Russia launched space weapon in path of American spy satellite, US says | Space

Russia last week launched a satellite that US intelligence officials believe to be a weapon capable of inspecting and attacking other satellites, the US Space Command said on Tuesday as the Russian spacecraft trails a US spy satellite in orbit.

Russia’s Soyuz rocket blasted off from its Plesetsk launch site some 800km (500 miles) north of Moscow on May 16, deploying in low-Earth orbit at least nine satellites including Cosmos 2576, a type of Russian military “inspector” spacecraft US officials have long condemned as exhibiting reckless space behaviour.

“We have observed nominal activity and assess it is likely a counterspace weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit,” a USSPACECOM spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.

“Russia deployed this new counterspace weapon into the same orbit as a US government satellite.”

Cosmos 2576 resembled previously deployed counterspace payloads from 2019 and 2022, the statement added, referring to past Russian tactics of deploying satellites close to sensitive US spy satellites.

US intelligence agencies had been expecting the launch of Cosmos 2576 and informed allies of their assessment of the satellite before its deployment in space, according to a US official familiar with the intelligence. The launch also included civilian satellites deployed to different orbits.

“This mix of military and…

Source www.scmp.com

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