Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Tests Anti-Satellite Weapon From Plesetsk

Defense Ministry / TASS

A top-secret missile launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk region earlier this week was a weapon capable of destroying satellites in low orbit.

Indications of a launch from Plesetsk came as NOTAM warnings were issued for three areas in the Russian Arctic in a straight line north from the cosmodrome. The areas were coincident with the different stages of a space missile's fall-down; east of Cape Kanin, over Novaya Zemlya and the last over Severnaya Zemlya.

The Pentagon sees the missile test as a rapidly advancing threat to its own space systems.

“Russia publicly claims it is working to prevent the transformation of outer space into a battlefield, yet at the same time Moscow continues to weaponize space by developing and fielding on-orbit and ground-based capabilities that seek to exploit U.S. reliance on space-based systems,” said Army General James Dickinson, a commander of the U.S. Space Command.

According to the Space Command, Russia is developing several types of anti-satellite weapons. This week’s test is a missile launched from earth that can directly hit an enemy satellite and take it out. A second weapon under development is an on-orbit kinetic weapon. Based in space, such weapons could take out targets from orbit, in orbit.

The U.S. Space Command also pointed to the on-ground combat laser systems currently under development by the Russian Space Forces.

"Russia has made space a warfighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites," according to the statement by General Dickinson.

According to him, Russia demonstrated its on-orbit kinetic weapon system in 2017 and again in 2020. No details were attached to the statement.

In April this year, The Barents Observer reported about this year’s first anti-satellite missile test from Plesetsk. That missile made a spectacular trace above two remote villages in the republic of Komi, north of the cosmodrome in northern Russia.

Read more

We need your help now more than ever.

Independent media outlets and journalists in Russia are being increasingly targeted with “foreign agent” and “undesirable” labels, threatening the existence of the free press day by day.

Your donation to The Moscow Times directly supports the last independent English-language news source within Russia.