By Viktoria Urban
Our Space Cafe WebTalk “33 minutes with Dr. Jana Robinson – Economic and Financial Dimensions of Space Security” took place on Tuesday 3 May.
Dr. Jana Robinson became Director General of the Institute for Security Studies in Prague in April 2020. She is also Director of the Space Security Program at PSSI, a position she held in 2015. She previously held the position Head of Space Policy at the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels as well as Space Security Advisor to the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Robinson has held positions at ESPI, ESA, IISL, IAA, CSIS. She holds a Ph.D. in the field of space security from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University’s Institute of Policy Studies and earned two master’s degrees from the Elliott School of International Affairs at Charles University. George Washington University and Palacky University in Olomouc. She is also an alumnus of ISU.
Dr. Robinson explains that the Institute for Security Studies in Prague is a non-profit, non-governmental public policy organization which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Its main mission is to help safeguard and strengthen the freedoms of democratic institutions in Central and Eastern Europe. The institute offers educational programs for graduate students and young professionals, including an annual NATO Summer School and a Cybersecurity Academy. The institute’s most important research concerns emerging risks and threats to the transatlantic Alliance in the economic and space domains. However, the research itself is not the main objective. The institute seeks to do policy advocacy through conferences and roundtables. It strives to involve decision-makers, as well as industry.
The key trends for space services, she says, are “more dependent, more commercial and more diverse.” The European Space Policy Institute said there are currently 82 countries with at least one satellite in orbit. Government spending in the space sector in 2021 worldwide was US$92 billion, which means a 50% increase in six years.
“This dynamic environment also creates opportunities for new international partnerships, networking opportunities within the space industry, and also brings urgent security challenges.”
She asserts that the global dynamics of counterspace, that is, capabilities that can be used to disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy space systems, are primarily driven by terrestrial rivalries between space powers. Dr. Robinson argues that these authoritarian regimes deploy predatory economic and financial practices to enhance their strategic space power. She uses Russia as an example: the country employs its state-owned enterprises to establish seemingly benign commercial space partnerships in order to wield outsized strategic influence abroad.
She explains that partnerships should never have a non-transparent approach to bilateral space cooperation and unfair business practices designed to create debilitating dependencies.
“These predatory practices, including large-scale subsidized funding, also tend to lead to political extortion, particularly in relation to the development of global behavioral norms and standards.”
Moreover, such behavior distorts the space economy and ties recipient countries to Beijing and Moscow, for example. On the other hand, international space partnerships should be based on free markets and democratic principles. Dr. Robinson believes that the key words for a good partnership are transparency, disclosure, accountability, risk management, good corporate governance, reciprocity, respect for serenity and the rule of law.
When it comes to resilience, she thinks a lot has already been done. However, she admits that resilience alone does not guarantee the safety of the space. Even a satellite with the greatest resilience can be disrupted or disabled. Resilience is important to make this goal more difficult to achieve.
From June 19-21, Dr. Robinson will host the 6th PSSI Space Security Conference which will bring together leading space security experts, senior civilian and military officials, and selected industry representatives from Europe , the United States and Japan. Space domain awareness, sustainable international space cooperation, and cross-domain deterrence will all be discussed at the event. To learn more, visit https://www.spacesecurity.eu.
To listen to Space Café WebTalk insights, you can watch the full program here:
Viktoria Urban, SpaceWatch.Global Editorial Contributor: After graduating as a Journalist from Edinburgh Napier University, I am currently pursuing a degree in Astronomy and Planetary Science at The Open University (Scotland), which has strengthened my already existing love and enthusiasm for space. I am also a member and volunteer of several societies in Hungary and the UK and I also write online space content for several companies. I hope that my scientific communication will encourage many to find a job in the space sector, whatever their background, and will highlight the important issues to ensure a sustainable space environment for future generations.