Find a Security Clearance Job!


U.S. -Soviet Cooperation In Space: A Case Study AUTHOR Major Carl E. Lewis, USA CSC 1989 SUBJECT AREA - General EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Title: U.S. -SOVIET COOPERATION IN SPACE: A CASE STUDY Thesis: U.S. -Soviet civilian and military uses of space has become a complex and contentious issue, bringing into play numerous balances or imbalances of international scientific and technological cooperation. Issue: The shape of future cooperation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is a delicate balance of two competing objectives. On one side is the scientific and practical benefits of the two countries sharing their separate knowledge for a more complete understanding of the whole. The other side is the advertent or inadvertent transfer of sensitive technology from one country to the other. The trade off is difficult to assess, especially in light of the history behind the decision to be made, both with the U.S. and with France. Since both countries' space programs are heavily military and strategic, international cooperation in space has been difficult. Early joint ventures began on an interagency level, then on to an intergovernmental level. The most significant joint venture was the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in May of 1970. While certainly a landmark in international cooperation, the resulting technology transfers made some question the wisdom of continuing along this line. Also questionable is the amount of reciprocity the Soviets have provided in these exchanges. France has continually maintained a working relationship with the Soviet Union on a limited space agenda.. The French definition of militarily sensitive technology differs from the U.S. definition, making wide ranging policy implications between the two countries inevitable. However, the U.S. has been able to gain information about the Soviet program through the French that otherwise would have been difficult to acquire. Conclusion: The key issue revolves around several important questions. While a few deal with the aspects of research opportunities and cost effectiveness, the most important ones deal with who receives the most benefit from the exchange and to what end the exchange is pursued. The final debate remains on whether the advances made from technological and scientific cooperation in space will offset the technological and scientific losses the U.S. will experience in such an exchange. U.S.-SOVIET COOPERATION IN SPACE: A CASE STUDY OUTLINE Thesis Statement: U.S.-Soviet civilian and military uses of space has become a complex and contentious issue, bringing into play numerous balances or imbalances of international scientific and technological cooperation. I. Shape of Future U.S.-Soviet Cooperation A. Balancing Two Competing Objectives 1. Scientific and Practical Benefits 2. Transfer of Sensitive Technology B. Past Experiences Suggest it will be a Challenge II. History of U.S.-Soviet Cooperation in Space A. Tracing the Growth of U. S.-Soviet Cooperation 1. 1959 Bilateral Agreement 2. 1962 and 1971 Interagency Agreements Between NASA and Soviet Academy of Science 3. 1984 Public Law 98-562 4. Most Recent 1986 Space Cooperation Pact B. Most Notable Event 1970 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project C. Possible Transfer of Sensitive Technology III. Future Cooperation in Space vs. Technology Transfer A. Definition of Sensitive Technology B. Soviet View's on Cooperation in Space IV. Differing Perspective, the French Experience A. A Formal Accord Signed in 1966 B. CNES Budget Reflects France's Commitment C. Question of Sensitive Technology Transfer D. Policy Implications for the U.S. V. Value of Soviet Cooperation in Space to U.S. A. Gains vs. Risks B. Effects on Future U.S. Cooperation United States-Soviet Union cooperation in space has existed since the late l95Os on a somewhat limited basis. This relationship in space has essentially been as unpredictable as all other endeavors of cooperation with the Soviets. It is comprised of a combination of scientific, foreign policy, and national security issues and is influenced by a background of strained, unpredictable, and ambiguous relations between the two countries. U. S. -Soviet civilian and military uses of space has become a complex and contentious issue, bringing into play numerous balances and imbalances of international scientific and technological cooperation. The shape and magnitude of future U.S.-Soviet cooperation in space will be determined by balancing four competing objectives, of which this paper will primarily focus on the first two. These objectives are as follows: * the scientific and practical benefits that can be gained from space cooperation * the potential transfer of sensitive military technology and know-how between the two countries * the effect of space cooperation on foreign policy * perceptions about Soviet motivations and behavior and the course of U. S. -Soviet relations overall1 Experience also suggests that from a scientific and practical point of view, space cooperation can lead to significant gains in some areas of space research. In addition, it may provide the U.S. with a much better understanding of the Soviet space program. Past experiences further suggest that the possibilities of technology transfer from the U.S. to the Soviets will continue to be a countervailing concern for any future space cooperation. Should the U.S. continue to seek cooperation in space with the Soviet Union, it will have to come to terms with these concerns. The issue is not the transfer of military sensitive technology. Most people agree that we need to restrict its flow. The issues are, what is considered military sensitive technology, who is authorized to make that decision, and how do we protect potentially sensitive military technology in any exchange programs?2 All our past experiences in space cooperation with the Soviets suggest this will be a difficult and controversial challenge. Further, the Soviets' aggressive campaign to acquire Western technology and know-how in space related areas aggravates the issue and provides motivation for limiting U. S.-Soviet cooperation in space. Because of many conflicts and the multiplicity of views about East-West cooperation in space, the shape, size, scope, and effectiveness of any potential space cooperation between the two will be determined by how these viewpoints are reflected in policy. U. S. -Soviet cooperation in space has been limited. For the most part, the two countries have developed two extensive programs in almost complete isolation from each other. In principle, both have been committed to the ideal of international cooperation in space. But, because, both countries having space programs heavily military and strategic in nature, this has not happened. The Soviets'early approach to space on was characterized by efforts to score propaganda points and beat the U.S. in all facets of space exploration. The U.S. has been favorably disposed toward cooperation in space with the Soviets. The U.S. not only viewed cooperation as a means to promote peace, but also as a means of pooling technical knowledge, placing the use of space under some degree of control, and increasing its international prestige. 3 However, the early U. S. overtures, for the most part, were rejected or ignored. Formal development of U. S. -Soviet cooperation in space has benefited from general growth in U.S. -Soviet scientific and technical cooperation. This cooperation has occurred on a number of levels: on a bilateral intergovernmental basis, in multilateral forums, and through more informal scientist-to- scientist exchanges. In 1959, cooperation began on a bilateral basis with the signing of agreements between the Soviet Academy of Science and NASA. In addition, the U.S. and the Soviets have signed agreements to cooperate in space on four other occasions. The first two of these were at the interagency level in 1962 and 1971 between NASA and the Soviet Academy of Science. The latter two occasion were at the intergovernmental level, when an "Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purpose" was signed in 1972 and reviewed in 1977. On the multilateral front, U. S. -Soviet cooperation has expanded through numerous international projects and organizations such as the World Weather Watch and the International Maritime Satellite system. The U.S. and Soviet Union have also signed numerous U.N. agreements concerning the peaceful uses of outer space. Despite these early attempts at cooperation in space, the road has been an uneven one marked by intermittent hopes, occasional accomplishments, and many disappointments. This path of cooperation is due to a number of factors: high level secrecy surrounding Soviet space activities, the inability of both countries to separate the issues of U. S. -Soviet military and political competition on earth from the pursuit of cooperation in space, the United States' unwillingness to share its space technology, and the perceived space race which began in October 1957 with the launching of Sputnik. 4 In tracing U. S. -Soviet cooperation in space, it is easy for one to see that the decades of the 50's and the 60's were ones of frustration. Cooperation actually reached a high point in the 1970's at the height of detente, with the Apollo-Soyuz test project. Soon afterwards, in the late 1970's cooperation began to decline to low levels, with the collapse of the 1972 cooperation agreement in 1982. The mid-1980's found a new drive for the U.S.-Soviet cooperation in space. The most prolific statement was the signing of Public Law 98-562 in Qctober 1984, which supported the renewing of space cooperation with the Soviet Union, and the subsequent proposals for prospective U. S. -Soviet joint ventures. The most recent attempt was on November 11, 1986 with the signing of the Space Cooperation Pact, which established sixteen cooperative programs. This new agreement specifically limits the transfer of technology and know-how in both directions. The primary focus of this new agreement centers instead on the coordination of certain projects and the exchange of data. Some of the primary projects where cooperation could take place are: * Mars mission cooperation * Sharing data from the Soviet Phobos probe (for the study of Mar's moon) * America's Mars Observer to be launched in the early 1990's * U.S. Magellan probe to Venus. As a whole, this agreement is viewed as entirely more specific than the earlier ones, which culminated in the joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project is the first and only large scale joint adventure in space where the U.S. and the Soviets have cooperated. It is also probably the first attempt at cooperation in space where there was a significant chance for the transfer of any important technology or know-how. In May 1970, the U.S. put forth a proposal to develop a common docking mechanism for manned spacecraft and space stations. This proposal was based on the belief that there was the need for each country to have reciprocal rescue capabilities to enhance astronaut safety. It is not entirely clear why the Soviets chose this time to cooperative with the United States in space, but many believe it was primarily based on Soviet technological requirements. In 1968 a manned Soyuz 3 approached the unmanned Soyuz 2 apparently with the intentions of docking, but did not do so. In October 1969, a tandem flight of three manned spacecraft took place. Two of these were expected to dock, but again did not do so. Both of these missions were presumed to be failures. Due to the lack of success the Soviets have had in their attempts at docking in space, the U.S. offer of cooperation in this particular area of space technology was seen as an incentive for the Soviets to agree to the joint adventure.5 Despite the dramatic hopes this adventure represented, the project gradually became the most visible and controversial product of U. S.-Soviet cooperation in space. Many believe that the mission was wasteful and a bad choice for the use of limited space dollars. These same individuals believed that the U.S. had also financed the opportunity for the Soviets to present themselves as technological equals to the United States. They further pointed out that it was totally unrealistic to believe that the United States' space technology had not been passed. The Soviets ended up with the docking mechanism, which as of that time they were sorely lacking. Other transfers of technology are believed to have taken place during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. This transfer is primarily believed to have taken place during the experimental phase of the in-flight mission. The first example of significance was the experiment utilizing the U.S. material research oven to melt metals and then resolidify them in order to study the effects of weightlessness and conviction. Another possible area of concern is the transfer of thruster technology. The Soviet spacecraft of this generation were not highly maneuverable, and had to rely on the Apollo spacecraft to do the maneuvering when an experiment required it. As for the passing of technology and know-how from the Soviets to the U. S., there is not any of significance to note. The main benefit that the U.S. derived from this project was the break in secrecy surrounding the Soviet space program as a whole and probably a fair understanding of the level of their space technology in 1975. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project brings to the front the main question as to what extent will the Soviets go to gain access to militarily sensitive technology and technical know-how through U.S. -Soviet space cooperation? The issue of "technology transfer" is part of a much larger debate, and at the head of this debate are two very important national interest issues: "the importance of minimizing the use of American scientific and technological expertise in the building up of Soviet military strength, and the importance of maintaining and promoting open communication in science and technology. "6 Few would argue against cooperation in space with the Soviets as long as it was a two way street. However, they would suggest that the cooperation remain strictly controlled. The assumption behind this is that the Soviets are making important military gains through the acquisition of Western technology. Intelligence reports have even shown that one of the primary acquisition targets of the Soviet Union is Western space technology. Therefore, it is believed that cooperation in space with them will only facilitate an already extensive Soviet program for the acquisition of space related technology. To further aggravate the debate over U. S. -Soviet cooperation is the issue of defining what technology is really militarily sensitive. The issue of defining what is sensitive has proven to be an exceedingly ambiguous exercise. Numerous regulatory mechanisms have been established to control the transfer of militarily sensitive technology, but these mechanisms have themselves became the subject of enormous controversy. Therefore, the issue of sharpening the definition of what maybe militarily sensitive in space without stifling scientific inquiry will be a major challenge if U.S. -Soviet space cooperation is to exist. If a realistic definition of militarily sensitive technology cannot be determined, the issue then becomes how we can actually use sensitive technology and information in cooperative projects with the Soviets. There is the belief that at certain times, it may be in the United States' interest to allow some potentially sensitive technology to be utilized. It is felt that the soviets have limited capabilities for absorbing this sensitive Western technology and applying it successfully to improve their production know-how. However, by allowing the Soviet Union access to this technology the U.S. could conceivably acquire valuable information on Soviet capabilities as they existed at any given time. But, we must caution ourselves against underestimating the Soviet capacity for absorbing technical information, copying Western technology, and incorporating particular items of technology into their military effort even without the ability to reproduce them. This too will be an important issue if U. S. -Soviet cooperation in space is to exist. Looking at the Soviet approach to cooperation in space, we generally find that it is quite different from our own. Space cooperation is an integral part of Soviet foreign policy and its objectives extend beyond a desire for peace to competition as well. The Soviets view their relations with the United States not only as competition between two military or space programs but between two political and social systems as well. The Marxist-Leninist doctrine expresses an incompatibility between the Socialist and non-Socialist countries. The Soviets consistently use their space program to pursue foreign policy objectives which are more competitive and confrontational in nature. They believe in using space as a propaganda tool to enhance their national prestige and influence worldwide opinion while weakening that of the United States. They continually resist linking cooperation in space with other political events, yet they have no qualms linking the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative with future U.S.-Soviet cooperation. The implication of all of this is that the Soviets more closely tie their willingness for cooperation in space with the overall state of U. S.-Soviet relations. An alternate perspective to U. S. -Soviet cooperation in space is how other western countries, most notably France has dealt with the issue of space cooperation with the Soviets and the possible implications of technology transfer. French cooperation in space with the Soviets dates back to 1966 when Charles de Gaulle visited Moscow and signed an "Intergovernmental Accord on Scientific/Technical and Economic Cooperation. " Within this agreement was a large segment that dealt with French-Soviet cooperation in the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space that provided the framework for formal cooperation in space activities. This accord provided for the establishment of an organization called the "Grande Commission, " comprised of both French and Soviet scientists. The purpose of this organization was to assess on-going programs and initiate new ones. The main agency in France that was responsible for national space policy and programs was CNES. It also had the responsibility of developing international cooperation on both bilateral and multilateral bases. France's commitment to cooperation in space on all levels is reflected in CNES' annual budget. It was almost 600 million dollars of which half was budgeted toward bilateral and multilateral cooperation.7 While most of this was directed toward the European Space Agency, at least 10%, or 51 million francs was directed toward cooperation with the Soviets. In contrast, the French budgeted 83 million francs toward cooperation with the United States.8 France's cooperation with the Soviets is significant, however, it is concentrated in a relatively small number of areas. These range from the exchange of data and information to a joint flight in 1982. The main areas of cooperation as outlined by CNES as late as 1984 are: * astronomy * solar system exploration * materials processing in space * life sciences.9 The French perspective toward cooperation with the Soviets is somewhat different than that of the U.S. Therefore, the issues concerning French-Soviet cooperation are also different. Typical examples of these differences are found in the responses of the U.S. and France toward the Soviets after the invasion of Afghanistan. Whereas the U. S. let cooperation in space lapse, the French decided such cooperation should be sustained. While the key issue in the U.S. today is whether space cooperation should be renewed, the key issue in France is the degree to which this cooperation should be maintained. This is not to say that the issue of French-Soviet cooperation in space is without controversy within France. Opposition, though, has generally stemmed from humanitarian concerns rather than ones of strategic or national interest. In light of France's desire to continue and expand cooperation with the Soviets, the question concerning the possible transfer of militarily sensitive technology becomes important. It is also one of the possible dangers that greatly concerns the U. S. within the framework of U. S. -French cooperation in space. France concedes that the Soviets are aggressively seeking access to Western technology and know-how, and that they are undoubtly acquiring technical capabilities from France beyond those they already possess. The scope of the Soviets' mission to acquire western technology and know-how was highlighted in 1983 by the expulsion of 43 Soviet technological spies. Additionally, French intelligence leak in 1985 Soviet documents which provide further proof of the breath of Soviet industrial espionage in the West, especially in the aeronautical field. THe question in the French mind, though, is just how much value are these new capabilities to the Soviets. This is where the French and U.S. policy differ most markedly. At the core of this difference lies the definition of "militarily sensitive technology. In the case of the French, their definition is not as stringent as that of the U.S. Even with this difference, the French believe that they have adequate controls in place to the avoid the transfer of sensitive technology to the Soviets. To avoid this transfer, the French, like the U.S., have a Missile Technology Control List of sensitive technologies. They also have an interministerial group of specialists who examine every new project for the potential of sensitive technology transfer. Thus, each project is evaluated for its technology transfer potential. France's policy of cooperation with the Soviets in space has had policy implications for the United States. It has made the U. S. much more reluctant to cooperate with the French on space exploration, when that cooperation might lead to a transfer of technology that the U.S. deems sensitive. The difference in the definition of "militarily sensitive technology" has been the subject of numerous heated debates in COCOM and other forums. It has caused much concern in the Western Alliance which the Soviets have freely used to their advantage in the foreign relations arena. Even with these policy differences the U.S. has been able to gain useful information and insight about the Soviet space program from the French, which they might have had difficulty acquiring otherwise. The final key issue revolves around the question of just how valuable cooperation in space with the Soviets is to the United States, either from the standpoint of gaining access to data and information or from a cost saving perspective. One can look at that statement and break it down into three primary questions which are: (1) Does it open up more research opportunities than we could gain from our programs alone? (2) Can it provide opportunities for cost savings through removal of duplication? (3) And do the Soviets gain far in excess of what the U.S. would? Many believe that it would be naive on our part to answer these questions in the negative. There could be substantial gains for the U. S. in many areas such as life and planetary sciences. As with any view there is always a counter one and in this case it is strong, supported by many including the past administration. This group feels that the U.S. is so far ahead of the Soviets that little could be gained by cooperation. They also believe that while cooperation might provide benefits in specific areas of research, it would hardly be worth the enormous amount of effort, time, money, energy, and frustration involved in acquiring it. Finally, it is believed that what we did learn would be far out of balance with what the Soviets would gain. In conclusion, what emerges from the arguments about U. S. - Soviet cooperation in space is twofold: while it is clear that scientific and technological benefits can be gained from this cooperation, the degree to which the gains may be offset by scientific or technical losses is still a matter of debate. In addition, there are several factors to be considered, of which, the gains of cooperation and the risks of technology transfer, disagreement over the relative importance of scientific and practical benefits, and foreign policy objectives are but a few. There will, however, always be a multiplicity of views about East-West cooperation in space. The ways in which these viewpoints are reflected in official policy will determine the size, shape, scope, and effectiveness of any future potential space cooperation with the Soviets. FOOTNOTES 1. Office of Technology Assessment, "U. S. -Soviet Cooperation In Space," A Technical Memorandum, Washington D. C., 1985, p. 3. 2. U. S. Congress, House, Subcommittee on Space Science and Applications, "Assess Potential Gains and Drawbacks of Civilian Space Cooperation with the Soviets, " Hearings before a Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology, 99th Cong., 1st sess., 1985. 3. "U. S.-Soviet Cooperation In Space, A Technical Memorandum, p.6 4. "U. S.-Soviet Cooperation In Space, A Technical Memorandum, p. 7 5. Edward C. and Linda N. Ezell, The Partnership. A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (New York: Dial Press, 1978), p.136. 6. "U.S.-Soviet Cooperation In Space," A Technical Memorandum, p.28 7. "U. S.-Soviet Cooperation In Space," A Technical Memorandum, p.83 8. "U. S.-Soviet Cooperation In Space, A Technical Memorandum, p.83. 9. "U. S.-Soviet Cooperation In Space," A Technical Memorandum, p.87. BIBLIOGRAPHY Assess Potential Gains and Drawbacks of Civilian Space Cooperation with the Soviets. Hearings before Subcommittee on Spcae Science and Applications, United States House of Representatives, 99th Cong., 1st sess., 1985 Astronauts Will Produce an Artificial Solar Eclipse The New York Times, July 19, 1975 Eberhart, Jonathan. Astrodiplomats in Orbit. Science News Digest, Vol 108, July 5, 1975 Ezell, Edward C. and Ezell, Linda N. The Partnership. A History Of The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. New York: Doubleday, 1978 Lorenzini, LTC Dino A. and Maj. Charles L. Fox. 2001: A U.S. Space Force. Naval War College Review, Vol XXXIV, Number 2/Sequence 284:48-68, March-April, 1981 Soviet Acquisition of Military Significant Western Technology: An Update, September 1985 Space Cooperation Pact by U. S.-Soviets Reported, The Washington Post, November 9, 1986 U. S.-Soviet Cooperation In Space. A Technical Memorandum, Office of Technology Assessment, Washington D.C., 1985 Vladimirov, Leonid. The Russian Space Bluff. New York: Dial Press, 1973

Join the mailing list