National Security

Russia Tests Space-Based Weaponry

Russian president Vladimir Putin / Getty Images

Russia successfully launched a new space-based anti-satellite weapon system last week, reported Thursday.

On July 15, the Kremlin launched a new object into orbit from the Cosmos 2543 satellite, conducting a "non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon," United States Space Command observed.

This test included launching the object unusually close to another Russian satellite. A previous instance of such activity was described as "inconsistent with their stated mission" with space devices, which the State Department deemed "hypocritical and concerning."

"These satellites displayed characteristics of a space-based weapon," the State Department added.

Russia used the same hardware to conduct this test as it did in a previous "unusual and disturbing" operation that entailed trailing an American spy satellite, according to the Space Force.

The United States is taking grave notice of increased Russian belligerence in space. 

The recent test "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—both ground-based anti-satellite capabilities and what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry," Christopher Ford, the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said.

Washington's rivals in Moscow and Beijing have ramped up and militarized their ambitions for space. Last week, Russia announced its intention to bolster its partnership capacities with the Chinese space mission. The two countries are developing high-tech space weaponry with deep national security implications for American satellites and communications systems.