Will Suicide Satellites Be Part of Space Warfare?

Warfare in outer space is almost inevitable. The question isn’t really if weapons in space will become commonplace, it’s what they’ll look like when they are. Hollywood has already offered us some action-packed theories, but missiles, projectile explosives, and high-powered lasers may remain the stuff of science fiction. Recent events suggest that “suicide satellites,” orbital battering rams more or less, will be — at least at first — the more appropriate ballistic for war above the worlds.

In fact, there is reason to believe that Russia is already moving in that direction. Putin’s boys recently launched satellites into low Earth orbit that seem to have the hallmarks of bumper cars. The Russian government claims that there’s nothing to worry about, but, well, they’ve said that before.

In a recent article for The Space Review, Brian Weeden, former officer in the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center, discussed in detail how one of the satellites, Cosmos-2504, was maneuvering back and forth in relation to a piece of debris called Briz-KM. This evidence suggests that the satellite was basically involved in a minor collision with the debris. In addition, Weeden describes how another satellite, Luch, ended up parking itself disconcertingly close to two U.S. Intelsat satellites.

Both events stoked fears that Russia was conducting military tests related to what’s called rendezvous and proximity operations — in which satellites approach other spacecraft for nefarious purposes, from hacking their target’s communications systems, to outright physically damaging or destroying them. Russia’s response, of course, was the political equivalent of saying “chill, bro.” There is no air space where there is no air, so the conversation (the public one anyway) ended there.

Full article: Will Suicide Satellites Be Part of Space Warfare? (Inverse)

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