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

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: November-December 2019

    This issue spotlights research on veteran suicide; liability implications of driverless cars; and new approaches to improving the post-incarceration experience. The Giving column highlights a million-dollar gift to fund research on homeless veterans.

    Oct 28, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    A Moonshot for Extraterrestrial Communication

    Speculating on recent efforts to establish contact with intelligent extraterrestrials.

    Aug 6, 2019

  • Blog

    Childhood Trauma, Space Traffic, China–Russia Relations: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on a program that helps children exposed to trauma, making outer space safer, tighter China–Russia relations, and more.

    Apr 26, 2019

  • Three tiny satellites photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station, October 4, 2012, photo by NASA

    Commentary

    Space Safety Coordination: A Norm for All Nations

    As space becomes more congested with satellites, the need for every nation to actively participate in the space safety coordination system grows. Most spacefaring countries participate, but a few countries do not—notably, Russia and China. That creates greater potential for collisions and hazards from debris.

    Apr 16, 2019

  • Clockwise from top left: RAND's JOHNNIAC mainframe computer, the RAND Tablet, a mobile phone, and an autonomous vehicle

    Essay

    70 Years of Innovation at RAND

    Seventy years ago, a group of researchers established the independent RAND Corporation. From the first satellite design, to helping ensure GPS as a public good, to laying the groundwork for the internet, RAND has been making a difference ever since.

    May 9, 2018

  • A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018

    Commentary

    Our Reliance on Space Tech Means We Should Prepare for the Worst

    Space-enabled connectivity, technology, and services support a diverse array of political, military, and economic activities, many of which modern life on Earth relies upon and which the public often takes for granted. How prepared is global society to deal with the growing reliance on this technology and to mitigate associated risks?

    Mar 12, 2018

  • Dr. Mae Jemison delivers the Haskins Lecture on Science Policy at RAND's Santa Monica Headquarters on January 23, 2018

    Blog

    Pursuing the Extraordinary Through Space Exploration

    NASA astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison delivered RAND's 2018 Haskins Lecture. She discussed how the pursuit of interstellar travel benefits society, the vital role science plays in our lives, and the importance of continued investment in research and technology.

    Jan 25, 2018

  • Mert Davies' briefcase in the 1960s

    Blog

    Mert Davies: All-Star Pioneer of the Cosmos

    Merton Davies spent his early years using satellite imagery to spy on terrestrial targets. His work led to the first successful reconnaissance satellite, Corona. Later, he used deep-space photographs to map the planets in our solar system.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • Tool

    Tool

    Defensive Space Analysis Tool (DSPAT): Version 2.0

    This manual explains how to use the Defensive Space Analysis Tool (DSPAT), which was developed to compare alternative approaches to space control in terms of their mission effectiveness, feasibility, escalation risk, and political cost.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • Report

    Report

    Gaming Space: A Game-Theoretic Methodology for Assessing the Deterrent Value of Space Control Options

    This report introduces and explains a game-theoretic methodology to help decisionmakers assess the potential effects of alternative approaches to space control.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Deterring Space War: An Exploratory Analysis Incorporating Prospect Theory into a Game Theoretic Model of Space Warfare

    This dissertation uses a game theoretic model of space war to examine how sentiments in multiple dimensions impact state decisions regarding whether to expand a ground war into the space domain.

    Dec 21, 2017

  • A man using a radio transceiver

    Report

    Signals Intelligence for Anyone

    Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is intelligence gathered from communications, electronics, or foreign instrumentation. This has traditionally been considered a governmental function. But new technologies are changing that. Now private citizens can conduct SIGINT activities.

    Dec 5, 2017

  • Report

    Report

    The U.S.-Japan Alliance and Deterring Gray Zone Coercion in the Maritime, Cyber, and Space Domains

    China is trying to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific through gray zone coercion -- actions below the threshold that would trigger a military response. This report focuses on deterring such coercion in the maritime, cyber, and space domains.

    Nov 20, 2017

  • Report

    Report

    The Creation of the PLA Strategic Support Force and Its Implications for Chinese Military Space Operations

    This report explores the missions and organization of China's Strategic Support Force, created in 2015 to develop and employ space capabilities, in particular launch and operation of satellites to provide C4ISR capabilities for joint operations.

    Nov 10, 2017

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Russian Space Sector: Adaptation, Retrenchment, and Stagnation

    The journey of the Russian space industry since the collapse of the Soviet Union offers a case study in how Russia, in spite of indications to do otherwise, chose not to break with previous models of behavior and organization.

    Jul 20, 2017

  • An artist's rendering of a refueling depot for deep-space exploration between Earth and the moon

    Commentary

    Mining the Moon for Rocket Fuel to Get Us to Mars

    Students from around the world participated in the 2017 Caltech Space Challenge. They proposed designs of what a lunar launch and supply station for deep space missions might look like, and how it would work.

    May 16, 2017

  • NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration is seen launching to space in this undated artist's rendering released August 2, 2014

    Report

    Developing a Risk Assessment Methodology for NASA

    A decision support methodology integrates risk factors and risk management approaches tailored to NASA's management, operations, and acquisition structures. Designed for non-experts, any decisionmaker with any level of training can use it to compare risks within a common lens.

    Jun 29, 2016

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

    Report

    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

    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

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

    Report

    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