Why Russia Space Satellites Are Failing In The Ukraine War


Russian military and communications satellite systems have been underperforming throughout the war in Ukraine.
Consequently, Russia has struggled to conduct precision missile strikes.
But the satellites themselves aren’t fully the problem. Russia also lacks the ground systems and procedures to receive and disseminate data to those who need it.
During the Cold War, Russia became the first nation to launch a satellite, and then a human being, into outer space. With more than 160 Russian satellites in orbit today, every Ukrainian city, tank, and howitzer should be exposed to the unrelenting gaze of orbital cameras.

But that’s not happening on the battlefield. While Ukraine’s military is reaping enormous benefits from commercial communications and photographic satellites, Russia is only getting meager rewards from its huge investment in military spacecraft, according to a Western expert.

“The Ukrainian army can use commercial systems to obtain images of any area in high detail at least twice a day in favorable weather conditions, whereas the Russian army can get an image of the same area approximately once in two weeks,” Pavel Luzin, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, wrote in a recent article for Riddle. In addition, “existing Russian satellites provide seriously inferior quality of imagery vis-à-vis American and European commercial satellites.”
Nor is turning to commercial satellites—as Ukraine successfully did—an option. “Russia’s political economy model makes private efforts in outer space just impossible,” Luzin said. “Private business and technology initiatives are considered political threats.”

The West can also take steps to prevent the revival of Russia’s military space program. “It is necessary to prevent Russia’s access not only to space-grade electronics, but also advanced industrial equipment,” said Luzin. “Also to commercial satellite services using rogue firms in Asia and Europe.”

As one of the two original spacefaring nations, it is not realistic to assume that Russian satellites will disappear from the heavens. But the glory days of Sputnik and Soyuz seem to be gone.

“I don’t think Russia is capable of developing its military space capabilities now,” Luzin said.

Prosper Dougoli

Prosper Dougoli, also known as a Bomzydget, is a young Ghanaian tech content creator with extensive experience in Internet blogging.

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