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The Downlink

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Welcome to the New Year!… And to federal budget purgatory… The National Defense Authorization Act for the financial year 2022 is law, but the U.S. Senate hasn’t passed a budget to pay for it. Lawmakers know this is not how you run a railroad, so this coming Wednesday the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense is holding a hearing about the impact. In this episode Laura Winter asks, who should be testifying and what questions need to be answered, from Mir Sadat, a former National Security Council director for defense and space policy, an Atlantic Council fellow, and a scholar with West Point’s Modern War Institute; Peter Garretson, a book author, and podcaster, a senior defense studies fellow Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, as well as the editor of one of the most important space reports out there, State Of The Space Industrial Base; and Christopher Stone, a Senior Fellow for Space Studies for the Mitchell Institute’s Spacepower Advantage Research Center, and the author of the upcoming policy paper Maneuver Warfare in Space: The Strategic Mandate for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion.

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In this year-end episode of The DownLink, Laura Winter unravels a space threat story through three key interviews with Donald Kessler, the now-retired NASA astrophysicist who first theorized what is now known as the “Kessler Syndrome”; Brian Weeden a space policy analyst and advocate from the Secure World Foundation; and Robin Dickey, a space policy and strategy analyst with the Aerospace Corporation. But first, Laura first gives us her top three 2021 data points with effects that she believes will punch through into 2022 and beyond.

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Last month Russia tested an anti-satellite weapons system, ostensibly as a warning to anyone that may wish to assist Ukraine, the U.S., or NATO. So while it’s clear that military satellites could be targeted, what’s the risk to commercial satellite operators that provide services to the DoD? To get the answers, Laura Winter speaks with David Koplow, former Special Counsel for Arms Control to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense and the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Law at Georgetown University; Chris Kunstadter, Global Head of Space at AXA XL; and Kaitlyn Johnson, Deputy Director and Fellow, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Aerospace Security Project.