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The Chatter Podcast: Satellites, Space Debris, and Hollywood with Aaron Bateman

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Satellites have held a special place in military planning and in spy fiction alike for more than half a century. Both domains ended up devoting much attention to satellite-based weapons and anti-satellite weaponry; both have also dealt with the problem of space debris related to the latter.

In this chat, David Priess and George Washington University historian Aaron Bateman talk about Bateman’s early interest in satellites, early satellite technology and attempts at anti-satellite activity, the Outer Space Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, actions by presidents from Eisenhower through Biden related to the testing of satellite and/or anti-satellite weapons, the Strategic Defense Initiative (commonly called the “Star Wars program”), the problem of space debris, the Kessler Syndrome, other countries’ satellite and anti-satellite activities, the Space Force, and on-screen portrayals of satellite warfare and space debris from the James Bond movies to Gravity.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See for privacy and opt-out information.

Among the works mentioned in this episode:

The book The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

Aaron Bateman’s article, “Anti-Satellite Weapons Are Creating Space Hazards. Here’s a Way To Limit the Damage,” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (January 21, 2022)

The film You Only Live Twice

The film Moonraker

The film GoldenEye

The film Gravity

The Star Wars franchise