The US Space Command says it has evidence of Russia’s “non-destructive” test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon.
According to SAPCECOM, Russia injected a new object into orbit from Cosmos 2543, currently Satellite Catalog Number 45915 in Space-Track.org.
Russia released this object on July 15, in proximity to another Russian satellite, which is similar to on-orbit activity conducted by Russia in 2017, and inconsistent with the system’s stated mission as an inspector satellite.
“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 US government satellite,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Commander of US Space Command and US Space Force Chief of Space Operations. “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.”
The US State Department raised concerns in 2018, and again this year, that Russian satellite behaviors were inconsistent with their stated mission and that these satellites displayed characteristics of a space-based weapon. According to the Department of State, this behavior is hypocritical and concerning.
“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,” said Dr. Christopher Ford, the US Assistant Secretary of State currently performing the duties of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security.