Podcast: Commercial space systems and foreign armed conflicts

Author: SCGA
An article from SCGA editorial team. 

Presented by the SCGA

The SCGA’s John Edward talks with Dr Adam Bower, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in International Relations, and Director of Impact and Innovation in the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews on the difficult questions concerning the responsibilities – and potential vulnerabilities – of space companies and governments in times of war.

In this episode, the SCGA’s John Edward speaks with Dr Adam Bower, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in International Relations and Director of Impact and Innovation in the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews School of International Relations. Adam is also a Fellow of the Outer Space Institute. As well as discussing space companies and governments in times of war, Adam and John also look at Scotland’s growing role in commercial space activities.

Modern societies are increasingly reliant on satellite-based services that enable critical Earth observation and data transmission services. While states continue to compete – and cooperate – in space exploration, space launch and the operation of Earth-orbiting satellites are now dominated by private space companies.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Western space companies have provided vital Earth observation and telecommunications capabilities to support Ukrainian military operations. This has provided a dramatic illustration of the growing entanglement between commercial and national space systems and the policy dilemmas that emerge when private actors take sides in a war in which their home governments are not formally fighting.

The Podcast will be available on your favourite platform – just search for ‘Scottish Council on Global Affairs’ – and is directly hosted at Acast. We’ve embedded the episode here below if you’re looking for an instant playback.

We went on to produce an ‘Insight’ document which can be downloaded directly here below.