Thursday, 20 September, 2018

USA alarm over 'abnormal' Russian satellite

Satellite Russia in October 2017 launched a satellite which has been observed behaving in an"abnormal fashion
Pablo Mccormick | 16 August, 2018, 16:54

A Russian satellite that launched to Earth orbit last October has been behaving oddly, raising the possibility that the craft could be some sort of space weapon, a USA diplomat warned.

While Russia claims the object is a "space apparatus inspector", its behavior has been unlike any other object with a similar objective, including others already deployed by Moscow, according to Yleem D.S. Poblete, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Speaking at a conference in Geneva this week, Poblete suggested it could, in fact, be some kind of space weapon.

Dr Poblete maintained the satellite, launched in October 2017, was particularly concerning, given Russia's repeated public statements about its desire to develop defence capabilities in space.

But Alexander Deyneko, a senior Russian diplomat, told the Reuters news agency her comments were "the same unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions, on suppositions and so on". "We also note that, understanding unusual, even potentially threatening behavior, where a satellite is observed doing something that is contrary to what its owners claim it is meant to do, is of great concern to us". In February a year ago, Russian Federation said it was developing an anti-satellite missile.

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A Russian Soyuz 2.1A rocket carrying Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218 satellites lifts off from the launch pad at the new Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Uglegorsk, in the far eastern Amur region, Russia on April 28, 2016.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at the Geneva forum in February, said a priority was to prevent an arms race in outer space, in line with Russia's joint draft treaty with China presented a decade ago.

Referring to the satellite, she said: "For the United States, this information strengthens our belief that the proposed PPWT has major flaws that make it unviable and demonstrates that any space arms control agreement is unverifiable at this time".

He said: "We are seeing that the American side is raising their serious concerns about Russia, so you would think they ought to be the first to support the Russian initiative". Instead, the diplomat called on the U.S. to make a "constructive contribution" to improve a treaty backed by Russian Federation and China to ban weapons in space.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks after his meeting with US President Donald Trump at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, in July. The White House is already working on a bill with lawmakers. "What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial".

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Since taking office, Trump has issued three space policy directives, revived the National Space Council, and outlined a comprehensive national space strategy.

He called on the United States to contribute to a Russian-Chinese treaty that seeks to prevent an arms race in space.

The top USA diplomat for arms control also warned that Russian Federation "has routinely violated its worldwide commitments" on arms control and can not be trusted.

'Today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before'.

China, which is backing the Russian treaty, has also been active in the development of space capabilities, since President Xi Jinping said in June 2013, at the launch of the Shenzhou X manned mission, that China would take bigger steps in space exploration in pursuit of its "space dream".

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