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US believes Russian counterspace weapons may attack other satellites

US believes Russian counterspace weapons may attack other satellites Illustrative photo (
Author: Maria Kholina

The United States Space Command (USSPACECOM) suggests that the satellite launched by Russia last week is a weapon capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit, according to Reuters.

According to a USSPACECOM representative in a conversation with journalists, Russia "deployed this new counterspace weapon into the same orbit as a US government satellite."

"We have observed nominal activity and assess it is likely a counterspace weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit," he said.

This involves the deployment of at least nine satellites in low Earth orbit, including COSMOS 2576, which is described as a type of Russian military "inspector" spacecraft. These satellites were launched into space by the Russian Soyuz rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on May 16.

"This mix of military and civilian payloads was totally unexpected. Never seen that before on a Russian launch," said Bart Hendrickx, a longtime analyst tracking Russia's space program.

An American official familiar with the intelligence data explained that US services anticipated the launch of COSMOS 2576 and informed allies of their assessment of the satellite before its deployment in space.

The US intelligence report said that COSMOS 2576 resembled previously deployed Russian anti-satellite payloads from 2019 and 2022.

As of Tuesday, COSMOS 2576 had not approached the US satellite, but space analysts noticed that it is in the same orbital ring as the US National Reconnaissance Office’s NRO USA 314 satellite, launched in April 2021.

Previously, the Pentagon expressed concern about Moscow's veto of a UN resolution against the deployment of nuclear weapons in space.

The US Department of Defense suggests that Russia could make low Earth orbit unusable.

Additionally, CNN learned details about Russia's development of nuclear space weapons and the potential threats this poses.