The Pentagon, State Department and NASA have accused Russia of “reckless and dangerous” testing of anti-satellite weapons that destroyed an old Soviet satellite. The resulting space debris, according to Washington, threatens the safety of the ISS. How real is this threat and what is behind the claims of the Americans?
“We consider hypocritical statements made by representatives of the State D-epartment and the Penta-gon, who tried to accuse the Russian Federation of creating“ risks ”for the astronauts of the International Space Station and called“ to develop universal norms that would guide the world community in space exploration, ”the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
At the same time, the United States created the Space Command in 2020 and adopted a space strategy, where one of the main goals is to create a comprehensive military advantage in space. The Pentagon is actively developing and without warning tests in orbit the latest strike-combat means, including space unmanned aerial vehicles X-37, recalled in the Rus-sian military department.
The actions of the United States are assessed as a threat, they stressed in Moscow, noting that aga-inst this background, the Russian Ministry of Defe-nse is carrying out planned activities to strengthen the defense capability.
“In particular, yesterday the Russian Ministry of Defense successfully conducted a test, as a result of which the inoperative Russian Tselina-D spacecraft, which had been in orbit since 1982, was struck. The United States knows for certain that the resulting fragments, in terms of test time and orbital parameters, did not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities. Previously, similar tests in outer space have already been carried out by the United States, China and India, ”the Defense Ministry stressed. The Russian Foreign Ministry also considered the US accusations hypocritical .
As for the Tselina-D apparatus itself, it is a Soviet and later Russian radio-technical intelligence system, which was put into service back in 1976. The system allows you to determine the coordinates of radio-emitting objects, to establish their purpose, type, characteristics, as well as operating modes.
We will remind, on the eve of the head of the press service of the US State Department Ned Price said that Russia allegedly “recklessly” conducted tests of anti-satellite weapons, which, according to Washington, created a threat to the International Space Station (ISS). “As a result, more than 1.5 thousand debris appeared under observation, and hundreds of thousands of fragments of smaller space debris, which now threatens the interests of all countries,” the State Department believes.
Later, the head of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Bill Nelson said that the exercises allegedly endangered the ISS crew, its own astronauts and the Chinese orbital station. “Like Secretary Blinken, I am outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing act,” Nelson said, calling the situation “reckless and dangerous.”
Later , the Pentagon joined the State Department and NASA – the space command of the US Armed Forces claims that Russia shot down the old Soviet satellite COSMOS 1408, which led to the appearance of debris in low Earth orbit. The satellite itself, according to NASA, was put into orbit by the USSR in 1982. The Pentagon also believes that Russia “continues to develop anti-space weapons systems, which undermines strategic stability and poses a threat to all countries.”
However, Moscow’s position on the militarization of outer space is completely different.
So, in October, during the UN General Assembly, Russia urged all countries “not to create, test and deploy space weapons of any kind to perform any tasks, including for anti-missile defense, as anti-satellite weapons, for use against targets on Earth or in the air, as well as to eliminate such systems that states already have. “
Moscow also invited all countries to commit themselves not to use space objects to destroy any targets on Earth, in the air and space, “not to destroy, damage, not disrupt the normal functioning and not change the flight trajectory of space objects of other states”, “not to test and not to use manned spacecraft for military purposes, including anti-satellite ones. “
And in April, Russia proposed introducing an international ban on the deployment of weapons in space, using space only “for constructive purposes, for the benefit of all mankind.” In particular, Moscow proposed to start negotiations to create “an international legally binding instrument prohibiting the deployment of any types of weapons there, as well as the use of force or the threat of force.” As a basis for this instrument, it is proposed “the corresponding Russian-Chinese draft treaty submitted at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 2014”.
At the same time, the Americans accuse Russia of what they themselves did earlier in the field of anti-satellite defense . For example, in 2008, they shot down an emergency US spy satellite USA-193 with an SM-3 rocket fired from the cruiser Lake Airy in the Pacific Ocean. The target was hit at an altitude of 246 km. In addition, the SM-3 interceptor missiles can intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine ballistic missiles (SLBMs) ??not only in the middle, as the US says , but also in the initial phase of flight. A year earlier, China launched a similar attack on its old meteorological satellite Fengyun-1C. The satellite was shot down at a much higher altitude – about 800 km, and its debris, turning into space debris, began to pose a danger to other satellites.
“You see, in our Ministry of Defense there are no idiots sitting in order to take and shoot down a satellite with a rocket a hundred kilometers from the ISS. If this happened in a bad dream, now all the world’s media would trumpet: “The station has received serious damage, urgently leaves orbit …”. No, we understand that testing is testing, and security is first and foremost, ” said military expert Alexei Leonkov. The interlocutor voiced his version of what happened.
“Before yesterday’s accusations, the Americans had been pumping the media with speculation for about three months: they say, Moscow and Beijing are working on space weapons in order to militarize space and threaten their satellites. The United States, by the way, has the largest constellation of satellites. And so it turns out: the Americans put more satellites into space, they need to be protected. From whom? From Russians and Chinese. And then, as if from the sleeve, they get a trump card under the guise of reports that Russia is testing anti-satellite weapons. Yes, it feels so bad that the ISS almost screwed up. Exuberant imagination grows to cosmic proportions, ”the expert said ironically.
The expert reminded the Americans that they themselves often conducted weapons tests, which, firstly, were not reported to anyone in advance, and secondly, with consequences for space. “Periodically, the mobile complex THAAD shot down ballistic missiles. Not at the level of space, of course, but at a sufficiently high altitude so that part of the debris from the warhead fell to the Earth, and some flew into space. Therefore, I advise Americans to start with themselves here, ”the expert summed up.
At the same time, Aleksandr Perendzhiev, a member of the Russian Officers’ Expert Council, pointed out that today there are no clear agreements allowing testing weapons in space. At the same time, some countries, including the United States and China, continue to do this “on the sly”.
“Officially, there is a ban on the use of space for military purposes, but at the same time, there is objectively a need to create an effective anti-space defense system (ASD). China and the United States are engaged in this, and we are also forced to ensure national security, ”the source said.
“In essence, the creation of a missile defense system is the practice of rockets strikes from the ground against space objects, including satellites. The problem is that if the “rules of the game” for launching ballistic missiles have already been worked out, then there is simply no permission to test weapons in space. The UN Convention and the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibit the launch into space of any objects with nuclear weapons or any other types of weapons of mass destruction. This issue requires improvement, which Russia has repeatedly spoken about,” Perendzhiev summed up.