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The geopolitical implications of the commercialization of satellite data acquisition and remote sensing

Presentation #327.05 in the session “Public Policy”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
The geopolitical implications of the commercialization of satellite data acquisition and remote sensing

The imminent commercialization of satellite technology will inevitably lead to the ubiquity of privately owned and operated satellite spacecraft in low-Earth orbits. These satellites will be used for data collection for a variety of commercially viable applications including low-cost global internet access, time-share for academic researchers in fields such as astronomy and climate change, as well as access for government agencies for various applications. Satellite prevalence has natural implications for national and international security; namely, the US government could readily access global surveillance and remote sensing capabilities for a variety of military operations including weather monitoring, communications, the Department of Defense Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) enterprise, command and control for nuclear deterrence, and to track foreign entities such as terrorist cells. Thus, control and access to satellite data will bring with it great economic and military power. I will discuss frameworks for management of data access and control, focusing on the national security implications of the geopolitical landscape governing satellite spacecraft and the global commons of outer space. Topics include data control and access, cybersecurity, regulatory institutions, and the militarization of space.


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