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Space Café Recap: “Black Ops by Dr Emma”- with Prof Bleddyn Bowen on the present geopolitical climate and a possible international Space conflict

Photograph courtesy of Prof Bowen

Our new episode of Space Café “Black Ops by Dr. Emma Gatti” inaugurates in a time of conflict on Earth. A conflict that, inevitably, has already had an impact on the Space sector, like on so many other sectors.

Many space related civil operations have been disrupted, Roscosmos suspended all the EU launches, Soyuz spacecraft is under sanctions and many EU-Russia and US-Russia civil missions have been profoundly jeopardized. The ISS for example might need the intervention of Elon Musk to maintain the orbit, and ESA ExoMars has now been suspended. But could this interruption of international cooperation in the civil sector transform into a defense matter? How close we are to an escalation of the Ukraine conflict in Space? Will Russia make a strategic move trying to attack Space infrastructures? And how will the West respond?

We discussed about all this with Prof. Bleddyn Bowen, associate professor in International Relations at the University of Leicester, in the UK. Prof. Bowen is an expert in space warfare, space policy, and international relations in outer space, specialized in strategic theory and military thought. He is author of the book War in Space: Strategy, Spacepower, Geopolitics, published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020.

Is a full blown out Space conflict possible?

Currently the strategic picture does not seem to be pointing at an escalation in Space. Russia’s assets, albeit extremely well developed in electronic warfare, appear still unequipped for contrasting the US counterspace capabilities in case of open conflict, and Ukraine does not have many satellites to justify a space attack. Nevertheless, Prof. Bowen warns against interpreting the lack of motivations as an enough of a deterrent. Albeit at the moment it seems quite improbable for the conflict to reach space and represent a danger for Western satellites infrastructures, nevertheless there is always a component of chaos in war. One mistake might be more than enough to trigger an emotional, rather than a strategic, response. Unpredictable variables still lie ahead of us, and should a war come, neither side can assume easy successes. Furthermore, being these subjects often discussed behind closed doors, we will probably know the truth many years from now.

This Space Cafe “Black Ops by Dr. Emma Gatti” was held on 21st of March 2022.

SpaceWatch.Global is a European-based digital magazine and portal for those interested in space and the far-reaching impact of the space sector.

To listen to Bleddyn Bowen’s insights, you can watch the full program here:

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