Russia is developing a wide range of satellites to strengthen its military dominance — everything from a model capable of recording objects on the ground as small as 12 inches wide to ones that can be used as anti-satellite weapons from space.
The new gen satellites
Moscow is reportedly replacing its existing satellites with newer gen models that bring better capabilities to the table. And among the country’s most interesting satellites is the Persona, which seeks to replace the Neman satellites.
“While the satellite still has a large mass, its contents are much more efficient than those of its predecessors. The onboard optical digital camera provides clear pictures of the surface and can detect and record images of objects only 12 inches (30 cm) wide. And recorded data is no longer relayed to the ground in a capsule, but via a special radio channel,” states an article in Russia Beyond. Persona has an estimated operational lifespan of about seven years.
The Soviet-era Celina Satellite is being replaced by the Lotus-S, which will largely be used for electronic reconnaissance. Meanwhile, a new satellite communications system involving models like the Raduga and Meridian aim to help the Russian defense forces link up its aircraft, navy vessels, and ground units. In addition to military uses, these satellites are also expected to help Russia achieve economic development in regions like the Russian Far East and Northern Siberia.
Killer satellites and other tech
Alarmed by Russia’s militarization of space, the United States has been closely monitoring the activities of Russian satellites. Recently, a U.S. diplomat raised concerns about a satellite model that Russia had launched in June 2017, warning that it could be used as an anti-satellite weapon.
The Drive quotes the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Yleem Poblete as saying that the Russian satellite’s “behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” while adding: “We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared ‘space apparatus inspector.’ We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it.”
Russia is also in the process of developing an aircraft that will have advanced technologies that will enable it to electronically suppress any ground, air, or sea targets, while also allowing its defense forces to disable all American satellites that might be aiding the United States military with radio communication and navigation.
The American intelligence community has also acknowledged that Russia’s focus on strengthening its space-based military assets poses a grave threat to U.S. security. Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence, has explicitly stated that the Russians are developing space technologies that could give them an advantage over America during a battle.
“We assess that, if a future conflict were to occur involving Russia or China, either country would justify attacks against U.S. and allied satellites as necessary to offset any perceived U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems,” The Washington Times quotes him.
Realizing the threat that America is facing, President Trump has called for the creation of a “Space Force” that will become the sixth military branch and protect the country from all space attacks.