Military commanders of the U.S. have accused Russia of performing space-based anti-satellite weapons tests, alleging that the Russians released a device capable of destroying satellites earlier this month. The allegations come amid growing concerns over aggression by Russia, including cyberwarfare, human rights abuses, attempts to destabilize foreign governments, and allegations that Russia paid Taliban militants to target U.S. military personnel.
U.S. Space Command noted that it is the first time that Russia has been accused of testing a weapon of this type. Known as an ‘orbit-weapon’, it differs from other types of anti-satellite weaponry because it is designed to remain in space.
A statement on the matter read:
U.S. Space Command has evidence that Russia conducted a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon.
Space command accused Russia of having ‘injected a new object into orbit” from the Russian’s Cosmos 2543 satellite on July 15th. Intelligence suggests that the devise was released near the vicinity of another Russian satellite, making the launch details inconsistent with their claim that an inspector satellite had been sent into orbit.
John W. Raymond, Commander of US Space Command and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations, noted that the Russian satellite was the same one U.S. officials raised concerns about earlier in the year, when Russia maneuvered it into close proximity to a U.S. Government satellite.
The U.K. equivalent of Space Command has also denounced the launch, saying that ‘actions of this kind threaten the peaceful use of space.”
Both Russia and China have been suspected of developing anti-satellite technology that could be based in orbit. The growing threats were a big part of the impetus for establishing the U.S. Space Force.