Russia Tests Anti-Satellite Missile, United States Space Command Says

Russia has launched a test on its direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile that can destroy satellites in low Earth orbit, United States Space Command said in a statement on Dec. 16.

Russia has launched a test on its direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile that can destroy satellites in low Earth orbit, United States Space Command said in a statement on Dec. 16.

Russia conducted its second test of the DA-ASAT system this year, which U.S. Space Command said could cause a large debris field with the potential to endanger commercial satellites and “irrevocably pollute the space domain.”

“Russia has made space a warfighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites. This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space,” Army Gen. James Dickinson of the U.S. Space Command said in a statement.

The first test Russia conducted with a DA-ASAT missile, also known as a Nudol ballistic-missile system, took place last April 15, two months after the U.S. Space Force started tracking two Russian satellites that were stalking a U.S. spy satellite.

Russia also launched an anti-satellite test last July 15 but with a “co-orbital ASAT,” a space-based system that was first tested in 2017.

The U.S. Space Command also noted that the Russian military acknowledged a ground-based laser system for use by the Russian Space Forces as a “combat laser system,” which Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in March 2018. 

“Moscow continues to weaponize space by developing and fielding on-orbit and ground-based capabilities that seek to exploit U.S. reliance on space-based systems,” Dickinson said.

Russia’s recent test comes a week after the White House announced a new National Space Policy “to continue to adapt its national security strategy to defeat aggression and protect national interests in space.”


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