House Intelligence Committee chair sparks uproar over Russian “space weapons” | Space

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The Biden administration confirmed Thursday the statement by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner the previous day, alleging that his committee had been briefed on a new “anti-satellite capability that Russia is developing,” but denied that there was any significant threat to the United States.

While Turner set off a 24-hour furor in Washington with his revelation, accompanied by a demand that the White House declassify and make public certain details of the new space weapon, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, “This is not an active capability that’s been deployed.

“And though Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is troubling there was no immediate threat to anyone’s safety,” he added. “We are not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on Earth.”

In particular, the White House disputed Turner’s suggestion that Russia was deploying a nuclear weapon in outer space, which would be in violation of numerous treaty obligations. Instead, Kirby said, Russia was preparing to deploy an anti-satellite weapon powered by an onboard nuclear reactor.

The US government has launched nuclear-powered satellites into space, but only for longer-term missions to the furthest reaches of the solar system, where solar radiation is too weak to convert into electrical power. Russia has previously launched satellites powered by fission reactors.

Despite media claims that the White House was “furious” over Turner’s revelation, as well as his demand that the administration declassify information on the subject, the letter which Turner issued was based on bipartisan consultation, and was co-signed by the ranking Democrat on the committee, Jim Hines of Connecticut.

Another Democratic member of the committee, Jason Crow of Colorado, a veteran of special operations forces who fought in Afghanistan, called the supposed Russian satellite one of numerous “volatile threats”…

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