chapter  2
History Matters: Space Policy Evolution in the United States and Europe Physical Attributes of the Space Environment and the Political
Pages 22

Space is transforming the elements of state’s power on the Earth, not only because it will become a major vacancy of colonization or control, but also because it is a new and major source of knowledge. In modern society, knowledge and technology are highly valued as crucial elements of a state’s power. As Sagan (1994: 215; see also Broniatowski and Weigel 2008) argues, “governments do not spend vast sums just for science, or merely to explore. They need another purpose, and it must make real political sense.” The pursuit of knowledge and advanced technologies that facilitate space exploration and exploitation is therefore a political activity. Space application programs directed by states’ space policies reflect states’ priorities and the prevailing international ideologies of the time (Sheehan 2007: 2). Space policies and space technologies are indispensable instruments for states

to conduct space activities and thereby fulfill their political objectives. Government makes space policies to meet the needs for national wealth, prestige, and power. Space activities are the embodiment and implementation of a state’s space policies that aim at achieving its space policygoalswith corresponding space technologies. On the one hand, space policy goals direct a state’s space activities and the development of its space technologies. On the other, the progress of space technologies not only provides state with greater flexibility and a broader range of policy options that did not exist before (Skolnikoff 1993: 207; Silvestri et al. 2003: 5), but also contributes to the formulation of its long-term space strategy. Accordingly, space policy, space activity, and space technology complement each other. Space policy and space activity drive the advancement of space technology. Space technology in turn facilitates the process of space activity and the fulfillment of a state’s space policy goal. Therefore, space technology becomes a major element in a state’s hard and soft power. This chapter provides a general overview of the evolution of US and European

space policies in order to identify their respective space policy goals during

and after the Cold War. Before discussing European and US space policies, it is necessary to understand the implications of the space environment and space technology for a state’s space policy and international space politics. In the infinite space, several crucial factors make available space resources (as defined in Chapter 1) quite limited for states’ utilization. The physical attributes of the space environment and the limit of human space technological capabilities are the primary constraints on states’ seizure of space resources. Therefore, the advancement of space technologies becomes strategically critical. Advanced space technologies can facilitate states’ pursuit of political autonomy. Because of the character of capital concentration and the high technological threshold of space activities, the development of space technologies and the conduct of space activities are primarily directed by the governments of space-faring states. Space-faring states are always concerned with their own political autonomy in space policies and space activities, because the greater political autonomy that they enjoy, the more capable they are of exploiting space resources for their own interests. Moreover, because of the asymmetric distribution of technological capabilities among states, international cooperation and competition become cost-effective strategies for states to gain a greater share of space resources. The first section of this chapter will discuss how the space environment and

space technology affect a state’s space policy and international space politics. The second and third sections respectively elaborate on the evolution of the US and European space policies embedded in their large-scale space application programs. The two sections not only point out the central concerns of the US and Europe when they design space policy but also clarify their policy goals in transatlantic space politics.