressed a desire to travel to space and have spent millions of dollars of their own money for the privilege. This interest could some day evolve into a viable market that will attract entrepreneurs, who in turn may create capabilities that governments can use without having to pay for their development.
Single government projects by themselves may be vital, but they are not always interesting or indicative of future challenges. Many commercial activities rely on government policies and actions, but they are independent of government command or direct control. Markets, funding, and even technologies are almost completely international. Government spending, while still dominant in many space markets, is not as important or even as attractive as it once was. As a consequence, it is insufficient to focus only on government space programs and budgets. Space analysts and policymakers need to address the more subtle relations between government actions and private markets. New schools of thought are needed that recognize a greater role for the private sector in creating and sustaining capabilities relevant to the Nation's spacepower.
Two Cultures: Merchants and Guardians
The scope and size of public-private interactions in space have implications for space doctrine, advocacy, and policy. Some of these interactions arise from debates over the choice of mechanisms, markets, or governments for accomplishing some objective.16 For example, to what extent should the government rely on commercial space services, such as communications satellites or expendable launch vehicles? To what extent should the government provide space-based navigation and environmental monitoring services, which have commercial applications? Other interactions concern the competitiveness of commercial capabilities and how their viability affects choices by foreign governments. For example, can the proliferation of ballistic missile technologies be discouraged by the availability of low-cost launch services? What restrictions should be applied to private remote sensing activities if a country objects to having its territory imaged? Finally, some interactions affect common needs, such as international security, global trade, and even the radio spectrum. Does the widespread availability of Earth remote sensing data enhance regional stability? What restrictions, if any, should apply to sales of launch services from nonmarket economies? How should the use of the radio spectrum by public safety and national security organizations be protected from commercial interests and vice versa?
Public policy choices, whether those of the U.S. Government, foreign governments, or the international community in general, are subject to many distinct influences. Perhaps the most pervasive influences, however, are the underlying assumptions the public and private sectors bring to these choices. These assumptions constitute what has been termed as two cultures, those of the Guardians and those of the Merchants.17 The term Guardians comes from Plato's The Republic. It includes members of the political class who are responsible for governing and teaching. In space policy, one finds many examples of Guardians, good and bad, among career civil servants, military officers, political appointees, congressional staff, journalists, academics, and even the occasional corporate officer and professional politician. The term Merchants refers to the group of people whose culture encourages energy and risk-taking. Although examples are mostly found in business and to a lesser extent in international science, they sometimes are represented in government, the military, and academia.
Merchant behavior is found in peaceful competition; contracts and the ability to work with strangers are accepted as normal parts of commerce. People divided by language, ethnicity, and distance will come together in a marketplace, if nowhere else, to trade. Relationships need not be permanent, outside of family, but rather flexible and transitory as necessary to make mutually beneficial deals. This flexibility creates opportunities for social movement, the absorption of immigrants, and invention. The motto "city air is free air" arose in the Middle Ages. It recognized a society free from the restrictions imposed by nobility and the church.
The role of Guardians is to protect some larger goal or system, such as society, the government, or a political philosophy. As a consequence of their public functions, Guardians are expected to be loyal, obedient, and disciplined. To avoid corruption and treason, they are enjoined from engaging in trade. To ensure that political decisions are carried out, they must respect hierarchy and the decisions made by recognized authorities. These are not necessarily modern or Western concepts. The samurai of feudal Japan were forbidden to engage in trade, just as tradesmen were forbidden to own weapons. One of the main features of a functioning government is an effective monopoly on the exercise of force. This monopoly enables Guardians to carry out other state functions. They can impose and collect taxes, establish rules and regulations, and negotiate agreements with other states.
The roles of Guardians and Merchants are in tension, but intimately linked. For the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith's market economy to function, a predictable, supportive environment must exist to create wealth. The creation and maintenance of such an environment requires the use of government power as the hidden (or sometimes overt) fist to enable the rule of law. Ideally, the need for actual force is minimized when the consent of the governed is secured via a democratic process. Whether by diplomats or soldiers, it is government power that establishes justice and provides for the common defense. Even the staunchest advocates of limited government recognize the need for preventing cases of force (by protecting against criminal violence or military aggression) and fraud (through enforcement of contracts). Thus, the key characteristics of the West—democracy, a liberal, pluralistic civil society, and capitalism—are shaped by the competition and cooperation of Merchant and Guardian cultures.
While both Guardians and Merchants may be necessary to society, they can create serious problems when they either fail to do their duty or seek to take on the role of the other. In space policy, these problems arise when the government conducts space transportation and communications or other commercial-like activities. Similarly, conflicts occur when the government does not carry out its duties and inhibits industry. Failing to uphold regulations or respond to complaints of unfair competition from foreign governments is a good example. Conversely, Merchants should not be made responsible for Guardian functions. For space activities, these can mean the enforcement of export controls, the negotiation of international spectrum allocations, or even the conduct of crucial military functions (for example, missile warnings). This is not to say Merchants cannot be patriotic or reliable, but their functions require the public service traits of a Guardian culture.
It has been said that the environments of business and government are alike in all the unimportant ways. Civil servants and businesspeople may use the same telephones and office software, occupy similar offices and parking spaces, read the same newspapers, and even attend the same churches. But their daily work and worldviews are likely alien to each other. Businesspeople in foreign countries are likely to speak a common cultural language, just as civil servants and soldiers find common touchstones with their foreign counterparts. Conversations across these separate cultures can avoid mutual incomprehension if they first recognize that they possess distinct worldviews and personalities.
"Merchants and Guardians" in the 21st Century
In the 10 years since the original presentation of the "Merchants and Guardians" paper,18 several dramatic events have occurred, notably the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington and the global war on terrorism, the 2003 loss of the space shuttle Columbia, and President Bush's 2004 speech on the "Vision for Space Exploration." Over the same period, conditions in the commercial space industry have evolved greatly. Space-based information systems have continued to grow, with direct TV, direct audio broadcasting, and ancillary terrestrial components to mobile satellite services (MSS) filling in for the collapse of overly optimistic MSS expectations. After emerging from bankruptcy, Iridium and Globalstar are today serving customers worldwide. A new generation of better financed entrepreneurs is developing suborbital and orbital launch vehicles and Soyuz-based tourist flights to the International Space Station. The provision of these services has become a familiar, if not routine, occurrence. The prospects of space tourism are being taken more seriously, and as a result, commercial space ventures are starting to progress beyond the movement of photons (information) and into the movement of actual mass, including people.
The most significant event for the civil space sector was the loss on reentry of Columbia on February 1, 2003. As in the case of the Challenger accident, the tragic loss of the crew and one-fourth of the Nation's shuttle fleet led to a deep reexamination of why the United States was risking human lives in space. In the aftermath of Challenger, President Reagan directed NASA to use the space shuttle only to launch those satellites that could not use commercial launch services. Human lives would not be risked to perform tasks that could be done just as effectively by unmanned rockets. This action also eliminated the shuttle as a source of government competition to commercial suppliers and helped to jump-start a viable commercial launch industry.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) criticized NASA not only for the technical failures leading to the accident, but also for a lack of national focus and rationale for risking human life. In its report, the CAIB observed that there had been a "lack, over the past three decades, of any national mandate providing NASA a compelling mission requiring human presence in space."19 So while the Challenger accident resulted in a decision forbidding the risking of human life for certain purposes, the Columbia accident raised the question: for what purposes was human life worth risking? These questions sparked internal White House discussions during the fall of 2003, which were expanded to include NASA and other agencies.20 The answer was provided in President Bush's January 14, 2004, announcement at NASA headquarters of a new "Vision for Space Exploration." With the completion of the International Space Station, the shuttle program would end in 2010, and a new generation of spacecraft would conduct a "sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond."21 If human lives were to be placed at risk, the potential gain would be commensurate and require explorations beyond low Earth orbit.
Congress later endorsed the objectives of the President's speech in the passage of the 2005 NASA Authorization. After a prolonged start-up phase in 2004, as NASA considered a range of technologies and options to fulfill the direction of the President and Congress, work accelerated with the arrival of Michael Griffin as the new NASA administrator in April 2005. He summarized the proposition of the "Vision for Space Exploration" in a speech before the National Space Club on February 9, 2006:
We assume risk in human spaceflight because leadership in this endeavor is a strategic imperative for the United States. . . . Our Nation needed to decide whether the goals and benefits of human spaceflight were commensurate with the costs and risks of this enterprise, and that for this to be true, those goals must lie beyond the simple goals achievable in low-Earth orbit. . . . The Agency is directed to "establish a program to develop a sustained human presence on the Moon, including a robust precursor program, to promote exploration, science, commerce, and United States preeminence in space, and as a stepping stone to future exploration of Mars and other destinations". . . . We will do these things in concert with other nations having similar interests and values. And, as we look forward to the events that will define this century and beyond, I have no doubt that the expansion of human presence into the solar system will be among the greatest of our achievements.22
During 2005, NASA defined its architecture for returning humans to the Moon. The agency designed a new generation of launch vehicles for taking humans and cargo to space, including a heavy-lift cargo launcher that would play a vital role in sending humans to Mars. In contrast to the von Braun paradigm, NASA's exploration plans build new capabilities gradually and incrementally to adapt to changing budget priorities. In essence, it is a "go-as-you-pay" philosophy. These plans also make more intentional use of commercial capabilities. The largest single example is the $500-million Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to help develop commercial sources of crew and cargo services for the International Space Station. In August 2006, NASA selected SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler to develop and demonstrate their vehicles with partial NASA support. Under the Space Act Agreements, the work will be performed before a competitive award of service contracts. If successful, commercial suppliers could help support the International Space Station after NASA completes the shuttle assembly missions. They also could provide alternatives to the use of foreign launch systems. This would in turn free up the shuttle's planned follow-on systems, including the Crew Launch Vehicle (Aries) and Crew Exploration Vehicles (Orion), to support lunar operations.
The "Vision for Space Exploration" is an example of the use of space-power to achieve national objectives. While the NASA effort is exclusively civil, the capabilities created have the potential to advance U.S. economic, foreign policy, and national security objectives. The process of creating new technologies and systems to operate routinely on the Moon will enable the Nation to venture farther into the solar system—exploring, using local resources, learning new skills, and making new discoveries. In the broadest sense, the "Vision for Space Exploration" is not about repeating Apollo. In the words of the President's science advisor, John Marburger, it seeks to "incorporate the Solar System in our economic sphere."23 Thus, the civil space strategy chosen by the United States can be seen as an effort to advance national interests of a Guardian culture, while using the narrower interests of a Merchant culture. Commercial capabilities strengthen the Nation's space abilities; they also deepen the Nation's interest in securing and protecting any resulting economic benefits.
U.S. national space policy has routinely recognized three distinct sectors of space activity: national security (military, intelligence), commercial, and civil (including both scientific research and services, such as weather forecasting).24 The functions performed by each can be organized along a spectrum, depending on whether they are driven by governments or markets. Satellite communications occupy one end of the spectrum and are largely driven by commercial interests, such as numbers of customers, revenue, and the deployment of new technologies. At the other end are force applications that include space-based weapons and ballistic missile defense systems. Although they may use commercially derived technologies, they are driven by political-military requirements. In the middle are civil government functions that involve public safety. These include weather monitoring and navigation. These positions are not static; they can change over time. For example, GPS was developed to meet military requirements, but civil and commercial entities developed many useful applications of the technology. Space launch capabilities are considered to underlie all space activities and are thus a primary concern for all sectors.
Government and commercial interests in space technologies, systems, and services can intersect. They can be categorized in three segments. First, there are those that only the government would require due to their associated high costs or specialized nature. Examples include space-qualified fission-power reactors and space-based observatories. Interactions are at government direction, mainly through contracts and grants. Second, there are segments dominated by the private sector due to the size of global markets and diffusion of underlying technologies. Examples of this segment include information technologies and biotechnologies. Governments are important for a variety of purposes but do not exercise control. Interactions can be more commercial-like, particularly where the government is another customer or partner. Third, there are gray areas, namely launch services, navigation, and remote sensing. The government is crucial, but not dominant. In these cases, the government may play the role of the research and development patron, anchor customer, service provider, and regulator. It is in these gray areas where the Merchant and Guardian cultures are more likely to clash because of evolving and changing roles. Such clashes can be expected to continue as human activity expands beyond low Earth orbit.
In its major outlines, U.S. space policy has remained remarkably stable since the end of the Cold War. The 2006 National Space Policy of the Bush administration can be seen as a continuation of the 1996 National Space Policy of the Bill Clinton administration, which in turn continued many of the themes of the 1989 National Space Policy of the George H.W. Bush administration. Much of the media commentary after the release of the 2006 policy focused not so much on substance as on presentation and tonal differences, particularly with respect to U.S. national security interests. Foreign governments expressed concern with the new policy, which prompted State Department Under Secretary Robert Joseph to state:
At its most basic level, U.S. space policy has not changed significantly from the beginning of our ventures into space. Consistent with past policies, the United States does not monopolize space; we do not deny access to space for peaceful purposes by other nations. Rather, we explore and use space for the benefit of the entire world. This remains a central principle of our policy. What the new policy reflects, however, are increased actions to ensure the long-term security of our space assets in light of new threats and as a result of our increased use of space.25
In addition to stressing increased U.S. reliance on space assets and clarifying what the new policy did not mean, Joseph tried to bring attention to items that were novel: "The new policy also gives prominence to several goals only touched upon in previous policy documents, including: strengthening the space science and technology base, developing space professionals, and strengthening U.S. industrial competitiveness, especially through use of U.S. commercial space capabilities."
Not surprisingly, these are areas of great common interest for the public and private sectors and areas of friction between the Merchant and Guardian cultures. In addition, the 2006 policy included the need to assure "reliable access to and use of radio frequency spectrum and orbital assignments," which is a logical corollary to ensuring access to the space assets themselves. One cannot run wires to satellites; therefore, spectrum access and protection are of crucial importance, perhaps second only to the launch itself.
A comparison of the 1999 discussion of "Merchant and Guardian" policy conflicts with those seen today reveals many recurring issues. Spectrum management and the burden of export controls remain important, while concerns about competition from nonmarket economies seem to have abated—perhaps as a side effect of continuing export control limitations. However, there is increased interest in space tourism and related regulations, particularly with the 2004 flight of SpaceShipOne and the 2006 coverage of space tourist Anousheh Ansari. The prospect of commercial involvement in lunar operations, in addition to commercial supply of the International Space Station, has led to renewed discussions of private property rights on the Moon and other celestial bodies (to be discussed below).
In recent years, the national security space sector has not experienced developments as outwardly dramatic as those occurring in the commercial and civil space sectors, which have included everything from major accidents and Presidential initiatives to mass media interest. However, the implications of these developments to national security space are just as important, if not more so, for the Nation's spacepower. The past decade has seen a growing concern with the ability of the Defense Department to develop and deploy space systems on time and on budget. Difficulties with major missile warning, communications, and imagery programs, just to name a few, have been widely reported in the press, although specific details are usually highly classified. Even relatively mature programs, such as GPS, have faced difficulties keeping to modernization schedules due to changing requirements, contractor difficulties, and gaps in system engineering expertise. So severe are these difficulties that the U.S. Air Force is reportedly considering "hiring outside engineers or consultants to oversee systems integration of its next-generation navigational satellites."26
In fact, most of the new initiatives in the 2006 National Space Policy address four areas now considered to be serious problems for the U.S. Government: developing a high-quality cadre of space professionals, improving development and procurement systems for space systems, enhancing interagency cooperation, and strengthening the space science, technology, and industrial base.27 Thus, while international media coverage painted the United States as taking a more aggressive military posture in space, the substance of the policy reflected problems in military acquisition programs that in turn stem from deficiencies in government management and contractor capabilities. It is not so much a question of which military capabilities the United States wants to deploy in space, but rather which capabilities it can employ, and whether they are commensurate with the threats and critical dependencies faced by the United States. Rather than the deployment of space-based weapons, as was contemplated during the Cold War, the immediate concerns of the military space sector are more basic. Can the military deliver space-derived services to deployed forces? Can it improve space situational awareness? And can the military get acquisition programs under control?
The organizational challenges for U.S. military spacepower are formidable and too extensive to be treated in this chapter. However, as with all other parts of the national security community, the attacks of September 11 and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have affected U.S. spacepower in three important areas: capabilities, objectives, and relations with allies and partners.
First, space capabilities have been and will continue to be crucial to almost all types of military operations, in all regions, and at all levels of conflict. That said, fiscal and technological limitations make it impossible to create space capabilities ideally suited to all conflicts in all regions, and choices must be made in what to buy and field. This in turn requires choosing among different U.S. military strategy objectives and the consequent force infrastructure to implement that strategy. Prosecuting a conventional conflict against one or more states, up to and including a peer competitor,28 is very different than fighting nonstate actors, rebuilding failed states, and carrying out operations other than war. Uncertainties over strategy objectives create tensions between funding development and operations, between competing technologies, and between which armed services, contractors, and parts of the industrial base should receive resources and attention. It would be easier if the United States could afford two different but interoperable force structures. However, it cannot, and space systems are caught in the debate over objectives.
Second, unrelated to the September 11 attacks, the U.S. defense industrial base has experienced a dramatic consolidation since the end of the Cold War. On one hand, U.S. defense spending is very large—by some estimates almost half of global total spending.29 On the other, like all U.S. industries, defense and space firms have been affected by globalization. New international competitors, increased competition for talent, and concern over market access have become issues. The size and sophistication of U.S. military capabilities, in particular the use of space systems, has made it difficult for all but a few countries (such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization members) to operate easily with U.S. forces. The problems of the U.S. space industrial base cannot be solved by going outside the United States, even if the country wanted to. Comparable sources for the capabilities that the United States needs simply do not exist.
Third, given the divergent but overlapping interests of Merchant and Guardian cultures engaged in space activity, uncertainty over national security objectives, and challenges to the creation of military space capabilities, it is increasingly important that the United States find partners to help shape the global environment before conflict occurs. Potential partners include public and private actors, international civil agencies, and foreign militaries. Shaping the environment means creating mutually beneficial relationships to reduce unintentional as well as intentional threats to crucial space dependencies. Examples include international protection of the space spectrum from interference, effective international enforcement of missile proliferation controls, promotion of common protocols to enhance interoperability of space-based communications, remote sensing and navigation services, and rules for international trade in space-related goods and services. While these steps may benefit foreign countries and companies, they would be even more beneficial to the United States given the country's reliance on space for economic stability and security.
One of the newer and perhaps more difficult areas of conflict between Merchants and Guardians will be that of protecting commercial space infrastructure. As the U.S. military and economy rely more heavily on space, it is natural to worry about potential threats to the infrastructure, just as one might worry about critical ground-based infrastructure. Yet what can or should be done to protect those assets? Should they be hardened or made redundant? Should they carry sensors to warn of attack? Should the protected entity pay for the protection, or should the U.S. Government provide the enhanced security as a public good and cover the costs with tax money? What about internationally financed space infrastructure, which is practically everything commercial in orbit? It is easy to imagine the commercial sector resisting what it would perceive as new regulatory burdens or an "unfunded mandate." Likewise, it is easy to imagine the Defense Department's reluctance to absorb new costs when existing programs face difficulties. Yet the result for failing to protect these assets may be increased vulnerability of the United States and a threat to its ability to exercise spacepower.
To summarize, events over the past several years have accelerated and intensified trends observed in the 1990s. They have shaped public and private sector interactions in space. As a result, leading challenges to the Merchant and Guardian relationship now include:
The Guardians within the U.S. space community are facing great difficulties, but the Merchants also are vulnerable. Weakness in security can be destabilizing because it invites opportunistic attacks and changes the deterrence calculations of adversaries. Weakness in commerce can cause commercial losses as well as longer term damage, especially if weak Guardians allow market distortions to persist because they fail to enforce international trade rules, spectrum regulations, intellectual property protections, and even export controls. In short, globalization is creating greater interdependency between the public and private sectors, not less.
Space Exploration and Spacepower
In spite of uncertainties and challenges in the national security sector, the Nation's interest in pursuing military spacepower is unquestioned. Similarly, the demands of a competitive global economy underscore the national interest in maintaining space-based information systems—most of which are dual use in nature (such as GPS, remote sensing, and communications). Separate from the military and commercial needs are the scientific ones. Although science and exploration are not required to ensure spacepower, the pursuit of knowledge can be seen as a discretionary activity that great nations undertake to help define their society, enhance their international prestige, and create new technologies to benefit people worldwide. What, then, is the enduring role of science and exploration in the spacepower of the Nation?
The Cold War and competition with the Soviet Union for technological preeminence drove the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury programs. Despite the desires of space advocates for the robust industrialization and settlement of space, the United States had not made their aspirations a compelling national interest. Even though the military and commercial sectors benefit enormously from space, it is not impossible to imagine a nation retreating from human spaceflight once it achieved the capability. That was not the case for the former Soviet Union. Even during the most extreme economic turmoil following the fall of communism, Russia did not abandon human spaceflight. In fact, it strived to maintain its program through every possible means. The U.S. "Vision for Space Exploration" is neither Apollo redux nor a commercial venture, and debates among space advocates continue over its purpose and meaning. It is therefore instructive to understand differing perceptions of the rationale for U.S. space exploration plans.
Only tiny minorities of those engaged in space-related policy debates oppose government-funded space activities. Those who do are more concerned with particular uses and technologies, namely nuclear power, space-based weapons, and ballistic missile defenses. In fact, apathy and taking space capabilities for granted are arguably greater problems than direct opposition. At the risk of oversimplification, if not caricature, at least five different schools of thought have evolved from discussions about the priorities of human exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond, and how the Nation should carry out the program.
The first school is that NASA itself is simply responding to the 2004 direction of President Bush and the 2005 NASA Authorization Act. The United States is fulfilling its commitments to its partners under the International Space Station agreements, ending the space shuttle program in 2010 once NASA completes assembling the space station, building a new generation of launch vehicles to ferry crew and cargo to space after the shuttle retires, establishing an outpost on the Moon, and laying the foundations for human expeditions to Mars—all while maintaining a diverse program of scientific research. Given limited budgets, the program is a "go-as-you-pay" effort, and programmatic priorities follow the policy priorities defined by the President and Congress. Given those same limited resources, NASA is open to international cooperation and commercial partnerships in all areas—with the exception of core launch and communications/navigation capabilities that are so strategic as to require avoiding foreign dependency.
The second school argues that the United States does not have the technology to return to the Moon and travel to Mars, at least in a way that will be sustainable and affordable. Thus, the Nation should make the funding and development of new technologies the first priority and not commit to a specific architecture until several years from now. Arguably, NASA tried this approach for about a year after President Bush's speech, generating many interesting ideas and concepts. But the lack of tangible momentum was unsatisfactory to the White House and Congress. Upon confirmation in 2005, the new NASA administrator initiated a 90-day Exploration Systems Architecture Study precisely to help define a specific architecture for implementing human missions to the Moon. Funds were shifted from technology development to pay for new launch vehicles that were based on shuttle components and workforce skills.
This school argues that supporting peer-reviewed science should be the highest priority of NASA and that by implication, exploration efforts are little more than government-funded "tourism." Peer review is seen as providing the most objective assurance of quality; consequently, civil space activities not subject to peer review are seen, almost by definition, as less worthy. More practically, supporters of this school will say they are not intrinsically opposed to exploration because it may generate new opportunities for scientific research. However, they do not believe that funds should be shifted from science missions to pay for exploration. To fund the development of a new launch vehicle while maintaining the shuttle and space station programs, however, NASA chose to slow the rate of growth of science spending to 1 percent over the next several years. In previous budgets, the science community had planned for increases of up to 5 percent for a few years and then 2.4 percent per year as NASA's top line grew with inflation. This slower rate of growth required deferring several planned missions to keep international partner commitments on the space station. The resulting unhappiness with this decision was understandable, but it also reflected a fundamental difference in policy priorities for government funding.
This school is an example of Merchant culture. It argues that the government is so incapable of or grossly inefficient in the creation of space capabilities, especially compared with the private sector, that it should take an entirely different approach to human spaceflight. Instead of development contracts with government oversight, NASA should offer contracts for services, prizes, and other "pay-on-delivery" mechanisms to excite entrepreneurs. The rationale is that this will attract more private capital, create more diverse solutions, and offer a better chance of success than a government "all-eggs-in-one-basket" approach. NASA is seeking to test this argument in part through the COTS program but is hedging its bets (post-shuttle) by having multiple backups for space station supply (use of the Crew Launch Vehicle, Russian launchers). Advocates of this school have argued that the very act of having backups shows NASA is insufficiently committed to commercial sources and therefore is deterring investments that would otherwise occur. Given the policy priorities of the President and Congress, however, it is hard to see how NASA could do otherwise than to hedge its bets. Again, this school reflects a fundamental difference in policy objectives for exploration—in this case, the highest good is growing commercial capabilities rather than doing science.
The fifth school is a form of the old adage, "All politics is local." The primary concern lies with where the government spends its money. States with NASA field centers and major contracts can be expected to support programs that build on existing capabilities. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as minimizing new developments can help control costs. On the other hand, it can cause political resistance, especially if NASA tries to move work from one center to take advantage of workforce skills and efficiencies at another. Therefore, debates over program priorities will be less about policy or products and more about process and the impact on the workforce. As with the "science first" and "commercial first" schools, giving priority to regional interests can result in misdirecting resources. It places parochial interests above national interests and national spacepower.
These differing forms of advocacy for space exploration can obviously affect how NASA pursues international and commercial partnerships. While technological, regional, and scientific advocates can be expected to be lukewarm to government-to-government international cooperation in exploration, the reality of limited budgets and need for such cooperation would suggest that these types of advocates would not be opposed. Even so, the Merchant culture of commercial advocates can be expected to be skeptical of contributions from other governments on a nonmarket basis. For them, it is the process by which space capabilities are acquired, not the product, that matters. In other words, government competition should be opposed. This is another area of Merchant and Guardian conflict. It would be worthwhile for NASA to explain, multiple times if need be, what it sees as a proper role of government in space exploration. Examples could include being a patron of science and other activities, being a reliable customer of commercially available goods and services, and being a fair and transparent regulator to ensure national security and public safety.
Given the competing views, even among space exploration advocates, what does this say about the sustainability of an exploration enterprise that requires several decades? Again at the risk of caricature, advocates of long-term, civil space exploration tend to fall into different camps based on their underlying values. The traditional von Braun paradigm represents a Guardian approach. It sees space exploration as a government activity that adds indirectly to the spacepower of the Nation via new technologies, dual-use capabilities, and increased international influence. There are established government and private-sector interest groups that promote funding for technologies, systems, and partnerships with near-term benefits, especially scientific ones.
Astronomer and author Carl Sagan was an advocate of robotic exploration of the solar system and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He also was an advocate of human spaceflight for one fundamental reason:
every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring—not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive. . . . The more of us beyond the Earth, the greater the diversity of worlds we inhabit . . . then the safer the human species will be.31
While initially skeptical of the scientific value of human spaceflight, Sagan became an advocate for noncommercial and nonmilitary reasons. The use of robots to obtain scientific knowledge was well and good, but humanity itself had a transcendent value, and human spaceflight could contribute to its survival. This Sagan paradigm is very much a Guardian approach, but one that does not yet have an established base in or outside of government, as the potential benefits are beyond the planning horizons of governments, not to mention industry.
Gerard O'Neill was a physicist and author who became an advocate of space colonies, not necessarily on the Moon or Mars, but in free space. He proposed using space resources, via mining the Moon and asteroids, to construct large space habitats and solar-powered satellites to beam energy back to Earth.32 Space development, rather than space exploration, was the focus. It was to be carried out by private companies and quasi-government corporations. In addition to the practical benefits of tapping space resources and energy, the O'Neill paradigm envisioned opportunities in the image of the American frontier. The images of self-sustaining human space settlements appeal to both Merchant and Guardian cultures and with plausible, nearer term steps. Beyond just survival, the O'Neill image offered a way to advance American (or Western, to be more general) values beyond Earth. Unfortunately, the economics of the O'Neill scenario are not realizable with current space capabilities. Even so, the attraction of this encompassing paradigm is as powerful today among space advocates as the one advocated by von Braun.
The point of reviewing the varying visions of space exploration and development is to observe that each represents decades-long efforts. They are adaptable and could persist even in the face of temporary political or fiscal setbacks. Like the "Vision for Space Exploration," they represent directions and purposes to which many different types of space activity could make contributions.
The space capabilities implied by successful space settlements, particularly those in which the United States is a leader, also represent a gigantic increase in the Nation's spacepower. Unfortunately, it is not clear that such capabilities are realizable, although many advocates believe they are. Two important questions are: can humans "live off the land" in space and function independently of Earth for long periods, and are there economically useful activities in space that can sustain human communities there?
If the answer to both questions is yes, then the long-term future in space includes human space settlements. If the answer to both is no, then space remains a place that one might visit briefly for science or tourism, much like going to Mount Everest or other remote locations. If the answer is that one can, in part, live off the land or at least be reliably supplied, then one can imagine space as akin to Antarctica—a place for science, tourism, and habitation by government employees and contractors. Finally, if one cannot live off the land, but the tasks to be performed are economically attractive, then one can imagine habitats like the North Sea oil platforms. These locations may be privately owned and operated, but they cannot really be called settlements (see table 7–1).
Table 7–1. Viability of Space Settlement
These outcomes do not preclude other motivations, such as protection of Earth from hazardous asteroids or the protection of U.S. and allied space infrastructure from hostile attacks. The point is, we do not know which of these outcomes represents our long-term future. Advocates and skeptics may believe one outcome or another is most likely, but no one actually knows. Determining the future of humans in space would be a watershed event not only for spacepower, but also for the United States and humanity. Just as space science can be organized around great questions (How did the solar system form? Is there life elsewhere in the universe?), so might human spaceflight be organized to answer similarly great questions. One of the purposes of human spaceflight is to explore the unknown and see what humans are capable of doing, where they are capable of going, and what communities they can sustain. Taking risks to get that knowledge would seem to be a worthwhile activity for nations that are technically sophisticated and wealthy enough to do so.
Policy Challenges for the Second Space Age
The period from the launch of Sputnik to the last Apollo mission can be considered the first space age—driven by Cold War competition across civil and military sectors. It is unclear when the second space age might begin; some say it started with the launch of the space shuttle, and others say it will start with the end of shuttle flights in 2010. More commercial and international involvement, as well as deep cooperation and conflict across public and private sectors, will characterize the second space age and the role of Merchant and Guardian cultures.
With stable national space policies, many old debates have long remained settled. Save for historians, it is difficult to recall the intense debates over military versus civilian leadership in human spaceflight in the 1960s or the U.S. Government's resistance to commercial space innovations in the 1980s. New debates over spacepower in the second space age will reflect both the growing strength of the Merchants and the worrying weaknesses of the Guardians. As discussed earlier, government space programs are increasingly facing difficulties in delivering capabilities on time and on budget. Limited fiscal resources and concerns over lack of management skills have stoked interest in outsourcing and privatizing government space functions (for example, launch communications, remote sensing, and navigation). Whether it makes sense to change responsibilities for some or any of these functions will make for much debate.
The civil space sector, notably NASA, also sees potential advantages in relying more on the private sector for launch services and other operational capabilities. At the same time, the private sector is looking to open new markets, particularly in the area of space tourism. These markets are not directly of interest to the government, but the dual-use capabilities they could support are. The ongoing issue for the civil space sector likely will be what kinds of mutual interest there might be in human space exploration for the commercial, scientific, international, and perhaps the national security communities. Exploration can be hard to justify on commercial, military, or even purely scientific grounds (one will not find "exploration" among the top priorities of the decadal surveys done by the National Academy of Sciences), but the conduct of exploration can create opportunities for commercial, scientific, and even military interests. Identifying and acting on those mutual interests will be an ongoing part of the second space age as the United States establishes a lunar outpost and prepares for Mars.
The priority for NASA when it returns to the Moon for the first time in decades will be to do so successfully, safely, and affordably. In moving beyond the space shuttle and low Earth orbit operations, NASA is effectively learning to fly again. Just as Gemini was a necessary forerunner to Apollo, so too is the Moon a necessary precursor to Mars. Not only technologies but also organizational and management skills need to be demonstrated. The International Space Station was, and is, a massive educational experience in the assembly and operation of a multinational space facility, and the establishment of a lunar outpost will be as well. This effort will be different from the space station, however. Both international and commercial partners will be involved.
Commercial involvement in a return to the Moon has been the subject of much speculation, but little is definitive.33 Proposals have been made for extracting platinum metals to use in commercial fuel cells as part of a global hydrogen economy, mining of helium-3 for fusion reactors, and the construction of solar-power beaming stations on the lunar surface or in free space using lunar materials. Other proposals see commercial firms separating oxygen from lunar rocks and providing support services to government facilities on the Moon, or even offering tourism and entertainment activities. Some of these endeavors may make commercial sense, but it is possible that none will.
In the near term, expectations are that the U.S. Government will want to ensure that necessary research and technology development occurs to support a lunar outpost, that a robust space transportation network is created (which may or may not be government-owned in the long term), that accurate maps and surveys of the Moon exist (we have better maps of Mars today than we do of the Moon), and that reliable communications and navigation services are available at the Moon. In short, the government should ensure that basic services are present to enable scientific and commercial opportunities, but it will not be a governmental responsibility to do everything possible on the Moon. It simply will not have the resources. As a policy matter, the most difficult area for Merchant and Guardian cultures likely will not be how to provide any particular good or service, but what legal rights private parties have on and, most crucially, on the way to the Moon. This is not an area in which the United States can or should act unilaterally. It affects what values are recognized beyond the Earth, and therefore the type and character of spacepower available to the United States.
Space Property Rights
Current international law recognizes the continued ownership of objects placed in space by governments or private entities. Similarly, resources removed from outer space (such as lunar samples from the Apollo missions) can be and are subject to ownership. Other sorts of rights in space, such as to intellectual property and spectrum, are also recognized. Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, however, specifically bars national appropriation of the Moon or other celestial bodies by claims of sovereignty or other means. It also says that states shall be responsible for the activities of persons under their jurisdiction or control. Thus, the central issue is the ability to confer and recognize real property rights on land, including in situ resources found on the Moon and other celestial bodies.
In common law, a sovereign is generally required to recognize private property claims. Thus, the Outer Space Treaty, by barring claims of sovereignty, is usually thought to bar private property claims. Many legal scholars in the International Institute of Space Law and other organizations support that view. Other scholars, however, make a distinction between sovereignty and property and point to civil law that recognizes property rights independent of sovereignty.34 It has also been argued that while article II of the treaty prohibits territorial sovereignty, it does not prohibit private appropriation. The provision of the Outer Space Treaty requiring state parties to be responsible for the activities of persons under their jurisdiction or control leaves the door open to agreements or processes that allow them to recognize and confer property rights, even under common law.
Current international space treaties are built on the assumption that all matters can and should trace back to states. This is in contrast to admiralty law and the growing field of commercial arbitration in which the interests and responsibilities of owners, not necessarily the state, were the legal foundation. It can be argued that the Outer Space Treaty was not the final word on real property rights in space even within the international space law community, as drafters of the 1979 Moon Treaty felt it necessary to be more explicit on this point. The treaty states:
Article 11. (1) The moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind. (2) The moon is not subject to national appropriation by any claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means. (3) Neither the surface nor the subsurface of the moon . . . shall become property of any State, international intergovernmental or nongovernmental organization, national organization or nongovernmental entity or of any natural person [emphasis added]. The placement of personnel, space vehicles, equipment, facilities, stations . . . shall not create a right of ownership over the surface or subsurface of the moon or any areas thereof. The foregoing provisions are without prejudice to the international regime referred to in Paragraph 5 of this Article . . . (5) State parties to this Agreement hereby undertake to establish an international regime . . . to govern the exploitation of the natural resources of the moon as such exploitation is about to become feasible . . . (7) The main purposes of the international regime to be established shall include: a) The orderly and safe development of the natural resources of the moon, b) the rational management of those resources, c) the expansion of opportunities in the use of those resources, d) an equitable sharing by all State parties in the benefits derived from those resources, whereby the interests and needs of the developing countries, as well as the efforts of those countries, which have contributed either directly or indirectly to the exploration of the moon shall be given special consideration.35
Article 11 was the most controversial aspect of the Moon Treaty when it was introduced. The Outer Space Treaty had already excluded claims of national appropriation, and this provision is repeated in article 11, part 2. Article 11 goes further, however, in part 3 to exclude property claims of any sort, and if any benefits are derived, they are presumably to be shared in accordance with the "common heritage" provision of article 11, part 1. Even the exercise of effective control of a region, as in placing a permanent base, would not support a claim of ownership by any entity. There is no mention of any limitations that would be placed on a regime controlling nonterrestrial resources or what mechanisms would be considered to resolve disputes. One might argue that article 11 prejudges the design of an international regime for the orderly and safe development of the Moon in that a system of internationally recognized property rights could, in fact, be the more rational way to manage those resources, expand opportunities for their use, and equitably share the benefits therein derived.
Furthermore, privacy and the right of persons to be secure in their dwellings are not rights supported by the Moon Treaty. Article 15 reads:
Article 15(1). All space vehicles, equipment, facilities, stations and installations on the moon shall be open to other State parties. Such State parties shall give reasonable advance notice of a projected visit, in order that appropriate consultations may be held and that maximum precautions may be taken to assure safety and to avoid interference with normal operations in the facility to be visited.36
No limits are placed on the reach of article 15, and the right to inspect space-based facilities would presumably extend to individual quarters and personal effects and papers. If state parties owned all facilities on the Moon and all persons on the Moon were state employees, an inspection regime, based on reciprocity, would seem to be a simple requirement. If some facilities are privately owned and their occupants are private citizens (which the Moon Treaty does not forbid), then a broad inspection requirement like article 15 would necessarily supersede those privacy rights enjoyed in the United States and other democracies. Thus, the Moon and other celestial bodies would be regions where inhabitants enjoyed fewer liberties than in the United States or other nations on Earth.
The 1979 Moon Treaty may not appear very relevant since the United States and almost all other spacefaring nations did not sign it and none has ratified it.37 However, the view that real property rights are forbidden by international law is widely prevalent. This in turn creates uncertainty in the minds of potential private sector partners and is inconsistent with the goals enunciated by the President and Congress in supporting the "Vision for Space Exploration." At minimum, real property rights in space are legally ambiguous and the United States need not accept flat statements that the Outer Space Treaty per se forbids such rights.
There is a wide variety of options for the establishment of a system of real property rights in space. These could include negotiation of a new international treaty to replace the Moon Treaty, extend existing international structures (such as the World Trade Organization), and use international arbitration mechanisms (for example, the London Court of International Arbitration). Alternatively, other regimes, such as the International Seabed Authority, could be modified to enable more predictable exploitation without recognizing private property rights. Or they could create a claims registry that would leave definition of a recognition regime to future specific cases. These options intentionally exclude more extreme positions, such as rejection of the Outer Space Treaty, or the unilateral assertion that the United States recognizes private property claims. Such actions would not engender international acceptance and the predictability required for such claims to be effective.
Spacepower encompasses all aspects of national power: military, economic, political, and even cultural as represented by the values that shape the Nation's space activities. The differing outlooks of Merchant and Guardian cultures are central aspects of today's space policy debates and can be expected to continue no matter what the human future in space turns out to be. The commercial space sector is continuing to grow and diversify. While it is easy to overestimate the potential of space commerce, weaknesses in the management and technical skills of the national security and civil space sectors are arguably a greater concern for the Nation's spacepower than the rate of growth of private space enterprise. In short, Guardian weaknesses are a more serious problem than Merchant strengths, as there is no substitute for Guardian responsibilities assuring national security and public safety.
In the national security sector, the key challenges will be to strengthen the ability to implement and execute major space acquisition programs and partner with commercial interests to shape the international environment to the advantage of the United States and its allies. In the civil space sector, the key challenges will be to implement the "Vision for Space Exploration" in an affordable manner and create partnerships with commercial and international interests to ensure the long-term sustainability of human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The capabilities created by the successful establishment of a lunar outpost and human missions to Mars will add greatly to the Nation's spacepower.
There are many uncertainties with meeting these challenges because they require government agencies to work across traditional lines, partner with organizations having very different worldviews, and integrate policy, acquisition, and operational functions more thoroughly. Highly complex systems tend to create internal stovepipes that control the amount of information with which decisionmakers have to deal. For space systems, this can lead to disconnects between the acquisition and operational communities, and national policy objectives. Keeping these communities in sync with evolving world conditions is a major and daunting challenge for U.S. agencies and the entire executive branch.
Human and robotic exploration of space is a decades-long effort that has no clear end, but there are vastly different potential outcomes for humans' long-term future in space. Humans could live permanently in thriving communities beyond Earth or embark on limited to relatively brief expeditions and not establish a permanent presence. If it is assumed that humans are not permanently limited to the Earth and that the future exercise of spacepower includes humans living and working in space, then the questions become: who will make these expeditions, and what values will they hold? If they are Americans, then it is to be hoped that there will be room for Merchant as well as Guardian cultures on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Legal issues will become increasingly more important as the "Vision for Space Exploration" proceeds and humans attempt to expand farther and more permanently into space. In exercising spacepower, the United States should seek to ensure that its citizens have at least as many rights and protections in space, including the right to own property, as they do on Earth. Whether such rights would be as complete as those in the United States would be the subject of negotiation and debate. Simply put, however, the Moon and other celestial bodies should not be a place of fewer liberties than those enjoyed on Earth.
Recognizing conflicts between Merchants and Guardians is only a first step. The pursuit of spacepower should serve to increase national power, whether measured in economic, military, or political terms, as a way to advance American values and interests. This does not mean the pursuit of an isolationist or unilateral approach by the U.S. Government or the United States as a whole. The reality is that the United States must be engaged in shaping the international environment, and the Nation needs partners and friends to succeed. The task is to craft partnerships and strategies with Merchants and Guardians worldwide as human activities of all kinds expand into space.