How Sausages are Made: Determining National Strategic Imperatives for the Space Economy

A strategic imperative is a critical factor or a key requirement that an organization or a nation must fulfill to achieve its long-term goals or mission.

Strategic imperatives often translate into focused actions or initiatives that are essential for the survival, competitiveness, and success of an organization or a nation. These may include the need to innovate, to enter a new market, to acquire certain competencies, or to address key societal or economic challenges.

Establishing strategic imperatives relative to the space economy at a national level involves a complex and nuanced process, often underpinned by comprehensive analysis, international considerations, societal needs, and long-term national aspirations. Below are the key steps and considerations in this process.

Understanding the Global Context and National Capabilities

Understanding the global context and mapping national capabilities forms the foundation of establishing strategic imperatives. Nations need to consider the broader trends and developments in the space economy, including technological advancements, commercial opportunities, and international cooperation or competition. At the same time, a comprehensive understanding of national capabilities in terms of technology, human capital, infrastructure, and finance is essential. Nations need to evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the context of the space economy.

Setting National Goals and Priorities

Based on the global context and national capabilities, nations then set their long-term goals and priorities. These could be economic (e.g., creating jobs, boosting technological innovation, diversifying the economy), scientific (e.g., advancing knowledge about the universe), strategic (e.g., securing communication or surveillance capabilities), or societal (e.g., improving services such as weather forecasting, navigation, broadband connectivity). These goals and priorities will shape the strategic imperatives for the space economy.

Stakeholder Consultation

Consultation with stakeholders forms an important part of this process. Governments need to engage with the private sector, academia, non-governmental organizations, and even the public to gain insights, build consensus, and ensure the broad support of the strategic imperatives. Stakeholder consultation can also help identify potential partnerships, investment opportunities, and innovative ideas.

Developing Policy and Strategy

The next step is to translate these goals and priorities into policies and strategies. This could involve creating a favorable regulatory environment for private sector participation, investing in research and development, building human capital, and fostering international partnerships. Policy measures could also be designed to address challenges such as space debris, space traffic management, and the equitable use of space resources.

Periodic Review and Adaptation

Given the rapidly changing dynamics of the space economy, it is important to review and adapt these strategic imperatives periodically. Technological breakthroughs, changes in the geopolitical landscape, or new economic realities may necessitate shifts in strategy.

For example, the United States’ strategic approach to the space economy has evolved over time, shifting from a government-led model during the Apollo era to a more diverse model that includes significant private sector involvement, as seen in NASA’s Artemis program. This shift reflects changes in technological capabilities, commercial opportunities, and national priorities. .


Establishing strategic imperatives relative to the space economy is a complex, iterative process that requires a deep understanding of the global context and national capabilities, clear national goals and priorities, extensive stakeholder consultation, effective policy and strategy development, and periodic review and adaptation.

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