A Framework for Evaluating National Space Activity

April 1, 2012


Wood, D. & A. Weigel, “A Framework for Evaluating National Space Activity,” Acta Astronautica, Vol 73, April-May 2012, p 221-236,


Space technology and resources are used around the world to address societal challenges. Space provides valuable satellite services, unique scientific discoveries, surprising technology applications and new economic opportunities. Many developing countries formally recognize the advantages of space resources and pursue national level activity to harness them. There is limited data or documentation on the space activities of developing countries. Meanwhile, traditional approaches to summarize national space activity do not necessarily capture the types of activity that developing countries pursue in space. This is especially true if they do not have a formal national space program or office. Developing countries pursue national space activity through activities of many types—from national satellite programs to commercial use of satellite services to involvement with international space institutions. This research aims to understand and analyze these trends. This paper introduces two analytical frameworks for evaluating space activity at the national level. The frameworks are specifically designed to capture the activity of countries that have traditionally been less involved in space. They take a broad view of space related activity across multiple societal sectors and disciplines. The discussion explains the approach for using the frameworks as well as illustrative examples of how they can be applied as part of a research process. The first framework is called the Mission and Management Ladders. This framework considers specific space projects within countries and ranks them on “Ladders” that measure technical challenge and managerial autonomy. This first method is at a micro level of analysis. The second framework is called the Space Participation Metric (SPM). The SPM can be used to assign a Space Participation score to countries based on their involvement in various space related activities. This second method uses a macro level of analysis. The authors developed both frameworks as part of a long term research program about the space activities of developing countries. This aspect of the research focuses on harnessing multiple techniques to summarize complex, multi-disciplinary information about global space activity.

Related Content