RACE IN SPACE: TOWARD COOPERATION OR COMPETITION?

Over the past sixty-four years, the world has progressed from the first man in space to landing on the moon, to permanent human presence on manned space stations. Mankind is now poised to explore even further.

As the Augustine Commission wrote, ―The human exploration of space is historically intertwined with the recent evolution of America‘s international relationships.” Because of this global dimension, the competition of the 1960s space race and the cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS) were analyzed for lessons for the future. According to Launius, “Mirror image twins international cooperation and competition between nation states has driven many of the key decisions in the major programs

undertaken by the United States, especially in the evolution of its human spaceflight initiatives.” In addition, the capabilities of potential partners were researched to see how they could enhance a human spaceflight program.

The biggest lesson learned from the 1960s space race was that it is not an example to use for future planning. As Logsdon wrote, after many years of research:

“Apollo should not serve as a model for the many programs for lunar and planetary explorations currently making headway: it was a unilateral effort whose generous budget would be inconceivable today. Apollo was a cold war political project, driven by President Kennedy‘s judgment that the United States had to enter—and win—a space race. Apollo was conceived as a closed-end effort to beat the Union Of Soviet Republics (USSR) to the Moon, not as a first step in a long-term, sustainable program of space exploration.”

He goes on to list three reasons why: “They were not preparing the way for others to live and work on the lunar surface… Science was rather clearly a secondary motivation…Another way in which Apollo cannot serve as a model for future exploration is in terms of its budget profile. The International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) agrees that ―The brief sorties by the Apollo astronauts required the ability to sustain humans for only a few days on the lunar surface; there was no attempt to establish a long-term presence or exploit local resources.“

In a 1962 article, Laurence C. McHugh accurately describes the lessons that can be taken from the 1960s space race:

“How quickly the strange environment of outer space will contribute to general human welfare depends in great measure on how free we can keep space from outright military use and national territorial claims. These two freedoms, in turn, hinge upon the growth of international cooperation in space and the immediate formulation of the rudiments of space law.”

The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty and the 1967 Outer Space Treaty were two of the three greatest lessons learned from the 1960s space race. McHugh also wrote about the third lesson learned, “But the difficulty of entering space, and its costliness, make it likely that the third great space power will not be, for instance, Great Britain…but a coalition of nations working with pooled resources.”

Therefore, the next study was the International Space Station (ISS). According to President Bush‘s speech in January 2004, he stated “Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by 2010. We will finish what we have started, we will meet our obligations to our 15 international partners on this project.” Without meeting these obligations the ISS partners would not consider cooperating in the VSE or future plans. However, to pay for the VSE, the U.S. indicated it would withdraw

completely from the ISS by 2015. The Obama administration, per the recommendation of the Augustine Commission, has proposed staying with the ISS until at least 2020. “A decision not to extend its operation would significantly impair the U.S. ability to develop and lead future international spaceflight partnerships.” Instead of abandoning the ISS for a new exploration plan, the two should be integrated. By finding a role for the ISS in the exploration plans, the capabilities and intentions of the ISS will increase and evolve giving the program more power for bargaining than it has had previously.

However, cooperation is not without negative aspects and risks mainly stemming from delays, cost increases and technology transfers. As Ehrenfreund and Peter state, “Political changes, lack of vision and investment, natural disasters, and unstable economic conditions in spacefaring countries are factors that can all lead to the cancellation or delay of space exploration activities.” Other reasons for delays are due

to “legal issues and intellectual property rights regulations.” The ISS is a prime example. The delays in the initial Russian modules raised doubts about the actual feasibility of the ISS. These delays also caused unexpected costs to the other partners. Additionally, following the Columbia accident and the delayed return of the space shuttle, the launch of Europe‘s contributions was delayed over three and a half years.

Delays lead to possible increases in cost. As Rendleman and Faulconer describe, “There is no easy way to back out of cooperative relationships once they have been initiated. The result of this is that one may choose to endure the high price and continue even failed cooperative efforts.“ Ehrenfreund and Peter observe that “The management of international programs adds layers of complexity to their specification and management and introduce additional elements of dependency and risk that can undermine successful performance and increase total costs.” Once again, the ISS is an

example of cooperation leading to increased costs. According to Rendleman and Faulconer, “Billions of dollars have been squandered in order to construct, supply and operate it…The need to support the ISS has gobbled up money needed by other

programs…”

Lastly, there is a concern with the U.S. Congress about technology transfer. This is especially true in regard to China. As Rendleman and Faulconer described the relationship between the U.S. and China, “space cooperation between the two countries has thus far been only marginal given the strict security controls that needed to be imposed.” The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and International Trafficking in

Arms Regulations (ITAR) govern technology transfer. The AECA seeks “to slow the proliferation of missile and other technologies used to deliver weapons of mass destruction” while ITAR “defines many commercial, dual-use space technologies as munitions.” Johnson-Freese equated this process to be like Alice trying to talk to the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. She writes:

“The events leading up to the convening of the Cox Committee by the US Congress in 1998, and those following the declassification of its report in 1999, have had a significant worldwide impact on the US export licensing process. US laws that were once business-friendly have become more stringent to accommodate national security concerns but with no differentiation between potential adversaries and allies.”

To address these problems, the Obama Administration has implemented an Export

Control Reform Initiative. As described on the Export.gov website, “The Administration is implementing the reform in three phases. Phases I and II reconcile various definitions, regulations, and policies for export controls, all the while building toward Phase III, which will create a single control list, single licensing agency, unified information technology system, and enforcement coordination centre.” In a White House Press Release on March 8, 2013, “President Obama signed an Executive Order today to update delegated presidential authorities over the administration of certain export and import controls under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, and yesterday the Administration notified Congress of the first in a series of changes to the U.S. Munitions List.“

There is still more progress to be made if international cooperation is going to be an essential feature of future projects, but the structure of the ISS relationship was on a much more even footing than before for the international partners.528,529 Entering into partnerships with other countries that have similar space objectives is the best, if not the only, way to achieve an ambitious future space agenda for the world. According to the Augustine Commission, “The strong and tested working relationship among international partners is perhaps the most important outcome of the ISS program.“

As Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA, stated “We know now that it is always easier not to cooperate, but that it is always more difficult to succeed alone.“ Therefore, five countries, or a group of countries in Europe‘s case, were researched to see if a working relationship for human spaceflight would be advantageous. The countries included Russia, China, Europe, Japan and India. Along with the U.S., Russia and China have both obtained the capability to launch humans safely into space. Europe and Japan have extensive human spaceflight experience, but that comes from hitching a ride from the U.S. and Russia. India has launch capability, but thus far only has plans for a human space capability. The Augustine Commission summarized the capabilities of these countries:

Russia has a complete suite of space capabilities, from a robust launch vehicle stable to a broad spectrum of spacecraft design, production and operation capabilities…The highly evolved Soyuz spacecraft is currently programmed to become the linchpin of the ISS in the immediate future. Russia has also demonstrated capabilities in large space structures; pressurized modules; life support; power generation and storage;

communications; thermal control; propulsion and attitude control;

guidance and navigation; remote sensing; computation equipment; subsystems; and operations techniques…

The PRC [People‘s Republic of China] has demonstrated capabilities in life support, power generation and storage, pressurized module construction, in-space propulsion and attitude control, guidance and navigation, communications and computation…

ESA is a partner in human spaceflight for the ISS and has demonstrated large pressurized habitable modules for use as part of the ISS, as well as launch, rendezvous, and other critical capabilities. Through Arianespace

(a French company owned by the French government), the Europeans possess the most active commercial space launch program in the world…The Automated Transfer Vehicle has provided significant logistics support to the ISS and has the potential to be upgraded to a cargo return vehicle, and eventually a human-carrying spacecraft…

JAXA…is a partner in the ISS. Its workhorse launch vehicle, the H-II, has been upgraded to the H-II Transfer Vehicle for use as a logistics carrier to the ISS…it has extensive capabilities…which include tele-operated robotics. Japan has extensive experience in Earth- and space science missions and telecommunications satellites, as well as in-ground-based facilities for astronaut training, mission operations, communications and tracking…

ISRO possesses two very capable launch vehicles…To date, the Indian space program has concentrated on telecommunications, Earth observation, and other low-Earth orbit satellite programs.

These countries‘ attention seems to be toward the moon, in part due to the VSE. China, ESA, Japan and India have recently sent independent unmanned spacecraft to the lunar surface.

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