Second tier space actors
Leaving the quickly evolving and increasingly complex group of first tier space actors, we find an even larger cadre of nation-states that have become convinced of the utility and benefits of investing in space-related activities. The motivations and capabilities of these states run the gamut from a few, such as Iran, that are already perfecting an independent launch ability, to a large number of states for whom the construction and/ or ownership of satellites and their various space applications have become integral components of national security and development strategies. The countries of the second tier of space actors represent a large range of political, economic, and social systems, but their commonality is that each chose to invest in space applications that have specific direct as well as indirect benefits to their respective national security and developmental goals. But, until South Africa recently broke from its apartheid-era securityoriented launcher programs by announcing the development of a weather satellite system, all the second tier space actors shared a focused space policy that outlined their limited use of space through the development of rudimentary launch systems and basic satellites oriented toward remote sensing, communications, and scientific observation, especially meteorology. Moreover, true to the historical precedents of the use of space set by the DVSAs and the first tier EMSAs, the second tier EMSAs have employed their space programs as a dual-use setup to further their respective ballistic missile and, in a few cases, actual or would-be nuclear weapons programs. The difference between the technologies required to put a satellite into orbit and what is necessary to place a conventional or nuclear warhead on a target hundreds or thousands of kilometers distant are very small indeed, with only minor variations required in guidance systems. While, in almost every case, these second tier space programs’ projects have included plans with dedicated socioeconomic designs, such as
remote-sensing satellites to improve agricultural production, the underlying rationale for second tier programs conforms to the central thesis of this book. Given sufficient investment potential, the space activities of most second tier EMSAs began as security-oriented programs that, as was the case with space programs in the developed world, were at best projects in which a country’s military has had great institutional interest and occasional participation, and at worst mere window dressing for furthering ballistic missile development programs. However, for some second tier space actors, their bellicose beginnings have transformed over time into purely civilian programs with the sole purpose of contributing to national socioeconomic development.