One of many extra notable area stories of the previous few weeks is that of two Russian satellites allegedly ‘stalking’ a KH-11 reconnaissance satellite tv for pc operated by the US Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace (NRO). Given heightened geopolitical tensions between nice powers and the rising incidence of Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) in Earth orbit, SpaceWatch.International will publish professional views on this unfolding story over the approaching days and weeks.
Our fourth perspective comes from Alexandra Stickings, a army area professional with the Royal United Providers Institute (RUSI) in London, United Kingdom.
1) How would you characterize the alleged manoeuvres of the Russian satellites?
There’s nothing new about such satellite tv for pc behaviour. Each Russia and the US have beforehand carried out proximity operations, the advantages of which embrace the potential to spy on an adversary’s satellites, and such expertise is proliferating to extra actors. These operations are a part of broader actions in orbit as the key area gamers, together with China, look to capabilities that may disrupt and deny entry to area, significantly in methods that don’t contain kinetic strikes and the next particles creation.
2) Basic Jay Raymond, Commander of the U.S. House Drive, has characterised the manoeuvres of the Russian satellites as “threatening” and “destabilizing.” Is that this a good characterization?
No. It typically seems that actions by the Russians and Chinese language in area are characterised to suit a specific narrative that US area dominance is being threatened and that area is now turning into ‘weaponised’. In addition to offering weight to the argument that led to the creation of the US House Drive and House Command, this narrative doesn’t take note of historic actions by a spread of actors and the arguments that area has already been weaponised. There’s additionally the reasonably gray space of what constitutes ‘threatening’ behaviour in area and, whether it is deemed that a line has been crossed, what a response may appear to be. One may even ask the query as as to whether the reactions to such cases might be extra destabilising than the actions themselves.
three) What can/needs to be performed to mitigate/cease these sorts of incidences? How possible are we to see something performed in any respect?
I don’t consider that these cases might be stopped fully, significantly when they’re used for army functions. We’re additionally seeing business entities creating rendezvous and proximity capabilities for satellite tv for pc servicing and particles removing, so there’s a potential for extra uncertainty, reasonably than much less. There have been strikes in direction of creating agreed norms for accountable behaviour in area, in addition to a code of conduct, however political challenges, in addition to the necessity to embrace civilian and business actors, make this troublesome.
Alexandra Stickings is Analysis Fellow for House Coverage and Safety within the Navy Sciences group on the Royal United Providers Institute (RUSI). Her analysis covers army area programmes, area warfare, counterspace capabilities, area situational consciousness, arms management and the intersection of area and missile defence. She has written articles and analysis papers for quite a lot of publications, is a frequent speaker at worldwide conferences and frequently offers professional commentary to the media. Alexandra holds an MSc in Worldwide Safety and International Governance from Birkbeck School, College of London, a BA (Hons) in Worldwide Research kind the Open College, and a BSc (Hons) in Physics with Astronomy from the College of Nottingham.