Satellite supply chains increasingly scrutinized

WASHINGTON — Changes in the geopolitical landscape in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine are pushing space companies to tighten international supply chains amid renewed attention to security.

“We need to scrutinize our supply chain even more,” Tina Ghataore, chief commercial officer of German optical communications terminal maker Mynaric, said March 22 during a panel for the Satellite 2022 conference here.

“We already have restrictions on the origin of components and parts, especially electronics,” she said, but “it just got bigger, and that list is only going to get longer.”

Mynaric, who is development of terminals for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), already eschews Chinese components but now scours its supplier network for Russian links.

Ghataore also said the company is increasingly scrutinizing hardware to protect against new threats, but also at the software level, where the company is embracing new standards and doubling down on being “very careful about what goes into the composition of our products”.

While strengthening supply chains is important, Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg highlighted an increased need to strengthen cybersecurity networks in the face of increasingly sophisticated threats.

Dankberg said he expects more attempts to compromise satellite networks after a cyberattack in February on Viasat’s KA-SAT network, which distributes services through a third party as work continues to integrate its acquisition from Eutelsat.

“There will be worse cyberattacks than this if we are not really vigilant,” Dankberg warned.

Talk to SpaceNews On the sidelines of the conference, Dankberg added that Viasat uses a variety of artificial intelligence and other tools to guard against persistent attacks on the satellite operator’s network.

“The likelihood that we would have detected this attack if these tools had been used on this network is very, very high,” he said.

Geopolitical impact

“I really feel like the Cold War” has restarted, OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said during a panel discussion. Broadband operator LEO has suspended its constellation deployment after suspending its use of Russian Soyuz rockets. On March 21, OneWeb said he has a deal with SpaceX resume launches this year.

Masterson called for more regulation to deal with a “reality in which the geopolitical situation [environment] changed.”

However, although the conflict in Ukraine has highlighted the importance and strategy of space, Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg does not expect scrutiny to have a significant impact on the operation. industry current.

“There have always been barriers to being able to work with any company you want to work with,” Goldberg said, including “massive restrictions around technology sharing” under U.S. international arms trafficking.

“Space calls for collaboration, because it’s a common good up there, but also because it’s expensive and it takes countries working together and governments working together. to take full advantage of space,” he said, “but not all of us are able to work with each other given the geopolitical realities.

“And I think Ukraine reinforces that, but I’m not sure it changes him that much.”

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