Since our first days as an independent organization, RAND has had researchers exploring ways to improve spacecraft. Today, this work continues as analysts examine issues related to communications satellites and private space industry.

  • A test plane in a wind tunnel at NASA's Ames Research Center


    Expanding Flight Research: Capabilities, Needs, and Management Options for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

    NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate asked RAND to assess flight research capabilities and needs, and to identify management options that would facilitate increased and improved flight research.

    Jun 27, 2016

  • An A-29 Super Tucano flies over Afghanistan during a training mission, April 6, 2016


    Innovation in the United States Air Force

    An assessment of historical cases of Air Force innovation — or apparent failure to innovate — sheds light on whether the service is sufficiently innovative today and what can be done to make it more innovative for the future.

    May 13, 2016

  • Report

    Enhancing Space Resilience Through Non-Materiel Means

    Because changes to space systems are costly, the Air Force asked RAND to identify non-materiel means -- doctrine, organization, training, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy -- to enhance resilience.

    Apr 28, 2016

  • Report

    RAPAPORT (Resilience Assessment Process and Portfolio Option Reporting Tool): Background and Method

    Describes industry methods for determining space resilience, the authors' method for the evaluating the non-materiel aspects of resilience, and the tool they developed for performing these resilience calculations and presenting the results.

    Apr 28, 2016

  • An employee checks the engine at the A320 family final assembly line at an Airbus factory in Tianjin, China, August 12, 2015


    Implications of China's Aerospace Industrial Policies

    China aims to create a globally competitive commercial aviation and space industry. Its efforts have had limited impact on the U.S. aerospace sector so far, but the creation of a strong Chinese competitor could affect the U.S. economy and employment.

    Apr 27, 2016

  • The U.S. Air Force's Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site at the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui


    Best Practices for Sustainable Operations at the Air Force's Observatory on Maui

    The Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site on the Hawaiian island of Maui is a major site of U.S. space surveillance activity. A study of best practices implemented at similar research institutions offers suggestions for how the Air Force might further streamline its operations and lower operating costs.

    Apr 22, 2016

  • A satellite orbiting Earth


    The Democratization of Space

    A new economic model for outer space must account for lower barriers to entry and the involvement of more and more stakeholders, such as developing countries and start-ups.

    Mar 28, 2016

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: March-April 2016

    This issue highlights RAND research on new ways to measure wellbeing in cities; effects of cigarette advertising on teens; supermarkets in so-called "food deserts"; the decline of civics education in American schools; and more.

    Feb 29, 2016

  • A J-31 stealth fighter of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force landing


    RAND Conference Examines Chinese Aerospace Training and Leadership

    To help foster a better understanding of the aerospace component of China's military modernization efforts, participants from the U.S. Air Force, the DoD, and the public policy research and academic communities gathered for the inaugural CASI conference.

    Jul 10, 2015

  • A Chinese Su-27 Flanker fighter flies over Anshan Airfield, China


    CASI Advances Understanding of China Aerospace Capabilities

    The China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI) is a partnership of Headquarters U.S. Air Force, the Air University, and RAND to advance understanding of the capabilities, operating concepts, and limitations of China's aerospace forces.

    Jun 22, 2015

  • Technicians assemble a small satellite


    Acquisition of Space Systems, Volume 7: Past Problems and Future Challenges

    As Department of Defense plans for the next-generation space systems in an increasingly challenging fiscal and security environment, it is important to apply lessons learned from past space acquisition, which had experienced many difficulties.

    Mar 30, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Competition and Collaboration in Space Between the U.S., China, and Australia: Woomera to WGS and the Impact of Changing U.S. National Space Security Policy

    Australian space activities have been reinvigorated, but remain underfunded. China's space activities remain vigorous, but largely unilateral. Given U.S. policy changes, opportunities for cooperation and collaboration among all three have improved.

    Mar 5, 2015

  • NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock in October 2014


    Don't Worry About Russia Backing Away from Space and WMD Cooperation

    Two symbols of U.S.-Russian cooperation are nearing the end of their life expectancies, the International Space Station and the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. But both stand as remarkable milestones of achievement and reminders of what can be accomplished when nations put aside political differences for the betterment of humanity.

    Feb 27, 2015

  • Satellite space station


    Space Talk Launches Politics Aside

    Hundreds of guests packed the Cary Grant Theatre at Sony Studios to kick off RAND's Politics Aside event with a discussion on space technology, policy, and leadership. Matt Miller, columnist, author, and radio host moderated the panel, which included Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs; George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic; and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman.

    Nov 14, 2014

  • Yool Kim and other witnesses at the July 16, 2014 joint hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee


    Should the U.S. Rely on Russian Rocket Engines?

    One of the two launch vehicles that lift U.S. satellites into orbit depends on a rocket engine made by a company located in Russia. Russia's recent clashes with Ukraine and its claims on the Crimean peninsula have caused friction with the United States and thereby raised questions among U.S. policymakers about the potential for an interruption in the supply of the engines.

    Jul 16, 2014

  • Launch vehicle lift-off for evolved expendable launch vehicle program


    Does Reliance on Foreign Component Supply Chains Put U.S. Launch Vehicles at Risk?

    While there are both risks and benefits of using foreign components in the U.S. Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, the risk of potential supply interruption of most foreign components is manageable. To mitigate those risks, trade-offs of costs, schedules, and mission significance must be considered.

    Jul 16, 2014

  • Young woman texting in car


    What if Distracted Driving Was Safe?

    According to consumer research, the ability to consume media, write an email, or even sleep during transport is a key selling point for self-driving cars, which could be available in the near future. Autonomous vehicle technology could also produce a wide range of public benefits.

    Jul 1, 2014

  • satellite image courtesy of NOAA


    A Safe Way to Implement a Database of Satellite Anomalies

    Satellite anomalies are malfunctions caused by solar particles, cosmic rays, or even space debris. A shared database could help identify solutions to prolong the lifetime of spacecraft that experience problems, and could be implemented in a way that would protect the privacy of the satellite operators.

    Jun 2, 2014

  • A computer-generated image of objects in Earth orbit that are currently being tracked, 95% of which is orbital debris


    Debris Poses Increased Threat to Exploration

    Every satellite launch and maneuver is carefully coordinated because some orbits are strewn with the space-based equivalent of blown tires, abandoned vehicles, loose gravel and, of course, other traffic. Earth's orbit is littered with hundreds of thousands of debris objects.

    May 16, 2014

  • Report

    Evaluation of National Institute of Justice–Funded Geospatial Software Tools: Technical and Utility Assessments to Improve Tool Development, Dissemination, and Usage

    A geospatial software tool-evaluation study assessed 14 recent tool developments funded by the National Institute of Justice. The study integrates input from tool developers and tool users with RAND's independent tool assessments.

    Apr 3, 2014