Russia has test-launched an anti-satellite missile, says US Space Command
Russia has just tested an anti-satellite missile, according to the U.S. Space Command.
The launch took place on Monday, according to a statement released by the Space Command, which says that it is tracking the direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile.
“Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSPACECOM commander and U.S. Space Force chief of space operations, in the statement.
“The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the Nation, our allies and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space,” he added.
The missile system is capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), according to the U.S. military, and follows the launch of Russia’s COSMOS 2542 and COSMOS 2543 satellites. “These satellites, which behaved similar to previous Russian satellites that exhibited characteristics of a space weapon, conducted maneuvers near a U.S. Government satellite that would be interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain,” said the Space Force general in the statement.
“This test is further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting their counterspace weapons programs,” said Raymond. “Space is critical to all nations and our way of life. The demands on space systems continue in this time of crisis where global logistics, transportation and communication are key to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to Pavel Podvig, author of the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces blog, Russia had issued a notice indicating that it conduct a test launch of the Nudol ASAT system on April 15. “The missile was launched from the Plesetsk test site,” Podvig wrote, noting that a previous Nudol test appears to have taken place in November 2019.
On Thursday Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov commented on the U.S. response to the alleged anti-satellite missile test. Speaking to the Russian news agency TASS Ryabkov said that Washington had refused to engage in dialogue with Moscow on the first non-deployment of weapons in space. “If the United States rejects this proposal, the natural conclusion that we draw is that they headed for the creation of attack systems for deployment in outer space. There is no other logical conclusion from this position of their denial,” Ryabkov said, in a translation of his comments. “We, by the way, have many reasons to be concerned about the activities that the US is conducting in outer space, about their plans, including plans to deploy elements of an anti-ballistic missile system in space. “