The Kremlin says its nimble new satellites are just for communications. But they look—and act—an awful lot like prototype weapons.
On Christmas Day in 2013, a rocket blasted off from the Russian Federal Space Agency’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 500 miles north of Moscow. The 95-foot-tall, 118-ton Rokot booster—an unarmed version of a Cold War nuclear-tipped missile—lanced into low orbit, shedding spent stages as it climbed.
Seventy-five miles above the Earth’s surface, the Rokot’s nose cracked open and its payload spilled out. The rocket carried Rodnik communications satellites, according to Russian officials.
It’s customary for Rodnik sats to deploy in threes, but in a notification to the United Nations, Moscow listed four spacecraft inside the Christmas Rokot.
The discrepancy was strange…and got stranger.
President Xi Jinping of China said in April that China is capable of responding to the militarization of space by the United States and other countries. In the meantime, Xi is committed to allocating more budget so that the military has the power to counter threats posed by various space deployments.
Russia and China have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together in the area of satellite navigation. The countries plan to build the GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and Beidou Navigation Satellite System in each other’s territory. Continue reading
Not only are they going to kick the US satellite system out, they will build their own on American soil.
Russian authorities have “implemented measures” to restrict the use of satellite bases in its territories that serve the US-owned GPS network.
The country’s space agency said it would rule out “any military use” of the ground-based stations.
The move comes amid Russian attempts to build a US base for its GPS rival, the navigation system Glonass, which have been blocked by the US government. Continue reading