Policy Papers

Policy Papers

The Aerospace Corporation is home to some of the foremost experts in the field of space system engineering—and that expertise extends far beyond the space domain. These papers provide forward-looking perspectives on emerging technologies and imminent challenges of direct interest to policymakers at all levels and in all sectors. Contact the center to arrange a briefing on these topics.

General Space Policy

Getting In Your Space: Learning from Past Rendezvous and Proximity Operations

Rendezvous and proximity operations will soon become routine. What can the space community do to prepare?

May 2018

The Policy and Science of Rocket Emissions

Rocket emissions directly interact with the stratosphere. What can be done now to prevent a manageable problem from growing out of control?

April 2018

GPS Transponders for Space Traffic Management

Onboard GPS transponders could dramatically improve space traffic management, despite increasing constellation sizes and decreasing satellite sizes.

April 2018

Alliance Rationales and Roadblocks: A U.S.-Canada Space Study

Using the U.S.-Canadian space partnership as an example, this paper explores various rationales for partnering, identifies potential barriers, and delineates key lessons and observations.

April 2018

Cislunar Development: What to Build—and Why

Cislunar space—essentially, the space inside the moon’s orbit and the orbital area around the moon—remains a largely underdeveloped resource. Any coherent, long-term strategy for space commerce and exploration will need to make better use of this region, as a springboard to the moon and other ventures within the solar system.

April 2018

On-Orbit Assembly of Space Assets: A path to Affordable and Adaptable Space Infrastructure

The ability to assemble modular building blocks on-orbit will revolutionize the space industry. The paradigm could lower launch, risk, and development costs while increasing flexibility and resilience.

February 2018

Planetary Defense Against Asteroid Strikes: Risks, Options, and Costs

A major asteroid strike on the planet could cause widespread devastation. What are the options, risks, and costs involved in trying to divert or destroy an asteroid on a collision course with Earth?

January 2018

Bracing for Impact: Terrestrial Radio Interference to Satellite-Based Services

To meet the needs of terrestrial wireless service providers, the FCC is considering sharing spectrum in or near bands used by satellite systems—but the potential for radiofrequency interference must be carefully addressed.

January 2018

Major Policy Issues in Evolving Global Space Operations

Based on a survey of more than 30 thought leaders, this report takes a focused look at the current state of space activity and details major challenges and opportunities.

December 2017

Navigating the Policy Compliance Roadmap for Small Satellites

U.S. policy concerning access to space can be confusing for satellites and launches that don’t fit the typical mission mold. This paper examines applicable space policy for nontraditional missions and outlines a process to ensure compliance.

November 2017

The Outer Space Treaty: Assessing Its Relevance at The 50-Year Mark

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty (OST). There have been many suggestions over the years regarding possible updates to the OST’s provisions to recognize changes in technologies and circumstances.

June 2017

Considerations for the Next National Space Policy

Over the past four decades, presidential directives on national space policy, with the intent of providing overarching guidance on civil, commercial, and national security space, have become standard…

March 2017

National Space Council: History and Potential

Since the dawn of the Space Age, most presidential administrations have had some form of space advisory group. A space council in the Executive Office of the President can be a boon if it works well– or a wasteful exercise if it doesn’t…

November 2016

Crowded Space

Commercial Space Activity and Its Impact on U.S. Debris Regulatory Structure

Radical shifts in space operations will soon make commercial activity the dominant source of space traffic. The U.S. regulatory system must be ready to accommodate the increased activity and set the right precedents for future debris mitigation decisions.

August 2017

Orbital Slots for Everyone?

Vast constellations of satellites bring greater risk for collisions and the creation of debris–and no organization is responsible for assessing how they may impact the broader space community. In a future world of megaconstellations, is the unregulated status quo sustainable?

March 2017

Orbital Debris Remediation Through International Engagement

Orbital debris constitutes a serious and growing threat to space operations. As technical barriers to on-orbit cleanup are overcome, political and legal barriers will loom larger…

March 2017

Commercial Space Policy

Space Traffic Management in the Age of New Space

The number of objects orbiting Earth continues to increase. This paper considers various approaches to the problem of tracking and managing the vast amount of active satellites and general debris.

April 2018

Assurance through Insurance and On-orbit Servicing

On-orbit servicing is an emerging capability that can potentially revolutionize how satellites operate in space. This paper examines some of the concepts and questions that will be important as this industry develops.

February 2018

Updating National Policy on Commercial Remote Sensing

The current U.S. commercial remote sensing policy was not designing to accommodate the number, the increasing capabilities, the diverse applications, and the expanding array of global operations of modern remote sensing systems…

March 2017

International Commercial Spaceflight Regulation: Assessing the Options

Analysts have begun to address commercial spaceflight regulation, asking questions such as: Does this emerging industry need something akin to the International Civil Aviation Organization?

January 2017

Civil Space Policy

Public-Private Partnerships: Stimulating Innovation in the Space Sector

This paper explores the reasons why government agencies may want to pursue a public-private partnership and proposes a phased approach for strategizing, planning, and implementation.

April 2018

Global Satellite Data for Local Environmental Monitoring: Challenges and Opportunities

Europe’s Sentinel-5 satellite will monitor atmospheric gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. The United States can optimize its use of low-Resolution Sentinel-5 data by…

March 2017

Near-Term Space Support for Arctic Operations

Gaps in satellite coverage above 70 degrees north need to be filled to support increasing U.S. operations in the Arctic region. The United States will have to act quickly to stay ahead of projected increases in …

March 2017

 Trends and Commentary

Ensuring U.S. Space Leadership

A panel discussion on “Ensuring U.S. Space Leadership” featured representatives from industry and government, including the newly named head of the National Space Council and the chairman of the House Space Subcommittee.

July 2017