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Pentagon says Russia 'likely' launched 'counter space' satellite

A Pentagon spokesman said that Russia "likely" launched a "counter space weapon" capable of attacking U.S. satellites. File Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE
A Pentagon spokesman said that Russia "likely" launched a "counter space weapon" capable of attacking U.S. satellites. File Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

May 22 (UPI) -- Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Russia "likely" has launched a "counter space weapon" capable of threatening U.S. government satellites.

Responding to a question from ABC News, Ryder said that Russia launched the satellite on May 16, adding it was deployed "into the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite."

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"Assessments further indicate characteristics resembling previous deployed counter space payloads from 2019 and 2022," Ryder said. "Obviously, that's something that we'll continue to monitor. Certainly, we would say that we have a responsibility to be ready to protect and defend the space domain and ensure continuous and uninterrupted support to the joint and combined forces."

Counter space satellites have the potential to use lasers to "blind" satellite sensors with overwhelming light, preventing them from taking images. They can also listen in on communication satellites. France has charged that Russia has already tried to snoop on conversations bounced off its Athena-Fidus satellite.

The Pentagon also has accused Moscow of trying to develop a nuclear anti-satellite weapon.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council for a second time voted down a resolution to ban weapons in space. Monday was a proposal led by the Kremlin while the failed attempt in April came from a United States proposal.

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