MINDS Space Security Network

Commercial space companies play a significant role in military activities globally. NATO militaries are now among the largest consumers of commercial satellite services, primarily through the purchase of imaging data. About 80% of communications resources used by the US military overseas are supplied commercially.

The above figure highlights how debris from the Russian military’s test cross the orbit of the International Space Station, China’s new Tiangong space station, and the orbits of several large satellite constellations made up, collectively, of 1000s of satellites.

Although military use of commercial satellites is not new, the growth of commercial actors in this arena is creating new space security challenges. Western, including Canadian, companies are now providing services to non-NATO militaries engaged in armed conflict, most notably to Ukraine in the war with Russia.

Russia views the use of commercial satellites as provocation and has stated that such “quasi-civilian” infrastructure may be a legitimate military target. In November 2021, it tested a missile against one of its own defunct satellites, creating thousands of pieces of space debris and putting satellites from the US, Europe, Canada, and Russia at risk as well as the International Space Station. Russia thus accepted the possible loss of its own satellites and cosmonauts to demonstrate its space-combat capabilities before invading Ukraine.

In response to these emerging space security challenges, the OSI has developed a Space Security Network with funding from the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) program.

The goals of the Network include exploring the implications of the growing role of private space actors for Great Power competition and global stability, in the Ukraine War and longer term; considering how NATO governments should adapt their approach to defence in light of the growing capabilities of private space actors, weighed against associated risks; assessing the legal and ethical considerations for developing, adopting, and employing emerging technologies; and recommending how space companies can contribute to a peaceful and equitable security architecture.

The Space Security Network is composed of experts from several sectors (academia, industry, civil society, retired government officials) and countries (Canada, US, UK, Poland, India):

NETWORK CO-DIRECTORS

  • Michael Byers, UBC (Political Science and International Relations)
  • Aaron Boely, UBC (Physics and Astronomy)

NETWORK POST-DOC

  • Roohi Dalal, Princeton University, PhD Candidate, Astrophysical Sciences

NETWORK

  • Paul Meyer, SFU, former Ambassador for Disarmament
  • Lucy Stojak, HEC Montreal, former Chair, Space Advisory Council
  • Regina Lee, York University (Space engineering)
  • Andrea Harrington, McGill University, formerly US Air University (Space law)
  • Moriba Jah, University of Texas at Austin (Space engineering)
  • Mac Evans, former President CSA
  • Robin Frank, former counsel NASA & State Department
  • Sunil Chavda, Telesat (Director, Future Systems and Engineering)
  • Ellyne Kinney, MDA (Director, Technology Strategy)
  • Agnieszka Lukaszczyk, Planet (VP, Government Affairs – Europe, Middle East and Africa)
  • Raji Rajagopalan, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi
  • Jessica West, Project Ploughshares
  • Adam Bower, University of St Andrews (International Relations)

Students and postdocs will also be central to the research and knowledge dissemination, with Network members providing mentorship and collaboration opportunities that foster the next generation of space security experts.

NETWORK PUBLICATIONS

The Outer Space Institute

The Outer Space Institute
The University of British Columbia
325-6224 Agricultural Rd.
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada

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