Issue Brief on “Russia’s Anti-Satellite Test: Is Outer Space Ripe for Competition?”

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Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test on April 15. Although it was not the first anti-satellite test (ASAT) by Russia, it elicited protests by the US. It was a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) test that is capable of destroying satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) which extends to about 2000 km.

US, China and India have all conducted ASAT tests. The test by Russia comes in the backdrop of increasing military offensive activities in space. In December 2019, United States Space Command (USSC) was established which is specifically designed to maintain US supremacy in space and coordinate military activities in space. China also conducted an ASAT test in 2007, while India conducted its test in March 2019. Moreover, the latter increasingly has a military space program. The offensive turn in space activities thus runs the risk of fueling an arms race in outer space.

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