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An image of the Earth taken from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

Russia conducted a test of an in-space anti-satellite weapon last week, according to U.S. Space Command statement released Thursday.

Why it matters: The test didn't destroy a satellite, but the Pentagon is pointing to it as evidence of a troubling trend by Russia that has escalated tensions in orbit.

  • The test took place on July 15 when the satellite Cosmos 2543 fired an object not far from another Russian satellite.
  • Before the test, the satellite system was flying near a powerful U.S. spy satellite.
  • "This is further evidence of Russia's continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems, and consistent with the Kremlin's published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk," Gen. John Raymond, Space Force Chief of Space Operations said in the statement.

The backdrop: This test comes after another Russian anti-satellite test in April, which involved a different kind of weapon launched from the ground.

The big picture: Countries that are able to operate these anti-satellite systems have refrained from using them against their enemies, but experts stress if that changes in the future, it's not just national assets on the line.

  • The debris created by anti-satellite tests can make wide parts of orbit unusable for all nations, not just those targeted.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Oct 20, 2020 - Science

The next environmental crisis could be in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An unexpected frontier is facing calls for new environmental regulations and cleanup: outer space.

Why it matters: Space junk clutters up orbits and poses an urgent threat to weather, security, communications and other satellites. Long-term, you can’t live or work in space if trash is literally slamming into you.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse under scrutiny for elite club affiliations

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in February. Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Image

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement Wednesday that he is a member of an exclusive Rhode Island sailing club that lacks diversity.

Why it matters: Whitehouse has repeatedly spoken out against systemic racism and come under scrutiny this week for his family's affiliation with elite clubs. This is the second such club accused of lacking diversity that the senator has been linked to in recent days

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Border Democrats want migrants vaccinated

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some Democrats representing border districts want President Biden to vaccinate migrants crossing into the U.S. — especially if he lifts public health restrictions that have prevented them from claiming asylum on American soil.

Why it matters: Inoculating migrants treads a fine line of protecting the U.S. population while possibly incentivizing more migration with the offer of free COVID-19 vaccines. Republicans are likely to pounce on that.

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