No Secrets: Russia to Publish Catalog Disclosing US Military Satellites

Russia is planning to release to public its catalog on near-Earth objects, including US military satellites.

 

Russia is planning to release to public its catalog of near-Earth objects, including US military satellites, a Russian official said.

Russia will publicly release its own database of Earth orbiting satellites, Viktor Shilin, head of the Russian delegation at the 59th session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, told the Russian newspaper Izvestia.

The Russian platform would become an analogue to the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) catalog. It lists over 45,000 tracked objects. Every object has its five-digit number, NORAD ID.However, in addition to tracking non-military satellites and space debris, the Russian catalog will include data which the United States Space Command does not make public.

The NORAD catalog also restricts data on defense satellites of Washington’s allies, including France, Germany, Israel, and Japan. But it lists Russian military satellites.

Moscow has proposed to merge national databases into one catalog available for every county involved in space activities. Such a platform would provide information on potentially dangerous situation in space (for satellites and objects on earth) as well as on possible dangers for rocket launches.

According to a source close to the matter, the Russian proposal was supported by China, but opposed by the US.

“The US wants to preserve its monopoly in regulating space traffic. Moreover, the US military doesn’t want make data on its objects public,” the source said.

“The American may not be concerned over disclosure of their military satellites information. This would happen anyway,” Shilin said.

The US brought up the idea of deterrence in space last year, citing Russia and China among the possible rivals. According to the Pentagon, Moscow and China is building up their presence in space while the US is lagging behind.

Moscow has repeatedly called for the demilitarization of space.In 2008, the Russian and Chinese governments proposed an international agreement to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space but the US government under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama has consistently rejected launching negotiations to conclude such a treaty.

In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assured that Russia will not deploy weapons in space. The ministry warned that deployment of nuclear weapons in space would provoke an uncontrollable arms race.

In late-2015, Russia submitted to the UN General Assembly a draft resolution on space demilitarization. However, the document was blocked by Washington.

Washington Left in the Dust: Russia Flies Strategic Space Warfare Missile

Surveillance Satellite

 

Moscow carried out the first successful flight test of its new anti-satellite missile last month, becoming just the second nation to arm its military with space warfare weapons.

Russia’s direct ascent anti-satellite missile, known as Nudol, was successfully tested on November 18, according to defense officials familiar with reports of the test. It was the first successful test in three attempts, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Russia now joins China as the only nations with strategic space warfare weapons. In October, China conducted a flight test of its anti-satellite missile, the Dong Neng-3 direct ascent missile.

Analysts say anti-satellite missiles could cripple US intelligence, navigation, and communications capabilities that are critical for both military operations and civilian infrastructure.

The Russian test is a concern for Washington, Representative Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican, told the paper.

“As President Obama cuts our defense budget and seeks to ally with Putin, the Russians continue to develop their technological abilities to weaponize space and to take out our national technical means – kinetically and through cyber,” said Pompeo, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“We can foolishly turn a blind eye to these developments, or acknowledge this threat and develop our own capabilities to ensure that our satellites – military and commercial – are not susceptible to attack or blackmail.”

Former Pentagon official Mark Schneider said the Russian test highlights the failure of the United States to prepare for space warfare.

“There is an enormous asymmetry in play regarding space weapons,” said Schneider, now with the National Institute for Public Policy.

“For decades the Congress has prevented the US from putting weapons in space and even developing a ground-based ASAT capability,” Schneider said. “There is no such constraint upon the Russians and Russia violates arms control treaties when this is in their interest to do so and they find ample opportunity to do this.”

A February 2015 unclassified Defense Intelligence Agency report to the Congress stated that “Chinese and Russian military leaders understand the unique information advantages afforded by space systems and are developing capabilities to deny US use of space in the event of a conflict,” Schneider added.