New reports by the Secure World Foundation (SWF) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) contain exciting insights. One of them is the increasing trend of Russia stepping up its threats against orbiting satellites. It has been quite evident in the last year, and it is most likely to continue in the coming days. For China’s case, its launch of a trial spaceplane was one of the ways of showing how advanced its space capabilities have become over the years? There are high chances that the experimental spaceplane may have facilitated a small satellite’s deployment into orbit.
This revelation has happened through the SWF’s Global Counterspace Capabilities and the CSIS’s Space Threat Assessment. Their updates occur yearly using open source data. The reports usually analyze how anti-satellite weapons are developing all over the world. According to CSIS, Russia has demonstrated relatively aggressive behavior recording a significant change over the last year. The Space Threat Assessment showed that the country was leading in anti-satellite weapons tests in the past year. That’s to the extent of testing space-based weapons capable of destroying satellites by firing projectiles.
On the other hand, the SWF report had similar findings. Going by the substantial evidence it had collected, it had reasons to believe that Russia had commenced on several programs. They revolve around regaining the Counterspace capabilities it had during the Cold War era. SWF report also says that it has been happening since 2010. That’s when Russia started testing technologies targeting geostationary orbits and low earth orbit. They are designed for proximity and rendezvous operations on the two orbits hence capable of leading to even a co-orbital anti-satellite operation.
The technologies are suitable for inspecting and surveilling other satellites, which can be classified among non-aggressive applications. Nevertheless, the big concern is the pair of sub-satellite deployed at high velocity. It shows that some of the proximity yet rendezvous operations precisely for the low Earth orbit have something to do with weapons.
CSIS also stated that Russia tested a weapon in July 2020, which was co-orbital and anti-satellite. In December 2020, it tested yet another weapon, this time around direct-ascent and anti-satellite as well. Interestingly, CSIS says that it is not something new as far as Russia is concerned. On the contrary, the country has been indulging in such activities for a while now. Therefore, the findings simply confirm its pattern to reconstitute and develop its Counterspace capabilities.
Electric weapons, including jammers and missiles, among other kinetic systems, constitute the anti-=satellite weapons. They pose a threat to the space environment and compromises the use of space by every nation for security and prosperity. Equally important, kinetic weapons tend to add to orbital debris upon striking a target.