Strategic Competition for Space Partnerships and Markets

Jana Robinson, Ph.D., Tereza Barbora Kupková, Patrik Martínek / 24 Jun, 2020

PSSI’s Space Security Program Director, Dr. Jana Robinson, together with her team, contributed an article to the second edition of the Handbook of Space Security by Springer Publishing International. The article, entitled “Strategic Competition for Space Partnerships and Markets”, was recently released (link available here).
 

The piece focuses on the Chinese and Russian global space footprints in the economic and financial (E&F) domain. Through the analysis of space-related transactions of both China and Russia, the article argues that their approach to international space partnerships often exposes countries to inordinate dependencies on these authoritarian benefactor(s) – a vulnerability that PSSI terms ‘space sector capture’. It consists of offering package deals of equipment, capabilities, services and financing, creating sore-source supplier relationships and long-term dependencies.

Finally, the article argues that the pace and nature of these international space partnerships concluded by China and Russia present a strategic and competitive challenge for Europe, the U.S. and other allies, including their efforts to shape global space governance. This brand of partnerships also pushes aside standard, market-based transparency, good governance and risk management.
 

China and Russia’s global space footprint in the economic and financial (E&F) domain is not well understood today. This chapter, through analyses of space-related transactions of China and Russia globally, describes the pro-active approach to international space partnerships by these two state actors. It concludes that these partnerships are often skewed, exposing recipient countries to vulnerabilities and dependencies on the benefactor(s). The more subtle strategy deployed in the developed, democratic countries to gain influence is conducted on an incremental basis (e.g., through commercial contracts, academic exchanges, scientific research). The other approach, described as “space sector capture,” mostly involves developing countries and consists of offering package deals of capabilities, services, and financing, creating sore-source supplier relationship and long-term dependencies. The chapter argues that the pace and nature of these international space partnerships concluded by China and Russia present a strategic and competitive challenge for Europe, the USA, and other allies, including the development of global space governance, as well as market based on transparency, good governance, and disclosure.