Russian experts: US shot down Russian satellite (?)


Richard Moore

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U.S. Denies Destroying Russian Satellite

WASHINGTON DC, April 6, 2007 - Satnews Daily - The Pentagon has dismissed as not
credible reports from Russia saying the U.S. recently destroyed a small Russian 
civilian satellite using an ASAT (anti-satellite) weapon, ostensibly a powerful 
military laser.

Press reports from Moscow the other day quoted anonymous Russian experts as 
claiming a research probe named Universitetsky or Tatiana "fell victim to U.S. 
experiments in ray influence on spacecraft." The unnamed experts based this 
conclusion on the timing of the satellite¹s failure. The satellite stopped 
functioning March 7, and the Russian experts claimed the U.S. conducted a 
military experiment, probably a laser shot, at about the same time.

They noted that Universitetsky suddenly stopped broadcasting and there was no 
evidence to indicate the spacecraft had broken up in orbit. Other Russian 
experts believe a U.S. missile might have struck the satellite as the Pentagon 
was holding a missile test on the same day.

Universitetsky was a small spacecraft built and launched for Moscow State 
University to monitor space radiation. It was launched January 2005 from the 
Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

"There¹s no way this is a credible story," U.S. Strategic Command spokesman 
James Graybeal was quoted as saying by U.S. media in reaction to the satellite¹s
alleged destruction by a U.S. laser weapon.

The Pentagon dismissed allegations the Russian probe had been killed by one of 
its ASAT missiles, saying its only recorded test launch was held March 5 and was
not aimed at any satellites. U.S. Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick Lehner 
clarified that the missile used during this test followed a ballistic trajectory
and splashed into the Pacific Ocean without hitting any objects along the way.

This latest brouhaha over satellite kills follows last January¹s heavily 
publicized destruction by China of one of its old meteorological satellites 
using a ground launched ASAT missile. It was China¹s first success in three 
attempts to destroy an orbiting target using a kinetic kill weapon.

Reacting to the furor in the West caused by this episode, Russian President 
Vladimir Putin said U.S. plans for space-based weapons were the reason behind 
the Chinese ASAT test. Putin warned the U.S. on the dangers of militarizing 
space noting, "China was not the first country to conduct such a test," an 
obvious reference to the U.S., which conducted the world¹s first ASAT test in 
the 1980s. The U.S. has had the capability to shoot down satellites since the 

"The first such test was conducted back in the late 1980s and we also hear it 
today about the U.S. military circles considering plans of militarization of 
space. We must not let the genie out of the bottle," Putin said.

Military analysts see the Chnese ASAT test as an indirect threat to U.S. defense
systems by raising the possibility that U.S. spy satellites could be shot down. 
In October 2006, President Bush signed an order asserting the U.S.¹ right to 
deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes. Bush also advoctes an 
ambitious program of space-based missile defense and the Pentagon is working on 
missiles, ground lasers and other technology to destroy enemy satellites.

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