Date of Award

January 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

Michael Dodge


During the Cold War, the United States focused its collective policy acumen on forming a competitive, actor-specific strategy to gain advantage over the Soviet Union. The fragmentation of the Soviet Union resulted in a multi-polar geopolitical environment lacking a near-peer rival for the United States. Overwhelming soft and hard power advantages allowed American policy makers to peruse a general, non-actor specific strategy to maintain its hegemonic position. However, the meteoric rise of China as a near-peer competitor in East Asia has challenged this paradigm. In order to maintain its competitive advantage, or at the very least ensure the safety of its geopolitical objectives through encouraging benign competition, U.S. strategy needs to evolve in both focus and complexity. It is essential for Spacepower, as a key element of national power, to be included in this evolution. In order to do so, this analysis will examine Sino-U.S. space relations using neoclassical realism as a baseline methodology. First, structural elements of the Sino-U.S. relationship will be modeled in a semi-quantitative game theoretical framework, using relative economic and military capabilities as primary independent variables. Second, key assumptions will be tested to ensure that this model accurately represents the current geopolitical environment. Third, the decision making apparatuses of the United States and China will be examined as intervening variables. This will account for imperfect rationality and how it modifies the game theoretical framework. Fourth, this framework will be used to present actionable space policy recommendations for the United States so that space can be incorporated into a competitive strategy for East Asia.