US Government Considering Offering Indemnification to Commercial Companies

Imagery provided by Maxar of military deployments were observed along the 14k-34 highway and the corridor that leads from Soloti and Valuyki in western Russia towards the border with Ukraine (

The United States Government is relying on commercially owned satellites to support warfighters in the field and for other Intelligence Purposes. They are currently evaluating the possibility of these assets getting destroyed due to this increased reliance. If a space vehicle is destroyed by debris from a nearby attack or directly by anti-satellite weapons such as lasers or jammers, does the Government have an obligation to compensate for that loss?

Aerospace Corp recently wrote a paper titled “Commercial Normentum: Space Security Challenges, Commercial Actors, and Norms of Behavior” that recognizes this growing possibility and suggests giving a seat at the table to commercial companies when writing future space policies. It also provides analysis for three separate possibilities including commercial satellites becoming collateral damage during military attacks, attacks due to misidentification, and kinetic and non-kinetic targeting.

Even though this article speaks to mostly physical damage, it has cybersecurity implications as well. Commercial satellites can become targets for cyber attacks due to their proximity to a government asset or because of the data it provides to the military. Maxar has provided imagery for the war in the Ukraine. They could become a target for Russia since the loss of imagery would cripple Ukraine’s military. A situation could also arise where an adversary could take control of a satellite specifically to physically destroy a government owned satellite. It would be interesting to have commercial input when writing or rewriting DoD instructions, specifically DoDI 8500.01, Cybersecurity. The commercial sector could bring their different perspective and strengthen these government policies, making everyone better. It would also be interesting if instead of offering financial compensation after the loss, the government offered incentives to following these policies or increasing R&D efforts to making these systems more robust to attempt to decrease the risk of having to offer indemnification later. It will be exciting to see where this leads.


U.S. weighing options to compensate commercial companies if satellites are attacked

Commercial Normentum: Space Security Challenges, Commercial Actors, and Norms of Behavior