On Thursday, the United States and United Kingdom condemned a recent Russian satellite test in space. The alleged “space weapon” was fired from a Russian Kosmos 2543 satellite last week.
The Russian test featured the release of an object from Kosmos 2543 that moved “faster than its parent satellite,” signaling that “the projectile may be more insidious than just another inspector satellite,” The Verge reported. The test “stands out as different from all the other rendezvous and proximity operations that have been going on,” said Brian Weeden, director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation.
“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 U.S. government satellite,” said General Jay Raymond, U.S. Space Force chief of space operations, Metro reported. “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.”
Dr. Christopher Ford, the US assistant secretary of state, echoed, “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.”
U.S. Space Command also issued a statement on the test of the alleged weapon. “Last week’s test is another example that the threats to U.S. and Allied space systems are real, serious and increasing,” the statement reads. “Russia’s development and testing of orbital weapons highlights the importance of establishing the U.S. Space Force as a new branch of the armed forces and the U.S. Space Command as the nation’s unified combatant command for space. It is a shared interest and responsibility of all spacefaring nations to create the conditions for a safe, stable, and operationally sustainable space environment.”
Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, who assumed the new post of Director Space, U.K., in the Ministry of Defense in February, said in response to the test, “We are concerned by the manner in which Russia tested one of its satellites by launching a projectile with the characteristics of a weapon. Actions of this kind threaten the peaceful use of space and risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends. We call on Russia to avoid any further such testing. We also urge Russia to continue to work constructively with the UK and other partners to encourage responsible behaviour in space.”
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) July 23, 2020
“The threat against space is regretfully real, our adversaries are weaponizing space and we are deeply vulnerable in the West from those types of actions because we rely so much on space assets,” U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons Thursday.
“This is using a satellite as a space weapon,” one source from U.K. defense told The Daily Mail. “It is a step in the direction of turning space into a new frontline.”
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