Anti-satellite warfare could get seriously messy, with a cascading debris cloud that makes orbit a deadly place.
According to US Space Command (USSC) officials, Russia has launched a new anti-satellite missile test, Space.com reports.
The test involved a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile that is designed to destroy small satellites in low Earth orbit. It’s Russia’s third anti-satellite test this year alone.
American officials are irate.
“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 US reliance on space-based systems,” U.S. Space Command commander James Dickinson said in an official statement.
It’s not just U.S. military satellites on the line. The statement notes that ASAT missiles could “cause a large debris field that could endanger commercial satellites and irrevocably pollute the space domain.”
Dickinson also said that “Russia has made space a warfighting domain” with the tests, a fact that is “inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space.”
In 2017 and 2020, Russia also demonstrated a space-based system dubbed a “co-orbital ASAT,” involving a new object being injected into orbit and conducting “a non-destructive test” of an anti-satellite weapon, The Hill reports.
The news also comes after Indian authorities successfully tested an anti-satellite missile in March 2019. Months later, the resulting debris cloud was still endangering satellites and even astronauts on board the International Space Station.
READ MORE: Russia has launched an anti-satellite missile test, US Space Command says [Space.com]
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