Libya Practices Spacewar, Vol. 2

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , ,


Iran can do it, Ethiopia can do it, and Libya can do it.  Do what?  Practice space warfare. 

Do you think space weapons are needed for space warfare?  Not.

UAE-based Thuraya said their satellite services have been subjected to harmful and intentional interference in Libya and beyond recently.

In a statement issued on February 25th, the Company stated that it has conclusive evidence that demonstrates that the interference comes as a result of unlawful and intentional jamming activities.

Unlawful per the Outer Space Treaty which offers that states shall be responsible for national space activities (like affecting satellite signals) whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental activities; states shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects (like their ground, sea, air, or space-based interference with Thuraya’s signal), and; states shall avoid harmful contamination of space (like Thuraya’s satellite signal) and celestial bodies.

Thuraya stated that it will be looking for legal recourse, but that in the meantime, its technical teams have worked tirelessly to mitigate the impact of the interference.

By the time Thuraya issued their statement, voice services had been restored over much of the coverage area.

However the most impacted spot beams are the one that are covering Libya.

Will Libya be held responsible for this act of space warfare?  If so, wake me up when it happens.

  1. Coyote says:

    The good news is that Libya’s alternative was to kinetically destroy Thuraya ground stations and kill their operators. They didn’t go down that road. Instead, Libya opted for to negate satellite signals using means of temporary and reversible negation (TARN). The meets the spirit of the LOAC and they can argue such actions are within their inherent right of self-defence.

    • Space Farmer says:

      So is there a tension/disconnect between the LOAC and the Outer Space Treaty, and if so, who/which rules the day?

      • Coyote says:

        Farmer: The inherent right of self-defence is supreme. Others may debate what constitutes self-defence, or when actions for self-defence are warranted, but in the end, each state has the inherent right of self-defence on their own terms. I think LOAC trumps the OST. In this case, the use of satellite negation was used in lieu of lethal attacks on humans. The arms control community wants to ban “harmful interference.” What we have seen is “helpful interference” wherein the alternative would be the use of lethal and destructive force.


  2. ST-1 says:

    Question to go with Space Farmer’s and Coyote’ comment: how would this incident help/hurt the Code of Conduct’ and NSP push for non interference?

    • Space Farmer says:

      I think the event(s) show that there is much to be sorted out. Coyote has offered that this interference was appropriate versus imposing a loss of human life, and while I agree with that, I don’t think those two choices (loss of life or satellite interference) are the only choices.

      I wonder if Libya pursued any other options (diplomatic or economic, for example) before jamming?

      Also, it is possible that customers and commercial enterprises have to view this as a cost of doing business in Libya. It is even possible that the Libyan gov’t could have told that jamming might occur during “threats to Libyan national security” or the likes.

      From a code of conduct point of view, it seems that the weakness of such a code, as it is with the OST, is in more precisely defining acceptable and unacceptable actions, detecting and attributing unacceptable actions, and then punishing the miscreants. Were such a code in place right now it would have had not influenced Libya in any way.

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