Pentagon: Russia likely launched counter space weapon into low Earth orbit last week


(WASHINGTON) — The United States has assessed that Russia launched what is likely a counter space weapon last week that’s now in the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed Tuesday.

“What I’m tracking here is on May 16, as you highlighted, Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that we that we assess is likely a counter space weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit,” Ryder said when questioned by ABC News about the information, which was made public earlier Tuesday by Robert Wood, deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

“Russia deployed this new counter space weapon into the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite,” Ryder continued. “And so assessments further indicate characteristics resembling previously deployed counter space payloads from 2019 and 2022.”

“Obviously, that’s something that we’ll continue to monitor,” Ryder added. “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.”

When asked if the Russian counter space weapon posed a threat to the U.S. satellite, Ryder responded: “Well, it’s a counter space weapon in the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite.”

While there are requirements for making advance air and sea notifications for space launches, Ryder wouldn’t discuss whether the U.S. knew in advance that the launch contained a particular type of counter-space weapon.

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