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International Relations

Russia Accused of Testing Anti-Satellite Weapon

  • 27 Jul 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, the USA and the UK have accused Russia of test-firing a space-based anti-satellite weapon.

Key Points

  • USA’s Claims:
    • The test consisted of Russia’s satellite called Cosmos 2543 injecting an object into orbit.
      • Cosmos 2543 operated in abnormally close proximity to a USA government satellite in low-earth orbit (LEO) before it manoeuvred away and over to another Russian satellite.
      • This test is inconsistent with the intended purpose of the satellite as an inspector system.
    • It is evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems to put USA’s weapons and allied space assets at risk.
    • The USA will discuss the issue during the talks for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
      • It is a treaty between the USA and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
    • The USA Space Force was created for the defence of its satellites in December 2019.
  • Russia’s Clarifications:
    • The Russian defence ministry said that Cosmos-2543 is an inspector satellite, meant to monitor the condition of Russian satellites.
      • Cosmos-2543 was deployed by another satellite, Cosmos-2542, which was launched on 25th November 2019 by the Russian military.
    • Russia held that it is fully committed to obligations on the non-discriminatory use and study of space with peaceful aims.
    • It has asked the USA and the UK to be professional and refrain from propagandistic information attacks.
  • Anti-Satellite Capability: Only four countries which are Russia, the USA, China and India, have demonstrated an anti-satellite capability over the past decades.
    • In March 2019, India under the Mission Shakti, successfully tested the Anti-Satellite System (A-SAT) System making it the fourth country to acquire the capability of space warfare.
    • A-SAT System is a missile-based system to attack moving satellites and successfully destroyed a live satellite in the LEO.
    • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed the system completely indigenously.
  • International Treaties Regarding Outer Space:
    • UN Outer Space Treaty 1967: It prohibits weapons of mass destruction in outer space and not the ordinary weapons. India ratified it in 1982.
    • UN Transparency and Confidence Building Measures (TCBMs): It includes registering space objects with the UN register, pre-launch notifications etc. India shares these details with the UN.
    • Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC): It is an international governmental forum for the worldwide coordination of activities related to the issues of man-made and natural debris in space.
      • India has supported the UN resolution on No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space.

Source: TH

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