At last, it looks like the future is finally here: the Cold War has officially made its way into space. Over the last few years, the world’s military superpowers have been bolstering their space combat capabilities, mainly centered around so-called “killer” satellites which have the ability to take out or commandeer enemy spacecraft. The threat of some new form of space combat is looming close enough for the U.S. military to create a new space command position, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations. Not to be outdone by its western rival, Russia just this week launched a mysterious new satellite believed to be part of the growing arms race in space.
According to RussianSpaceWeb.com, the satellite launched on June 23rd after a series of scrubbed attempts. The launch site was the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia’s icy northwest near its border with Finland. A Soyuz-2-1v rocket carried the satellite over the Arctic and Canada, dropping its boosters into the Barents Sea along the way before entering a tight orbit around the north pole. Put this launch alongside other strange developments in the Arctic recently, and it’s becoming clear that the north pole could be the next big front in the new Cold War that’s brewing.
Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reported the launch but kept the satellite’s purpose out of their reporting, noting only that the satellite, named Napryazhenie (“voltage”) is a Russian defense ministry satellite. Aerospace watchdog blogs believe the satellite is likely an instrument used to take geodetic measurements, which are a way of measuring the size and shape of Earth.
Why would Russia’s defense ministry be interested in charting the dimensions of the Earth, you ask? Why, to plot trajectories for intercontinental ballistic missiles, of course. What other purpose does technology serve other than to realize our mutually-assured destruction?