chapter  5
49 Pages

Third tier space actors

Constructing a definition to classify developing states belonging to the third tier of emerging space actors is more problematic than for first and second tier EMSAs. For the former group of countries, the definition of national security now transcends the traditional realist paradigm to include a plethora of socioeconomic and political benefits derived from ownership of a slice of the space pie. Quite a few developing states today utilize space-based assets for a wide variety of applications, including communications, weather monitoring, and resource planning, even if the data is merely purchased from more developed space actors. Thus, almost any developing country with a policy toward creating and/ or using space assets, and which does not have the capabilities to be categorized in the first two tiers, would by definition be a constituent member of the third tier. These states invest in space-based technologies while not necessarily possessing even rudimentary launch capabilities, indigenous space industries, or even an official space agency. Those few third tier countries that have achieved launch capability have been restrictedeither because of funding limitations or international relations dynamicsto sounding rockets for scientific experiments and, therefore, hampered (for the time being, at least) in their ability to place satellites into orbit. It may be tempting to assume that the space programs of third tier states exist merely for prestige’s sake, given that the level of human development in most third tier countries ranges from medium to low in the 2010 United Nations Human Development Report. Accordingly, the typical criticism lodged against third tier states for their investments in space activities is that such outlays would be better spent on economic and social projects that would yield more immediate and tangible results. But, in the place of traditional military-oriented security concerns, third tier EMSAs have for the most part genuinely embraced space activities as legitimate long-term means to promote socioeconomic development, though

garnering some prestige-especially for nationalist purposes-in the bargain has never been eschewed. Much as many lesser developed countries have embraced cell phone technology to leap-frog the cost barrier of landline phones, many third tier EMSAs now look to space-based technology to similarly benefit their societies in an expedient and cost-effective fashion. The countries occupying the third tier of space programs are as geographically diverse as their respective capabilities. For the purposes of this limited study, only a representative group of third tier states with formal government space agencies will be examined. For some of the more advanced third tier countries, the pursuit of the MNS triad has at some point influenced the evolution of their respective space policies. But, for a variety of reasons, most of these borderline but aspiring space actors have either abandoned, or at least suspended, their more grandiose ambitions. Even in the absence of a more traditional security-oriented space policy, however, these third tier space actors which strive to better their societies through space-based technologies nonetheless fit squarely within the realist realm of competitive self-interest, even as the justification for a state’s space policy escapes the orbit of classical hard power. In none of the cases examined herein do states engage in space activities purely for sake of cooperation in the mold of international liberalism. Instead, their space policies are crafted to improve their respective states’ socioeconomic well-being as well as to occasionally bring greater independence (and possibly prestige) to the state. In some cases, it merely comes down to the economic calculus that a more independent space policy will yield financial savings that can presumably be employed in other areas of development. In other words, they look to space to improve their societies and provide multiple layers of security-economic, social, and even occasionally military. So while these newer third tier space actors may not have the technology or multi-use aspirations of a China, India, or even Iraq, their space policies are still servicing the perceived national good. We will examine these third tier space actors region by region, beginning with the most advanced state in this tier, Argentina (see Table 5.1).