Exploring the Final Frontier: An Empirical Analysis of Global Civil Space Proliferation
43 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 22, 2011
While space capabilities were once concentrated among a handful of leading powers, an increasingly large number of states have gained access to them. As of 2007, 58 countries possessed dedicated civil space programs, 44 countries had placed nationally-owned satellites into orbit, and 9 countries had achieved domestic space launch capabilities. To date, however, no systematic inquiries have ever been conducted into which countries acquire space capabilities and why. Within this paper, I develop an explanatory account that explores both the capacity-based factors and political motivations that influence countries’ acquisition of space capabilities. I test my hypotheses via a quantitative analysis of the factors affecting 143 countries’ acquisition of civil space programs, satellite capabilities, and space launch capabilities from 1950-2002, which I augment with a case study of Israel’s space program. My findings shed new light on the primary causes of global space proliferation and have a number of important policy implications.
Keywords: Space, Proliferation, Rocketry, Science and Technology, Rivalry, Prestige
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