The United States Space Force, the newest addition to the United States military, issued a stern warning about increasing international threats to space endeavors today as Russia tested an anti-satellite missile project today. In an announcement shared with the media, U.S. Space Command said they were aware and were tracking Russia’s direct-ascent anti-satellite missile test today, also known as DA-ASAT.
“Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing,” said General John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSPACECOM commander and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations. “The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the Nation, our allies, and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space.”
According to the U.S. Space Force, Russia’s missile system is capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit and comes on the heels of Russia’s on-orbit testing the U.S. highlighted in February, namely COSMOS 2542 and COSMOS 2543. These satellites, which behaved similar to previous Russian satellites that exhibited characteristics of a space weapon, conducted maneuvers near a U.S. Government satellite Space Force says “would be interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain.”
If today’s test was successful, it would show that Russia has the capability to knock-out commercial or military satellites the United States uses, ranging from GPS satellites, cell phone / internet / communications links, or imaging satellites including so-called “spy satellites.”
President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 20,2019, creating the U.S. Space Force in doing so. As the sixth branch of the U.S. military, it is nested within the Department of the Air Force, much like the Marine Corps is connected to the Department of the Navy. By creating a new, separate service with a dedicated purpose, the intent of the new branch is to maintain space superiority even as space becomes more crowded and contested. The NDAA also directs the Space Force “shall provide the freedom of operation in, from and to space, while providing prompt and sustained space operations.”