US and UK accuse Russia of launching an in-space anti-satellite weapon

A Russian Soyuz 2.1v rocket launches a classified military satellite into orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russian on 25 November 2019ROSCOSMOS

  • The US and UK have accused Russia of testing an in-space anti-satellite weapon on July 15.
  • This is the first time that the US has publicly accused Russia of suspicious activity in space despite former incidents.
  • The weapon was deployed from the same Cosmos 2543 satellite which suddenly split into two satellites when it was initially placed in orbit back in November.
  • Cosmos 2543 and its companion were also spotted surveilling the US military’s KH-11 spy satellite in January.
The US’ newly formed Space Force and UK’s Space Directorate have accused Russia of testing an in-space anti-satellite weapon on July 15. According to them, data shows that Russia injected a new object — dubbed 45915 — into orbit from Cosmos 2543 satellite, which has already been at the helm of past controversy.

The UK identified this object as having “characteristics of a weapon” that “threatens the peaceful use of space.”


“The Russian satellite system used to conduct this on-orbit weapons test is the same satellite that we raised concerns about earlier this year when Russia manoeuvred near a US government satellite,” said the US Space Force chief of space operations and commander of the US Space Command, General John W. Jay Raymond in a statement.

In the past, the US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) called India’s anti-satellite weapon test a “ terrible, terrible thing.

Cosmos 2543 — not its first surprise
When Cosmos 2543 initially launched in November 2019, it caught everyone off guard when the single satellite suddenly split into two once it was in orbit.

In January this year, both the satellites were subsequently spotted close to one of the US military’s most powerful spy rolls, the KH-11. The satellites pulled away after the US expressed its concern through diplomatic channels, according to Time Magazine.

The second surprise came on July 15, when Cosmos 2543 fired a projectile into outer space. According to the Space Force, the Cosmos Triplets — or Moscow ‘nesting doll’ satellites — are representative of a very real threat.

Earth’s orbit gets more treacherous
This is the first time that the US has publicly accused Moscow of using space-based weapons indicating what many have already feared — that outer space could become the next platform of war for countries back on Earth.

Raymond asserts this new information that has come to light confirms that Russia has continued to develop and test space-based systems, while simultaneously condemning the use of weapons in outer space on the international stage.

He added that the Kremlin’s military doctrine also says to employ weapons that hold US and allied assets at risk.


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