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U.S. criticizes Russian attempt to 'weaponize space' after latest test

U.S. Space Command is concerned Russia has been testing weapons designed to take out satellites, such as the one this Delta IV Heavy rocket delivered to orbit on Dec. 10. Photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance/Flickr
U.S. Space Command is concerned Russia has been testing weapons designed to take out satellites, such as the one this Delta IV Heavy rocket delivered to orbit on Dec. 10. Photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance/Flickr

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Space Command rebuked Russia on Wednesday for testing a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile, saying that Russia is continuing to "weaponize space."

The missile system, called DA-ASAT, travels from Earth to destroy satellites in low-Earth orbit, and is one of two Russia has tested, according to Space Command officials.

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The DA-ASAT has been tested multiple times, they said.

The other system, a co-orbital ASAT, has twice previously demonstrated an on-orbit kinetic weapon that can also be used to destroy satellites. Space Command said that system was tested in 2017 and earlier this year.

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"Russia's persistent testing of these systems demonstrates threats to U.S. and allied space systems are rapidly advancing," Gen. James Dickinson, commander of the U.S. Space Command, said Wednesday in a press release

China, Russia, the United States and India are also among countries also involved in development of procedures to disable satellites.

India conducted an anti-satellite weapon demonstration in 2019, destroying a satellite of its own and producing a debris field which could threaten other objects in space.

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"Russia publicly claims it is working to prevent the transformation of outer space into a battlefield," Dickinson said.

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"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," he said.

In February, Gen. John Raymond said that the U.S. Space Force was aware of two Russian satellites that appeared to be observing a U.S. satellite at close range.

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Kosmos 2542, launched in November 2019, and is in the same plane as USA 245, a secretive satellite launched in 2013 by the National Reconnaissance Office. On Jan. 20, 2019, the two spacecraft came within 100 miles of each other.

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