The Downlink

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The U.S. Department of State quietly launched a new organization that’s fusing commercial satellite imagery with social media posts to provide evidence of Russian war crimes to prosecutors, such as those in the International Criminal Court. It’s called the Conflict Observatory.
Laura Winter Speaks with Nathaniel Raymond, a war crimes investigator and the Executive Director of Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab, who worked with the State Department in standing up the Conflict Observatory; and Steve Wood, a former geospatial intelligence analyst, who is the Senior Director of Maxar Technologies’ News Bureau, which supplies the media and the U.S. government with unclassified satellite imagery documenting Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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This week in Paris Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron announced a further deepening of their defence cooperation. This time it includes the space domain. To understand why this agreement is significant, Laura Winter speaks with Narayan Prasad, a long-time space entrepreneur based in Berlin, and Pranav Satyanath, a research analyst with the Takshashila Intitution’s Strategic Studies Programme in Bangalore.

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China celebrates Space Day of China with announcements, putting the U.S. on notice that it means to get to and stay on the moon sooner rather than later, according to Malcolm Davis, a senior policy analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Laura Winter also speaks with Hawkeye 360’s CEO John Serafini and National Security Space Association Executive Director and Founder Steve Jacques about their announcement of a new commercial space initiative that aims to provide immediate humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the United States is unilaterally giving up direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) testing. This type of ASAT test is known to create orbital debris, which almost everyone agrees is a danger to space-based infrastructure. But was this ban the right thing to do? That depends on the perspective. Laura Winter speaks with U.K. Amb. Aidan Liddle, Britain’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland, and spacepower expert Col. M.V. “Coyote” Smith, USAF (Ret.), who is an Associate Professor and Director at the Air Command and Staff College, at Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, Ala.