Russian gravedigger

In April 2018, two American organizations, the Fund “For secure world” (Brumfiel and Washington) and Center for strategic and international studies (Washington, DC), published reports on the ongoing worldwide development of anti-satellite weapons. Special attention in the present report, for obvious reasons, goes to China and Russia. “the” says that represents an anti-satellite weapon developed second country, and whether his fear of the United States.

the report “Opportunities for a global response in space: based on data from open sources” prepared by the Fund “For secure world”, a weapon designed to destroy low earth satellites, includes five categories: ground (there is sea), orbital, electronic, directed energy and cyber. The report “Assessing cosmic threats — 2018” compiled by the Center for strategic and international studies, anti-satellite weapons include four types: kinetic, physical, akineticalkie physical, electronic and cybernetic. In fact, the two classifications coincide, interceptors, ground and space based kinetic energy weapon has impact, and the funds directed energy — akineticakih.

the second report of the major countries, potentially having a different kind of leverage over the American satellites, are China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. In the first report, in addition to these States, also describes anti-satellite capabilities of the United States and India, but China and Russia called countries that have the greatest capacity to destroy satellites.

the Russian orbital anti-satellite weapons based on Soviet weapons during the cold war. In the 1980s, when the United States announced the “Strategic defense initiative”, the Soviet Union tested anti-satellite key technologies, which remained virtually unclaimed in the 1990-ies, but got a second life in the last twenty years.

Historically, the first anti-satellite weapons, the Soviet Union tested in the framework of the “Fighter satellites”, launched in the 1950s. the System involves the removal of boosters are families of R-7 or R-36, launched from Baikonur, space shrapnel that after the maneuvers on the orbit approaches the target at a distance of about 50 meters, and then explodes, throwing into the environment of many small fragments. A flawed system it was considered that to achieve the target orbit spacecraft satellite-interceptor needed to several hours, during which the purpose could have time to adjust their own trajectory.

In the framework of the “Fighter satellites” from the 1960s to the 1980s, about twenty years conducted a successful interception purposes. Interceptors the first generation worked on the altitude from 150 to 1,600 kilometers. Interceptors second generation reached 2200 miles, reduced the time of approaching the target, the probability of defeat increased to 70-80 percent. In 1983, the Soviet Union wished to establish a dialogue with the United States after the announcement of the latest “Strategic defense initiative” to unilaterally pledged not to test anti-satellite weapon.

in fact, However, there is no guarantee that the Soviet Union did not continue work on anti-satellite weapons, though, because in the Soviet Union (and then Russia) in the first half of the 1990s has tested the space missile defense system “Outfit”, which took place two suborbital tests and one orbital. As a carrier interceptor used a two-stage liquid ballistic missile UR-100 with optional third stage (upper stage “breeze-K”). Orbital tests of the system “Outfit” rocket launched the two spacecraft, one of which, presumably, was quickly fragmentirovannost after the launch of Sputnik-the interceptor.

it is Noteworthy that in the future the components of the “Outfit” has found civilian application: UR-100 was converted in the conversion carrier rockets light class “Arrow” and “Roar”, and “breeze-K” was established raskolniki “breeze-KM” (for “roars”) and “breeze-M” (for native families “proton” and “Angara”).

Modern Russia is not actually conducting experiments for the destruction of satellites using kinetic methods, preferring to experiment with maneuvering spacecraft. One reason for this is the reluctance to pollute near-earth space with space debris. Suffice it to say that after the program “Fighter satellites” in earth orbit has been found, according to various estimates, up to 900 wreckage of a spacecraft with a diameter greater than 10 centimeters. From exploding satellite interceptor system the “Outfit” had eight pieces.

First known for the last two decades, the launch of the Russian satellite maneuvering could take place in December 2013, when was launched from Plesetsk “Roar” with the “Briz-KM”. Then defense Ministry announced the successful separation from the upper stage and three satellites, while the Pentagon recorded a fourth space vehicle (“Space-2491”). In may 2014, took place the next launch of “Rokot”, and the Russian military once again announced the removal of the three spacecraft, while Amateur astronomers have discovered a fourth satellite (“Space-2499”). In June of the same year “Space-2499” began to move into orbit “breeze-KM”, in November being just a kilometre from the upper stage. “Kosmos-2491 and Kosmos-2499” transmit signals on the same frequencies, because, presumably built on the same microsatellite platform. “Cosmos-2499” maneuver around “Breeze-KM” until March 2016.

In March 2015 from Plesetsk took place another launch of “Rokot” with the “Briz-KM”, this time, the defense Ministry said that together with three satellites “Gonets-M” is a secret load (“Space-2504”). In orbit a secret satellite began to maneuver to the side of the booster that has suddenly taken a higher orbit. The exhaust element of the rocket is not able to perform such maneuvers, which can only be explained by external influence. Most likely “Space-2504” slightly faced with the “Briz-KM”, as in orbit in the area of booster and secret companion there were no traces of destruction of the spacecraft. This maneuvers “Space-2504” has not ended. In March 2017 the Russian Sputnik flew just two kilometers from one of the approximately three thousand fragments of the Chinese weather satellite Fengyun-1C was destroyed in 2007 during testing of anti-satellite missiles.

In June 2017 launched from Plesetsk “Soyuz-2.1 b” upper stage “Volga” with two spacecraft, one of which, “Space 2519”, officially announced as satellite remote sensing, has made several maneuvers. In August 2017, the Russian military said that from the “Space 2519” separated the satellite inspector “Space 2521”. In August and September of 2017, “Space 2521” made some maneuvers, presumably with the intention to get closer to “Cosmos 2486”. In October 2017 the military said that the mission “Space 2521” has been completed and the satellite has returned to “the Space 2519”. In the same month from the “Space 2521” disconnected another satellite “Cosmos 2523”. In March 2018 the “Space 2521” began to move away from the “Space 2519”.

meanwhile, another Russian satellite has attracted the attention of specialists. Launched in September 2014 from the Baikonur cosmodrome on the “proton-M” with “Briz-M” spacecraft “Ray” (“Olimp-K”) made some maneuvers, in particular, in October 2014 was in the area to find the Russian telecommunications satellite “Express-AM6”, and in February 2015, close to the Russian “Luch-5V”. But special attention of Western specialists “Ray” raised in June 2015, placed between the satellites Intelsat 7 and Intelsat 901 until September 2015.

Experts believe that the Russian satellites inspectors, most likely designed for espionage and maintenance of the far missions of the Navy of Russia, but in the future allow you to use as interceptors or carrier electronic warfare systems.

currently, Russia is actively developing tools for direct impact, especially anti-satellite missile, which, however, are insufficient to defeat American satellites above low earth orbit. Nevertheless, the Russian military do not leave efforts to modernize the Soviet system, which would allow to hit enemy satellites in the geostationary orbit.

currently, Russia has three complexes that allow the use as anti-satellite weapons. The first is the system A-235 “Nudol” intended (according to different sources) to intercept the objects at altitudes from 50 to 1000 kilometers. The second interceptor, airborne 30П6 “Contact”. And finally, the third — missile defense system of new generation s-500. All three complex is able to destroy the satellites within low earth orbit and, presumably, not capable of reaching geostationary goals.

the basis of a-235 is put Soviet missile defense system A-135 “Cupid”, first tested in 1978. Originally A-135 used to intercept long-range missiles 51T6 “Azov” (Gorgon classification NATO), and the middle intercept missiles 53T6 (Gazelle). Currently, the A-135 is replaced by A-235, development of which began in the 1970-ies, but in the 1990s, was suspended. Flight tests “Nudos” began in the 2010s, the system presumably includes three rockets — middle interception PRS-1M (45Т6) based on 53T6, medium 58Р6 and far-925 (actually 51T6). In the period from August 2014 to March 2018, there have been six tests A-235, of which the last four were probably successful. Whether missile “Nudos” equipped with nuclear warheads, remains an open question. System deployment is scheduled for the end of 2018 — beginning of 2019.

of Great interest is the system of “Contact”. Work on it began in 1980-ies. The system involves the destruction of satellites and ballistic targets using the three-stage rocket with a kinetic interceptor 79М6 “Contact”, launched from the aircraft carrier, the MiG-31D. The first stage of the missile was able to reach a height 120-600 miles, the second 1,500 kilometers. The system involves the destruction of at least 24 satellites within 36 hours or 20-40 spacecraft for 24 hours.

Individual elements of the system “Contact” was tested in the 1980s, in the 1990s the development was frozen. At the same time the number of system components was proposed by China and India. “Contact” was resumed in the 2000s. Russian complex “Dagger”, including hypersonic aeroballistic missile, presumably, is based on the best practices used in “Contact”. Most of the elements “Contact” was tested on the ground Sary-Shagan (Kazakhstan). It is worth noting that the complex “Dagger” is currently not claimed as anti-satellite weapons, however, likely allow such use. On the other hand, in Russia, it is claimed, are working on a mobile ASAT system “Rudolph”, which probably will be a modernized “Contact”.

electronic warfare involves the intervention in the operation of receivers of the global navigation system GPS, mobile communications, drones, guided missiles and other precision-guided munitions. Russia is considered one of the leaders.

In 2016 throughout the country was planned to accommodate about 250 of the thousands of jammers GPS signal “pole-21” a range of up to 80 kilometers, which, as stated, would reduce the accuracy of hitting the target foreign cruise missiles and drones, trapped within Russia. Also, the country actively implemented the complexes of jamming, in particular R-330Ж “Resident” and “Borisoglebsk-2”, designed including the jamming of GPS signals. Moreover, R-330Ж “Resident” capable, according to experts, to drown out the signals from Inmarsat satellites, and Iridium. Russia announced work on the creation of mobile complex of radio-electronic destruction of communication satellites “Tirade-2C”.

American experts did not find evidence of tests of the Russian laser weapons that are placed on aircraft or satellites, but noted the potential ability of countries to establish such systems. The most likely target of such an attack against satellites is the charge-coupled device or complementary metal-oxide semiconductor of the spacecraft, which temporarily disturbed under the effect of a low-power (about 10 watt) laser radiation. However, the ultimate goal of such actions, the blinding of the satellite is achieved. Meanwhile, a more powerful laser (40 watt) can cause irreversible degradation of the optics of the spacecraft.

damage To the satellite platform requires more powerful lasers, which would actually heated up the electronics of the satellite and thereby drove them out of order. To do this, the laser should be placed directly in orbit. Such work was carried out in the USSR. In the 1980s the program was launched, which aims to provide transport aircraft Il-76 (the flying laboratory A-60) with a laser. The plane was supposedly lost. What MW the laser was planned to bring in 1987 during the first start-up of the Soviet super-heavy carrier rocket “Energy”. Then payload “SKIF-DM” was lost. Currently in Russia, presumably, is working on the creation of airborne laser, incapacitating for a short time optics satellites of the enemy.

Analysts agree that working on anti-satellite weapons, Russia follows the global trend. Indeed, in the world the prevailing view, according to which the future war will inevitably involve space. One of the success factors in this conflict is the so-called advanced contactless war occurring without direct physical collision of the parties.

“However, in the nearest future Russian missions in space face major challenges, mainly due to shortcomings of the industry. The conflict with Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed on Russia, have revealed a number of industrial and technological shortcomings of the Russian space program related to electronics,” said the Fund “For secure world”.

it is also noted that Russia will continue to make efforts to reduce the gap with the USA in the field of military space.