The U.S. Space Command announced Thursday (July 23) that it has evidence that Russia has tested a space-based anti-satellite weapon.
On July 15, Russia "injected a new object into orbit" orbit from the Cosmos 2543 satellite and "conducted a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon," the U.S. Space Command (USSC) said an emailed statement. The object is listed under the Satellite Catalog Number 45915 on space-track.org, it added.
In this recent test, Russia released the new object close to another Russian satellite, a maneuver similar to previous Russian satellite activity that the U.S. Department of State described in the statement as "inconsistent with their stated mission" as an inspector satellite.
"These satellites displayed characteristics of a space-based weapon," the Department of State added, calling the behavior "hypocritical and concerning."
This satellite system used to conduct this test is the same one that the U.S. Space Force labeled as "unusual and disturbing" in February of this year after two Russian satellites in the system (COSMOS 2542 and COSMOS 2543) followed a U.S. spy satellite.
"This 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," Raymond said in the statement.
The U.S. Space Force considers these recent actions a "threat" and, following the April launch of another anti-satellite missile (opens in new tab), the Space Force determined that the trailing satellites "exhibited characteristics of a space weapon," according to Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, Commander of U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations.
"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," Christopher Ford, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State who is currently performing the duties of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, said in the same statement.
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