Beard provides expertise on wartime use of commercial satellites

10 Mar 2022    

Professor Jack Beard headshot

Jack Beard was interviewed for a March 10 Washington Post article on commercial satellite images being used in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The article mentioned that at least five satellite companies are sharing their images with Ukraine and that Russia has been trying to jam the signals and block coverage of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system.

Beard, a co-director of the Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program at Nebraska and an expert on the wartime use of commercial satellites, told the Post that jamming generally is not considered “a use of force.” But he said it remains unclear what the United States’ or other nations’ response would be if a commercial satellite were attacked.

“It is untested whether hitting a commercial satellite rises to the level to justify an armed attack response,” said Beard, editor in chief of the Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations. “It’s easy to say that a lot of these things are unsettled, because they are. But they’re becoming more and more relevant.”

The article noted that space has always involved military activities, but Beard said commercial space flight adds a new wrinkle.

“There’s no reference guide to turn to,” he said. “There’s no comprehensive discussion of military activities in space. And yet, space has always had an awful lot of military activities.”

Situated within the College of Law, the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law Program has bridged law, technology and global security for more than a decade. Students develop the skills they will need to solve problems now and in the future by exploring the laws and regulations that impact every satellite, phone call and online interaction.

Orignial story from University Communication.