It seems like Russia has violated an unwritten rule to have no weapons in space. However, it’s not just Russia that has been lately accused of ignoring the rule. China and the U.S. have also behaved badly in space.
But Russia is the focus of the attention since three of its suicide weapons devices can smash into other military satellites and other space objects and destroy them. Russia neither announced the launch of its satellites, nor did it properly register them with the United Nations, which standard procedure requires nations to do. But it’s not just destroying other space objects that worries other countries but also that the space aircraft could be used as weapons.
“You can probably equip them with lasers, maybe put some explosives on them,” Anatoly Zak, a space historian and journalist, told Quartz. “If [one] comes very close to some military satellite, it probably can do some harm.”
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Russia’s spacecraft that was launched in March from around 497 miles north of Moscow is particularly alarming to U.S. space experts. Brian Weeden, a former officer in the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center, started monitoring the alarming satellites soon after the launch.
“The first maneuver was detected on Apr. 9, followed by a few more small maneuvers over the next week to bring it closer to the Briz-KM rocket body [that helped launch the satellite],” Weeden wrote about the behavior of Cosmos-2504, one of Russia’s dangerous trio, in a recent article for The Space Review.
“Between Apr. 15 and 16, Cosmos-2504 went from an estimated 4.4 kilometers (2.7 miles) above to 1.4 kilometers (.9 miles) below the Briz-KM,” the space expert added.
Russia conducts military tests in space: former U.S. space officer
However, it’s not the maneuvers of the Cosmos-2504 between orbits that left Weeden concerned but rather the possible purpose of the satellite, which might have been a military test.
“At some point during that pass, the Briz-KM’s orbit was disturbed by an unknown perturbation, which could have been the result of a minor collision between the two space objects. If it was, the impact was very slight and did not result in additional debris being generated,” Weeden said.
If such a collision was planned by Russian engineers, then it could be safe to say that Russia was conducting a military test in space. If successful, such military tests in space could allow Russia to destroy its enemy’s satellites or to block their ability to transmit communications, navigate in space and spy. Russia’s Cosmos-2504 satellites are included in the list of spacecraft that are not officially weapons but have strike capabilities if used for a military purpose.
The U.S. has its own spacecraft similar in the capabilities to the Russian satellites. The X-37B was launched in 2010 and is a quarter-size, robotic Space Shuttle. Despite the fact that the X-37B is registered as a search spacecraft designed to carry scientific data into orbit, the spacecraft’s maneuverability allow it to tamper with other spacecraft. Meanwhile, China’s SY-7, launched in 2013, is even more advanced than the X-37B. It is capable of literally tearing other satellites apart with the help of its extendable “claw.”
However, the new Russian spacecraft still offers more military capabilities than the U.S. and Chinese spacecraft combined. Russia’s spacecraft collision ability is rigged for nothing else but destruction in space, which is especially alarming
China and Russia develop technology to destroy enemies in space
And it’s not just spacecraft weapons that concern U.S. military experts but also ground-systems capable of destroying spacecraft in orbit. In 2007, China got itself into an international scandal by destroying a weather satellite with a ground-based ballistic missile and creating a dangerous cloud of orbiting space debris as a result.
Meanwhile, the Chinese and Russians are also reportedly working on space-based technology to destroy an enemy’s craft in space. And according to space experts, it is the same technology that is used to remove debris. Thus, it creates a convenient excuse for those interested in disguising their true intentions in space.
“One of the technologies for debris removal is to have satellites capable of dragging old satellites out of orbit,” Elizabeth Quintana, director of military sciences for the Royal United Services Institute, a well-known London-based defense and security think tank, told the BBC. “Obviously, you could use the same technologies to change the orbit of live satellites.”
It would also be possible to equip spacecraft with small and directed EMP weapons. “You could launch a satellite into space near another satellite and effectively fry the circuitry,” Quintana added.
Russia’s military is a lethal threat to the U.S.
The alarming space news comes amid worries that the Russian military poses a lethal threat to the U.S. Robert Caskey wrote in a post on American Thinker that Russia’s Syrian campaign turned into a show of cutting-edge and formidable military hardware, reminding Washington of the damage Moscow could do to the U.S. and its allies.
Moreover, (U.S. President Barack) “Obama’s reckless abandonment of U.S. commitments overseas, meanwhile, has left America’s armed forces flat-footed as they try to deal with military advancements abroad,” the author noted.
Caskey also reminded readers of Russia’s recent launch of its brand new Kalibr NK cruise missiles at targets located nearly 1,000 miles away from small corvettes deployed in the Caspian Sea. These missiles, which provide Russia the kind of strike capabilities even the U.S. lacks, were first tested in 2012. However, the author wonders, “awhy would the Russians launch cruise missiles from so far away when they already have a fleet off of Syria’s shores?”
Giving an answer to his own question, Caskey argues that it was to show Obama and Russia’s potential arms buyers what the Russians are capable of. The brand new missiles are capable of shifting the balance of power in naval forces since they can transform even the most outdated Soviet warships into a “lethal threat” against U.S. carrier groups, according to Caskey.