The recently created U.S. Space Force accused Russia on Thursday of testing an anti-satellite weapon from one of its satellites in orbit.
"On July 15, Russia injected a new object into orbit from Cosmos 2543," the eight-month-old agency says in a statement. "Russia released this object in proximity to another Russian satellite, which is similar to on-orbit activity conducted by Russia in 2017, and inconsistent with the system's stated mission as an inspector satellite."
In a sign outer space could be turning into a theater of war for terrestrial adversaries, it marked the first time the U.S. military has publicly charged Moscow with carrying out a space-based weapons test.
According to Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, who in addition to being the Space Force's chief of space operations also commands the U.S. Space Command, the Russian satellite system used in the test is the same one that prompted U.S. protests earlier this year after it allegedly sidled up close to a U.S. spy satellite.
"This is further evidence of Russia's continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems," Raymond charges in the official statement, "and consistent with the Kremlin's published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk."