Pentagon Says Russia Has Launched a Mysterious Orbital Weapon

Space Wars

The militarization of space is really heating up after the Pentagon accused Russia of launching a satellite that national security officials believe is capable of attacking other satellites in orbit, the BBC reports.

And most chillingly, this satellite, which the Russians launched last week, is on the same orbit as a US government satellite.

"Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that we assess is likely a counter space weapon," said Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder on Tuesday, as reported by the BBC.

"Obviously, that's something that we'll continue to monitor," Ryder told ABC News. "Certainly, we would say that we have a responsibility to be ready to protect and defend the space domain and ensure continuous and uninterrupted support to the joint and combined force. And we'll continue to balance the need to protect our interests in space with our desire to preserve a stable and sustainable space environment."

Collision Course

This news comes on the heels of American security officials sounding the alarm earlier this year that Russia planned to send a nuclear space weapon — an anti-satellite probe, essentially — or even a dummy version of it into orbit. Security leaks to news media indicated that it would be capable of emitting a powerful energy wave that would disable other satellites, even ones sent into space by Russia.

Such a weapon would be in violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which "forbids countries from deploying 'nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction' in outer space."

Could this mysterious probe launched into space last week be the nuclear weapon that American security officials have been warning about? It's tough to say, but the Russians flatly denied the Pentagon's assertions that last week's launch was a space weapon.

"I don't think that we should respond to any information leak from Washington," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to journalists in Moscow, as quoted by ABC News. "The Russian space program is developing as planned, launches of spacecraft for various purposes, including devices that solve the problem of strengthening our defense capability, this is also not news."

That's somewhat hard to believe; back in 2021, Russia blew up a satellite with a missile in a military exercise, forcing the crew of the International Space Station to cower and prompting an outraged international response.

More on satellites: NASA was "Really Scared" When a Russian Satellite Almost Obliterated Its Orbiter