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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Russia has staged a test of an anti-satellite weapons system that could take out spacecraft in low Earth orbit, according to a statement from U.S. Space Command today.

Why it matters: The move further escalates tensions between the U.S. and Russia when it comes to military uses of outer space.

What's happening: Not much about the test itself has been publicly disclosed, but a U.S. Space Command's Lt. Col. Christina Hoggatt said via email that they are not tracking any debris from the test at the moment.

  • Last year, a Russian satellite was also found to be shadowing a U.S. spy satellite.
  • "This test is further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting their counterspace weapons programs," Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command, said in the statement.
  • Russia's test comes about a year after India launched a test of its own anti-satellite missile, which created hundreds of pieces of space junk by destroying its own satellite.

The big picture: Nations with the ability to launch anti-satellite missiles held back from using those capabilities against enemies, but experts are concerned that could change in the future.

  • A report from the Secure World Foundation released last month shows that nations around the world are making moves toward further militarization of space.
  • "Right now, there appears to be a norm against using kinetic capabilities, but I fear that could change, particularly in a future high-stakes conflict between a couple of space powers," Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation told Axios at the end of March.
  • Experts are particularly worried that future tests could create pieces of space junk that would make broad swaths of orbit unusable.

Go deeper

Updated 10 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.