Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

The Political Context of Technology Transfer: NASA and the International Space Station

Author:W. Henry Lambright and Agnes Gereben Schaefer
Date: April 2004
Publication:Comparative Technology Transfer and Society, 2(1), pp. 1-30

This essay seeks to examine how political forces shaped ISS and the role that technology transfer questions have played in the debates that often surrounded the entire project. Politics sometimes has limited the opportunities for technology movements, and always has complicated the efforts to develop and manage the station. Whereas technology transfer, as an issue, has sometimes been obscured by larger concerns, it has been a fairly constant factor, one way or another, in decision making. Looking at the space station thus provides an opportunity to explore the role technology transfer issues can play in the outcome and direction of big technical projects with international dimensions. This should be seen as an exploratory essay, largely based on secondary sources, aiming to illuminate a terrain. This is not a definitive study of technology transfer and the space station. That history has yet to be written. Instead, this essay uses the space station as a vehicle for indicating the complexities of technology transfer in projects where huge domestic and international forces hold sway.


W Henry Lambright
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 06/14/2006 13:06:05