It appears Trump's newly establish Space Command has something to keep it busy with as Russia on Wednesday flexed its muscle in space in a new test of what's being described as a ground-based, direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon (or ASAT weapon).
Space Command issued a condemnation later in the day Wednesday against the potential "threat" and "act of aggression," with SPACECOM chief Jay Raymond saying, "Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious, and growing," according to an official statement.
"The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the nation, our allies, and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space," the statement said.
SPACECOM didn't specify where the ASAT weapon was aimed during the test, believed to have been a Nudol ballistic missile, and crucially indicated it wasn't tracking any debris.
Such tests are deeply controversial given they involve live targeting of an object in space, though it's believed the Kremlin has actually yet to be successful even after nine reported Nudol space missile tests going back to 2014.
As The Verge describes:
ASAT tests are also widely condemned by many in the space community, as these demonstrations typically create hundreds to thousands of pieces of debris that can last for months, and even years, in orbit. Because these tests are high speed and high impact, the resulting debris can spread far and wide. Those pieces then pose a threat to other functioning spacecraft. A fast-moving piece of junk can render an operational satellite inoperable if they hit head on.
Though upon last year's establishment of the US Space Force, Moscow itself said it dangerously upped the ante to 'weaponize space' - it's Washington now calling out 'Russia's hypocrisy'.
“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. Raymond said.
Last year while Trump's initiative for a military branch which would deal exclusively with threats to US national security in space and related interests was being debated, one key objection raised was that it could spark a new race for the weaponization of space.
However, hawks argued that it would be inevitable and that if the administration and Pentagon didn't act, Russia or China may do it first, leaving the US incredibly vulnerable in this new domain. It appears the process is already well underway.