A common trend by Russia over the years is increasing the threat against satellites in orbit. In the meantime, China continues to display advancement in space capabilities which include the launch of an experimental spaceplane. The findings are published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Secure World Foundation (SWF).
CSIS mentions the aggression in Russia’s behaviour which is most significant from the past year. The Space Threat Assessment said, “Russia is the most active in testing anti-satellite weapons over the past year, including tests of a space-based weapon that appears to be capable of firing projectiles at other satellites.”
Details from the Secure World Foundation (SWF) report:
- There is strong evidence that Russia embarks on a set of programs since 2010 so that it can regain many of its Cold War-era counter-space capabilities.
- Russia tests technologies for proximity operations in both low Earth and geostationary orbits in order to lead to or support a co-orbital anti-satellite capability.
- Other applications of these technologies include surveillance and inspection of foreign satellites which are non-aggressive applications.
- However, Russia is deploying two ‘sub-satellites’ at high velocity which highlights the nature of the weapons.
In July 2020, CSIS notes the tests conducted by Russia on a co-orbital anti-satellite weapon. CSIS mentions the pattern of behaviour by Russia which has been the same and they continue to develop counter-space capabilities. In December 2020 too, Russia conducted tests on a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon.
Anti-satellite weapons are kinetic systems like missiles or electronic weapons such as jammers. The kinetic weapons are a particular concern since they produce orbital debris at a target strike. Kinetic weapons pose a serious threat to the space environment and it poses the ability to use space domains.
Space Threat Assessment by CSIS and Global Counterspace Capabilities by SWF update yearly which includes open-source information.