Implications of Ultra-Low-Cost Access to Space

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  • Although many disruptions to lowering the cost of access to space may seem promising, it is unlikely that one disruption will lower the cost of launch by an order of magnitude or more on its own.
  • The U.S. government should adopt more-flexible policies that foster innovation in the commercial space marketplace.
  • Lowering the cost of access to space will surely allow other nations to proliferate associated technologies, such as missile technologies.

Since the advent of the space age, a primary constraint on military, commercial, and civil space missions has been the cost of launch. Launching objects into space requires substantial investments in launch systems and infrastructure, which has restricted the market to only a handful of national governments and several large private companies. This study explores the possibility of a space industry significantly less constrained by the cost of access to space.

To understand a future where the cost of access to space is only a fraction of what it is today, CSIS turned to a curated group of space experts, including launch providers, satellite manufacturers, government analysts, space law practitioners, and military strategists. This report details trends in low-cost access to space, identifies key opportunities for further cost reductions and policies needed to spur innovation, and explores new military missions that would be enabled if these trends lead to significant reductions in the cost of access to space.Aerospace

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