A space object deployed by the Russian Ministry of Defense last October has behaved abnormally, raising concerns among American experts that it could be the latest weapon in Moscow's growing space arsenal.
Russian Federation has described the satellite in question as a "space apparatus inspector", Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance at the U.S. State Department, said at a conference on disarmament in Geneva yesterday (Aug. 14).
"We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared 'space apparatus inspector, "' Poblete said. Poblete was speaking before the worldwide body for negotiating arms control to express the U.S.'s "serious concerns" about Russia's push to launch weapons in space, especially anti-satellite weapons that can target satellites that the US relies on for business, scientific and military purposes.
Poblete stated that in October 2017, the Russian Ministry of Defense deployed a space object they claimed was a "space apparatus inspector", per C4ISR's reporting, whose behavior "was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities".
Russia has denied the satellite is a weapon, with a senior Russian diplomat in Geneva telling Reuters these were "the same unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions, on suppositions and so on". "We also note that, understanding unusual, even potentially threatening behavior, where a satellite is observed doing something that is contrary to what its owners claim it is meant to do, is of great concern to us".
While Poblete only went after Russian Federation on Tuesday, Pence during his speech pointed not only to Russia's development of that mobile laser system, but also to China's successful demonstration of how a missile can track and destroy satellites. Put it this way: In the 2013 film Gravity, a wayward Russian anti-satellite missile test spirals into a low orbit catastrophe.
She said that Russia's proposals for a treaty described by Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister, as securing the "prevention of an arms race in outer space", were not to be taken seriously.
Regardless of whether that's correct or not, Poblete says it's too risky to simply take the Russian government at their word.
According to the United States official, the development justifies President Trump's new "Space Force" branch of the armed forces.
"But they have not made this constructive contribution", he said.
"China has always stood for peaceful use of outer space and we are against weaponization of outer space, an arms race in outer space, or even more turning outer space into a battlefield", he said.
The capability to maneuver in space and interact with other space objects is also a mission capability the Air Force has pursued for years.
Trump said in the East Room of the White House: "My administration is reclaiming America's heritage as the world's greatest spacefaring nation. Today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before".
Since taking office, Trump has issued three space policy directives, revived the National Space Council, and outlined a comprehensive national space strategy.
The top US diplomat for arms control also warned that Russian Federation "has routinely violated its global commitments" on arms control and can not be trusted.