Author Biography

James Clay Moltz is chairman of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Post- graduate School, where he also holds a joint professorship in the Space Systems Academic Group. His recent books include The Politics of Space Security: Strategic Restraint and the Pursuit of National Interests, 3rd ed. (Stanford University Press, 2019); Crowded Orbits: Conflict and Cooperation in Space (Columbia University Press, 2014); and Asia’s Space Race: National Motivations, Regional Rivalries, and International Risks (Columbia University Press, 2012).



Subject Area Keywords

China, International relations, International security, Russia, Science and technology & security, Security studies, Strategy


Many recent assessments of space power have posited a US decline and predicted a gloomy future in comparison to China and Russia. However, such analyses—based almost exclusively on state-run activities—present only part of the picture. In the twenty-first century, a new form of bottom-up, net-centric, commercially led space innovation is emerging that promises cheaper and more timely technological developments to those nations that can effectively tap into them, thus reshaping traditional definitions of space power. This study first sets a baseline by focusing on Cold War space power determinants, next analyzes recent changes among the three leading spacefaring nations, and then looks into the future, factoring in the expanded role of commercial space start- ups and military space alliances. The article concludes that new forms of networked space power could put the United States in a more favor- able position than countries relying on state-controlled innovation and development.


The Journal of Strategic Security (JSS) appreciates the opportunity to re-publish this outstanding article by leading international security expert James Clay Moltz. Special thanks to editorial team at Strategic Studies Quarterly (SSQ) for their hard work and efforts to bring such world-class perspectives to print. Thank you SSQ team!


This article courtesy of Strategic Studies Quarterly, Volume 13, No. 1, Spring 2019. Link to original article: https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Portals/10/SSQ/documents/Volume-13_Issue-1/Moltz.pdf The author thanks an anonymous reviewer for providing a useful set of points to con- sider. The views in this article are those of the author alone and do not represent statements of the official policy of the US Navy or the US Department of Defense. It draws upon interviews conducted by the author at commercial space start-up companies in Silicon Valley, southern California, Seattle, and Denver from May to September 2017. The author is grateful to Dan Rasky, Bruce Pittman, and Tina Panontin of the NASA Ames Research Center for their advice and assistance during this process.