Space Science and Technology

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RAND was an early leader in the field of space science, producing seminal works in the design, launch, and operation of satellites in the 1940s and '50s. RAND continues to pursue space studies: Current topics include international cooperation (and the United States' dependency on foreign components), orbital debris (or "space junk"), and the funding of space missions.

  • Super Typhoon Noru photographed by ISS astronaut Randy Bresnick above the Northwestern Pacific Ocean on August 1, 2017, photo courtesy of NASA

    Report

    Responsible Space Behavior for the New Space Era

    Apr 26, 2021

    The early space domain was dominated by two superpowers. Today, the world has more than 60 spacefaring nations, multiple commercial space operators, and a global economy that is inextricably linked to space. Now is the time to develop responsible space norms.

  • RAND Space Enterprise Initiative (crop)

    Multimedia

    Introducing the RAND Space Enterprise Initiative

    Sep 4, 2020

    RAND Space Enterprise Initiative lead Bruce McClintock describes the mission and goals of the Space Enterprise Initiative and the importance of making space research available to all.

Explore Space Science and Technology

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Launching into the Future: 75 Years of Excellence in Space Research at RAND

    RAND is proud to celebrate 75 years of excellence in space research and analysis. Here, we spotlight a small number of reports to highlight the range of our contributions and celebrate our commitment to making a difference for decades to come.

    Nov 23, 2021

  • Senior policy analyst Sale Lilly reading a science fiction trilogy by Cixin Liu, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

    Commentary

    Where Chinese Science Fiction and RAND History Meet

    Senior policy analyst Sale Lilly read about renowned RAND researcher Bill Mathers in an award-winning Chinese science fiction trilogy—but somehow had never heard of him before.

    Sep 2, 2021

  • Cloud-free view of Great Britain and Ireland, taken from Envisat on 28 March 2012, photo by European Space Agency/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    Journal Article

    Written Evidence Submitted by RAND Europe: SPDF0020 Space Defence

    This document provides RAND Europe's submission of evidence in relation to the UK House of Commons Defence Select Committee's July 2021 call for evidence on space defence.

    Jul 30, 2021

  • A staff member stands in front of the launchpad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center ahead of the Shenzhou-12 mission to build China's space station, near Jiuquan, Gansu Province, China, June 16, 2021, photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

    Report

    Deterring China in Space

    How could the United States, along with key allies and partners, prevent China from taking actions in space or interfering with space-based capabilities in ways that are harmful to U.S. national security interests?

    Jul 27, 2021

  • Blog

    Vaccine Hesitancy, Working from Home, Arctic Diplomacy: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on vaccine hesitancy as a symptom of ‘Truth Decay,’ how to make remote work beneficial for all, U.S. Arctic diplomacy, and more.

    May 21, 2021

  • Clock with navigation marker and satellite orbiting Earth, images by petrovv and janiecbros/Getty Images

    Report

    Weighing the Costs of GPS Disruption and Developing Backup Capabilities

    The Global Positioning System (GPS) has a key role in national positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT), but it is far from the only source of capability for PNT. Would national investment in GPS backup capabilities be warranted, given the potential threats to its functioning?

    May 17, 2021

  • Time-lapse of Starry Night Sky

    Multimedia

    The Need for Space Norms

    RAND senior political scientist Stephen Flanagan discusses the increasing level of space activity and the need for space norms to provide guidance for how nations should conduct space operations.

    Apr 20, 2021

  • SpaceX Starlink mission, photo by SpaceX/ CC BY 2.0

    Commentary

    Satellite Internet Services—Fostering the Dictator's Dilemma?

    The ability to provide relatively low cost internet access outside of government control is both a challenge for authoritarian states and an opportunity for democracies. What are low-altitude, low-latency satellites and why are authoritarian states so concerned?

    Apr 12, 2021

  • The United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, July 30, 2020, photo by Frank Michaux/NASA

    Commentary

    Navigating Norms for the New Space Era

    To make better progress on global norms for responsible behavior in space, the U.S. defense and intelligence communities might first consider reaching a consensus among themselves on what these norms should be. Until they reconcile their differences the United States will be less likely be in a position to play a leadership role.

    Feb 8, 2021

  • Blog

    Prescription Drug Prices, Transgender Troops, Space Diplomacy: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on America's high prescription drug prices, allowing transgender troops in the military, food insecurity in Black neighborhoods, and more.

    Jan 29, 2021

  • 3D rendering of earth with red lines representing communication or weapons, photo by DKosig/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How Joe Biden Can Galvanize Space Diplomacy

    The potential for conflicts to originate in outer space, or for terrestrial conflicts to extend there, has grown with the development of counterspace weapons and the explosion of commercial space activity. But previous efforts to establish norms have had limited results. The Biden administration has an opportunity, working with like-minded allies and partners, to galvanize nascent international efforts.

    Jan 15, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    RAND Space Launch Virtual Panel

    A virtual panel discussion hosted by the RAND Space Enterprise Initiative tackles issues related to the global space launch enterprise.

    Dec 8, 2020

  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Starlink satellites into orbit lifts off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, October 6, 2020, photo by Space X/Latin America News Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    How to Avoid a Space Arms Race

    Some 70 countries and multinational organizations own or operate satellites and there are plans for many more. Multilateral cooperative efforts could help set a foundation for the adoption of transparency and confidence measures that offer realistic hope of reducing risks and protecting freedom of access to space for all nations.

    Oct 26, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Improving Acquisition to Support the Space Enterprise Vision

    A new RAND report examines potential acquisition approaches to support the Space Enterprise Vision and identifies several promising ones that merit in-depth examination: modular open system architectures, agile acquisition, rapid prototyping.

    Jul 15, 2020

  • A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, February 6, 2018, photo by Thom Baur/Reuters

    Commentary

    Protecting the U.S. Supply on Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles

    Our recent RAND report on the global heavy lift launch market highlights the potential for a near term shortage of launch vehicles needed to lift U.S. defense and intelligence satellites to orbit. These satellites are the eyes, ears, networks and timekeepers of U.S. armed services, and an inability to launch them in times of need could compromise national security.

    May 6, 2020

  • Tool

    Space Launch Market for Heavy Lift Vehicles: Charts and Data Set of Addressable Launches 2007–2018

    This chart describes addressable launches of heavy lift vehicles from 2007-2018. The portion of the space launch market over which commercial firms compete is known as the addressable share.

    Apr 28, 2020

  • A United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Heavy rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 37B

    Report

    The Impact of the Air Force's Space Launch Acquisition Decisions

    How could potential U.S. Air Force decisions in the near term affect domestic launch providers and the market in general? New launch market forecasts and vignettes illuminate potential strategies for U.S. firms.

    Apr 28, 2020

  • The West Coast Aerospace Forum provides a rare chance to engage with some of the Air Force's most senior and experienced leaders as well as top civilian national security experts in a setting that encourages debate, discussion, and audience interaction.

    Multimedia

    An Air and Space Force Designed for the Future

    At the fifth annual West Coast Aerospace Forum, some of the Air Force's most senior leaders joined RAND researchers and other top national security experts to discuss important issues related to the future of air and space power.

    Feb 4, 2020