Analysis of the Potential Misuse of Commercial Dual-use Technologies for Satellite Servicing

Thursday, July 25, 2019

SWF sponsored a group of three graduate students from the Elliot School for International Affairs at George Washington University to study the potential risks with misuse of commercial rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO), on-orbit satellite servicing (OOS), and active debris removal (ADR) capabilities. The students - James Alver, Andrew Garza, and Christopher May - surveyed experts from across the space sector for their perspective on the likelihood and potential threat of these commercial capabilities being used for offensive military weapons, along with recommendations for ways to mitigate those risks. The study found that it was very unlikely governments would choose to use these commercial capabilities as military weapons because of the strong likelihood of detection and attribution and their low effectiveness. The study recommended that efforts to develop norms of behavior at both the domestic and international level continue, as well as encouraging transparency of commercial RPO/OOS/ADR activities and improving global space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities to provide greater transparency of space activities overall. The full report can be downloaded here. 

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Last updated on July 25, 2019