The Geostrategic, Techno-Nationalist Push Into Space

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Joan Johnson-Freese


The technological benefits of space hardware are universally recognized. One is hard pressed to find an area of the world where satellite dishes for television reception, satellite use for data transmission, or the Global Positioning System (GPS) for multiple purposes are not utilized. But utilization of commercial or of other countries’ space assets does not equate to being a space-faring nation. Space-faring nations have, to varying degrees, their own capabilities. The importance of status as a space-faring nation comes from two sources: not having to rely on others for access to the benefits of space assets, and prestige that can translate into geopolitical influence. Beyond users and space-faring nations, there are those countries actively asserting space leadership in some form, whether regional or global. What pushes countries to go beyond being a spacefaring nation and assert leadership potential, including potentially engaging in an implicit or explicit space race, is techno-nationalism, which for the purposes of this paper refers to nationalism that becomes the impetus for technology development as an indicator of geostrategic power. It is often triggered by a threat or perception of a threat, including a threat to perceived leadership. Techno-nationalism carries with it an inherent quest for leadership, by some definition.


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