Russia has tested anti-satellite missile, US Space Command says
Russia has tested an anti-satellite missile, U.S. Space Command announced Wednesday.
The test involved a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile, a system capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit that has been tested multiple times, the command said in a statement.
If the weapon were tested on an actual satellite or used operationally, it could cause a large debris field that could endanger commercial satellites and “irrevocably pollute the space domain,” according to the release.
“Russia publicly claims it is working to prevent the transformation of outer space into a battlefield, yet at the same time Moscow continues to weaponize space by developing and fielding on-orbit and ground-based capabilities that seek to exploit U.S. reliance on space-based systems,” Army Gen. James Dickinson, the commander of U.S. Space Command, said in the statement.
Anti-satellite weapons demonstrations have occurred frequently in the past several years, with India conducting such a test in April 2019 and Russia holding tests in April and July.
India’s test destroyed its own satellite, producing thousands of pieces of debris that orbit the earth at vast speeds, potentially threatening satellites and spacecraft.
Space Command, which is responsible for America’s military space forces, notes that Russia has tested two different types of space weapons, the most recent as well as a co-orbital ASAT, a system first tested in 2017 and again in 2020.
Moscow also continues to develop ground-based and space-based anti-satellite armaments, including a ground-based laser system for use by the Russian Space Forces, first announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018.
“Russia has made space a warfighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites,” Dickinson said. “This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space.”