Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Public Affairs/International Relations

First Advisor

Leila Farsakh

Second Advisor

Paul Kowert

Third Advisor

Ursula Tafe


American outer space exploration has been progressively privatized since the end of the Cold War. The choice of privatization was a strategic geopolitical decision in the interest of maintaining American hegemonic leadership on Earth and in the solar system. American Congressional legislation and presidential speeches in the nearly three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the “victory” of the American neoliberal form of capitalism, show support for the expansion of free-market principles into lower-Earth orbit and beyond. However, this is not a new trend. From the beginning of the American entry into the space race, the goal has been to achieve and maintain the dominant position in outer space. The aim of this thesis is to argue that the move towards American privatization of outer space aligns with the American quest for hegemonic leadership. This thesis draws on the historical development of the past 60 years and relies on presidential speeches and congressional legislation to reveal how American governments has justified and explained changing trends in US space policy. The thesis assesses the ability of two key international relation theories, Realism and Marxism, to help explain the different factors behind the American privatization trend and its implications for US power.