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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.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
30 mins ago - Health

Who benefits from Biden's move to reopen ACA enrollment

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nearly 15 million Americans who are currently uninsured are eligible for coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than half of them would qualify for subsidies, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation brief.

Why it matters: President Biden is expected to announce today that he'll be reopening the marketplaces for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15, but getting a significant number of people to sign up for coverage will likely require targeted outreach.

2 hours ago - Technology

Big Tech bolts politics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech fed politics. Then it bled politics. Now it wants to be dead to politics. 

Why it matters: The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools. 

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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