Although it is generally agreed that the outer space should be used for the benefit of all mankind, only a fraction of the countries have the necessary technological base for accessing space. Space technology, with its implications on science, economy and well-being of citizens, is mostly chosen as one of the priority areas for technological development by developing countries. However, there is already an over-capacity in global space industry and there are doubts on necessity of additional capacity establishment by developing countries. In this study, the importance and benefits of capacity-building in these countries are emphasized and the advantages and disadvantages that developing countries have in the framework of space technology acquisition are briefly presented. The feasibility of certain levels of space technology is discussed and the necessity of combining existing indigenous capabilities with technology obtained from foreign sources in the optimal way is stressed. We have also mentioned various general mechanisms of technology transfer and argued the importance of licensing in catching-up developed countries. After considering the necessary conditions of efficiency of technology, such as establishment of regional centers of space science and technology education by United Nations, joint development of space systems, complete technology transfer packages, cooperative space projects within regional organizations, coordinated constellations and special agreements with large space agencies, which are specific mechanisms already in use, are reviewed. Some typical examples of mechanisms are also given with special emphasize on small satellite technology that makes access to space affordable for many countries. Through sharing and analyzing the experience of developing countries in their odyssey of space capacity-building, the difficulties can be negotiated and the vicious circles can be broken. This study, in our view, is a step to incite a general discussion of obstacles and opportunities for developing countries, that could help them in using their limited resources effectively, hence, enable them to offer better conditions to their citizens and to contribute space science to a larger extend. (C) 2008 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.