The United Kingdom and the United States accused Russia of testing a space weapon capable of destroying satellites. It is a “serious and real threat” that goes against “the peaceful use of space”. Russia denies that it is a weapon.
The US Space Command says it has evidence that on July 15, Russia tested a weapon in space that can destroy satellites. According to the United States, a Russian satellite Cosmos 2543 has launched “a new object” in orbit around the Earth, with nothing destroyed. It is the first time that the United States has accused Russia of testing such a weapon in space.
The United Kingdom also sent such a statement to the world. According to Vice Admiral Harvey Smyth, Russia has launched a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon. Earlier this year, the Cosmos 2543 was cause for US concern when it maneuvered near an American satellite.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirms that a Russian spacecraft investigated another Russian satellite from close range with special equipment on July 15 and that that information was sent to Earth. There is no question of a new weapon.
But according to the United States, that statement is not consistent with Russian actions. The US Space Command sees new evidence that the threats against American and other technology in space are “real, serious, and growing.”
Christopher Ford, who heads arms control for the United States Department of State, called the Russian stance “hypocritical.” “While Russia advocates limiting space armaments to limit US clout, it clearly has no intention of curtailing its own space program.” The British called on Russia to stop testing such systems further.
AP news agency quoted Brian Weeden, an expert at Secure World Foundation, an organization that lobbies for peaceful use of space. Weeden believes that the Americans and British have a point. “This is very suspicious and very unusual.”
Satellites are not only indispensable for civil communication, but certainly also for military personnel. They play a vital role in navigation, communication, target setting or intelligence gathering. Russia’s (and China’s) activities in space are the biggest threat to this, a report by the United States Department of Defense said last month. This threat would also be the reason why the Americans founded Space Command, the military department with a specific focus on space.
Just before reports of the test appeared, US President Trump had another phone call with his Russian colleague Putin. They talked about weapon control, but it’s not known whether the space weapon test was discussed.