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MULTILATERAL AGREEMENTS IN THE SPACE SECTOR
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
I thank Sammy, Leann and Richard for their guidance and extraordinary level of
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S ......... ................................................................................. iii
TA B LE.................................... ........... .......... vi
L IST O F FIG U R E S .... ....... ................................................ .... ..... .. ............. vii
A B STR A C T ...................... .................................. ........... ... ....... ....... viii
1 IN TR O D U C TIO N ......................................................................... .... .. ........
2 LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................. ................10
P io n e e rs.........................................................................1 0
Systemic level analysis..................... .................. ....... 12
State level analysis.................................................. 20
P olicy -L ev el A naly sis............ .............................................................. .... .... ..... 2 5
P rocess-O oriented A naly sis............................................ .........................................29
C conclusion ....................................................................................................... ........ 34
3 METHODOLOGY AND CASE SELECTION.........................................................35
N ation alist F actors ............................................................................ .............. 36
Bureaucratic Factors ......................................... ............. .. .............. 38
Economy ic Factors .................................... ..... .. ..... .. ............39
C conclusion .................................... .......................... .... ..... ........ 39
4 THE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY .............................. ............... 41
N nationalist Factors .................. .................................. .. .... ...... ............. 45
Bureaucratic Factors ......................................... ............. .. .............. 50
Economic Factors .................... ........................ ........56
C conclusion ............................................................... .... ..... ........ 59
5 INTERAGENCY CONSULTATIVE GROUP (IACG) .........................................62
H isto rical C o n tex t................................ ................................ ....................... .. 6 3
N atio n alist F o rce s ................................................... ............. ............... 6 6
Bureaucratic factors .................. .......................................... .............. 68
Economy ic Factors ..................................... .. .... ..... .. ............71
C o n c lu sio n .......................................................................................7 2
6 INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION ............................ ............................ 73
N nationalist Forces ................................... ............................. 75
Bureaucratic Factors ............................................................ .............. 77
Economic Factors ................................. .................. ................. 80
C o n c lu sio n .......................................................................................8 2
7 C O N C L U SIO N ......... ......................................................................... ......... ........84
BIBLIO GRA PH Y .................. ........................................................ .. 89
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ...................................................................... ..................93
1 lassification of International Space Cooperation Outcomes-..............................17
LIST OF FIGURES
1 Structure of coordinating body. ............................... ... ................................. 19
2 The Sadeh, Lester and Sadeh model of the dynamics of international
cooperation. ........................................................................ 3 1
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
MULTILATERAL AGREEMENTS IN THE SPACE SECTOR
Chair: J. Samuel Barkin
Major Department: Political Science
This study explores the factors that contribute to and inhibit the cooperation of
national space agencies. By analyzing several prominent cooperative programs and key
factors within each program, a number of important trends are revealed. Among the
findings are the hegemony of the United States in the space sector, the unsustainability of
informal agreements and the difficulty of arrangements that accompany program
If anything makes nonsense of national boundaries, however useful and meaningful
they may be in other ways, it is the earth satellite, orbiting every 90 minutes or so
over different countries, transiting their boundaries without passports, travel
documents customs inspection or even permission. Still more mocking of the
narrow provincial spirit on earth is the light outward to the moon, Mars, to deep
There are few areas of activity that dramatize the perpetual progress of man as
much as space exploration. Public programs in the sector have huge budgets, timelines
measured in epochs, and are usually among the most ambitious engineering endeavors
ever undertaken. Despite their symbolic importance, space programs usually evade
media attention less the occasional rocket or Space Shuttle launch.
In the United States (US), public investment in space is a relatively small fraction
of the budget, a mere US$16.45 billion for 2006.2 This figure pales in comparison to the
FY07 request for the Department of Defense, over thirty times greater. In Europe, public
investment is only a fifth of the US, approximately $3 billion. While private investment
in the sector has increased significantly in the past decade, public investment is not
commensurate to the ambitions and their associated price-tags of the administrators and
scientists. To mitigate this lack of resources, one would expect a healthy amount of
cooperation among friendly neighbors and allies. While there are a robust number of
1 L. Bloomfield. "Outer Space and International Cooperation." International Organization. 19.3 (1965):
2 United States. Office of the NASA Administrator. NASA's FY2006 Budget Request. Washington D.C.:
Government Printing Office, 2005. May 2, 2006.
bilateral agreements among the three-dozen space agencies, there is a remarkable absence
of multilateral cooperation. 3
This study investigates the question as to why multilateral agreements in space
exploration and utilization have proven to be so difficult to conceptualize, draft and
operate successfully. More specifically, how do three key factors, nationalist, economic
and bureaucratic, inhibit or promote this cooperative process? These three key factors are
present to differing degrees in all space-based arrangements, both bilateral and
multilateral. It is in the multilateral setting, however, that their presence becomes
significantly more complex and influential.
Before continuing, a brief introduction of the factors is merited. The first variable
affecting cooperation is the nationalist forces that act centrifugally to cooperative
agreements. This includes policymakers' concerns over security, competitive advantage,
nationalism and national identity. The second bureaucratic factor is the procedural
framework that is incorporated into an agreement. More specifically, this includes formal
and informal distributions of authority, managerial interfaces and decision making
processes among scientists, administrators and public officials.4 The last factor affecting
cooperation is the economic factor, or the procedures governing investment and
procurement procedures. Actors and their institutional creations have adopted several
different procedures to insure fair return to all those involved. "When resources abound
and opportunities plentiful, cooperative attitude abounds. When resources shrink,
3 J. Pike. "World Space Guide." GlobalSecurity.org. 2006. April 24, 2006.
4 E. Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation." Space Politics and Policy: An Evolutionary Perspective.
Ed. E. Sadeh. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 2002. 282.
altruism takes a back seat."5 International cooperation in space has taken many different
forms over the years in response to many different stimuli. There are several
fundamental characteristics of the space bargaining process that define certain systemic
properties, and it is around these properties the different responses form. The cooperative
efforts operate not only in consideration of the fundamentals, but also of contemporary
political context and the inherent nature of the task at hand.
These three factors are accounted for in all multilateral agreements and most
bilateral ones as well. It is in the multilateral context, though, that their complexity and
subsequent solutions offer interesting cases for study. The stage on which the actors and
factors interact is governed by several, subtle fundamental properties. These qualities are
specific to the space industry, and are born from characteristics unique to it alone, and to
The most important fundamental characteristic is that of the primacy of the United
States. The space industry is unique in that enormous sums of investment are necessary
to accomplish noteworthy outcomes. There is not a linear progression of investment to
results as there is in other industries. Small states are not able to contribute small
amounts and remain competitive, neither are medium states for that fact. Only the largest
players are capable of producing accomplishments commensurate with investment. The
United States, drawing from what is by far the largest pool of resources, has an enormous
technical upper-hand in the exploration and development of space based applications.
5 Reimar Luest. "The Cooperation of Europe and the United States in Space," The Fulbright 40th
Anniversary Lecture, 6 April 1987. Washington, D.C. p. 5.
Cooperative agreements occur, then, either to the inclusion of the United States or
to its apathy. To balance this, regional conglomerates, such as the European Space
Agency (ESA), have formed, where unique national, bureaucratic and economic
procedures have been developed insulated from US influence. However, these regional
conglomerates are still incapable to publicly invest an amount equal to that of the US, and
thus have relied must more on private investment.
A quick glance at the current state of the Galileo global positioning system (GPS)
illustrates the degree to which US primacy is entrenched into the system. Galileo is a
giant $4.3 billion, 4 year program requiring up to two dozen missions to complete a
constellation of satellites that will be necessary for it successful operation.6 Recently
other regional powers have aligned themselves to cooperate with the mission as well,
ranging from those with questionable American ties, such as China, to some of its closest
allies, such as Israel and Japan. Washington has threatened to turn off its own GPS
system in the global crisis, to which the French President Jacques Chirac responded
"[Europe] could be American 'vassals' without their own navigation system,"7
Washington, keenly aware of its primacy, has negotiated for the interoperability of the
Galileo system with its Department of Defense run GPS system, despite the protests of
several members. The agreement for interoperability gives the US the ability to jam the
Galileo signal in the time of crisis or war, effectively negating one of the most important
reasons for developing the system.8
6 "A system to make Jove proud" The Economist. December 29, 2005.
SJ. Johnson-Freese & A.S. Erickson. "The Emerging China-EU Space Partnership: A Geotechnical
Balancer." Space Policy. 22.1(2006) pg21.
This example demonstrates another important fundamental element of the system:
in the realm of international agreements there is an overwhelming culture of insecurity.
In this culture policymakers are quick to take security precautions in to account
regardless of potential benefits. Thus the states must be very sensitive of any potential
encroachments of the security of any actor involved. The cases will reveal the means by
which actors accommodate the factors in the cooperative frameworks.
History and experience have shown the development of two important conclusions
in the study of multilateral cooperative space agreements. The first is that the projects
must maintain equilibrium between the means, the resources available through the
dedicated bureaucratic channels, and the ends, maintaining an appropriate scope of the
project commensurate with the former. The delicate balance must be maintained for
long-term sustainability. If the scope of the project exceeds the necessary available
means, it will fail invariably, often in a manner that discourages future cooperation. If
the cooperative agreement fails to produce results, whether functional or symbolic, that
corresponds to the levels of participation by members, centrifugal forces will pull the
The equilibrium and disequilibrium appear throughout the literature on the subject
and in the case studies. The first scenario is captured in the Interagency Consultative
Group (1981) case. While the first phase of the project was universally agreed upon as a
success, the transition to the second phase was disastrous. Policymakers were keen to
increase the scope of project following previous accomplishment, without increasing
necessary resources and bureaucratic capabilities. The Group was left incapacitated to
accomplish the task before it, the coordination of 30 satellites studying solar physics.
The latter example was experienced by the ESA prior to its Horizon 2000 program. The
agency had failed to produce a program outside the capabilities of national agencies, and
faced possible dissolution. In response, administrators opted for closer integration to
access greater funding. This organizational equilibrium phenomenon is an important
consideration for policymakers when drafting the framework for plans.
The other phenomenon precedes the operational considerations, and addresses the
structure of the agreement. Despite the best efforts of scholars, administrators and
policymakers, it appears that all open-ended cooperative agreements must have clear and
succinct, formal bureaucratic structures. While some multilateral agreements are
successful in the short-term without the development of formal bureaucratic processes,
they are sustainable past this short-term lifespan. History has shown repeatedly informal
cooperative agreements are highly fallible.
History points repeatedly to the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM) to
illustrate the degree to which these misunderstandings can escalate to long-term
ramifications. ISPM was intended to be the first mission between National Aeronautic
and Space Administration (NASA) and ESA in which the two agencies were true
partners, "born to be the paradigm of ideal cooperation."9 It was designed to place two
solar probes, one from each partner, over the north and south pole of the sun
simultaneously to study its third dimension. The success of the project was contingent
solely on the two-probe design, and the US probe additionally was also to include a
camera for imaging.10
9 R. Bonnet, & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univeristy
Press, 1994. pg 98.
10 Ibid., pg 99.
Unfortunately, the volatility of the NASA budgeting process destroyed the project
long before it would get close to the launching pad. When Ronald Reagan was elected
President in 1981, he was forced to make budget cuts to reduce to the burgeoning deficit.
NASA at the time had three large space science projects, and one had to go. "All three
involved significant international participation, so NASA would have faced problems
with its partners regardless of which mission it decided to cut."11 The other two
missions, Galileo, a mission to study Jupiter, and the Large Space Telescope, later
renamed Hubble, would be spared the axe.
NASA unilaterally pulled out of the agreement in 1981, but only after ESA had
already committed $100 million to the project.12 The ESA subsequently felt "NASA did
not share ESA's sense of obligation to international agreements."13 Manno and Bonnet
reflect the ESA's stunned realization in, the fundamental difference in the attitude
between the two organizations about the sanctity of a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU). In Europe ... the MOU was considered as legally binding on its Member States,
while it became painfully clear that this was not the case for the U.S. administration.14
The ISPM would prove to expose the unreliability of not only the MOU format of
cooperation in large projects, but also of the US bureaucratic system. In short, in the US
MOU do not have the statutory authority to supercede domestic appropriation bills, while
1 M. Avent and M. Van Arsdall. "Global Priorities in Space: Meeting Scientific Objectives Through
International Cooperation." Science and Technology in Society Conference. Washington, D.C. April 23-
12 Ibid., pg 11.
13 D. H. DeVorkin, "Solar Physics from Space." Exploring the Unknown: Seclected Documents in the
History of the U.S. Civil Space Program. Volume VI: Space and Earth Science." Ed. J.M. Logsdon.
Washington, D.C.: NASA History Office, 2004.
14 R. Bonnet,. & V. Manno. pg 102.
in Europe, MOU are national treaties, ratified by member governments with precedence
over domestic law.15
The unreliability of the MOUs in international space exploration can be attributed
to the very law that created NASA, the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act. The
act specified that any possibilities for cooperation required senate ratification or
presidential approval. That provision was later elucidated by President Dwight D.
Eisenhower, stating that, ". .. international treaties may be made in this field, and as not
precluding, in appropriate cases less formal arrangements for cooperation."16 The
requisite of explicit legislative or executive approval combined with the labyrinth known
as appropriations process on Capital Hill combine to make MOU a convenient, yet risky,
form of cooperation. Additionally, the 1973 Defense Appropriation Act specifies that
Research & Design (R&D) contracts cannot be awarded to foreign entities if the
indigenous capability is present.
The importance of this assessment is significant, as a sizable amount of
coordination occurs through MOU. The International Solar Polar Mission illustrates well
the shortcoming. Although the cases visited later point again to the issue, the root of the
problem was simply different interpretations of an informal document, and in this famous
case, its binding statutory authority.
Before visiting the case studies and exploring the presence of the three factors and
the fundamental trends, a thorough visit of the literature regarding multilateral
cooperative agreements amongst space agencies is merited. There are several ways to
15 E. Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation." pg 292.
16 United States. "Office of the Press Secretary, Statement by the President," 29 July 1958. Exploring the
Unknown, Volume II. Ed. J. Logsdon. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1996.
study the agreements, the actors, be it supra national, national or sub-national and other
conditions that affect the type and process.
The body of literature that addresses space policy is a relatively small, and the
literature focusing on cooperation, not even of the multilateral nature, is even more
limited. There are, however, several seminal contributors, both theoretically and
empirically, that address the specific issue of multilateral cooperation amongst space
agencies. The literature reveals basically four different levels of analysis: systemic,
state-level, program-level and process-oriented.
Scholars have been contemplating and studying cooperation in space since the
dawn of the space age. Lincoln Bloomfield was one of the first scholars to publish on the
subject with his 1965 article. Although the article originates from one of the iciest
periods of the Cold War, it offers several important assertions that helped frame future
analyses and continue to help contemporary scholars study and understand developments
in the field.
Bloomfield's most important contribution lies in his establishment that the grounds
for measuring cooperation in space at the very least should be tweaked and at the very
One must identify realistic yet challenging standards by which to judge the
comparative success of failure of international cooperation in out space. .If we
identify as the prime standard of measurement the 'internationalization' of all outer
space activities we will have stacked the deck hopelessly and unrealistically -
against an intelligible finding.1
Bloomfield is pessimistic about the outlook for supranational space institutions,
quoting a United Nations (UN) document calling them "inappropriate at the present
time."2 He does, however, set forth several scaled back propositions and passive
measures for international cooperation. He claims, "one can legitimately ask for the
creation of the appropriate international machinery to do those jobs which nations agree
to delegate it and, in addition, for the optimum utilization of existing international
organizational machinery."3 Bloomfield is referring to public goods regulation, and the
International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium (INTELSAT) which was created
to deal with this problem.
Bloomfield also gives attention to the idea of passive cooperation, the process of
agreeing to refrain from engaging in certain activities in space. He argues the issue to be
a good starting point for cooperation, both terrestrially and extra-terrestrially. He points
specifically to arms control, to both the testing and positioning of weapons in orbit. This
particular issue is interesting in that it transcends space policy, as it is inextricably linked
to Earth-bound politics.4
The banning of weapons and testing in space from the Test Ban Treaty and the
Strategic Arms Limiting Treaty (SALT) would subsequently prove to be an interesting
example of cooperation in space affairs. Superficially, the deal appeared to be a
1 L. Bloomfield. "Outer Space and International Cooperation" pg 608.
2 Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, General Assembly document
A/4141 of July 14, 1959.
3 L. Bloomfield. "Outer Space and International Cooperation" pg 609.
4 Ibid. pg 610.
landmark compromise of major powers forfeiting certain defense-oriented sovereign
rights (weapons deployment). In reality, neither side wished to develop or deploy
weapons in space, as missile technology had made this option unattractive. The deal was
politically motivated, and instituted a false optimism in those hoping for the end of the
arms race in the Cold War.5
Aside from the issue of weapons control, there are other space law issues that
required attention at the time Bloomfield published his study. Liability for objects in
space had become a hot topic, as had regulation of such new technologies, such as radio
communication. Bloomfield hoped that if major players could be brought to the
bargaining table for minor issues they might stay for larger projects. These hopes are
overshadowed, however, by the importance of his first assertion, that the measures of
success in space should be fundamentally different than conventional ones.
On a side note, Bloomfield's study is curiously oriented towards a heavy reliance
on the United Nations (UN) for cooperative coordination. The international political
dynamic of the time is an important factor in the formulation of this trust; however in
retrospect it seems highly misplaced. Although many states choose to work bilaterally
with the various UN agencies to accomplish various humanitarian goals, the UN is a non-
factor in the development of cooperative space agreements among its member states.6
Systemic level analysis
Joan Johnson-Freese's 1990 book was one of the studies to offer systemic level
analysis of cooperation in space. Johnson-Freese asserts two initial, important
5 Ibid. pg 620.
6 For a more comprehensive guide to the UN effort in space see "Space solutions for the World's Problems:
How the United Nations family uses space technology for achieving development goals" V.05-82722
assumptions about the inherent nature of international cooperation, and analyzes how
certain factors have affected cooperation over three, distinct epochs of the space age.
The first initial assertion is that there are certain areas of space activity that are inherently
incompatible for cooperative ventures. She posits that areas of national security or
ventures where "proprietary rights over technology may be compromised" are both unfit
for cooperation. Additionally, cooperation can only occur in sectors without risk of
compromising sensitive technology or the potential for cooperative frameworks
dissolving into competitive environments.8 From these initial conditions, Johnson-
Freese's argues that "outside the realm of technology transfer or national security, then
attitude, potential benefit, and political environment are all factors affecting cooperation
in space ventures."9
Political environment is defined as the "general conditions under which
negotiations are undertaken-or not undertaken-as the case may be."10 Johnson-Freese
offers the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) as an example of the importance of this
factor. ASTP was the 1975 program between the US and United Soviet Socialist
Republic (USSR) in which vehicles from both countries met in orbit and docked to make
the "quarter-billion dollar handshake" between a cosmonaut and an astronaut. While the
scientific results from the project were modest, if any at all, the symbolism of the project
epitomized the detente policy of US-Soviet relations.
7 Johnson-Freese's book dates to 1990 and thus is insufficient at analyzing post-Cold War developments of
8 J. Johnson-Freese. ( li,,in,,i Patterns of International Cooperation in Space. Malabar, FL: Orbit Book
Company Inc., 1990. pg ix.
9 Ibid. pg ix.
10 Ibid. pg ix.
Johnson-Freese is a little more ambiguous in the definition of attitude, offering it
"may be defined at either or both a macro or micro level.""1 An essential policy maker,
director or legislator may all have the authority to see a project through fruition or to its
demise. Additionally, entire administrations or agencies may adopt certain mindsets
towards cooperation, as history has shown to be the case with NASA since its inception
in 1958. Despite this ambiguity, the importance of attitude is unmistakable in
development of cooperation throughout the Cold War.
The final factor present in Johnson-Freese's analysis is potential benefit, whether
political, economic, scientific, or technological, with its presence given varying degrees
of importance often correlated very closely with attitudes. To use the ASTP again, the
political benefits were of much greater concern at that time than commercial or economic
Johnson-Freese examines how within the three, distinct periods of cooperation
these three variables "individually [were] conducive to, or an inhibitor of, cooperation."
She points out two key questions in the examination she seeks to answer, "what were the
motivations behind cooperative ventures, and how were cooperative ventures carried
Her breakdown of the three eras of international cooperation in space is quite
pervasive in the literature. However, the recognition of the three eras was first proposed
by the ESA director-general (DG) in reference to US-ESA relations. He put forward the
11 Ibid. pg x.
12 Ibid. pg x.
"3 Ibid. pg x.
three stages being "1. the Tutorship of the United States to Europe. 2. Europe as the
Junior Partner of the United States and 3. Partnership and Competition between Europe
and the United States"14 Johnson-Freese expands this characterization to space
cooperation in general, a predominantly US-led endeavor.
The breakdown of the distinct periods, and the role of each factor, is important in
selecting the case studies, and thus will be reserved for the respective section. Johnson-
Freese does point to several important conclusions that come from the analysis. The
overwhelmingly reoccurring phenomenon she finds is the obstinate inability of the US to
remit its hegemony and enter into true cooperative partnerships. This trend is quite
pervasive in the literature and can even be found in contemporary media reports. A few
of her more important conclusions are as follows:
* "Cooperation is Not a Luxury, It is a means of Survival"
* "Cooperation in Space Should Not be Expected to Result in a Generally Improved
* Political Environment"- history indicates that cooperative agreements in the space
sector have been outgrowths of friendly political relations. The failure of space
agreements to indemnify relations should not be seen as failure, despite the habit of
some policy makers to view agreements in such a manner.
"International cooperation in space will occur in areas of non-national security
oriented, 'low-politics' fields"
* "Subjecting space programs to an annual budget process ends up costing more
money in the end and is a very inefficient process" The annual congressional
budgeting procedure has been one of the largest detriments to cooperation in space.
The failure of such programs as the International Solar Polar Mission orchestrates
weakness of the system. It is unlikely, however, that congress would be willing to
forgo any budgeting authority (i.e. multi-year budgeting similar to the ESA
process) to mitigate this problem.
* "Tying long-term goals and programs, both cooperative and national, to short-term
projects will make them more palatable and sustainable" The US has been
chronically unable to develop programs in an incremental fashion, electing instead
14 Reimar Luest. "The Cooperation of Europe and the Univted States in Space."
to draft grand, long-term projects, almost to the point of pathology. These projects
inevitably are met with criticism and downsized on Capital Hill. Johnson-Freese
urges policy makers to take a more short-term, continual progress oriented
Johnson-Freese's analysis was one of the first and most important books in multi-
lateral cooperative analysis. However, her analysis fails to address the regimes and
institutions formed in presence of cooperative ventures, along with the legacies of these
institutions. This fundamental issue is key in the scholarship of the cooperative ventures.
Eligar Sadeh identifies this subject as one of the possible approaches to the study of
cooperative agreements.16 The literature categorizes cooperative outcomes: coordination,
augmentation, interdependence and integration.17 Their order reflects the increasing level
of functional dependence, from the lowest to the highest level. The coordination
outcome is characterized by independent programs that are synchronized technically and
scientifically. The augmentation arrangement is "signified by functional enhancements
of capabilities through contributions to a national project, which are not on the
technological critical path for the mission as a whole."18 Augmentation taken one step
further results in interdependence, where technologically critical aspects of the mission
are shared between or amongst partners. Finally, the highest degree of functional and
symbolic cooperation is integration, the arrangement featuring pooled resources for
research and development, deployment and operation.19
15 J. Johnson-Freese. ( &i,,sis,,i Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. Pg 113-116.
16 E. Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation." pg 312.
1 L. Cline & J. Rosendahl. "An Assessment of Prospects for International Cooperation on the Space
Exploration Initiative." Acta Astronuatica. 28 (1992): 391-99.
18, E Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation" pg 312.
19 Ibid., pg 312.
Table 1- Classification of International Space Cooperation Outcomes
Cooperative Agreement (year) Outcome type
International space law regime (1967) Coordination
INTELSAT (1971) Integration
Apollo- Soyuz Test Project (1973) Augmentation
European Spacelab (ESL) (1973) Augmentation
ESA (1975) Integration
International Solar Polar Mission (1979) Augmentation
IACG (1981) Coordination
Committee On Earth Observation Satellites Coordination
ISS (1988 and 1998) Augmentation and Interdependence
Outside of formal institutions and regimes, states have less formal agreements they
enter to guide cooperation. These agreements are Memoranda of Understanding
discussed earlier. Their informality has proven a double-edged sword for space
administrators and policy makers worldwide. Because they are largely informal they
usually require only a minimum of legislative or executive oversight to draft and ratify.
However, this can, at times, leave a great degree of ambiguity in the role of the MOU and
more importantly, their statutory binding authority. Most of the first negative
experiences in transnational cooperation can in some way be attributed to
misunderstandings of the MOU.
Because the current state of affairs in international space cooperation is heavily
dependent on the US for scientific and delivery capabilities, all players must understand
the idiosyncrasies of the American system. The system is simply too complex and
dynamic for a sustainable multilateral program without stable bureaucratic foundations.
Recent literature suggests an institutional backlash trend in the last few years.
Scholars have recognized the enormous complications of large, technical cooperative
agreements, such as those that govern the ISS development. The security and technical
problems, they argue, have rendered agreements more trouble than the results are worth.
However, given the enormously expensive nature of the industry the necessity for
cooperation has never been greater. Finarelli and Pryke respond to these critics by
positing "exploration, in order to be sustainable, must transcend knowledge-driven
activities and incorporate commercial activity with real economic returns. Thus,
exploration encompasses a complex set of activities, rather than a one-shot mission or
even a group of missions."20 They suggest a coordinating body structure that is not a
decision-making or governing body, but rather a forum that enables actors to
at a minimum, the exchange of information would allow the development of a
consolidated international exploration roadmap that would have the purpose of
helping to inform national program designs. Over time, with confidence built
among potential partners, national decisions could reflect increasing
interdependence among programs and infrastructure.21
A diagram of the proposed model is in the next page:
20 P. Finarelli & I. Pryke. "Implementing International Cooperation in Space Exploration." Space Policy,
22.1 (2006): pg 24.
21 Ibid., pg 24.
Figure 1- Structure of coordinating body. Solid arrows indicate information flows, while
block arrows indicate actors that contribute to the realization of policies22
Although the program appears to be a legitimate model, practice seems to indicate
that this format is very difficult to sustain for the long-term, if not impossible. This is
very similar to the format initially drafted for the IACG. Although the details of the
study are reserved for later, programs of this nature have shown themselves to be quite
Loyalty transference is one last important systemic variable that deserves mention.
Loyalty transference is a key theme in integrative literature. Juliet Lodge asserts that "if
an organization provides for a given welfare need, then this will automatically register in
the consciousness of the beneficiaries."23 Loyalty transference is an important mitigating
factor to the centrifugal nationalist forces. Its presence is far more observable in
22 Ibid., pg 24.
23 J. Lodge. "Loyalty and the EEC: the Limits of the Functionalist Approach." Political Studies. 26.2
(1978): pg 232-248.
institutional settings, such as the ESA, as its facilitation requires sustained, long-term
cooperation. This is not to say less formal agreements cannot facilitate the loyalty
transference process. No attempt to measure loyalty transference outside of the ESA
case has been observed in the literature, although its important in both theoretical and
empirical literature is unmistakable.
State level analysis
Several scholars have directed their study of international cooperation to state level
factors that influence cooperation. These studies analyze how national factors like
functional and political preferences, foreign policy, and other policies are realized in
space cooperation. Typically these works conclude with policy suggestions and
Historical perspectives indicate the importance of this approach. "Space politics is
one of coalition building that involves a plurality of political actors that include the
President, Congress, the space bureaucracy, advocacy coalitions, and commercial
enterprises."24 Politics and the highly symbolic space industry have long been
recognized as inseparable. Carl Sagan, one of the great ambassadors for the space,
defined this perfectly: "Governments do not spend vast sums just for science, or merely
to explore. They need another purpose, and it must make real political sense."25
With this in mind, state-level analysis offers a ray of opportunity in explaining
cooperation. One approach to the state level of analysis features "how political actors
24 E. Sadeh. Introduction. Space Politics and Policy: An Evolutionary Perspective. Ed. E. Sadeh.
Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 2002. pg xvi.
25 C. Sagan. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. New York, NY: Random House Inc.,
cooperate to realize their policy preferences."26 This approach characterizes two types of
preferences, symbolic and functional, that drive actors towards cooperation. The
symbolic preferences are those driven by politics, both foreign and domestic, and include
concerns such as "prestige, propaganda, policy legitimization, enhanced policy influence
over other actors, international accountability, [and] world leadership."27 Functional
preferences can be scientific, technological or economic in nature. The scientific and
technological aspects are simply two sides of the same coin, both pressures for enhanced
progress in the field of research and development. Economic functional pressures,
however, can "include maximizing national economic benefits, promoting industrial
autonomy, enhancing economic competitiveness and realizing economic savings through
cost-burden sharing with other political actors."28 Whatever compromise of these
pressures arrives out of the national bureaucratic machinery can then pursue the
appropriate cooperative effort internationally.
This approach is especially helpful in the analysis of the programs and policies of
actors new to the space sector, such as China. "First and foremost, Chinese space
activities are part of Beijing's overall economic development program. Success in space
is a highly visible demonstration that China can produce more than cheap sneakers and
faux designer clothing."29 The technological infrastructure is important for Chinese long-
term goals; however, it is also part of a new phenomenon called techno-nationalism.
26 E. Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation" pg 309.
27 Ibid., pg 315.
28 Ibid., pg 315.
29 J. Johnson-Freese and A.S. Erickson. "The Emerging China-EU Space Partnership: A Geotechnical
Balancer." pg 12.
Although the discussion of this type of nationalism is reserved for later, its existence is
driving the Chinese manned space program. It serves little purpose other than national
prestige.30 Additionally, these policy preferences are driving large projects like the
Galileo positioning system, the European, and now world-wide response to the
dependence on the GPS.
Pasco and Jourdain offer a comparative space program study, an interesting twist in
the state-level analysis.31 The comparative analysis looks into some of the ideological
and rhetorical trends, their institutionalized progeny, and how both affect cooperation in
the US, French and ESA space programs. They find that there are, in fact, a number of
"myths" that are quite pervasive in the space sector, especially the public arena. The
most prominent myth is that of the so-called Golden Age, an outgrowth of the Apollo
program legacy32 and the unique historical and political circumstances linked to the Cold
War. This myth is typified by a unified space policy agenda, and in particular, the
necessity of "large-scale manned orbital complexes."33 The resulting breakdown of this
myth following the end of the Cold War yielded talk of a 'crisis in space' and "such
'crises' rhetoric has been institutionalized through the mobilization of expert committees,
ad-hoc commissions, and consulting firms."34
30 Ibid., pg 12.
31 L. Jourdain, L. & X. Pasco, X. "Comparative Space Policy: The Space Policy Crisis in the American,
European and French Space Programs." Space Politics and Policy: An Evolutionary Perspective. Ed. E.
Sadeh. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishing. pg 317-334.
32 The Apollo legacy refers to the 1960s when NASA budgets were large as 7% of federal spending,
scientists and engineers had access all available resources necessary, and these large-scale projects were
administered from the top-down successfully.
3 Jourdain, Laurence and Pasco, Xavier. (2002). Comparative Space Policy: The Space Policy Crisis in the
American, European and French Space Programs. Pg 318.
34 Ibid., pg 317-318.
Pasco and Jourdain also provide several keen insights into the American and
European public and private space sectors. The American program was created in the
shadow of the Sputnik-1 launch, and, while previous programs were designed to link
military and civilian development, NASA, as created by the Space Act, was a
distinctively military, and not civilian, institution. "The creation of NASA as an
executive agency reinforced the legitimacy of an omnipotent federal state that foreclosed
opportunities for local powers and the private sector."35 While the Department of
Defense (DOD) maintains its own top-secret space program, NASA activities have been
inextricably linked to national interest and more importantly national security. The
authors claim that this ideological dependency has left NASA "unable to make the
intrinsic worth of space exploration and utilization its fundamental reason to exist."36 As
a result, NASA is subject to changes in US foreign and domestic policy, and hence has
stifled its exploratory, scientific and industrial development and autonomy. Finally, the
authors claim that the Apollo legacy has left NASA with a bureaucratically dependent,
top-down approach that favors large projects rather than small, incremental progress.
The European program, both nationally and supra-nationally, was born out of much
different circumstances, a fact reflected in several fundamental differences from the
American program. First, Europe benefited from the ability to observe the American
model of space exploration, and realized quickly they had neither the capabilities nor the
desire to enter into the manned space race. Instead, the European model features a strong
emphasis on technological development and autonomy, a lesson learned from both the
35 Ibid., pg 318.
36 Ibid., pg 321.
industrial benefits and the unreliability of their American counterparts. "Europe lacked
the sustained 'national security' ideological values and norms adopted as an identification
factor to unify the space community in the US, [and] European space policy has
developed in a more piecemeal fashion."37 There are, however, some very strong
nationalist forces within the ESA community, mainly in the French space program, to be
Finally, the authors cite two main divergent trends that have appeared in the public
and private space sectors. The first trend is that of the Utilitarian Doctrine. Pasco and
Jourdain define this in stating, "the declining 'exploration' values traditionally associated
with the rise of the space age provoked a refocuses attention to more practical
considerations, through the adoption of what could be called a 'space utilitarian'
doctrine."38 While NASA's Apollo legacy, much like their Russian colleagues,
contradicts this utilitarian modus operandi significantly, the organization is moving
towards the utilitarian side of the space sector operation.
The European sector, however, has a strong tradition of utilitarianism, and is
instead struggling to develop the other trend, the Exploration Ethos. This trend is driven
by the desire to explore simply by its intrinsic merit, the continuing legacy of decades of
terrestrial geographic exploration. The unfortunate flip-side to the security-oriented
approach of the US is the absence of this ideal. "For some US congressional
representatives, human spaceflight is a symbolic kind of achievement with little utility
7 Ibid., pg 322.
38 Ibid., pg 331-332.
and commercial pay-offs."39 In an effort to mitigate those working against exploration
programs administrators have turned to multilateral cooperation as a means of cementing
support domestically. History has shown this to be both ineffective and detrimental to
the reputation of the US.
A brief illustration of the exploration ethos is found in the European Center for
Nuclear Studies (CERN), an institute dedicated to the study of high energy physics,
illustrates this issue. The research CERN conducts requires large sums of capital and is
without industrial application. While CERN is funded by member states in Europe, the
lack of applicability allows the institution to go without any kind of geographic return
policy its encumbering politics. The funding to CERN is acknowledged as worthy in its
intrinsic merit, and does not require bargaining and other agreements for its continued
A more narrow approach to cooperative analysis approaches individual policies.
Many scholars have found certain policies to be much more effective at either stimulating
or stifling cooperation. This analysis is much more empirical than theoretical, yet it does
help in the process of policy prescription.
Historical patterns of international cooperation reveal the primacy of the US
program. Thus, an overview of NASA policy preferences offers a good starting point for
a more general policy analysis. Sadeh gives four guidelines NASA requires before
entering into cooperative agreements:
39 Ibid., pg 332.
40 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 58-59.
1. Clearly defined and independent managerial interfaces that ensure NASA's
dominance in political authority and decision making.
2. No exchange of funds in which each partner is financially responsible for project
elements it develops.
3. Distinct technical responsibilities that retain NASA's control of critical path items
and over system integration.
4. Protection of sensitive technology where arrangements for cooperative projects
protect against the unwarranted transfer of technology abroad and maintain
technologies critical to NASA to ensure the industrial and economic
competitiveness of the US.41
At the policy level, cooperative agreements appear much less as the symbolic
union, and much more as commercial, contractual agreement. The NASA relationship
with the Russian agency is characterized most often in this form, with RKA functioning
as a contractor rather than as a partner.
No example better epitomizes this than the development of the Hubble Space
Telescope (HST). During the telescope's development scientists discovered that the solar
panels were susceptible to atomic oxygen damage and certain precautions were necessary
to guarantee their proper function. When the MOU was signed the discovery of the
malignancy of atomic oxygen had not been made, and thus was not anticipated in any of
the arrangements. NASA administrators insisted ESA officials, the manufacturers of the
panels, be financially responsible for the modifications. ESA officials argued if the
MOU were truly a cooperative agreement the US, clearly the dominant partner, would
pay for the modifications. In the end the ESA got stuck with the bill to change to the
panels, a clear reflection of both the primacy of NASA and the nature of the program as
contractual, not cooperative. Johnson-Freese adds, "This situation illustrates an
41 E. Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation." pg 289.
important and increasingly recurring issue: that of the grey area between cooperation and
a business relationship, which is sometimes left deliberately ambiguous."42
NASA is in fact entering a new age of cooperation with outlining of President
George W. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration plan. Avnet and Van Arsdall explore
the new dimensions of the new plan, and formulated several important characteristics
new cooperative plans should encompass, rather than offering guidelines for one specific
agency. Each, they claim, are critical to ensure that scientific objectives are satisfied
while still offering the ability of individual participants to set their own agenda. They are
* Mutually beneficial to all parties involved
* Visibility in decision-making and budget allocation to the extent practicable
* Common understanding on the binding power of the agreement
* Common understanding on the issues that can lead to delays or cancellations
* All parties have a sense of autonomy
* Flexibility to respond to changing scientific or political situations
* Avoid duplication while embrace complementarity
* Cooperation occurs at the mission level when possible and is encouraged among
scientists at the investigation level
* Bilateral when possible43
Avnet and Van Arsdall highlight the utility of bilateral agreements. It is important
to recognize, and as the study will reveal, that multilateral agreements are not easy nor
necessarily good paradigms for cooperation. Only the most ambitious or pervasive
42 J. Johnson-Freese. ( 1o1,11,,, Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. Pg 54.
43 M. Avent and M. Van Arsdall,. "Global Priorities in Space: Meeting Scientific Objectives Through
International Cooperation." pg 19-20.
projects merit the complexity of multilateral agreements. Before approaching the
question of how to do them effectively, one must ask when they are appropriate. The
success of a program is, "contingent upon the ability of states to forge an appropriate
vehicle for international cooperation."44 The relative scarcity of multilateral ventures vis-
a-vis bilateral speaks enough to answer this question. Additionally, entering agreements
when not appropriate or without the necessary commitment can in fact hinder, rather than
contribute, to progress in the long-term.
A slightly different approach to the same level of analysis features policy
recommendations that have been effective in other fields, and may be function as
mechanisms to jump-start the process. In 1996, the American Institute of Aeronautics
and Astronautics (AIAA) met to discuss possibilities for cooperation in this manner. The
report subsequently published identified five areas with potential.
1. Global space systems services
2. International cooperation for peace-keeping
3. Cooperative human and robotic exploration of space
4. International cooperation in space transportation
5. Solar power to Earth45
Of those five, one has already facilitated cooperation, the global space systems
network. The other four seem to have failed to deliver great cooperative arrangements in
the decade following the conference. These hopes, like those of many other
internationalist policymakers and scientists, have proven themselves to be little more than
44 J. P Lester, E. Sadeh. & W.Z. Sadeh. "Modeling International Cooperation for Space Exploration."
Space Policy. 12.3 (1996): pg 212.
45 R. A. Fuhrman & J. Wild. "International Cooperation How to Proceed." Space Policy. 12.2 (1996):
pipedreams. History and the literature point that cooperation has almost always been a
vehicle of pragmatism
The final approach for cooperative space analysis features the process, or rather the
dynamics between epistemic communities, policy makers and initial conditions and seeks
to explain which channels of bargaining lead to outcomes and why. Sadeh, Lester and
Sadeh seek to investigate this process. The fundamental questions identified in their
study are (1) who are the key actors in decision-making (2) what are the processes they
engage in and (3) how do the "actors and processes interact in enabling/constraining
The initial conditions refer to how economic, political, and scientific and
technological factors present constrain or enable actors' options for cooperation. Political
conditions encompass sub-national, national and supranational players that interact
amongst themselves. This "interaction allows for 'constantly dynamic' patterns of
autonomy and authority," or there is a specific power hierarchy contingent upon a
specific scenario or policy preference.47 This also includes systemic attitudes, such as
detente or the end of the Cold War, where preference ordering may change over short
periods of time. The economics condition refers to different entities at different levels.
At the state level economics refers to budgetary appropriations and other funding
avenues. At the sub-national level it refers to industrial return. This variable is also
46 J.P. Lester, E. Sadeh. & W.Z. Sadeh. "Modeling International Cooperation for Space Exploration" pg
47 Ibid., pg 210.
closely related to the scientific and technological conditions, as the three are usually very
closely correlated in the space sector.
The authors define the political actors by including, "those individuals, groups,
states or organization that can in one way or another engender cooperative outcomes."48
The most prominent players in the space sector are the national space agencies and their
respective governments. Behind the agencies, epistemic communities are named to be
the second most influential entity.49 International organizations are named as the third
actor influencing policy outcomes.50 All of the actors engage in constant cross-level
communication and cooperation.
The study develops four models of cooperation through which the interactions
among the different actor entities and the initial conditions are captured as policy
outcomes.51 The four models are:
1. Institutional bargaining incorporating negotiating processes among functional and
technological oriented institutions
2. Epistemic community process as it relates to the cooperative decision-making role
that knowledge-based communities of scientists play.
3. Structural conditioning in terms of realist orientation dealing with hegemonic
stability, state power asymmetries and cost/benefit calculations.
4. Convergence of norms based on the emergence of compatible preference-orderings
between self-interested state actors.
48 Ibid., pg 210.
49 An epistemic community is a transnational, knowledge-based group with a recognized authority in a
particular technical or scientific field that advises policymakers.
50 The order does not reflect their importance; each plays a vital role in cooperation.
51 J.P. Lester, E. Sadeh & W.Z. Sadeh. "Modeling International Cooperation for Space Exploration."
Models of cooperation Cooperative Policy
Institutional bargaining Outcomes
Epistemic communities Non-institutionalized
Structural conditioning Institutionalized
Political acors Convergence of norms
Figure 2 The Sadeh, Lester and Sadeh model of the dynamics of international
The institutional bargaining model features the creation and operation of
international organizations. Institutions have distinctive functions that greatly increased
the probability for cooperative outcomes. "These include: (1) promoting state concern to
a particular issue area; (2) enhancing national policy and administrative state capacities as
it relates to making and keeping international agreements; and (3) framing an
international legal environment for cooperative agreements."53 The stability offered by
this model is the most appropriate to accommodate changes in the international political
community or incentives for cooperation that may be upset by technological or scientific
52 Ibid., pg 208.
53 Ibid., pg 210.
Epistemic community cooperative processes refer to information sharing that
occurs among groups that have relatively analogous scientific beliefs and goals.54 These
communities generate norms and standard operating procedures that become heighten
both cooperative agreements and the receptive attitudes towards them i.e. regimes.
Space science is particularly well suited to the influence of epistemic communities "due
to its powerful scientific context resulting in the partial acquiescence of decision-makers
to scientific elites in the policy process."5
Structural conditioning and convergence of norms are similar in that they are
reflections of changing preference ordering among actors. There is one key difference,
however: the role of power politics. Structural conditioning features the policy decisions
of a hegemon, and the systemic incentives to cooperate with, or at the very least adjust to,
the new framework. This approach relies heavily on conventional power asymmetries
and their ramifications. Convergence of norms is the coincidental junction of "preference
orderings emanating from pressures generated in the domestic and international policy
milieus."56 This approach is much more subtle, and is usually the result of cost/benefit
analysis by key actors.
Through the selection of several case studies, the Sadeh, Lester and Sadeh seek to
test several hypotheses generated from their model. The first hypothesis tested the
institutional bargaining model, positing that when cost/benefit analysis was favorable and
epistemic communities were active politically, institutional arrangements were expected.
54 Haas, P. M. "Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination." International
Organization. 46.1 (1992): pg 3.
55 J.P. Lester, E. Sadeh & W.Z. Sadeh. "Modeling International Cooperation for Space Exploration." pg
56 Ibid., pg 212.
The role of epistemic communities in the institutional formation process is paramount,
and the institution, the ESA, has been so successful it functions as its own political entity.
The second hypothesis contends that when scientific and technological benefits
supersede political and economic concerns, epistemic communities will be the most
important actors in the decision making process. While the epistemic communities are
removed from the policy-making positions in other decision processes, when the
conditions specified are present, the communities become the dominant policy makers.
The third hypothesis refers to the emergence of structural conditioning within
cooperative systems of asymmetrical power. The authors found that when these power
asymmetries occur, the other factors, both initial conditions and the different actors,
become irrelevant in the bargaining process. The authors cite the ESL, ISPM and ISS
programs as examples of this cooperative arrangement.
The fourth hypothesis is that when relative power balances exist and politics
becomes the most important initial condition, the convergence of norms arrangement will
emerge. The importance of political symbolism in this arrangement cannot be stressed
enough, as cooperative agreements are much more often pragmatic ventures than
The study sheds a great deal of light on the process of bargaining, and how certain
arrangements emerge from their respective international environments. However, the
hypotheses seem less to be questions driving research, and instead the forgone
conclusions restated as questions. Aside from this shortcoming, the Sadeh, Lester and
51 Ibid., pg 221.
Sadeh do offer one of the most revealing works on the dynamics of international
cooperation in space.
The recognition of these four approaches to the issue of cooperative space ventures
from these four perspectives. Each approach offers insights that may compound with the
findings of other approaches, or simply recognize factors not account for in other
Several trends noticeably appear repeatedly in the literature. The first is the role of
epistemic communities. As mentioned previously, the space sector is particularly well-
suited for epistemic community influence given its highly technical nature and the
subsequent reliance of policy makers on these communities for information.
Paradoxically, the space industry is also largely a politics-driven sector, whether guided
explicitly or implicitly by political channels. It is, by and large, not driven by scientific
benevolence or idealist principles, but rather by pragmatic concerns. Thus the influence
of the epistemic communities over policy occurs only to the apathy of the conventional
Finally, there are a very limited number of cases scholars can test hypotheses
relating to international cooperative agreements. The space industry is approaching the
50th anniversary of Sputnik in 2007, and while the future seems opportune for the
drafting of yet conceived agreements, at present there are only a handful of multilateral
cases available to study. Despite this fact, there are still research approaches that are still
unexplored, a testament to the relatively little scholarly attention given to the subject.
METHODOLOGY AND CASE SELECTION
There are three case studies that will be analyzed for this examination. Each of
three cases have been selected by the merit that all were drafted as open-ended,
multilateral agreements: "Management of open-ended projects may well be the hardest
and most contentious point of future cooperation."1 With this in mind, there are key,
fundamental differences among the cases that are specific to each. The study of these
cases will combine several of the levels of analysis in case selection and the
investigation. The selection process has been made according to supra-national
considerations, while the exploration of the studies will look for program specific
The three cases for the study are the Interagency Consultative Group (IACG), the
International Space Station (ISS), and the European Space Agency (ESA). The cases
encompass four types of cooperative agreements as listed by Sadeh: integration,
augmentation, interdependence and coordination. In addition to their different structure
they also address fundamentally different aspects of space exploration, from a highly
politicized ISS to a purely scientific IACG.
The three studies date to the last two eras in Johnson-Freese's work. The second
phase she details, 1970-1984, saw the emergence of players with genuine space
capability, and greater receptivity of NASA to relinquishing responsibility reflects this
1 J. Johnson-Freese. ( i,,ig,,i Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. Pg 53.
change. The ESA and IACG date to this era. The third era, 1985-present, has seen the
development of agreements that are much closer to true cooperative arrangement rather
than contractual agreements as suggested by the literature. NASA has at times found the
readjustment quite painful, "once you have the whole pie it's difficult to adjust to less."2
The ISS dates from this program.
The analysis borrows Johnson-Freese's comparative factor approach, but with
slight modification. While Johnson-Freese's study focuses on the presence of attitude,
potential benefit and political environment and their affect on coordination efforts of
actors, she chooses to avoid analyzing national interest and potential technological
transfers, claiming to look outside the realm of both. To neglect these important
variables undermines the conclusions of any research. This study analyzes how the
nationalist factors, including security concerns, nationalism and technology transfer,
along with bureaucratic factors and economic factors are accounted for within the
Nationalist forces are defined as the centrifugal forces that affect cooperation due to
the inherent threats to security, competition or nationalism of space cooperation. There
are several ways it can affect agreements. Beyond conventional security concerns, there
are two technologically oriented phenomena: (1) techno-nationalism and (2) techno-
2 Ibid., Pg 56.
3 J. Johnson-Freese & A.S. Erickson. "The Emerging China-EU Space Partnership: A Geotechnical
Balancer." pg 14.
The security concerns of space development are fairly straight-forward. In addition
to the development of powerful and reliable rockets and missiles, space research involves
other dual-use technologies like lasers, computers, polymers and radioactive materials.
Military powers such as the US and Russia are very careful to mitigate the proliferation
of such technology.
Techno-protectionism is as old as the space industry itself; its perpetual presence is
felt at the bargaining table. Techno-nationalism, however, is a newer phenomenon, not to
be mistaken with the former. "Developing powers such as China...tend to take an
especially nationalistic approach to technological development, perhaps because their
leading elites are acutely conscious of the costs of exclusion from economic and military
world leadership."4 The recent rapid development of a manned space program in China
has been accredited to techno-nationalism. Techno-nationalism encourages actors to
"engage in techno-nationalist realpolitik"5 A Project like the global position network
Galileo, initially pioneered by the ESA and now being developed through several
international partnerships as well, provides another example of this trend. Techno-
protectionism on the other hand is a much older and pervasive trend. It is simply the
desire of states to keep what they have away from the have-nots. It usually serves to
either guard military technology or protect competitive advantage.
It is possible that certain idiosyncrasies of national identity can affect cooperative
efforts as well. The desire for national technological autonomy, independence or prestige
can keep key actors away from the bargaining table. The French experience offers the
4 Ibid., pg 14.
5 Ibid., pg 15.
best example of this, as they have insisted from a very early stage the importance of
independent access to space. As a result, the Ariane program has been pioneered by
spearheaded by their national agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).
The bureaucratic factors variable analyzes how the cooperative framework, whether
it is as informal as a MOU or formal as an institutional design, distributes authority,
managerial interfaces and decision making processes among scientists, administrators and
public officials.6 The authority structures within the bureaucracy are much more
important than one may think, as often policy is not delivered top down, but rather,
"bureaucrats within these strong and independent bureaucracies frequently initiate space
Trying to coordinate several independent bureaucracies is a significant endeavor.
The framework must encourage bureaucrats to surrender some degree of decisional
autonomy within context of an appropriate managerial interface. The result often
relinquishes power to officials exogenous of the bureau, "the difficulty of conducting
space ventures has served to deliver substantial amounts of policy making into the
hands of professional bureaucrats working within the executive branch of government."8
Despite the impressive challenges, success has been achieved. In each example
specific provisions are required to cater to idiosyncratic bureaucratic procedures, program
requirements, or one of the nationalist or economic factors. Additionally, "as formidable
6E. Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation." Pg 310.
7 McCurdy, H. E. (2002). "Bureaucracy and the Space Program." Space Politics and Policy: An
Evolutionary Perspective. Ed. E. Sadeh Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishing. pg 107.
8 Ibid., pg 116.
as they are, the challenges of space policy formulation can appear trivial compared to the
difficulty of making the policies work."9 (Emphasis added) Programs that failed to
develop proper framework to administer decision-making and other processes fail as the
cases will illustrate.
The economic factors variable refers to the funding and investment of programs, or
more generally, how money comes into the program and where it leaves. Its
manifestation is apparent in several vehicles: industrial return, exchange of funds and
private financing to name a few. The finance side of issue refers to the differing degrees
to which public, private and commercial players assume financial responsibility in a
program. Opposite this are the procurement aspects of an agreement and how each
member receives a fair return investment. Pragmatism, not altruism, drives international
cooperation in the space sector, and economic concerns are very important to the
sustainability of long-term projects. Without appropriate channels governing finance and
investment, irreparable conflict is inevitable.
As the case studies will show, each of the factors are represented in some way;
however, the inherent nature of the activity and the cooperative agreement determine
each of the factors' respective importance in either inhibiting or promoting cooperation.
Within the analysis of the variables, the general trends, outlined previously, persistently
present themselves not as variables, but as fundamental characteristics of the system in
9 Ibid., pg 117.
which actors negotiate and coordinate. The ESA case study will be first, followed by the
IACG, and the ISS case.
THE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
For 40 years, Europe has managed successful and very profitable cooperation
inside the framework of its institutions, initially European Space Research Organization
(ESRO) and European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) and later in the
alloy of the two, the European Space Agency (ESA). Although the level of public
expenditure in the space industry in Europe is significantly less than the US, 15 a person
to 110 a person in the US, the industry is among the world's most innovative and
competitive.1 The process has been uniquely cooperative, "ESA, Member States and
their national space agencies, research centres, together with industry, all deserve the
credit for having established Europe as a key player in space."2
A more comprehensive investigation, one that probes the ESA's unique history,
complex bureaucratic structure and commercial framework, reveals the degree to which
the agency is truly phenomenal. The agency's delicate balance between coalescent and
centrifugal forces has bestowed the continent 40 years of truly multilateral cooperation in
the space sciences. More importantly, "at the same time, they have deserted neither their
own domestic programs nor their bilateral or multilateral cooperative agreements with
other agencies in Europe or elsewhere in the world."3 Additionally, the cooperation has
1 European Commission. Green Paper -European Space Policy. Luxembourg: Office for Official
Publications of the European Communities, 2003. pg 12.
2 European Commission. White Paper -Space: A New European Frontier for an Expanding Union.
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2003. pg 7.
3 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. Pg 1.
occurred with unsurpassed efficiency: ESA has never cancelled a project and rarely runs
The importance of the agency for this study lies in its ability to successfully address
and each factor determined to affect international cooperation in space. Be it by the
profound foresight of the drafters of the ESA convention, or simple good fortune, the
agency certainly offers one promising model for cooperation in institutional form. Each
factor has developed its own unique solutions, both apriori and aposteriori, and thus
serves as an excellent starting point for the study.
The ESA was born in 1975 from the merger of two space oriented research
institutions, ESRO and ELDO. ESRO was intended to "further the training of European
specialists in space technology, promote the exchange of scientific and technical
information, and provide national research groups with launching facilities."5
The organization's future successes stem from its founder's "absolute desire to
define ESRO as a purely scientific research organization, free as possible from detailed
government interference."6 In fact, the ESA is still runs with this principle as its primary
mission. In order to preserve its scientific sanctity, ESRO would have to forego research
into delivery vehicle development, technology with a very clear military application.
ESRO was created with a comprehensive, yet effective, bureaucratic oversight procedure.
Strict budgetary procedures were instituted to protect national scientific autonomy,
4 Ibid., pg 26.
5 L. Bloomfield. "Outer Space and International Cooperation." pg 618.
6 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. Pg 5.
particularly a budget ceiling. Decisions regarding commercial and industrial contracts
are made by the executive, and capital is reinvested in accordance with the percentage of
contribution, a procedure known asjuste retour. The facilities were distributed amongst
the member states, but still operated until a strong central authority, the governing
council with a strong director position.
A different organization, ELDO, was created with this task, to develop a European
launcher. The scientific launcher program was born out of its military counterparts, and
the distribution of facilities active in the program reflects this quality: they were located
largely in France and the UK. The bureaucratic authority was substantially more vague
than that of ESRO, as the Director General weakly coordinated the efforts of individual
member states and contracting responsibility fell outside of the executive's jurisdiction.7
The first project ELDO engaged illustrated quite clearly the shortcomings of the
organization. Aiming specifically to create a space-vehicle launcher capable of
delivering payloads, the Europa I program was created to put a small satellite into a
geostationary orbit by 1966.8 The rocket was constructed from a collage of missiles
stages and hardware from a half-dozen members.9 The program managed to produce one
failed launch at triple the cost of the initial 70 million estimate.10 A decade later, under
the direction of the ESA, the coordination flaw was remedied by appropriating launch
responsibility to a single organization. The French space agency CNES was largely
responsible for the development of the successful commercial launcher program Ariane.
SIbid., pg 13.
8 L. Bloomfield. "Outer Space and International Cooperation." pg 618.
9 Ibid., pg 618.
10 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. Pg 13.
Bonnet and Manno juxtapose the two organizations and the lesson of each:
Why did ELDO fail in comparison with ESRO? ESRO provided facilities
and services to the European scientific community. Its program was kept
as much as possible free of political interference, being defined, reviewed
and used by the scientists themselves, but being managed though the
Agency. On the contrary, ELDO, placed directly under the auspices of its
Member States, was deprived of any central management capability. The
example of ELDO must be remembered in the future when setting up
other research and development organizations of a multinational
The ESA was not created until several years later, however. It would take a crisis
within ESRO to forge the two organizations into the institution present today. The
pressure came from two major factors, both born out ESRO's success. The first of two
was the inability to "establish proper technical and financial definitions of the first two
large satellites of its program."12 The organization's immaturity fostered a very high and
very unrealistic level of ambition. Unfortunately, the ESRO drawing board produced
programs that were far beyond the capacity of the still infant organization, this at a time
when even moderate programs typically exceeded their budget.13
The second factor was the organization's insistence to remain unrealistically
scientific. Critics charged the organization as returning little science in an expensive
cooperative effort that typically ran over budgeted and off schedule, while the
opportunities for commercial development remained unrealized.
The call for a "single coordinated space policy, incorporating science as well as
application programs" was answered in 1975.14 The ESA was drafted over a series of
11 Ibid., pg 14.
12 Ibid., pg 16.
13 Ibid., pg 16.
14 Ibid., pg 16-17.
three conventions in ten years. The initial objective was to "bring together the necessary
resources and skills required for developing an integrated space science programme and
producing a European launcher.""15 Although there have been some changes, the
organization still closely resembles its original format.
As mentioned previously, the 1957 launch of Sputnik I heralded a new age for
mankind. It became evident to European leaders very early in this new age that the rules
and strategies had changed significantly for the final frontier. No European state is
"capable of maintaining a space policy at the necessary level," much less compete
amongst the other two space superpowers, the US and USSR, in an industry where the
price tag was at times was as large as the vast expanses it explored.16 In 1965, 7.5% of
the US national budget was appropriated to space activities; surely Europe would fall
behind without a joint effort.17 A European cooperative venture would "allow Europe to
speak with on voice in the two leading space powers and at the same time build a
competitive space program." It would also to prevent an exodus ofEurope's finest
aerospace scientists and engineers to the US that would certainly occur in the absence of
In the face of the grim outlook of uncooperative policy, officials recognized not
only the importance but the necessity of cooperation. This realization was further
15 European Commission. Green Paper European Space Policy. pg 10.
16 Ibid., pg 6.
1 L. Bloomfield. "Outer Space and International Cooperation.
18 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 3.
compounded by the desire to reinvigorate Europe's still stagnant aerospace industry, and
the general economic reconstruction following World War II.19 In short, it unequivocally
served each state's national interest to pool resources. The decision to pool resources is
very uncommon, and leaves the ESA in an interesting position for this study. The
techno-protectionist concerns become irrelevant, and instead, the focus is turned to the
sovereignty and security concerns of members.
The framers of ESRO, with WWII a fresh memory, were very keen to mitigate the
nationalist reservations that delegates harbored, the legacy of which endures into the ESA
convention. Several important fundamental policies ensure individual members retain a
degree of national autonomy while still promising that which would be unobtainable at
the national level. This was necessary to prevent both major crises from emerging or the
gradual dissolution of the agency.
Central to the ESA's cooperative effort was the strict "science only" policy,
refraining from the development of any military-use technology. The mandatory
program was for the pursuit of purely scientific research, and the optional programs for
peaceful space application. Although today's ESA has developed a little flexibility on
the issue,20 initially this was one of the most sacred standards of the organization.21
The second fundamental dictates geographic distribution, one of the more
prominent themes of ESRO that has survived today. "This was the first occasion when
the concept of geographic distribution was tacitly recognized as one of the key rules of
19 European Commission. White Paper Space: A New European Frontier for an Expanding Union. pg 9.
20 The ratio of public civil to defense expenditure in 2003 was approximately 1:5. US expenditure, in
perspective, is roughly balanced 1:1. Green Paper -European Space Policy (2003) pg 12.
21 European Commission. Green Paper -European Space Policy. pg 20-21.
the future organization."22 The tension over geographic location was apparent very early
in the drafting process. Initially the headquarters and research center were proposed to be
closely located to streamline the coordination efforts of the main administrative and
scientific establishments. This idea was rejected on the grounds that it would give one
member too large of a strategic advantage.23 Instead the institutions are located as
follows: The European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESRTC), "the design
hub for most ESA spacecraft and technology development" is situated in Noordwijk, the
Netherlands. The European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), the European mission
control, is in Germany, as is the European Astronauts Centre (EAC). The ESA Earth
Observation Centre, ERSIN, is based in Frascati, Italy, near Rome. 24 Finally, the ESA
headquarters is Paris, France, the legacy of its ESRO predecessor, selected for its
proximity to the ELDO headquarters already established there.25 Geographic distribution
concerns not only facilities, but also employees. Although there is no official policy on
the distribution of employees, the nationalities are kept roughly commensurate with the
percentage of total contribution to the ESA budget.
The most important characteristic of the ESA framework is the unique ability of
states to function on both a national and supranational level. The unique arrangement
allows supranational participation while still offering the autonomy to engage in national
programs and other cooperative agreements. Many member states retain very active
2R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 8.
23 Ibid., pg 8.
24 European Space Agency. "ESA facts and figures." www.esa.int. January 13, 2006.
huip \ \ \ .esa.int/esaCP/GGG4SXG3AEC_index_0.html.
domestic programs, mainly France, Italy, Germany and the UK. However, the ESA is
flexible enough to allow some members treat it as a substitute for domestic aerospace
research, such as Ireland, Austria and several others.
The French agency CNES is particularly active domestically, engaging its own
bilateral agreements with NASA and other agencies. The French have embraced a
strong, independent space program all the way back to President Charles de Gaulle. The
French pioneered the development of the Ariane program, albeit with substantial
financial backing from the ESA. In fact, it was the strong identification of French
national priorities, and the cushion their domestic capability provided, that allowed them
to trigger the crisis within ESRO and ELDO and push towards a united ESA. 26
The French fixation on grandeur and independence is not ubiquitous throughout the
continent. Quite the opposite in fact as, "The notions of an external threat and the
stigmatized associated with the 'partner-competitor' nature of relations with the US were
viewed differently from one end of the continent to the other."27 The Belgian attitude
was one of independence from France or Germany, and preferred to rely on the US for
this security, much as they relied on the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century.28
Again, the flexibility of the institution allows each member the space to pursue
independent national agendas.
The preservation of autonomy is not without its complications, successful domestic
scientific programs create centrifugal force. This was the case in the 1980s, where strict
27 L. Jourdain & X. Pasco. "Comparative Space Policy: The Space Policy Crisis in the American,
European and French Space Programs." pg 322.
28 Ibid., pg 323.
funding caps had slowly stifled the number of programs ESA could commission. The
centrifugal force was strong enough that some speculated scientists and engineers would
abandon ESA if it were not for the development of a medium-sized project every year.
"ESA's projects were then no bigger and no more ambitious than some national ones.
The ESA program was at risk of becoming sub-critical and of being unable to deliver
what was requested from the scientific community and from industry."29 The resolution
was Horizon 2000 program, a program that refocused and re-coordinated the domestic
and national programs.3
There are now two policies implemented to combat the centrifugal forces generated
by the national-supranational structure. The first is the semi-annual meeting of important
ESA and national delegates called the Capri meetings, named after the conferences'
permanent location.31 The other is the indispensable policy that directs "regular and
periodic visits to all the Member States, in order to discuss directly, with the delegations
and the representatives of the scientific community and of industry, their respective
problems and their wishes."32 These meetings are not emergency responses to crises, but
rather a preemptive attempt to bring potential conflict to light and resolve issues before
they come to fruition. This policy is essential to the success of the agency as a long-term
cooperative institution, and its ability for conflict resolution, confidence building and
communication surpasses the potentially icy atmosphere of Council meetings.
29 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. Pg 63.
30European Space Agency. "ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level Toulouse, 18-20 October
1995."October 4, 1995. August 6, 2006. hlp \ \ \\ .esa.int/esaCP/Pr 40 1995_pEN.html and R. Bonnet
& V. Manno. pg 36-41.
31 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 69-70.
32 Ibid., pg 70-71.
Finally, the ESA has succeeded in transferring loyalty to the supranational level.
As mentioned in the literature review, the dramatic nature of space exploration has
certainly expedited this process, and the ESA has been one of the most successful
agencies at fostering a European spirit in cooperative ventures. Once the agency proved
its credibility to member states, combined with the context of greater European
integration, a gradual process of loyalty transference occurred.
Much of the agencies success can be attributed to its ability to mitigate the
nationalist forces of its members. The agency itself is a product of the concerns of
individual members, cognizant of their minimal individual potential in the aerospace
industry. Most important to its preservation is the high degree of autonomy that still
produces enough scientific return to encourage coalescence. It framers were also
sensitive to the distributive concerns of its founders.
The bureaucratic structure of the ESA has been one of the most important
contributors to the continual success of the ESA. The framers were keen to avoid large,
inefficient bureaucracies like that which had evolved at the hands of their America
counterparts. An organization like ESA is capable of sustainable cooperation only
through a framework of very specific rules and procedures. "Successful implementation
requires a system of governance in which the roles of the players are clearly understood,
the tools for careful coordination provided and process of accountability put in place."33
The ESA convention created a system that of governance that has done just that. ESA
has two main bureaucratic bodies, the Executive and the Council. The Council is the
33 European Commission. White Paper -Space: A New European Frontier for an Expanding Union. pg
legislative body from which political and funding approval initiates. The Executive
drafts and administers the undertakings of the mandatory and optional programs.
The most important function of the ESA bureaucratic structure is to maintain the
delicate balance between research of pure science and application. The convention
addresses the issue in Article V by creating two different scientific programs, each
operating quite differently than the other. All members participate in the Mandatory
Program, responsible for pure science research.34 It is dichotomized into two areas of
study, intra and extra solar system science, referred to as astronomical fields.
The development of systems that are commercially applicable is reserved for the
Optional Programs, the other programs with a much different character than its
mandatory counterpart. The inclusion of optionality was one of the most important
developments from the creation of the ESA. Optional programs make up 80% of the ESA
budget, including an assortment of meteorological, telecommunication, navigation and
Earth observation satellites. It is from the program the successful Ariane Launcher was
born, one of the most noteworthy accomplishments of the agency.35
The Mandatory Program, the backbone of the agency, has several procurement and
decision-making procedural safeguards to insulate it from both internal and external
pressures. First, proposal approval requires a simple majority vote, but changes require a
2/3 vote. This means budget increases and program changes are extremely difficult to
come across, bolstering the importance proposal credibility. Additionally, the decision
34 The members of the ESA are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland,
Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United
35 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 29-32.
making process is very transparent, and great precautions are taken to avoid political or
industrial considerations. Unlike the optional program, there is nojuste retour policy in
the scientific program, and distributive levels are not accounted for in the decision
making process. This is discussed later.36
The safeguards and procedures have been very effective in successfully
administering research programs. The agency has never cancelled a project and projects
rarely run over 25% of the initial estimate. The decision-making process places pressure
on scientists and engineers to perform at risk of losing credibility. The success has
important to maintaining the scientific community's enthusiasm for the Agency.37
The optional programs are also funded through a much different process than the
Mandatory Program. Proposals are made by member states, with the tacit participation of
the rest of the members. However, a member can abstain if they specifically request to
do so. Contributions to the optional program are calculated according to a scale of the
GNP of each member. Originally, the restriction on military technology present in the
Mandatory Program was carried over to the Optional Program, but this restriction has
been relaxed significantly in recent years.
Because of the inherent commercial nature of the optional program, its discussion
is reserved for the next section. The emphasis for this section is mainly the decision
making and authority structures, and the safeguards that protect the system. There are
five important bureaucratic safeguards in place. The first is the formation of the advisory
committees. The Space Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) is small, advisory body of
36 Ibid., pg 25-29.
37 Ibid., pg 26.
no more than seven senior scientists that counsels the Director General. There are two
sub-committees corresponding to the two major branches of activity with ESA,
astronomical and solar system science. The number of scientists is limited as to insulate
them from the political pressures of each other and their member states, and they are paid
only minimally. This body makes apolitical, objectives decisions regarding programs
removed from political and commercial pressures the DG may be subject to.
The second safeguard is the budgeting process. Budgets are established five years
out and are reviewed every three years. This means projects can operate without fear of
cancellation, a constant threat to their American counterparts. This five-year foresight
functions as a double-edged sword to scientists inside the Agency. The long-term
planning gives a great deal of stability to the project, an attribute unique among many of
the space agencies of the world. At the same time, the ceiling requires unanimous
consent to change, so levels can be very inflexible, stifling growth.38 However, given the
overwhelming complications that are direct results from the annual budgeting process in
the US, this feature is key to the credibility and commitment of ESA to its scientists and
The third safeguard is the implementation of strict term limits for ESA officials,
usually three years. These limits serve three purposes. The first is to maximize
communication with the scientific community by constantly drawing on its members to
the fill the agency's ranks. It also increases transparency of the organization, as well as
preventing career bureaucrats from accumulating influence beyond the specific
responsibility of his or her respective office.
38 Ibid., pg 28-29.
The fourth safeguard is more of a customary principle derived from several
procedures, rather one specific policy. Transparency has been a central tenet of the ESA
since the inception of ESRO, and this tradition continues today. The heavy privatization
and consultative processes contribute to a "no secrets, no surprises" environment. This
transparency is compounded by the above mentioned term limits, and hence, high
turnover of officials.39
The final safeguard, like the one before it, is also a principle derived from the
amalgamation of several policies. The ESA places great importance on the credibility of
projects in all stages, from conception through operation. The market based approach
gives incentive to contractors to keep costs as competitive as possible. However, the
funding procedures already addressed, in conjunction with the expertise of the scientific
advisory boards, pressures contractors to be as credible as possible with estimates. In an
industry heavily reliant upon public investment, a strong relationship with ESA is
extremely important. Paradoxically, the bidding process has served to increase and
strengthen cooperation, not incite nationalist protectionism as one might predict.40
There is one more bureaucratic program in place worth note, necessary to
accommodate the variety of members that compose the ESA. As previously mentioned,
many of the ESA members maintain significant national programs, and have the
necessary administrative considerations for ESA membership. Other members, however,
are either not capable of or choose not to operate national programs. For these members,
39 Ibid., pg 41-45.
40 Ibid., pg 53-57.
the ESA functions as their both their national and supranational agency, and their
domestic interests should not suffer because of this.
The solution to this problem is a program abbreviated as Prodex, short for
Programme de Developpement d'Experiences. It is an optional program available to the
group of states without domestic space programs necessary to accommodate projects that
have been selected by the SPC, but require domestic funding under the mandatory
For example, there exists cases where the total financial contribution of a Member
State to space activities, both European and national, is included in the ESA
contribution, and where mechanisms do not exist to redistribute money inside the
country to pay for the development of experiments or payloads. The Prodex
program allows for this possibility.
Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium and Finland recently participated in the program
with the development of the James Webb Space Telescope, a multilateral project
involving ESA, several member states, Canada and the US.41 This important program
ensures equal opportunity for participation and development even at the smallest levels of
The above mentioned bureaucratic designs and safeguards have been effective in
the facilitation of continued multilateral space activity. The emphasis on privatization,
transparency and above all science before industry has produced one of the most efficient
and effect supranational institutions of mankind. The unique decision making process,
the explicit dichotomization of scientific and commercial programs, as well as numerous
41 European Space Agency. "European agreement on James Webb Space Telescope's Mid-Infrared
Instrument (MIRI) signed 10 June, 2004." www.esa.int. May 2, 2006.
hup \ \ \ .esa.int/esaCP/SEMYWW2VQUD_Expanding_0.html.
safeguards have been very successful, and serve as a model for agreements entering the
The pooled resources approach of the institutional setting offers a unique case for
this study. There is a far greater amount of resources spread amongst a greater number of
members than any other space agreement. Additionally, ESA's market-based approach
further complicates the process. The agency has, however, found the right formula to
fairly distribute the investment, one worth a closer look.
The decision to pursue a market-based space industry required certain, special
accommodations in the framework of ESRO and later ESA. One the initial driving forces
was, after all, the desire to rebuild European infrastructure, and the market-based
approach was agreed upon as the best means to build this capacity. It was also
understood that the proper measures must be to balance the competitive market forces
with geographic distribution. Juste retour is not specific to the ESA though: "All R&D
organizations in Europe and indeed throughout the world, whether they be international
or national, have established explicit or implicit equitable geographical-return
Bonnet and Manno offer a compelling abridged version of the policy as it appears
in the convention:
In the execution of the Agency's programs, maximum use should be made of
industry, as opposed to building up an ESA in-house capacity; utilization of
42 European Commission. Green Paper -European Space Policy. pg 28.
43 B. Battrick (ed.). Agenda 2007 A Document by the ESA Director. pg 20-21.
industry should be based on free competitive bidding developments and
procurements should in principle make use of Member States' industries; an
adequate geographical distribution of contracts to Member States' industries should
be ensured; a balanced development of a competent European space industry
should be aimed at through the use, structuring and rationalizing of existing
industrial capabilities; measures should be taken to improve the worldwide
competitive of the European space industry. 44
The impressive buildup of the space industry in Europe can largely be attributed to
the industrial policy of the ESA. While the full extent of the policy is quite complicated,
including the specifics regarding multinational companies with overseas holdings, the
central premise is known asjuste retour, or just return. The system operates on the
principle that a Member State should receive roughly the same percentage of return
investment as it contributes to the ESA annually. This rate of return is measured through
an industrial return coefficient calculated as the ratio between "the portion of all contracts
placed by the Agency in the industry of a given Member State to the average percentage
of contributions of that Member State to the budget that the Agency spends in
Some investments, however, require greater infrastructural and technological build
up, an element accounted for in calculatingjuste retour. The coefficient is weighted
according to the nature of the activity in the Member State, with the weighting factor
between zero and one. The higher the technological sophistication of a contract, the
higher the factor is for the state. Thus, thejuste retour coefficient is not simply a
financial measure, but rather an industrial one.
44 R. Bonnet, R. & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. Pg 48.
45 Ibid., pg 49-50.
The implementation of the policy has not always been easy. Critics charge the
practice has "stalled decisions, cost hikes and [is] an obstacle to competitiveness and
creativity, in conflict with the European Union Treaty."46 The disregard of competitive
bidding, while necessary, at times has been a very unpopular practice. The
implementation has not always been accurate, either. When contracts fall behind or
encounter unforeseen difficulties the forecast return may become an inaccurate
representation of the new return.47 Over time these deficits can add up. While great
efforts are made to ensure the system is very thorough in its planning and
implementation, experience shows the trend is these deficits are not recovered, and can
amount to significant imbalances over time against smaller nations.48
Juste Retour has, at times, been fraught with substantial complexity nor has it been
without its critics. It has been, however, absolutely instrumental to the development of
ESA, especially in the initial stages when loyalties had not been formed and the sector
was still in its infancy. Although there were initial growing pains, the industry is now
robust, employing 30,000 people across 2000 different companies.49 Bonnet and Manno
state that the policy "has had a clearly positive effect on the determination of the various
Member States to support an international European space program and participate fully
in the Agency's activities."50
46 B. Battrick (ed). Agenda 2007 A Document by the ESA Director General. pg 20-21.
4 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 53.
48 B. Battrick (ed). Agenda 2007 A Document by the ESA Director. pg 20-21.
49 European Commission. Green Paper European Space Policy. pg 12.
50 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 53.
Within the context of the ESA today, there is a large, open dialogue as to the
necessity, the expense, and the usefulness ofjuste retour as the agency enters the new
millennium. The cost effectiveness of the institutionalized inefficiency, sometimes
requiring the coordination of as many as 40 firms in 13 countries, is a very difficult
calculation.5 Recently the Director General posited "geographical-return will remain an
efficient and attractive tool provided: 1) it may be adapted to each type of programme; 2)
measures may be taken to avoid cumulative discrepancies per programme and their
adverse consequences."52 Irrespective of its critics and its role in the new era of the ESA,
it would be safe to say the Agency would not be as successful as it is today, if it was able
to survive at all, withoutjuste retour and its principles.
The cooperation that initiated and resulted from the ESA is truly the result
extraordinary circumstances. As former ESA DG Reimar Luest posited, "when resources
abound and opportunities plentiful, cooperative attitude abounds. When resources shrink,
altruism takes a back seat."53 As long as there exists a healthy amount of scientific and
political interest in the space industry, there will be enough resources for a continued,
multilateral space agency effort. However, history seems to indicate that, even in the
acknowledged environment of the benefits of cooperation, nationalist forces can be a
very powerful within the framework of the institution.
51 Ibid., pg 56.
52 B. Battrick (ed). Agenda 2007 A Document by the ESA Director. pg 20-21.
53 Reimar Luest. "The Cooperation of Europe and the United States in Space." pg. 5.
The ESA has developed an institutional model, however, to permanently cope with
these forces, along with solutions aposteriori. It is flexible in its participation, and the
bureaucratic channels governing decision making and authority are clearly defined and
fair to all involved. Additionally, the organization has a high degree of transparency that
again is fair to all involved. The same is true of the just return: while it has been
extremely successful, it has not been without growing pains. Although all of the factors
could have produced irreconcilable obstacles to integration, the highly institutionalized
solutions have mitigated their presence in the cooperative process.
With this said, the fallibility of a system devoid of long-term, strategic foresight has
since become apparent.54 Today's subfield of military space application features five
communication programs and three observation programs, and coordination among these
programs is likely a very difficult practice.55 Additionally, critics charge that short-term
market pressures provide disincentives to pursue long-term strategic developments.
Institutions cannot simply ignore the important issues indefinitely; in every case the
cooperative arrangement eventually is confronted with the problems previously ignored.
No on will argue, however, as to the program's utility initially; it was indispensable in the
formation and loyalty transference to the agency and its endeavors
Additionally, the transferability of the European model is generally very limited.
The integrative trend that spurred the ravaged post-WWII continent back to its economic
feet is by all means a remarkable story and analysis removed from the social, economic,
and political context of the period would fail to adequately tell the European story. The
54 B. Battrick (ed). Agenda 2007 A Document by the ESA Director. pg 5-6.
55 European Commission. Green Paper -European Space Policy. pg 8.
normative question of whether institutional cooperation of the public and private
aerospace sectors was indeed the epiphenomenal outcome of integrative forces elsewhere
is an important question regarding the future of cooperative ventures, yet outside the
scope of this study. Still, the ESA offers the best example of how a cooperative
framework can successfully confront and accommodate all of the identified factors of this
Regardless of systemic changes exogenous to the agency, internally, the ESA will
continue to serve its members in the same role as was intended at its inception. The
agency's symbolic and functional outcomes serve as a stark example of not only the
tremendous changes that have occurred on the European continent, but of which projects
are attainable in the unique, piecemeal fashion Europe approaches exploration and
INTERAGENCY CONSULTATIVE GROUP (IACG)
Since its discovery in 1758 by the famous English astronomer Edmund Halley, the
comet bearing his name has fascinated scientists and story-tellers alike. The comet's
history is a remarkable one, first appearing in recorded history as early as 240 BC,
although unconfirmed reports date its first recorded spotting to 2467 BC.1 By the time
the comet made its last approach closest to Earth in 1986, astronomers the world over
were ready for its arrival.
Aside from the symbolic victory of the successful coordination and study of such
an iconic figure, IACG offers much more to this study. The comet's timing coincided
with the changing of one of Johnson-Freese's epochs of cooperative exploration. Several
actors had ascended to the forefront of the space scene and had acquired legitimacy. She
follows says of the period "in the past cooperation basically involved either the United
States launching something for another country" or cooperating only as far as
developmental phase. "Cooperation now has evolved to include longer and more open
ended projects" 2 The development of these longer, open-ended programs put significant
strain on the bargaining phases of cooperative programs. NASA Director Kenneth
Pederson described the conflict as the "balancing [of] national or regional pride with the
1"Comet Halley." www.wikipedia.org. August 1, 2006.
2 J. Johnson-Freese. ( i,,,ig,, Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 53.
fiscal and technical imperatives pushing towards broader-based multinational
IACG was developed as a compromise in this new environment. It was created as
an attempt "to acknowledge the need for cooperative efforts and to find a solution to the
dilemma... of balancing national and international interests."4 Once the comet
disappeared for another 75.3 years, policy makers hoped to export the same model to
other science-specific projects. Although there was significant optimism initially, time
has shown these hopes to be misplaced, and instead, IACG has revealed a paradoxical
relationship between institutionalization, success and autonomy.
Astronomers and policymakers were both keenly aware of the attention that would
be directed towards the international efforts to study Halley's Comets. There were in all
five probes sent to study the comet, two Soviet (VEGA 1 and 2), two Japanese (Sakigake
and Suisei), and one European, (Giotto).5 Policymakers recognized quickly that, in the
absence of any new project development, and given the potential benefits of cooperation,
some cooperative agreement should be sought.
Originally it was suggested the cooperation occur through a third-party, and the
Committee on Space Research was suggested. After initial debate, this idea was rejected,
and it was decided the best avenue for success would involve the direct communication
3 K. Pedersen. "The Global Context: Changes and Challenges." Economics and
Technology in U.S. Space Policy. ed. Molly Macauley. Washington D.C.: Resources for
the Future, 1986. pg 187.
4 J. Johnson-Freese. ( li,,i,,igi Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 101.
5 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 90.
of space agencies and officials. The decision on this arrangement, five years before the
comet's visit in 1981, marks the creation of IACG.6
The first meeting of officials from the four agencies, NASA, ESA, the Japanese
Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and the Soviet Space Science
Academy (IKI), in addition to a group approximately one thousand amateur astronomers
functioning as interest group under the name International Halley Watch (IHW). The last
entity, IHW, was organized by NASA and ESA officials to coordinate ground
observation of the comet.' NASA's inclusion in the group is a token to its primacy in
the international system. There was an amount of criticism questioning the role of NASA
in the group when they were not sending a probe directly to the comet. However, it was
"unthinkable to do a space science venture of this magnitude without the experience and
involvement of NASA personnel."8 The project would in fact be a much different role
for the agency that was notorious for throwing its weight around in cooperative
The main mission for the IACG encounter with Halley's Comet was known as
Pathfinder. Differences in the timing of the approaches of the five previously mentioned
probes made it possible for scientists to get much closer to the nucleus of the comet than
would possible otherwise if they could coordinate their efforts. This was a highly
technical and ambitious endeavor; however, if it worked, its success would be heralded
not only as a great scientific achievement, but as a political one as well. The IKI probes
6 J. Johnson-Freese. ( l,,,,nis Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 102.
SIbid., pg 102.
8 Ibid., pg 103.
Vega 1 and 2 would approach the comet first, and measure the location of the nucleus,
and NASA was responsible for locating the Vega crafts with its Deep Space Network.
The information would then be forwarded to the ESA mission control, where their probe,
Giotto, could be navigated closer to the nucleus.9 The project was a success, as Giotto
flew within 56 km of its intended trajectory, a significant improvement from the 400 km
that scientists estimate would have happened had it not been for the Pathfinder mission.10
After such a resounding success, those responsible for IACG felt that extending
Pathfinder's success to other projects was a logical next step. An extension, though,
would require the drafting of at least some type of managing protocol. This process
would certainly considerable complications and conflict between the USSR and the US,
two entities very concerned about cooperating with each other. One NASA official
captured these feelings in this way:
The thing that makes us uncomfortable is that the IACG lumps together our friends
and our allies with the Soviets. We know how to conduct relations with our allies;
we know how to conduct relations with the Soviet Union. But we do it differently.
The problem with IACG is that it lumps everything together."
Despite its initial promise, the group was not able to replicate the success enjoyed
in the Halley project. It quickly fell apart when it transferred to Phase II operations, a
program to organize solar exploration. The failure to institutionalize IACG for long-term
cooperation should not necessarily overshadow its short-term achievements. The
Pathfinder mission was a significant success both politically and scientifically, and marks
one of the best models of epistemic cooperation. The project also seems to offer a
9 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 90.
10 J. Johnson-Freese. ( 1,1,,1g,,i Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 105.
1 Interview with Michael Michaud, Washington, D.C. 4 May 1998 from Johnson-Freese, J., C 1,1,11,,,
Patterns of International Cooperation in Space. pg 107.
curious tandem of both successful and ineffective policies as well, the subject of
Any multilateral effort that succeeded in getting both the USSR and the US to
agree to some cooperative venture must be heralded as a resounding triumph over
security concerns. At the time of the Halley project, there were no official lines of
communication or even statutes to sanction technological exchange between Soviet and
US space agencies. All information exchanges between the Soviet and US agencies had
to be relayed first through the European Space Operations Center (ESOC). After the fact,
officials agreed that although the preparations for the cooperation were difficult, the
results, both symbolic and functional, merited the effort.
To achieve this there were several precautions that administrators were keen to
avoid potential security concerns and interference from the State or Defense
Departments. First, policymakers were very insistent on limiting the scope of the project
specifically to the study of Comet Halley. The preservation of the organization as purely
scientific allowed the scientists to leapfrog security concerns in its implementation.
Additionally, "national autonomy was safeguarded by the fact that the Pathfinder
was desirable for project enhancement, but not essential to the carrying out of individual
projects."12 All of the probes were designed and approved on the national level, without
any supranational pressure. IACG reinforced this guideline in the Terms of Reference,
stating that no formal planning was take place through ICAG. The explicit desire to keep
12 J.P. Lester, E. Sadeh & W.Z. Sadeh. "Modeling International Cooperation for Space Exploration." pg
projects as separate and autonomous as possible also helped mitigate the concerns of
remaining, skeptical officials.
There were, after all, many officials who believed the cooperation was too great a
challenge given the political conditions. "There was considerable doubt that the
organization could withstand the rigors of its mission, primarily from a political
perspective."13 The organizational pressures from coordinating five entities are
enormous; notwithstanding the fact two entities were superpowers with icy relations.
Projects as difficult as Halley require an extra catalyst to realize its full potential,
and IACG got theirs in the form of a handful of charismatic, visionary leaders. Just as
the success of ESA cannot be removed from the context of the ambient attitudes towards
greater European integration, the success of ICAG is largely accountable to the
representatives of each of the member states' space agencies. All of the directors of the
national agencies were experienced internationalist, and each helped with domestic
concerns of sovereignty and security.14 Several times when the political challenges
appeared insurmountable, the entrepreneurial ability of these key policymakers rescued
the process from deadlock. While difficult to quantify, their contribution is unmistakable
The majority of the nationalist problems that appear in other more institutionalized
studies such as the ESA and ISS are notably absent however. The policymakers were
aware what policies might cause conflicts of interests, what that would do to the process,
and explicitly avoided them. With these precautions, the epistemic community still faced
13 J. Johnson-Freese. ( 1o,1,1,,, Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 104.
14 Ibid., pg 103.
significant problems in this sphere, no doubt a testimony to the tension of the Cold War
The IACG's greatest contribution to this study is to the understanding of the role of
the bureaucratic factors in both of its endeavors. As mentioned earlier, the IACG case
offers the unique situation of superb achievement followed by marked failure. It serves
as a stark example to the proponents of informality: it works, but only for a little while.
Soon, non-institutionalized cooperative arrangements find themselves in precarious
situations, balancing utility and capability. Successes like the Halley Project encourage
national policymakers to increase the scope of the projects, without the willingness to
cede either the necessary authoritative or budgetary procedures. If cooperative ventures
go without major achievements, however, their existence is questioned. Epistemic
Communities are left in the middle of these processes.
Much of the success of the Halley project can be attributed to the insistence of
policymakers to keep it as informal as possible. Drawing on lessons agencies had learned
from previous cooperative agreements, the provisions were drafted in the spirit of making
the group as sustainable as possible. The guidelines to the Halley project were explicit in
their control of only scientific data and the data gathering processes. The Terms of
Reference tried to preserve the structure and culture of informality as was possible. They
barred IACG in the formal drafting and development stages of a project, maintained for
the necessity of space science, and provided that IACG should not assume the role of any
other existing bilateral or multilateral agreements. The informality of the agreement
works in select cases, and this one-time, non-security oriented epistemic community
based venture is definitely one example of success.
When the Pathfinder mission proved overwhelmingly successful, all involved
sought to continue the Group. There was, unfortunately, the question of how to arrange a
permanent agreement to accommodate all those involved. The solution was to keep the
organization as informal as possible, and Terms of Reference were adopted ensure this
quality. These rules reflect the three most important operating principles: (1) no or
minimal technology transfer (2) no transfer of funds (3) the group was to be an advisory
body to its member states. The statement of purpose was,
The objectives of the [IACG] are to maximize opportunities for multilateral
scientific coordination among approved space science missions in areas of mutual
interest. The IACG is a multi-agency international forum in which space science
activities are discussed on an informal basis among representative of member
After Pathfinder the group changed its name to the Interagency Consultative Group
for Space Science, and explicitly dedicated themselves to this purpose only. Within the
Terms of Reference were several pragmatic policy guidelines. They are:
* Only to serve coordination effort for approved space science programs
* The group is to take no formal planning role in any mission or missions
* The group is at no point to replace bilateral agreements or other existing
* Leadership roles of IACG must be filled by senior officials within members states
* IACG can work with epistemic communities or other sub-state actors to
supplement discovery if required by a program
* Senior members will periodically review the groups necessity and effectiveness16
15 United States. "Inter-Agency Consultative Group for Space Science, Terms of Reference." Washington
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1981. pg 1.
16 J. Johnson-Freese. ( li,,ia,, Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 106-107.
Interestingly, the framework was amorphous in outlining its objectives, yet very
clear in how to facilitate them. It would prove to be enough to conciliate all
administrators involved, including the apprehensive Americans.
Unfortunately it would not prove to be the magic bullet of multilateral cooperation
all involved were after. The post-Halley operations were known as Phase II, and were
focused to study solar terrestrial science. The project would quickly assume the
responsibility of coordinating thirty satellites and the four national agencies involved in
the study. The expansion led to the inevitable necessity, and hence formation, of certain
bureaucratic procedures and structures. Without appropriate mechanisms governing
decision making and other complications, the organization was ineffectual at conquering
such a large undertaking. When policymakers tried to export the Halley model to other
projects, namely the Solar Terrestrial Science Project, the model fell apart. Sadeh offers,
"The IACG is deficient in the requisite organizational mechanisms like a formalized
organizational charter specifying decision-making procedures and distributions of
financial resources. This has resulted in a level of commitment that is not commensurate
with the task at hand for ISTP."17 Thus, IACG failed to engineer appropriate
bureaucratic channels under the banner of informality and at the insistence of the
epistemic community. This directly led to its demise, and offers an excellent example of
the organizational balancing act detailed in the introduction.
Before moving on to the next section, a hypothetical seems appropriate: The
necessity of the informality was born out of the unique situation of bringing the two
hostile states, the US and USSR, together under one cooperative agreement. One must
1 E. Sadeh. "International Space Cooperation." pg 304.
question what form the Group might have taken without one of the two. This might have
relaxed the necessity for the informality and led the creation of a more sustainable,
permanent advisory group. Some even speculated the development of an International
Space Science Agency (ISSA) as the evolutionary product of the IACG. "Logic suggests
that a new international institution such as an ISSA would have to be the culmination of a
series of incremental steps."18
There are virtually no economic complications in this case study. Nevertheless,
this does not mean that the IACG case does not apply to this factor. Although the Group
may have had much greater potential with the provisions to help in the formalization of
national procurements, officials chose to keep the Group from heading down this path.
The absence of economic factors is as much a testament to the difficulty of coordinating
national industry, as well as the bureaucratic arrangements necessary to facilitate
Within the context of the initial Halley program, the IACG does not offer insight
into the way economic factors can inhibit cooperation. The group was responsible for
coordinating projects that had been procured at the national level long before the Group
came to fruition. The subsequent transition into the second phase reflects a great concern
of the issue, in fact. Policy makers explicitly stated that the Group was to have no role in
the formalization of any national programs, and was to serve instead only a forum for
18 K. Pedersen. "The Global Context: Changes and Challenges." pg 187.
Why did IACG succeed at its initial mission? Bonnet and Manno answer the
question by offering, "the IACG succeed fully because the goal was very precisely
determined, because there was a maximum of informality and a minimum of
bureaucracy, and because there was no exchange of hardware, all interfaces between the
various participants [were] clearly established."19 Again, this model is only effective for
short-term agreements. The informality approach is simply not a sustainable form of
cooperative agreement, regardless of the role epistemic communities and other concerns,
such as national interest. The agreements of this nature will either have to adopt a more
institutional format, or will inevitably dissolve back to individual autonomous states.
Still, IACG gives a glimpse at the possibilities for epistemic community coordination.
19 R. Bonnet & V. Manno. International Cooperation in Space. pg 92.
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
The ISS is the most complex engineering feat ever undertaken in the history of
man. When completed, the station will be 450 tones of the best mankind can engineer
soaring at five miles a second 240 miles above the surface of the Earth with a price tag in
the range of $100 billion.1 Getting this behemoth into Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) is no
small feat, and certainly beyond the capability of any single country. Quite the opposite
is true, as the station is the progeny of three decades of the cooperative efforts of the 16
states. The ISS has been labeled as the litmus test for current and future space
cooperation agreements. Although the project has not been without its setbacks, the ISS
has been a great success in cooperation.
The literature points to three distinct eras of cooperation in the ISS framework.
The first is the coordination phase, lasting from 1982 until 1984, and features most
prevalently the dominance of the US in the program. In fact the space station program
was created unilaterally in 1982 by NASA without any formal support from the
legislative or executive branches or any foreign entity. Following this coordination phase
is the augmentation phase, the period from 1984 to 1989. It was in this period Ronald
Reagan gave his 1988 State of the Union address, during which he invited friends and
allies to participate in the development and use of the space station."2
1 P. Bond. The C. ',,,,,,ii. Story of the International Space Station. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing,
2002. pg 2.
2 J. Johnson-Freese. ( ,, ,,, Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 83.
The third phase, the interdependence phase, began approximately in 1993 and
continues to present. It is in the phase that US administrators have ceded responsibility
of units critical to the station to foreign entities. As usual, this important step forward in
cooperation was not born out altruism. Rather, it was the NASA solution to the
precarious budgeting quandary it encountered on Capital Hill. From 1991 to 1997
congressional support for ISS dwindled significantly, and there were 19 attempts to
cancel the program in the face of significant protest of both domestic and foreign
dignitaries.3 Further integrating foreign partners into the ISS program would serve
bolster the program to two ends. First, it was believed that deepening the channels of
cooperation would make cancellation so catastrophic to the reputation of the US, both as
a technical partner but also as an ally, as to remove the option from the table completely.
Secondly, reducing the commitments\ of the US to the project would reduce costs.
Additionally, it was during this phase the USSR dissolved, ending the Cold War.
President William Clinton was keen on linking US foreign policy to its space policy.
Adding Russia as a partner would help stabilize its fragile democratic system and
transitional economy. Officials were also concerned about idle Russian scientists. By
adding them to the project, it gave "economic incentives for the Russian scientific elite to
stay at home through participation in ISS hardware development." Moreover,
participation would offer an incentive for the government to adhere to the Missile
Technology and Control Regime.4
3 E. Sadeh. "Technical, Organizational and Political Dynamics of the International Space Station
Program." Space Policy 20.3 (21 1'4). pg 176.
4J.P. Lester, E. Sadeh & W.Z. Sadeh. "Modeling International Cooperation for Space Exploration." pg
This case study focuses on the late augmentation and interdependence phases of the
project. This era reflects the current status of the project most accurately and thus
provides the best ground from which to draw conclusions.
NASA's no exchange of technology policy is one of its most time-honored and
respected policies. So institutionalized is this policy that the Departments of Defense,
Commerce and State have regulatory committees that oversee international agreements to
protect its mandates. "One of the most important responsibilities that you will have
related to the international aspects of the program is to protect against the adverse
technology transfer. NASA must support U.S commercial and national security interests-
as we have always done."5 Some technology transfer, however, would certainly have to
occur in order to meaningfully build the station in the desired cooperative fashion.
To reconcile this, policy-makers set out to make a framework to control wanted and
unwanted transfer. Transfer that occurred when two systems interacted was considered
an acceptable loss. Scientists and engineers were to strive for the cleanest possible
hardware interfaces when units of two different nationalities were together. Additionally,
there were to be no foreign contributions to the development of the individual modules,
called R&D teaming.6 The concession, while minor, was important step in the direction
of cooperation. Additionally, this policy was effective as long the US remained
functionally independent in the construction of the station.
5 J.M. Beggs. Letter to Gerald D. Griffen.
6 E. Sadeh. "Technical, Organizational and Political Dynamics of the International Space Station
Program." pg 173.
When the program transitioned into the interdependence stage the project needed
commensurate procedural adjustments to accommodate the new conditions. The rules
had changed for two reasons. First, Russia joined the project in 1993, significantly
complicating the project. The Russians were brought onto the project primarily because
of their operational experience with their own space station Mir. Arranging the proper
terms for the agreement would not be easy given the US government had numerous
initiatives in place to prevent any technology transfer to the Kremlin. Secondly, ISS was
transferring from functional independence to interdependence, an arrangement requiring
many more hardware interfaces and thus potential unwanted transfer.
To address both issues NASA drafted the Technology Transfer Initiatives (1993).
The initiatives "safeguard against the unauthorized transfer of sensitive technology and
make sure that appropriate regulatory export control approvals for transfer of
technological items necessary to integrate, test and operate ISS as a complete system are
in place."7 NASA also commissioned a Space Station Export Control Steering Group to
address "its needs for appropriate regulatory approvals for the duration of the program."8
When the next round of renegotiations was finalized in 1998 a technology transfer regime
had been established, and in fact the agreement included some degree of flexibility on the
issue. It still identified which areas were on and off limits, but the formality of the
exchange was reduced considerably.
The transfer of technology that has occurred in the ISS program is a significant
departure from conventional non-transfer cooperation. In a very pragmatic spirit,
Ibid., pg 180.
8 Ibid., pg 180.
officials identified where technology transfer had to occur to make the project work.
They then pursued the appropriate means to facilitate the transfer while keeping
unwanted transfer from occurring and without compromising security of any involved.
Policy-makers left nothing ambiguous: everything was institutionalized and formalized.
It is an excellent testament to the effectiveness of identified and institutionalized
Just as the evolved into an interdependent project, so too has the decision-making
process evolved in a similar process. The decision-making process of the program has
been a general reflection of overall power dynamic of not only the space community, but
also of global politics. The interdependent arrangement that emerged from the 1998
agreement offers a fascinating, complex agreement of both multilateral and bilateral
The initial years of ISS were dominated by the US, and the decision-making and
management processes reflected this. Throughout the late 1980's and early 1990's
NASA instituted a quidpro quo policy for management to encourage participation among
the members. Managerial participation was roughly commensurate to the amount of
commitment a partner made to the program. To facilitate this relationship NASA insisted
on multiple bilateral agreements rather than one multilateral agreement. The
international partners did not believe this to be in the spirit of true cooperation.
As long as NASA retained functional independence of the station they could
unilaterally determine the managerial structure. As the budget squeeze on Capital Hill
forced some critical components the station overseas, so too did it send the means to
maintain this arrangement. The 1989 agreement that characterizes the augmentation
phase was in fact a compromise of the two. In similar fashion to the later 1998
agreement, the 1989 cooperative arrangement featured a series of both bilateral and
multilateral agreements. NASA retained its authority over the technical and
programmatic aspects of the ISS through the bilateral agreements, while at the same time
a multilateral agreement among the four members, Canada, ESA, US and Japan,
established the policies and legal principles governing cooperation.9
When Russia joined as a partner in 1993 it complicated the process considerably.
Russia was admitted with the same status as NASA in terms of authority, management
and decision-making, the management structure at the time did not reflect this notion. As
an example, part of the 1989 agreement stipulated that NASA could play a directive role
in the engineering of Russian contributions. Additionally NASA had the right to make
unilateral decisions in the event that a multilateral compromise cannot be reached. In
short, the decision-making authority of NASA was not commensurate with their newly
reduced functional role.
Several important compromises reflected the new power arrangements in the 1998
agreement. Like its predecessor, it too was a collage of bilateral and multilateral
agreements. First, the 1998 agreement explicitly establishes management as a
multilateral endeavor.10 This includes "overall Space Station technical reviews, including
integrated design, critical design, design certification, safety and mission assurance,
operations readiness and flight readiness reviews."" Within this framework, the
9 Ibid., pg 181.
10 Ibid., pg 180-182.
1 United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Article 6, "Memorandum of
Understanding between the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Russian
Space Agency." January 29. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1998.
agreement also specifically names the US to play a lead role in management. This is role,
however, is different from its previous position in that the agreement stipulates for the
leadership in coordination of partners, not the direction of partners.12 Third, the
agreement drafted a number of multilateral management forums to foster closer
collaboration in the development and assembly phases. The hope was to establish
common and standard interfaces to ease the interoperability of the interdependent station.
Several important provisions were also excluded in the agreement. Until the new
agreement, the US had the power to veto any activity affecting the critical components of
the station deemed unfavorable. The authority framework of the new agreement required
a multilateral consensus to make decisions of this nature.13
Given the historical record of NASA and the international system, one would
expect that it would be reluctant to relinquish its authority over the project. On one hand,
the transition to the multilateral decision making process was in part the inevitable
product of the inclusion of Russia, itself a politically motivated endeavor. The majority
of the shift is due to NASA's new, reduced position in the global space industry.
Although it is still the largest player by far, administrators will likely have to pursue
cooperation in the future in disconnected fashion from its past policies. The restructuring
of the functional arrangements of the program in 1998 was considerably easier because of
the momentum of the project; it has yet to be seen how NASA will negotiate agreements
12 E. Sadeh. "Technical, Organizational and Political Dynamics of the International Space Station
Program." pg 181-182.
13 Ibid., pg 182.
One last thought on the section is necessary before moving on. The connection
between space and foreign policy has never been questioned and indeed the 1990s served
to bolster this claim. However, the 90s were also subject to unique international political
conditions following the end of the Cold War and the hegemony of the US. Different
political systems may have spawned ISS agreements departing from the agreement
enjoyed today. Certainly contemporary political attitudes would affect the negotiations if
the 1998 agreements were being drafted now. The unique political conditions must be
kept into consideration when drawing conclusions from its lessons.
The commercial promise of the ISS was one of the biggest factors in the initial
development of the station. It seems though that these plans have failed to consolidate as
the station now remains exclusively a research outpost. The ISS is to a degree a
compromise of the economics conditions of the first two studies. The ISS agreement is
not exclusively involved in the joint procurement of hardware, nor does it explicitly
exclude this practice. It does instead meet in the middle, embodying certain aspects of
both. The majority of the hardware of the station is developed and assembled
endogenous to each partner. Nevertheless, there are some hardware components that
have been developed jointly, and more importantly, the inclusion of Russia saw a breach
in the NASA policy of no transfer of funds. Most importantly, there was the incredibly
complex problem of proprietorship and intellectual property rights. So insistent was US
government to resolve the legal issues that one ESA official remarked that his agency's
most important contribution could be a component designed not for scientific
experiments, but to deal with legal problems.14 Finally, there is the issue paying for the
operations cost of the station. They are all issues pertaining to the generation and the
expenditure of funds, and all were dealt with in a cooperative, multilateral fashion.
To accommodate all of the partners on the issue of proprietorship, Russia proposed
a "you keep what you bring" policy.15 Russia was responsible for its elements of the
station, the other partners responsible for theirs. It was a simple plan and avoided a
complicated addition to the system already in place. The previous partners of the ISS,
that is Japan, ESA, Canada and the US, had a system in place to organize and distribute
operational costs, generally commensurate with the functional pressurized volume on the
The entire ISS design includes over 40 launches to construct the station and many
more to service it. The distribution of these launches has at times been a contentious
issue as well. The ESA has negotiated fervently to secure as great of a percentage as
possible of the launches for its less established rocket program Ariane. Because of the
finite and closely regulated nature of the number and timing of the launches, they were
able to negotiate a portion of the launches.16
One of the most publicly visible aspects of the inclusion of Russia into ISS came in
1994. In this year NASA broke with its strict policy and instituted $800 million in
payment to the beleaguered Russian Space Agency. The money was to serve two
14 J. Johnson-Freese. ( lo,,ai,,a Patterns ofInternational Cooperation in Space. pg 89.
15United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "NASA-RSA Space Station
Memorandum of Understanding Negotiations." Memorandum to Distribution. Washington D.C.:
Government Printing Office, 1995.
16 E. Sadeh. "Technical, Organizational and Political Dynamics of the International Space Station
Program." pg 179.
purposes for its recipient. First, it was a much needed boost in funding to the
organization. The agency had received less than half of its budget allocation of $81
million.17 The money would guarantee that the agency would be able to fulfill its
obligation to the critical portions of the station. The money also guaranteed Russian
participation in the Missile Technology Control Regime, preventing the imminent sale of
a liquid fueled rocket technology to India. Russia would subsequently be required to
"consult with the US before exporting missile technology."18 The space policy link to
international politics in this case has very important ramifications on the station and the
commitments of its members. Without this money Russia would not have been able to
fulfill its commitment to the agreements.
The majority of the potential complications stemming from the joint construction
and use of ISS were mitigated using two principles. The first, the keep what you bring
policy, was important in simplifying the interface between the Russian and International
units. The second, one of access-equal-to-contribution, simplifies the issue station
allocation and operational costs.
When completed, the ISS will represent a remarkable success for mankind. Its
existence is not only impressive in the physical, tangible sense, but also intangible. It is
the fruition of cooperation, at times more than others, across three decades. Partners have
bargained, forfeited and fought but never relinquished the cooperative effort, despite the
best efforts of the US congress.
17 "Space Industry to get up to $800 Million from U.S." Interpress Service- Moscow. September 16, 1993.
The success is in large part due to the highly institutionalized format that
cooperation has taken. All of the factors are present; however, the framework is largely
treaty based and unambiguous. This helps avoid the problems described in the
introduction behind the exclusive use of MOU. Additionally, partners have been flexible
to the evolutionary nature of the project. When the US was forced to reduce its roll in the
project, other partners were more than willing to increase their commitment to the
project. In response to this, the US was willing to compromise a few its most respected
It is also important to note the role of momentum in long-term projects like ISS.
Once the initial few billions dollars were spent on the project, partners have a powerful
incentive to facilitate that most effective cooperative arrangements. More specifically,
the US was willing to breach the previously mentioned traditions and continue
participation, despite the sizable presence of opposition domestically. Just like the
importance of greater European integration in the context of the ESA, this momentum is
difficult to quantify, yet undeniable in presence.
Space has always been an object of fascination publicly, academically and
politically. As humankind sails into the 21st century, there is no reason to believe that
this phenomenon will change. Quite the opposite is true, as potential propulsion and
construction technologies seem offer more promise in the industry than ever before. To
utilize these potentials breakthrough to the fullest, policy makers must fully realize the
lessons of the past.
It is for this reason that scholars must study the developments of the past two
decades for what lessons history can teach. The price tags of space exploration are
simply too large to tolerate dereliction. For whatever reason, be it pragmatic or altruistic,
the drive to cooperate and to coordinate the efforts of the dozen or so actors will be there.
The means to facilitate the cooperation may or may not be there with it.
This study has demonstrated the different ways policy-makers have addressed the
three major factors across different organizational arrangements. The nature of each
cooperative effort in large part determines the appropriate response to each factor.
Drafting the appropriate organizational capacity of the IACG was a much different
enterprise than doing the same for the ISS. Although policy-makers do not always get it
right initially, it seems they have been quite responsive and flexible in adjusting to
It seems the factor that was the most prevalent and effectively mitigated was the
bureaucratic factor. Every agreement, regardless of its nature, must have some
arrangement for decisional and authoritative procedures. While there were significant
differences in the types of procedures across the case studies, success was contingent on
the formation of formalized authority procedures. In the same vein, the nationalist forces
that were present seem to have been most effectively mitigated using formalized
procedures to control concerns such as technology security. The economic factor has
been mostly avoided in the drafting of agreements, simplifying
With this in mind, this study has also revealed one overwhelming, pervasive theme
to the cooperation among space agencies: formality. Sustainability is only possible
through the formalization and institutionalization of the cooperative agreements. This is
true for two reasons. The first insuring continued support regardless of domestic trends.
As Mr. Luest reminds us, "When resources abound and opportunities plentiful,
cooperative attitude abounds. When resources shrink, altruism takes a back seat." 1
Participants cannot be expected to offer continued support because of a moral imperative
or other ideological cause. There must be real statutory authority for sustainability.
The other reason can be best characterized as conflict management. This is not to
say that states are belligerent or quarrelsome within the arrangements. Disagreements are
inevitable though, and for a project to be sustainable it must have appropriate means to
resolve these conflicts. The ESA has a very comprehensive management program to
deal with disgruntled members, mainly the traveling committee that periodically visits
every member. In short, there must be an explicit definition of the distinct channels of
fundraising, development and decision-making.
1 R. Luest. "The Cooperation of Europe and the United States in Space." pg 5.
Informal cooperative ventures do not work. The IACG case study illustrated this
notion perfectly. The program failed to capitalize on the momentum of the hugely
successful Pathfinder mission and quickly dissolved because of organizational disputes.
This, even in light of the fact that both the Comet Halley mission and Phase II
coordinated programs that had already been procured domestically. Any program
requiring the development of coordinated, multinational systems definitely requires
formalization. Additionally, the formalization must not be simply a MOU, as the
statutory binding power of these agreements in the US has shown to be very small.
On a similar note, there is evidence of the balancing act described in the
introduction in all three cases. In the IACG case the organization's success spelled its
demise as officials drafted ends far beyond the available means. It was completely
incapable of managing the responsibilities entailed in the Phase II project. The flip side
of this, the means that exceed the ends, was present in the ESA and the ISS case studies.
Before the Horizon 2000 program made coordination much more efficient, the ESA was
in danger of completely dissolving. The projects the projects the agency annually
undertook were no more ambitious than those initiated at the national level. Once the
funding cap at the heart of the issue was resolved, the organization worked itself back
into equilibrium. In the ISS study, some US lawmakers felt the ISS program was not
worth the expense, and under the guise of the annual appropriations process repeatedly
attempted to terminate the program. A resolution was reached that saved the project and
brought the means back into equilibrium with ends: a reduction in funding that
accompanied a reduction in overall responsibility.
The ISS funding debacle also leads into the last argument, that of the US primacy
of the space environment industry. The hegemony and its affect on the first two case
studies is unmistakable. Its presence was one of the main factors driving the integration
of the ESA, and it was allowed to participate in the IACG without even having a probe
involved in the study. The primacy is a little less unequivocal in the last 15 years though.
The ISS example as well as the ISPM example show how fickle the men and women who
write the checks in the US government can be. While the US is still the dominant partner
in the arrangement, the program is not what US administrators would have in an ideal
policy world. This has allowed several other players particularly the European market, to
make big steps forward in competition with the US. The recent grounding of the Space
Shuttle fleet has exacerbated this notion considerably, both functionally and
symbolically. There is simply no question that the US holds a relatively smaller
percentage of the market now than it did 15 years ago.
This raises another important question. Is the US space program as strong as its
financier's support, or has it lost some of the competitive edge that helped it define the
first 40 years of space flight? Currently, US officials pursue policies as if neither is the
case. Although the US is currently without a dependable entry vehicle, President Bush's
vision for the future of the US space program includes both missions to the Moon and
Mars. Additionally, NASA insists that any hardware needed for the transportation of the
trip must remain solely the responsibility of the US due to strategic reasons.2
2 F. Morring.& M. Mecham. "A Matter of Trust." Aviation & Space Technology Week. 163.16 (2005).
The other ISS partners have been left in precarious position following the
grounding of the of the Shuttle fleet. They are moving away from a dependence on
NASA and have begun to develop their own joint reusable entry vehicle for access to the
ISS.3 The fallout from the Columbia disaster could be the blow ends the US primacy in
space. While it will has not significantly slowed NASA's exploration efforts, it may have
a different affect. It may in fact be a powerful enough wake-up call as to illustrate the
fallibility of such a system and rally the other major players worldwide to do something
about it. Only time will tell if NASA's leading role in the space industry in the 20th
century will continue into the 21st century.
Irrespective of these developments, space exploration will undoubtedly remain a
decidedly cooperative effort at all levels. Even the Chinese program, shrouded in secrecy
and abstention from cooperation has shown recent signs of opening up. "Exploration and
space activity are a complicated, high-risk and high-cost activity, and it is difficult for
any single country to achieve all success. Therefore, extensive international cooperation
has become an efficient approach to promote the development of space technology,
science and education."4
3 Ibid., pg 24.
4 Ibid., pg 24.
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