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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Meteorite and the Earth


    The Effects of Celestial Events Go Beyond Their Impact

    While the event in Russia was caused by a medium-sized (10,000-ton) meteor, larger objects, like the asteroid 2012 DA14 that also passed near Earth last week, have the potential to be significantly more damaging, write Dave Baiocchi and William Welser.

    Feb 20, 2013

  • Report

    Pricing Strategies for NASA Wind-Tunnel Facilities

    The authors explore six potential approaches to pricing the use of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wind-tunnel test facilities, and they evaluate each approach against three criteria -- efficiency, fiscal impact, and fairness.

    Oct 4, 2011

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: Vol. 35, No. 1, Spring 2011

    Stories discuss gays in the military, police recruitment, home health care, breast cancer, health insurance exchanges, alternative fuels, refinery taxes, alcohol prices, outer space debris, mental illness, diplomatic trends, and health care costs.

    Apr 29, 2011

  • Report

    Ready for Takeoff: China's Advancing Aerospace Industry

    China's aerospace industry has advanced at an impressive rate over the past decade, partly due to the increasing participation of its aerospace industry in the global commercial aerospace market and the supply chains of the world's leading aerospace firms.

    Mar 24, 2011

  • Report

    Advancing Aeronautics: A Decision Framework for Selecting Research Agendas

    Develops a unified decisionmaking approach for selecting aeronautics research agendas that quantifies the social and economic reasons for the research, balances competing perspectives, and enables transparent explanation of the resulting decisions.

    Feb 17, 2011

  • Earth in space


    Orbital Debris Poses a Growing Threat to Satellites in Space

    Orbital debris represents a threat to the operation of man-made objects in space, such as satellite television and weather satellites. Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of objects greater than one centimeter in diameter in Earth's orbit.

    Nov 2, 2010

  • Testimony

    Potential Effects of Chinese Aerospace Capabilities on U.S. Air Force Operations

    In testimony presented before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Jeff Hagen evaluates the balance between observed Chinese capabilities and U.S. forces in light of China's continued modernization of its military.

    May 12, 2010

  • Commentary

    Space: The Final Junkyard?

    Celestial real estate is increasingly popular. All in all more than 900 satellites, along with tens of thousands of bits of man-made space detritus, jockey for elbow room overhead. The result: a growing threat our atmosphere will soon become so crowded with floating junk as to become almost unusable, write Caroline Reilly and Peter D. Zimmerman.

    Apr 2, 2009

  • Report

    An Update of the Nation's Long-Term Strategic Needs for NASA's Aeronautics Test Facilities

    The ability to develop aeronautical vehicles continues to rely on the capabilities of large government test facilities, and 26 NASA facilities continue to serve those needs, but national reliance and consolidation remains the next opportunity.

    Dec 31, 2008

  • Report

    Improving the Cost Estimation of Space Systems

    Why have the costs of acquiring space systems been so high? What are the sources of the problems? To answer these questions, RAND researchers examined the sources of cost growth of Air Force space systems and undertook an extensive study of two space systems.

    Jul 24, 2008

  • Report

    Guidelines and Metrics for Assessing Space System Cost Estimates

    A handbook to help analysts assess cost estimates of space systems.

    Jan 12, 2008

  • Commercial Book

    Planets for Man

    Endeavors to determine -- on the basis of then-current biological and cosmological knowledge -- whether there are other worlds where man can survive or where human life may even now be flourishing.

    Oct 9, 2007

  • Commercial Book

    Habitable Planets for Man

    ''Habitable Planets for Man'' examines and estimates the probabilities of finding planets habitable to human beings, where they might be found, and the number there may be in our own galaxy.

    Oct 8, 2007

  • Report

    Space Command Sustainment Review: Improving the Balance Between Current and Future Capabilities

    Space assets are vital to the economic, social, and military interests of the United States. Sustainment complexities suggest a need to define a AFSPC commandwide sustainment philosophy separating demand, supply, and integrator processes.

    Jun 17, 2007