Russia has tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile capable of destroying both commercial and military satellites, the US Space Command said on December 16.
While SPACECOM did not provide details on when the test took place, the announcement follows another Russian anti-satellite weapon test from July this year.
The United States expressed concern over Russia’s continued development and deployment of several types of ground-based and space-based ASAT weapons.
Russia has so far demonstrated two completely different types of space weapons.
The first type of kinetic weapon is a DA-ASAT system capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit, which they have tested multiple times. If this weapon is tested on an actual satellite or used operationally, it will cause a large debris field that could endanger commercial satellites and irrevocably pollute the space domain.
The second type is a co-orbital ASAT, a space-based weapon system, which demonstrated an on-orbit kinetic weapon in 2017 and again in 2020. Furthermore, in March 2018, Russian president Putin announced the development of a ground-based laser system for use by the Russian Space Forces, which the Russian military acknowledged as a “combat laser system.”
“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,” said US Army Gen. James Dickinson, US Space Command commander.
“Russia’s persistent testing of these systems demonstrates threats to U.S. and allied space systems are rapidly advancing.”
“Russia has made space a warfighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites,” Dickinson added.