The New Space Entrepreneurship and Its Techno-Economic Networks

The New Space Entrepreneurship and Its Techno-Economic Networks

Ivan Tchalakov (Department of Applied and Institutional Sociology, Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, Plovdiv, Bulgaria & Center for Policy Analysis and Studies of Technology, Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJANTTI.2015010104

Abstract

The paper applies ANT approach in studying the new space entrepreneurship. The paper tests the ability of ANT to account for the impressive processes of shaking the old government-lead model of rocked design and use that originated in the late 1930s and which is still dominants in many countries. Under this model the space technology was carried out via publicly funded (or state-owned) research, development and manufacturing organizations and/or as highly regulated large corporate businesses; it never entered the phase of large-scale mass industrial manufacturing and the economies of scale and scope never played a significant role under this model. Together with severe safety requirements this resulted in the extremely high cost of development and manufacturing. The situation radically changed in the beginning of this century, when a number of entrepreneurs – most of which with multimillion fortunes from successful IT businesses – entered the space industry bringing with them quite a different model of space technology development. Applying the conceptual framework developed in two well-known ANT studies – those of John Law on Portuguese long-distance sea travel and Michel Callon analysis of the states of socio-technical (or techno-economic) networks, the paper demonstrates their usefulness and heuristic potential in analyzing the processes that are currently going on in high-tech fields such as space rocket technology. It identified two specific problems the ANT ignores – the asymmetrically important role of human agents at the earlier stage of actor-networks emergence and development, and the problem of profound, if not radical, changes in already stabilized actor-networks, thus pointing of possible existence of their third state, that is different both from the emerging and stabilized ones.
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2. Lessons From An Ant Account About The Distant Predecessors Of Space Travel

In this section I would like to draw attention to the relevance of an early work of John Law on Portuguese expansion for the analysis of the current transformation of space industry and the future colonization of space - because of the conceptual frame its provided, the generalized lessons it drew from the Portuguese experience, and even with what he ignores or takes for granted, thus opening room for further developments (Law 1985 and 1986, as well as later interpretation of his findings in Law 1999).

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