A recent Russian launched attracted negative reactions from the American Space Force. The Russian military tested a DA-ASAT Nudol Interceptor, which is a direct-ascent anti-satellite mobile system.
Such systems have the ability to target and strike satellites found in the lower-Earth orbit, a trait that is considered dangerous by some high-ranking US Space Force representatives. The Space Force Chief of Operations has already stated that the tests contradict Russia’s position towards outer space weapons and arms. It was also mentioned that the US is ready to prevent aggressive actions and defend national and allied interests in space.
However, some experts had a milder reaction to the test, especially since it was not an impact one, and it did not bring down any satellites from the orbit. In March 2019, India received criticism for an impact test that targeted an old satellite and led to the spread of a significant amount of debris in the lower orbit.
Russian authorities stated that ASAT is not a threat
Russia has tested the system at least ten times, and it seems that it is not operational at this point. The Nudol test is far from being the most recent event that displeases other countries. In February 2020, two Russian satellites were caught while tailing an American spy satellite.
For now, the effective range of the new system is low as the Nudol Interceptor can reach a maximum altitude of 1,240 miles (or 2,000 kilometers). The distance may appear to be impressive, but most US spy satellites can be found at an altitude of 22,200 miles (or 35,730 kilometers), which is also the upper limit of the low-Earth orbit.
A high-ranking employee of the Russian Nuclear Forces Project has also declared that there is no clear sign which would suggest that ASAT technology can be used for practical applications. Even if Russia had the ability to shoot down satellites, it is unlikely that it will risk international incidents to prove that it works.