Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: NASA

On July 15, Russia ratcheted up international tensions by testing what appears to be a weapon to destroy enemy satellites in space, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. But this is far from the first time the country has put on a display of force in orbit.

Why it matters: Russia has been building out its space weapons capabilities for years. The recent test — which did not destroy a satellite — comes after Russia staged another anti-satellite test of a different kind of system in April.

Driving the news: Russia's Cosmos 2543 satellite appeared to release a projectile near another Russian satellite on July 15.

  • Cosmos 2543 had been flying near a powerful U.S. spy satellite before the test.
  • The test may be part of a Russian program to develop a space-based anti-satellite weapon that could one day be launched from aircraft, the Secure World Foundation's Brian Weeden tells me.
  • However, information is sparse, and it's not clear exactly where this test fits in within Russia's broader capabilities.
  • The test was also similar to another Russian test staged in 2017.

The big picture: Space is a warfighting domain. The U.S. military relies on satellite imagery and other data beamed back to Earth by a small group of extremely powerful satellites to make accurate decisions about strategy.

  • That small number of high-powered National Reconnaissance Office satellites can actually be something of a liability for the U.S., Weeden added.
  • This small number of particularly expensive satellites make them very high-value targets, putting them at risk.
  • On the other hand: "China has been developing a lot of these similar capabilities, but they're doing it a different way. So they have satellites that do imagery and signals and stuff, but they've got like 140 of them," Weeden said. "They're not nearly as good as what the NRO has, but they're good enough."

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 3, 2020 - Science

A brief history of voting from space

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and her orbiting voting booth. Photo: NASA

One vote in the 2020 U.S. presidential election wasn’t cast from a voting booth or by mail, but from 250 miles up aboard the International Space Station.

The big picture: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is far from the first person to exercise her civic duty from orbit. Cosmonauts and astronauts have voted from space for decades.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sydney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.