Cover: The Development of In-Space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing Technology

The Development of In-Space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing Technology

Drivers, Challenges, and Policy Implications

Published Apr 7, 2023

by Marissa Herron

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This study researched the renewed interest in satellite servicing, now called In-space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM), as a technology enabler to creating an in-space economy. The U.S. is pursuing an in-space economy as a modernized means to efficiently support and preserve the significant national dependence on the space domain. The study examined the challenges and enablers associated with developing infrastructure to support an in-space economy. The research began with an exploration of the technology and whether the technology was mature enough for near-term implementation. Then the study identified the relevant drivers and urgency within the national security and civil space sectors, and the potential national alignment. Key international actors were also evaluated for their priorities. A U.S. perspective of the challenges and enablers to adoption of the technology was explored. Finally, the combined framework of technology maturity, drivers, urgency, and challenges was presented in the context of use cases. The study found that competition with China is the primary driving force behind the creation of an in-space economy. Also concluded was that opportunities for U.S. national alignment exist but will not occur without direct intervention. Recommendations for policy and decision makers were provided for steps towards the creation of an in-space economy.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in March 2023 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in Public Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Krista Langeland (Chair), Dave Baiocchi, and Laura Delgado Lopez.

This publication is part of the RAND dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

RAND 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.