Russia tested an anti-satellite missile this week according to the US military which called it an example of threats the country faced in space.
The move comes as officials maintain space will increasingly become an important domain for warfare, with the US and other countries including Russia and China stepping up military postures in low earth orbit and near the moon.
Experts say anti-satellite weapons that shatter targets pose a space hazard creating a cloud of fragments that can collide with other objects, potentially setting off a chain reaction of projectiles in earth orbit.
“The US is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the nation, our allies and US interests from hostile acts in space,” General John Raymond, commander of US Space Command, said in a statement.
Raymond added the test was proof of “Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals while clearly having no intention of halting their counter-space weapons programmes.”
Russian airspace notices indicate the test was conducted on Wednesday morning. It did not appear that the mobile missile system was targeting satellites in space based on public satellite data, according to analysts.
The test was of Russia’s new Nudol anti-satellite missile system, analysts projected, launching from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome north of Moscow.
The US military is increasingly dependent on satellites to determine what it does on the ground, guiding munitions with space-based lasers and satellites as well as using these assets to monitor missile launches and track its forces.
The US and China have carried out similar anti-satellite tests. In March, India launched the most recent anti-satellite missile test against a satellite in low earth orbit, creating an impact debris field with fragments still in orbit today.