The U.S. claims Russia is conducting weapon tests in space
The US space command has released details about an alleged anti-satellite weapons test which it suspects Russia has conducted using an existing probe which was already on orbit. The Russian satellite is the same one that was allegedly tailing an existing orbital US satellite. As of US space command, which monitors objects currently in orbit around the Earth, the satellite appeared to have deployed a projectile.
General John Raymond says that this is further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based weapons systems and that it is pursuing a strategy of where the US and its in-space assets could be at high risk.
The militarization of space isn’t new and parties on all sides have been pursuing the development of both offensive and defensive measures via in-space weapons technology. A major potential risk in weapons like this, for example, the satellite in question, in theory, could be used to destroy other satellites, which could result in the disabling of key ground communications, intelligence or space-based observational infrastructure that is used to support command and control operations on the terrestrial military front and in the defense and observation of key terrestrial military assets.
It is to be noted that Russia isn’t the only global power unnerving the US in space when it comes to the space militarization sector. For example, in an April test by India that saw the state demonstrate a ground to orbit anti-satellite missile system, which the NASA Administrator has denied as being incompatible with human spaceflight, the US and China have also shown such this capability in their own tests and demonstrations.
The inherent and expanding risk of orbit-to-orbit offensive weapons has had a groundbreaking effect on how militaries, including that of the US, has changed its priorities for in-space assets. The Dept. of Defense and other US defense and intelligence agencies appear to be shifting their focus away from large, geosynchronous satellites that were extremely cost-inefficient and relatively unique which they used to rely on, and towards, and towards smaller more nimble satellites that might operate in the low Earth orbit and consist of constellations with built in redundancy.
They’ve also actively funded the development of commercial, small-scale launcher startups, which may be able to offer more response orbital launch services, even more so than SpaceX and other existing providers of the same.
While there are a great many vocal detractors of space militarization, the fact that global superpowers have spent billions on it to gain a high potential tactical advantage it provides is immense. Based on its increasing frequency and the more public nature of these tests and demonstrations, it seems to be a segment where the US especially will only be too happy to receive support from the private sector, which includes technology startups that provide creative and advanced solutions.
Reporter: Jovan H