This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Space Policy: A Comparative Study of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations




Brown, Trevor

Type of Degree



Political Science


This dissertation is a comparative study between the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations’ space policies. The work employs qualitative techniques, such as interviews and archival analysis, to elucidate and explicate the factors behind the policy decisions that these administrations considered in their policy formulations for the medium of space. A special focus is placed on the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) policy of the Bush administration, and the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) policy of the Obama administration. Both policies expand and enlarge American industry’s role in the national space effort by relying on commercial space operators to transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit (LEO). However, with the CCDev program the Obama administration cancelled Constellation, a spacecraft that was to be government developed and operated by NASA, in favor of an industry-government partnership with Space X and Boeing for space transportation services to LEO. This represented a radical policy departure from the Bush administration which initiated the development of Constellation. The work also touches on the Obama administration’s policy decision to shift NASA’s focus away from human missions returning to the Moon in favor of new missions involving asteroids. In addition to the commercial and civil aspects of the national space effort the dissertation also places a special emphasis on national security issues in space that the Bush and Obama administrations were faced with. In particular the work analyzes the growing role of the private sector in military space operations with such things as the collection of imagery and bandwidth for communications and data. The work also explores other security issues in space such as future satellite architectures, space situational awareness, space debris removal, transparency and confidence building measures, arms control measures, and a code of conduct in space.