EOMilitary

Ukraine Asks Commercial Satellite Operators to Share Imagery

Ukraine flag

Earlier this week, Ukrainian entrepreneur Max Polyakov told reporters that it was critical for Ukraine’s military to gain real-time access to Western satellite operators’ imagery (h/t Ars Technica). “Right now, we need to have this intelligence,” Polyakov said Monday, as quoted by Ars. “Every night, we’ve been bombarded, and at night we are blind.”

  1. Polyakov said imagery being shared with the public has a lead time of two to three days, which means it isn’t actionable for Ukrainian forces. Time is of the essence. 
  2. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data would be especially useful for intel-gathering, per Polyakov. War doesn’t stop at night. And, at this time of year, Ukraine has cloud cover 80% of the day on average. 

Yesterday, Ukraine Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov amplified Polyakov’s plea in a letter posted to Twitter and addressed to Planet, Maxar, Airbus, SIIS, BlackSky, Iceye, SpaceView, and Capella. Fedorov asked the companies to share high-res imagery in real time, supply SAR data, work with Polyakov’s EOS Data Analytics, and cease any activity that could help military planners in Moscow and Minsk. 

Takeaway: “This is really the first major war in which commercially available satellite imagery may play a significant role in providing open source information about troops movements, military buildups in neighboring countries, flows of refugees, and more,” Fedorov wrote.

The importance of satellite imagery in this conflict can’t be overstated. Western (or Western-allied) commercial satellite operators find themselves in an exceptional circumstance. If they share the imagery, it may be kept on a need-to-know basis for quite some time. 

Related Stories
EO

Albedo Will Launch Clarity-1 In February

The satellite, dubbed Clarity-1, is already a hit with customers in sectors ranging from climate science to mining to energy grids who are booking time on the sat to add to or in some cases replace the imaging they’re doing now with planes and drones.

LaunchMilitary

Scout Space Taps ABL for Tech Demo Launch

Scout needs to get its Owl optical imaging system on orbit to prove it is the right product for information-hungry national security agencies.

MilitaryStartups

Slingshot Aerospace and DARPA’s AI Spy Satellite Solution, Agatha

Slingshot Aerospace is partnering with DARPA on a high-stakes game of orbital “I Spy.” 

Military

SDA’s Not Done Hiring Start-Ups

Satellite builders that haven’t done work for the DOD in the last year can qualify to participate in the HALO, or Hybrid Acquisition for Proliferated LEO, program.