While SpaceX is worried about UFOs and Webley is unhappy with his horoscopes, the Russians are out there preparing for an antisatellite weapon test. On 4 March a new version of the RS-28 supersonic anti-satellite weapon was successfully flight tested. It carried a dummy “neighbour” that weighed around 8 kg in a ballistic trajectory. The missile ejected when its tracked trajectory began. (The target spent about 20 minutes falling back towards Earth before re-entering the atmosphere.)
“I am a little bit worried to say that there is space junk out there and I have a problem with re-entering. This could hurt me,” astronaut Nick Hague told reporters before the launch. The rapid descent allows the space craft to dodge many of the bits of debris that can severely damage spacecraft, but keeps a small area as debris.
This is not the first time the Russians have attempted to shoot down another space object. In 2008 they shot down a missile-tracking satellite shortly after its launch using a nuclear device. That test involved little damage to the satellite but there were fears that debris may get into space and become a space hazard.
Incidentally, if you want to find the Chinese completed Ka-band satellite constellation in orbit on Google, here’s where you can find it. The four satellites in the network can all be seen using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data that is available on orbit tracking sites.
Gizmodo intern Catherine Arnback contributed to this report.