Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapons test in space this month, the U.S. Space Command said Thursday.
The in-orbit test was described as a “non-destructive” test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon, known as an ASAT, that was carried out July 15.
The ASAT was launched from a satellite known as Cosmos 2542, the command said in a statement.
“The Russian satellite system used to conduct this on-orbit weapons test is the same satellite system that we raised concerns about earlier this year, when Russia maneuvered near a U.S. government satellite,” said Air Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force chief of space operations.
Gen. Raymond added that the test is “further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems, and consistent with the Kremlin’s published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk.”
In 2018, the State Department raised concerns about Russian space weapons activity, noting that maneuvering satellites had the characteristics of space-based weapons.
At the State Department, acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Chris Force said the test highlights what he called Moscow’s duplicity in seeking space arms control.
“This event highlights Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control, with which Moscow aims to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting its own counterspace program — both ground-based anti-satellite capabilities and what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry,” Mr. Ford said.
The Space Command said the test highlights the threats to U.S. and allied space systems. The dangers are “real, serious, and increasing,” the command said.
Russia and China are both said to be developing several types of space weapons, including ground-launched ASAT weapons, maneuvering robot satellites capable of crushing or grabbing orbiting satellites and ground-based lasers that can damage or destroy satellites.
“The United States, in coordination with our allies, is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the nation, our allies and vital U.S. interests from hostile acts in space,” Gen. Raymond said.
In April, Russia conducted a test of a direct-ascent ASAT missile designed to destroy satellites in low-earth orbit.
The test of a DA-ASAT missile April 15 followed on-orbit testing in February of two satellites, the Cosmos 2542 and Cosmos 2543, that were described by Space Command as space weapons that conducted maneuvers near U.S. satellites. The command said those tests were “interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain.”
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