Russian anti-satellite weapons and American concerns

Russian anti-satellite weapons and American concerns
An artist's vision of the future of the US Space Force. A reusable spaceplane monitors the activities of a potential enemy’s inspector satellite. US Department of Defense graphics

For many years, the United States has regularly raised the topic of hypothetical anti-satellite weapons being developed in Russia. Publications on this topic constantly appear and statements are made in the highest echelons of power. The topic has been raised twice in recent months, and this time the concerns are louder. Washington fears that the new Russian anti-space defense system will use a nuclear warhead.

unknown threat

About the proposed anti-satellite weapons Russian development, after a short break, was remembered in mid-February. Then a special committee of the US House of Representatives sent out a report to all congressmen about a certain threat to national security. The document was classified, and its contents or topic were not disclosed. Nevertheless, legislators had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the results of the intelligence work.

After reading the report, Republican member of the House of Representatives Mike Turner proposed declassifying it. According to the congressman, information about the new security threat should have been disclosed so that lawmakers, the administration and allies could discuss it and find ways to respond.

The lack of open official information led to the expected consequences - the press, citing its sources, began to give different versions of the contents of the report. Thus, in various publications it was mentioned that we are talking about some military capabilities of a third country that could destabilize the situation. Russian involvement was mentioned, etc.

The loudest publication was made by the ABC News news agency. On February 15, it said the report outlined Russia's latest developments in anti-satellite weapons. Allegedly, this time the Russian military plans to use nuclear warheads to combat space targets. Such a sensation added fuel to the fire of discussions.

A launcher for the Nudol complex, which may have anti-satellite capabilities. Graphics

However, the calls of congressmen went unheard, and the responsible authorities did not declassify the report. Its theme and content still remain unknown. At the same time, discussions gradually died down, and the topic of a mysterious threat to national security faded into the background.

According to new data

The alleged Russian anti-satellite weapon was remembered on May 1. On this day, hearings of the House Armed Services Committee were held, during which the draft military budget for the next year was discussed. One of the speakers was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb. He spoke about his own US projects, and also touched upon the topic of developments in third countries.

According to J. Plumb, the United States has information about the creation in Russia of means of destroying spacecraft in orbit, moreover, based on nuclear warheads. They are currently in the development stage, but will eventually be sent into space - unless Washington can prevent it. At the same time, the assistant minister did not disclose the available information, because such issues can only be discussed at closed events.

J. Plumb pointed out that such weapons do not have a selective effect and can hit any objects in orbit, regardless of their purpose and affiliation. Congressman M. Turner asked to clarify the consequences of a nuclear warhead in space, but J. Plumb noted that it is difficult to make a correct assessment of this kind. According to calculations, some satellites will be hit immediately, while others will suffer from the consequences of the explosion. A nuclear attack in low Earth orbit could render that part of outer space unusable for at least a year.

From another department

On May 3, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) interviewed US Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Mallory Stewart. The topic of the conversation was the supposed emergence of anti-space systems with nuclear weapons in Russia. M. Stewart made several interesting statements, some of which are not entirely consistent with the words of the Pentagon representative, voiced on May 1.

Russian launch vehicle Soyuz-2.1V with satellites Kosmos-2535, Kosmos-2536, Kosmos-2537 and Kosmos-2538, July 2019. It was assumed abroad that some of these satellites were inspectors . Photo by the Russian Ministry of Defense

The Assistant Secretary of State recalled that the United States has been monitoring Russian attempts to create anti-satellite weapons for quite some time. Recently, information received on this topic made it possible to assess the progress achieved and draw conclusions about the impact of such a project on the international situation. At the same time, American intelligence failed to obtain some important information.

Two days earlier, J. Plumb said that the Russian project was at the development stage, but was still far from full implementation. M. Stewart, for unknown reasons, made a different statement. According to her, the United States does not yet know whether the new anti-space defense system is ready for operation and whether it has been brought to combat duty. At the same time, as M. Stewart notes, some components of this project are already in space.

J. Plumb declined to discuss specific issues or samples. In contrast, M. Stewart recalled one of the Russian spacecraft currently in orbit. According to official data, this is a satellite for scientific purposes. However, in the United States they note features that are uncharacteristic for such technology. Thus, the device moves in orbit at an increased altitude, where there are no other satellites. At such a height, there is increased natural radiation, and we can talk about testing electronics for resistance to such factors.

Like the Assistant Secretary of Defense, M. Stewart raised the topic of the consequences of a nuclear explosion in orbit. According to her, it will destroy a significant number of devices in the near zone, as well as damage more distant ones and make low Earth orbit unusable for a long time.

Constant theme

It must be recalled that the hypothetical anti-satellite weapon being developed by Russian industry and threatening the American space constellation is one of the constant topics for the media and US officials. Over the years, one or another has appeared with enviable regularity. news about some anti-space systems that are allegedly at the development stage or are already being tested. During this time, several completely different models were added to the fundamentally new weapons of the Russian army.

Launch of Soyuz-2.1V with four military satellites, July 10, 2019. Photo of the Russian Ministry of Defense

The American press and specialized experts called the missile defense system, known under the code “Nudol,” an anti-satellite weapon. It was assumed that this product was being developed not only to intercept warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles, but also to combat orbital targets. Whether this version is true, for obvious reasons, is unknown.

It is assumed that there is a so-called inspector satellites with extensive capabilities. Strange maneuvers of Russian spacecraft are regularly reported, during which they sometimes approach American technology, drop unknown objects, etc. The United States assumes that in the event of a conflict, Russian inspector satellites will be able to hit and disable their equipment.

Now American experts and officials are talking about a new anti-satellite weapon in the form of a spacecraft with a nuclear warhead on board. Unlike other proposed satellite systems, such a device should not hit individual targets, but entire constellations and orbits.

Which of the American assumptions about Russian anti-space weapons correspond to reality is unknown. For obvious reasons, such projects - if they actually exist - are secret. It is unlikely that foreign states have the opportunity to obtain all the desired information and details. As a result, they must rely on incomplete data and varying estimates. In addition, the US Department of Defense and State Department cannot disclose all information available to them - for reasons of secrecy and to preserve their intelligence sources.

Assumptions and concerns

Thus, the United States remains interested in promising Russian developments in various fields, incl. to fundamentally new projects with special potential. In one way or another, US intelligence and other structures are trying to obtain information about such projects and programs, after which the military and political leadership draws conclusions and adjusts their strategy.

It is unknown whether the American intelligence data on the basis of which the conclusions are drawn correspond to reality. However, it is clear that any Russian projects in the space sector are of great interest to the US leadership, and they are given a lot of attention. In addition, they do not forget to openly talk about the Russian threat, its scale and danger - although without much detail.
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  1. 0
    7 May 2024 05: 29
    Everyone goes crazy in their own way...
    There are treaties that must be respected, but taking into account the inability of the United States to negotiate, nuances begin. More precisely, “test tubes”, “shoes” or “panties” are waiting for you...
    Have a nice day everyone, success and prosperity!
    1. +1
      7 May 2024 13: 56
      we have a reactor RITM-200 and RITM-400 with built-in steam generators
      there is a possibility of launching into space
      + there is a starting point for nuclear engines on ramjet YARDs at the Burevestnik missile launcher
      to create a detonation nuclear propulsion engine
      there is a heavy launch vehicle, an orbital centrifuge for sleeping places, a household and general compartment and a control center have also been developed
      in principle, Roscosmos can assemble an orbital ship
      1. +1
        7 May 2024 17: 36
        no need for a Rankine cycle installation in space! How will you separate steam from water in zero gravity? not to mention the masses and dimensions
      2. 0
        8 May 2024 17: 29
        RITM-200 is a Russian pressurized water nuclear reactor developed at OKBM named after I. I. Afrikantov. Designed for installation on nuclear icebreakers, promising floating nuclear power plants produced by ZiO-Podolsk and low-power nuclear power plants. Weight 150 tons
        1. 0
          15 May 2024 11: 03
          in fact, Roscosmos has already announced the creation of an orbital nuclear power plant,
          exactly after this article and my comment
          why a reactor in orbit (?) to create shields - similar to the electric barriers in China near the city of Birobidzhan - from micro meteorites
  2. 0
    7 May 2024 10: 41
    The alleged Russian anti-satellite weapon was remembered on May 1.

    I hope they also remember May 1, 1960. putting an end to U-2 flights on the territory of the USSR. lol
  3. -2
    7 May 2024 11: 39
    In choosing a tool for a subbotnik in low orbits, the Russian Federation will proceed from its own security interests. There should be no space objects of unfriendly countries over the territory of the Russian Federation. And it is not discussed . Musk - goodbye. hi
    1. 0
      7 May 2024 14: 46
      Musk - goodbye.

      Considering that overseas people launch hundreds of mini-satellites, I can’t imagine how to clear the sky of them even with a nuclear explosion in orbit. The explosion will destroy a small part of the satellites. Exploding hundreds of charges is, in my opinion, overkill. A possible way is to create fighter satellites with laser or kinetic weapons (such as Gauss guns), but I doubt that our engineers have already approached the practical implementation of such projects.
      1. 0
        8 May 2024 17: 18
        Apparently, the technology is not at all about a nuclear explosion, because similar tests took place back in the 70s of the last century and both countries were recognized as unsuccessful because they destroy all satellites indiscriminately.
        Rather, there is another technology, a nuclear rocket engine, using the power of which a laser in space can destroy satellites in batches and exactly those that are needed.
  4. BAI
    7 May 2024 13: 26
    Why are they fussing? At the beginning of the Northern Military District, we demonstratively shot down our satellite to show the capabilities
    1. 0
      8 May 2024 17: 19
      Shooting down one satellite from the Earth with an expensive rocket is not the same, the scale is not the same. But a weapon that can shoot them down in large numbers from space... is another matter
  5. Owl
    7 May 2024 21: 22
    Detonation of a nuclear weapon - disables all satellites located, including at a great distance, and does not separate into “friends” and “foes”. The detonation of several megaton charges evenly distributed in orbits around the Earth will destroy the entire satellite constellation of all states that launched something into space. American hysteria is an attempt to disguise and justify its military space program with reusable uncrewed reconnaissance aircraft that can become bombers.
    1. -1
      8 May 2024 17: 36
      Well, let’s say all the satellites fail, so what? Who will benefit from this? I think Russia, since we are lagging behind in this matter.
  6. 0
    8 May 2024 00: 10
    Quote from Andy_nsk
    Considering that overseas people launch hundreds of mini-satellites, I can’t imagine how to clear the sky of them even with a nuclear explosion in orbit. The explosion will destroy a small part of the satellites. Exploding hundreds of charges is, in my opinion, overkill.

    You forget about the side effects.

    The explosion creates thousands of debris that hit other satellites, which in turn create thousands of debris... with one lucky strike you can create an avalanche effect that wipes out entire orbital regions. "Empty" functional satellites.

    Some areas are already so littered with scrap metal that, for example: the ISS has to constantly maneuver to avoid debris
  7. 0
    10 May 2024 23: 48
    Which of the American assumptions about Russian anti-space weapons correspond to reality is unknown. For obvious reasons, such projects - if they actually exist - are secret.

    Brilliant discovery!!!
    1. +1
      20 May 2024 13: 47
      Quote from Frettaskyrandi
      Which of the American assumptions about Russian anti-space weapons correspond to reality is unknown. For obvious reasons, such projects - if they actually exist - are secret.

      Brilliant discovery!!!

      Ryabov's articles are generally a treasure trove of genius (!)... winked
      and the standard of specificity... wink
      1. +1
        20 May 2024 13: 50
        Yes, a genius of verbiage.
        1. +1
          20 May 2024 13: 54
          Quote from Frettaskyrandi
          Yes, a genius of verbiage.
          Eco is an apt word, you described it. good
          Perhaps you can’t say more precisely... what
          1. 0
            20 May 2024 14: 00
            My “accuracy” in this regard is a source of constant problems.