Tensions are rising more and more over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia threatened to crash the International Space Station. And also to refuse to launch satellites for Western countries. Conflict goes off the planet. What is the risk of war for the ISS?
Satellites and commercial enterprises
Until recently, only advanced militaries and a few countries had satellite imagery. Now commercial companies are increasingly capturing these images. The space power of the commercial sector is steadily increasing.
SpaceX not only provides satellite imagery, but also communications. Its founder, Elon Musk, has come to the aid of Ukraine with terminals that allow access to the Starlink system. It offers high-speed Internet connection.
The director general of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozinissued a warning. He said that without Russian cooperation, the ISS could go out of orbit, falling on the United States or Europe.
Musk said his company would help if Russia withdrew its support and endangered the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is currently the only other spacecraft capable of docking with and supplying the ISS. In any case, the ISS will be decommissioned shortly.
Many countries continue to rely on Russia and its Soyuz rockets for a range of launches with a variety of applications. But SpaceX and other companies are increasingly capable of filling that gap.
Destroying satellites seems unthinkable, but nothing is certain anymore. This could create an increase in space debris that could destroy satellites. Even rain down on Earth. That is why it is important that the threats in the space domain do not go any further.
Russia has a great experience in this sphere. But its power is not unlimited. Western commercial space assets are giving great support to Ukraine. This will allow important data and images to reach everywhere.
The risk of war to the ISS is great. But given the number and variety of satellites flying over Ukraine, Russia will find it very difficult to maintain that front.