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Did Russia Almost Destroy the International Space Station with a Secret Weapons Test?

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It seems that Russia carried out an anti-satellite weapons test this weekend and it is now causing problems for the International Space Station.

There is now a field of debris in Earth’s orbit that could be dangerous to the ISS.

The Daily Mail reported that the ISS is passing through the debris every 90 minutes. Though the seven astronauts, two of whom are Russian, aboard are safe, they are having to take precautions and remain in their capsules.

“We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure all space-faring nations have the information necessary to maneuver satellites if impacted,” a Space Command spokesperson said to CNN. “We are also in the process of working with the interagency, including the State Department and NASA, concerning these reports and will provide an update in the near future.”

Most are quite certain at this point that Russia is to blame. According to Reuters, Russia seemed to be aiming its anti-satellite weapons test at one of its own targets, but shattering satellites like that can cause immense danger to anything in orbit.

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“Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of … outer space and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s (claims) to oppose the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Neither the Russian military nor the ministry of defense has commented on the situation.

Russia has been launching these anti-satellite tests for some time now.

In July of 2020, the United States Space Command reported that they had “evidence that Russia conducted a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon.”

Should the US be pressuring Moscow more?

Russia’s development and testing of these weapons is an open risk to the U.S.

“The Russian satellite system used to conduct this on-orbit weapons test is the same satellite system that we raised concerns about earlier this year, when Russia maneuvered near a U.S. government satellite,” Gen. John W. Raymond, Commander of U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations. “This is further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems, and consistent with the Kremlin’s published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk.”

That testing last summer had even the United Kingdom questioning Russia. Though the U.S. had raised these concerns before, the UK had never accused Russia.

Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, head of the UK Space Directorate, publicly accused Russia of threatening “the peaceful use of space” and noted that such operations “risk causing debris that could pose a threat to satellites and the space systems on which the world depends.”

Yet now Russia has tested more anti-satellite weapons, and the very thing that Smyth warned of has happened.

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This is one more level of tension being added to the already-strained relationship that Russia has with the U.S.

On Nov. 10, Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly outed Russia for possibly “attempting to rehash” its 2014 invasion of Ukraine. This came after satellites captured images of Russia moving military hardware about 250 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

But the U.S. is not alone in its suspicions of Russia.

In the midst of the Poland-Belarus border and migrant crisis, NATO is eyeing Moscow.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also noticed Russia’s large amount of troops that are hanging out near Ukraine’s border and warned Moscow against any “potential aggressive actions.”

“We have to be clear-eyed, we need to be realistic about the challenges we face. And what we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up,” Stoltenberg said in a news conference with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels. “We see an unusual concentration of troops, and we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine.”

In light of these Russian military movements, the anti-satellite weapons test has western countries especially concerned.

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Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.
Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.




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