Russia Conducts Direct-Ascent Anti-Satellite Missile Test, Says U.S. Space Command

Russia has conducted a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test on April 15, the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) said in a statement.

According to the statement, the USSPACECOM is tracking the missile test.

“Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSPACECOM commander and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations. “The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the Nation, our allies and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space.”

Russia’s missile system is capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) and comes on the heels of Russia’s on-orbit testing the U.S. highlighted in February, namely COSMOS 2542 and COSMOS 2543.

These satellites, which behaved similarly to previous Russian satellites that exhibited characteristics of a space weapon, conducted maneuvers near a U.S. Government satellite that would be interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain, according to the SPACECOM statement.

During the February incident, the Cosmos-2542 “inspector” satellite ejected a sub-satellite, Cosmos-2543 that reportedly chase America’s USA-245 (NROL-65) satellite. USA-245 is a classified imaging satellite owned by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

“This test is further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting their counter space weapons programs,” Raymond said.

“Space is critical to all nations and our way of life. The demands on space systems continue in this time of crisis where global logistics, transportation and communication are key to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a shared interest and responsibility of all spacefaring nations to create safe, stable and operationally sustainable conditions for space activities, including commercial, civil and national security activities,” Raymond concluded.

The most recent publicized anti-satellite test was conducted by India.

During the 27 March 2019 test dubbed “Mission Shakti”, a DRDO-developed Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Interceptor Missile – called the Prithvi Defence Vehicle Mk II (PDV-II) – was launched from the DRDO’s testing range on the Dr. Abdul Kalam Island (formerly known as Wheeler Island), an island off the coast of Odisha state located in eastern India. The interceptor then engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite – Microsat-R – in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at an altitude of 300km in a ‘Hit to Kill’ mode. The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters.

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