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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    A Need for Speed? Identifying the Effects of Space Acquisition Timelines on Space Deterrence and Conflict Outcomes

    Investigates the link between acquisition timelines and space conflict using a mixed-methods approach of game-theoretic modeling and case study analysis.

    Dec 24, 2019

  • 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