Growing national and international concerns in the areas of energy, defense, food, national economic vitality, communications and information systems, and social goals for improved quality of life play increasingly important roles in determining how aggressively peaceful applications of optics in space will be supported or pursued by the United States. Today, peaceful space projects are often viewed as a nonessential luxury that can be dispensed with; the percent of GNP devoted to peaceful space applications has diminished in recent years. On the other hand, dramatic growth of peaceful space optical systems with direct practical benefits to some of these national concerns can emerge in the next two decades. Three levels of optical technology are examined, ranging from nearterm engineering growth to more specu-lative extrapolation. Finally, an assessment is made of the relative likelihood of implementing these technology levels.