Merchants and Guardians

Balancing U.S. Interests in Space Commerce

by Scott Pace

Current challenges for space policy are examined in this study, particularly those derived from the growth of space commerce and resulting conflicts between public and private sector interests. After a review of old and new visions of space development, a model for policy conflict is introduced using the terms "Merchants" and "Guardians" to describe the differing objectives of public and private sector interests. Conflicts over dual-use technologies, such as space launch, remote sensing, satellite navigation, and communications are described, along with special implications for military space policy. The study concludes that various international organizations, such as the ITU and the WTO, will be of greater importance to space policy than in the past. While maintaining their separate roles, industry and government will have greater need to collaborate in shaping the international environment for space policy in order to achieve their economic and security objectives.

Originally published in: Balancing National Interests in Space Development, International Space Policy Forum, George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs, pp. 5-66.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.