What is an Anti-Satellite Weapon?

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What is an Anti-Satellite Weapon? Blog Image

Overview:

Russia is actively working towards a formidable new development in space technology, focusing on creating a nuclear anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

About Anti-Satellite Weapon

  • It is designed to debilitate and/or destroy satellites that are already in orbit and operational.
  • Types of Anti-Satellite Weapons: ASATs are broadly classified into two types namely
    • Kinetic energy methods: This involves launching a missile that intercepts and physically collides with the target satellite to destroy it.
    • The kinetic energy ASATs physically collide with satellites and can reach altitudes. These ASATs can be ballistic missiles, drones, and other satellites.
    • Non-kinetic methods: They use non-physical attacks such as cyber-attacks, jamming, and even lasers to blind satellites without physically destroying them. 
  • All of these attacks can be launched from the air, low orbit, or even ground installations.
  • These can even undertake pellet cloud attacks on enemy's low orbit satellites.
  • Other ASAT capabilities include cyber-attacks on space systems, Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) explosion devices, directed energy (laser based) weapons and targeted missiles for destruction of satellites to sabotage the enemy's military operations. 
  • There are many countries which have this capability, but only four countries — including India — have demonstrated their ASAT capabilities.
  • Issues:
    • These weapons generate tremendous amount space debris, which poses a hazard to all space operations, including civilian and commercial satellites.

Q1) What is a nuclear weapon?

A nuclear weapon is a device designed to release energy in an explosive manner as a result of nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, or a combination of the two processes.

Source: Is Russia testing a new anti-satellite weapon?