TechRussia launches a potential anti-satellite weapon, us raises concerns

Russia launches a potential anti-satellite weapon, us raises concerns

Elevation
Elevation
Images source: © NASA

9:57 AM EDT, May 22, 2024

During a press conference held on May 21, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder announced that on May 16, Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit, which is likely an anti-satellite weapon capable of attacking other satellites. Ryder added that a US government satellite is in the same orbit. The Russians dispute these reports.

The Russian satellite was launched on May 16 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. In a statement issued the following day by the Russian state space agency Roscosmos, it was noted that a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket was used for its launch and that the launch "is in the interest of the Russian Federation's Ministry of Defense."

Russian space weapon

The device was supposed to reach the same orbit as the US government satellite. According to the Military Portal, it could be a satellite cataloged as USA-314. The service recalls reaching orbit at the end of April 2021 and is an "electro-optical reconnaissance satellite of the KH-11 type, working for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)."

Reports about the deployment of the Russian anti-satellite weapon are denied by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. According to the Reuters agency, citing Interfax, Ryabkov said Russia "has always consistently opposed the deployment of strike weapons in low Earth orbit." He also called American claims "fake news."

Anti-satellite weapons in space

Russia, China, the United States, and India have long been working on various anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons concepts. This type of weapon's main task is to destroy the opponent's objects deployed in space, particularly satellites. It is considered to be as old as the satellites themselves. Countries ensure that along with their development, they also have the means to eliminate them effectively.

For example, in the 1950s, Americans tested the Bold Orion and High Virgo systems as well as a program for destroying satellites through nuclear explosions in space - HARDTACK-Teak. In 1962, the US also decided to carry out the Fishbowl operation, which was a test of a thermonuclear bomb at high altitude. Meanwhile, in the 1950s, the Russians developed the "Satellite Destroyer" program. They also worked on the NR-23, a special 23-millimeter aircraft cannon for destroying space targets.

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