Accounting for the New Space Age

Closes:

Guest Editors

Basil Tucker, University of South Australia, and Hank Alewine, the University of Alabama in Huntsville

Call for Papers

Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy articulated his vision that the United States (U.S.) should “…commit itself to achieve the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”. That vision was achieved on 20th July 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first steps on the Moon. Just over two weeks later, on 4th August, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) presented to a committee charged with making recommendations on the U.S. post-Apollo space program a bold plan of continued lunar and Martian exploration. Over the next six months, that plan was rejected by the Nixon administration (Logsdon, 2015). Instead, human space exploration since the end of the “Space Race” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), has been confined primarily to programs and missions such as Skylab, the Space Shuttle, Salyut, Soyuz, Mir, and the International Space Station that have focussed on activities undertaken in low Earth orbit. In contrast, unmanned interplanetary probes have visited all of the planets in the Solar System. 

Space-related activities and ambitions have been revived recently, both with public and (increasingly) private entities employing varying levels of cooperation and introducing financial considerations to a sector that has traditionally focussed on nonfinancial objectives. As of 2018, 72 different government space agencies exist across the globe, 14 of which have launch capabilities. The emergence of the Australian Space Agency, recent missions to Mars by the U.S. and China, plans for a return to the Moon, the planned establishment of a sustained presence on Mars, the emergence of China as a significant player in space exploration, and the entry of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) and Blue Origin as aerospace manufacturers and providers of space transportation are just some of the recent initiatives in what appears to be a rejuvenation of interest and relevance of space exploration. 

The more ambitious and complex nature of modern space exploration, along with greater financial and fiscal accountability (Chapman, 2015), had combined to present a far different landscape of the space sector from that seen by observers in the heady days of the 1950s and 1960s when the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. tested their relative technological, military and, by extension, political-economic superiority. As a result, the prevalence and extent of what has become known as the “Space Economy” has been escalating on a global scale, with significant shifts in how resources are expended and outcomes evaluated in accountability objectives about space goals for both public and private stakeholders (Alewine, 2020).  

The aim in this AAAJ Special Issue is to identify, expand upon, and advance research opportunities to all aspects of accounting, auditing and accountability within the more contemporary context of space exploration, the space economy, space policy, and especially to consider how accounting as a discipline is placed to contribute to what some have termed the “New Space Age” (see Quintana, 2017). 

We invite empirical and theoretical contributions which put accounting thinking into action to improve our current understanding of the effects – already known or still hidden – of the space sector. Accordingly, we encourage authors interested in submitting a contribution to consider focusing their attention on the following list of potential research questions, which open up relevant and unexplored research avenues. However, this list is by no means exhaustive and can be expanded upon:

  • In what ways is accounting implicated in the evolving space economy, and how does it add value to decision analyses and management decisions?
  • Historically, what role has accounting played in the space sector?
  • How does the entry of private sector players (e.g., SpaceX) within what has traditionally been the exclusive domain of the public sector (e.g., NASA) change accountability relationships within the space sector?
  • What are management control challenges unique to the space sector?
  • How is “performance” defined in the context of space exploration, and how might it be measured and monitored?
  • How is accountability ensured in space environments?
  • How does society justify the considerable expenditure in space exploration?
  • In what ways might space initiatives be costed?
  • How might traditional/conventional accounting practices – both financial and management – require modification for application in a space context?
  • How do we treat/measure/address the inherent risk associated with space travel?
  • What are the CSR implications of space exploration and space travel, and what role can accounting play in addressing these implications?
  • What are the tax policy issues in space commerce?
  • How do valuation considerations impact audits involving assets in space?
  • What are transfer pricing issues involving manufacturing and transactions in space?
  • How can current space information scarcity concerns be addressed and alleviated?

Submission Instructions 

ScholarOne submissions will open at the beginning of June 2022. 
Full paper submission by 1st August 2022. 

All submissions must adhere to the AAAJ author guidelines. For inquiries and further information, please contact Basil Tucker ([email protected]) or Hank Alewine ([email protected]).

AAAJ Special Issue Workshop 

To support authors preparing manuscripts for submission, a AAAJ Special Issue On-line (Zoom based) Workshop will be held on Wednesday 9th March 2022. At the Workshop, papers will be presented and discussed before final submission. Please be aware that presentation at the Workshop does not guarantee acceptance of the paper for publication in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. Participation in the Workshop is not a precondition for submitting a manuscript to the Special Issue. If you are interested in participating in the Special Forum Workshop, please email a draft paper to Basil Tucker ([email protected]) or Hank Alewine ([email protected]) before 24th  February 2022

Key references/Further Reading

Alewine, H. C. (2020), “Space accounting”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 991-1018.
Chapman, B. (2015), “Waste and duplication in NASA programs: The need to enhance US space program efficiency”, Space Policy, Vol. 31, pp. 13–20.
Davidian, K. (2021), “What makes space activities commercial?”, Acta Astronautica, Vol. 182, pp. 547-558.
Launius, R. D. (2006), Interpreting the Moon Landings: Project Apollo and the Historians. History and Technology, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 225-255.
Logsdon, J.M. (2015), “Why did the United States retreat from the Moon?”, Space Policy, Vol. 32, pp. 1-5. 
McCurdy, H. E. (1992), “NASA’s Organizational Culture”, Public Administration Review, Vol. 52 No. 2, pp. 189–192.
McWatters, C. S. (2017), “Historians but not necessarily so”, Accounting History Review, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 219-221.
Quintana, E. (2017), “The New Space Age”, The RUSI Journal, Vol. 162 No. 3, pp. 88-109, 
Sanitt, N. (2008), “The Tripod of Science: Communication, Philosophy and Education”, in Science Matters: Humanities as Complex Systems ed. by Maria Burguete and Lui Lam, London: World Scientific Publishing Co., pp. 121 - 135).
Tucker, B. P., Halkett, I. and James, A. (2020), “Necessity: the mother of invention? The relationship between management control and creativity: Lessons from Apollo 13”, Journal of Management Accounting Research doi: https://doi.org/10.2308/JMAR-19-047
von Braun, W. (1969), “Manned Mars Landing Presentation to the Space Task Group,” https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/19690804_manned_mars_landing_presentation_to_the_space_task_group_by_dr._wernher_von_braun.pdf