Commercial Satellites playing an ever increasing role in conflicts

March 2022: Commercial Satellites are able to provide data that can be a major factor in decisions made during conflicts. As seen in the current conflict in Ukraine, commercial satellite companies like Capella are able to provide radar images, while other companies such as Starlink can provide backup internet service. Whatever the service these satellites provide, the companies’ involvement can influence the decisions made by those in power. Dr. Jeffrey Lewis from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, for example, was able to see Russian troops on the move hours before the first reports of explosions were on the news due to his access to radar images from Capella. The value in this is clear from Ukraine’s vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweet stating “We badly need the opportunity to watch the movement of Russian troops, especially at night when our technologies are blind”. Another way these satellites influence the decision making of those in power is by becoming targets themselves, a legitimate fear as the Radionavigation Lab’s Dr. Todd Humphreys says Russia is one of the few countries to openly demonstrate its spoofing capabilities, which already cause trouble in the Mediterranean. In addition to spoofing, Russia’s recent demonstration of a missile test on one of its own satellites shows their ability to shoot satellites down. The full Wired article can be accessed here.