Monthly Insight

Risk Intelligence Report

DRI Monthly Reports are rigorous research investigations that go beyond reportage and commentary to add permanent value for clients.

Focusing on specific, topical issues and created through innovative methodologies and inputs from globally renowned experts, DRI Monthly Reports cut through noise and ephemera to tell you what you absolutely need to know – today and tomorrow.

Report No. 3 | March 2021

An Asian Space Odyssey Civil, Military, and Commercial Space Ambitions

Due to an array of interlinked factors, space is once again the subject of considerable interest among policymakers across the Asia-Pacific. Great-power competition, diffusion of power in the international system, proliferation of technologies and reduction in barriers to entry, growing commercial interest in space exploration, and an outdated security regime have all contributed to an extremely congested and contested operating environment in that domain. At the same time, and because of many of the same reasons, space stands to receive sustained attention from nation states and private actors alike. China and the United States have both announced major space exploration programs, with the initiatives mirroring both countries’ grand-strategic orientations. In the recent past, both have also revamped their military space postures. Smaller powers like India, Japan and Russia also see risks as well as opportunities in outer space, in face of growing militarization of that domain as well as significant commercial openings.

In this edition of the DRI Monthly Report, five world-renowned experts present a comprehensive examination of the state of play, trends, and prospects when it comes to outer space. The report outlines the space orientation of major Indo-Pacific powers and examines norms and emerging capabilities – civil, military, and commercial – in that domain. The report also pays considerable attention to key issues that are likely to feed into geopolitical competition and strategic contestation back on Earth.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
The United States’ Astrostrategic Future
China’s Space Ambitions and Goals: Present Trajectory and Future Trends
India, Japan, and Russia: Space Multipolarity?
Global Space Security Regime: State of Play and Prospects
Military Competition, New Technologies, and Space
The Authors

The Authors

Malcolm Davis

Malcolm Davis is a Senior Analyst in Defence Strategy and Capability programme of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He has worked with the Australian Department of Defence, both in Navy Headquarters in the Strategy and Force Structure area, and with Strategic Policy Division in the Strategic Policy Guidance and Strategic External Relations and Education sections from November 2007 to March 2012. He holds a PhD in Strategic Studies from the University of Hull as well as two Masters degrees in Strategic Studies, including from the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

Namrata Goswami

Namrata Goswami is an independent scholar on space policy, great power politics, and ethnic conflicts. She was subject matter expert in international affairs with the Futures Laboratory, Alabama and guest lecturer, India Today Class, Emory University. After earning her PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, she worked as research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Her co-authored book “Scramble for the Skies: The Great Power Competition to Control the Resources of Outer Space” was published October 2020 by Lexington Press, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield.

Ankit Panda

Ankit Panda is the Stanton Senior Fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. An expert on the Asia-Pacific region, his research interests range from nuclear strategy, arms control, missile defense, nonproliferation, emerging technologies, and U.S. extended deterrence. He is the author of “Kim Jong Un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea” (Hurst Publishers/Oxford University Press, 2020). Panda was previously an adjunct senior fellow in the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and a member of the 2019 FAS International Study Group on North Korea Policy.

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan is Distinguished Fellow and Head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of India’s leading think tanks. Previously, she held stints at the National Security Council Secretariat, where she was an assistant director, and the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses New Delhi, where she was a research officer. She is the author of four books, and her research articles have been published extensively in edited volumes, peer-reviewed journals, and newspapers internationally. She has also lectured in Indian military and policy institutions and has been invited to speak in various regional and international fora.

Abhijnan Rej

Abhijnan Rej is Director of Research at Diplomat Risk Intelligence and Security & Defense Editor at The Diplomat. His areas of focus include Indian and U.S. defense policies, military strategy and emerging technologies. His career has spanned academia, the corporate sector and public policy. He was previously a Senior Fellow in the Strategic Studies Programme at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

Victoria Samson

Victoria Samson is the Washington Office Director for Secure World Foundation and has over twenty years of experience in military space and security issues. Before joining SWF, Samson served as a Senior Analyst for the Center for Defense Information (CDI), where she leveraged her expertise in missile defense, nuclear reductions, and space security issues to conduct in-depth analysis and media commentary. Prior to her time at CDI, Samson was the Senior Policy Associate at the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, a consortium of arms control groups in the Washington, D.C. area.