The US confirms it: this is how Russia is preparing to put a nuclear weapon in space

rocket, soyuz rocket, soyuz

After the first hours of chaos following rumors and leaks yesterday afternoon the White House implicitly confirmed the information. If finally, after the revelation, Russia went ahead with the deployment of nuclear weapons in orbit, the consequences are a dangerous mystery. It should be noted that the Outer Space Treaty prohibits explosive nuclear devices, but not those intended for electricity generation such as reactors.

White House, Washington DC
Image of the White House

The outer space treaty

This known Treaty written at protection of the United Nations Organization It is the starting point to carry out the exploration and exploitation from outer space. This signed for a total of 110 countries which include all space powers. In recent times, the Artemis agreements promoted by NASA clashed on some points with the Treaty. Although they have always defended from the United States that they would remain within the extensive agreement that was signed in 1967 and that they would respect its spirit.

It should be noted that one of the largest incentives for the signing this agreement was precisely the risk involved in transferring the nuclear escalation to low orbit.

There is simply no possibility of defending against an attack launched from here. If back then people lived with their finger on the red button, sending nuclear weapons to space adjacent to Earth would have put more pressure on the Cold War.

SM-3 head
Destroyer head of an SM-3 missile. It has infrared sensors, GPS and radar receivers to guide itself to the target. Source: US Navy

The uses of a nuclear anti-satellite weapon

The main and only use of an anti-satellite weapon is its own name. But the capacity of a device of this nuclear type is very different from that of, for example, a American SM-3. Currently, ASAT systems are generally one use, ideally (the probability success It is unknown, but never higher than 80% of anti-aircraft systems), a death. They are missiles, based on land that carry a single head that is sacrificed against your target. The enormous differences in speed between one and the other are what destroy the orbiter.

Carrying an explosive charge is redundant except for increasing the possible error range of the offensive system. But when we talk about a nuclear bomb, the matter changes.

The explosive capacity is different, but above all the The biggest problem is electromagnetic and gamma radiation. The radius of the explosion is no longer relevant because the explosion does not it is what destroy satellites (and causes radioactive fallout on Earth). And one may think that the orbiters are already prepared to withstand it, but they must remember that in low orbit they are protected by the magnetosphere. That is why they have much less armored equipment against it.

Even so, Radiation is the leading cause of death on satellites. This melts the onboard electronics, preventing communications and control. And it is not that a nuclear bomb emits more than the Sun, but it is much closer, much more concentrated.

KH-11 design

The difference that separates the United States from other countries in the military use of orbits is extreme. Hence arises the Russian need for a equalizer of forces. But it should be noted that despite its size, the Americans have always behaved very little aggressively in space. And in no case would this justify Russia causing a cataclysm in orbit that would have its consequences for centuries due to the Kessler effect.

Martin Morala Andres