Anti-satellite weapons – a type of weapon used to destroy navigation and reconnaissance spacecraft. There are 2 types of weapons: interceptor satellites and missiles launched from ground installations, ships or aircraft.
Development began in the 1950s in the US and the project was called WS-199. During the project, the Bold Orion missile launched from the B-47 Stratojet bomber was introduced. 12 launches were carried out, as a result of which the rocket was found to be ineffective, however, with some modifications, a rocket was obtained with the ability to hit targets at a distance of up to 1700 km. As a result, a test launch of the missile was carried out, simulating the destruction of a satellite, and the missile passed 6.4 km from the target, which was considered acceptable for a missile without a nuclear warhead.
Soon there was another 1 project called High Virgo. But after an unsuccessful launch, the program was closed, and soon the entire WS-199 program was curtailed in favor of the new AGM-48 Skybolt project.
The next generation of anti-satellite ballistic missiles relied on electromagnetic pulses to disable satellites. In the end, after some testing, this technology showed sufficient efficiency. Then, from 1962, the NIke Zeus ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead was used. But already in 1966, this project was closed in favor of the new US Air Force Program 437 ASAT system based on the Tor missiles.
Program 437 rockets could intercept space satellites at a distance of up to 700 km in low orbits up to 1800 km away. The missiles were equipped with a fairly powerful nuclear warhead of 1 megaton, with a range of up to 8 km, but despite this, the effectiveness of the system was considered low and did not receive development, as a result of which it was closed in 1975.
Since 1982, having learned that the USSR already had an effective anti-satellite system ready, the United States set about a new missile project, which was called the ASM-135 ASAT. These ballistic missiles were launched from an F-15 fighter. The warhead was not equipped with an explosive and hit the target with a direct hit. For the final correction of the trajectory, when approaching the target, 64 solid-propellant engines were installed on the warhead of the rocket. 15 rockets were made. On September 13, 1985, the first rocket test was made. The fighter took off at a distance of 24 km and from a vertical position launched a rocket into an American astrophysical satellite, which was decommissioned. The collision occurred at an altitude of 555 km with a total joint speed of 24,000 km/h. Despite apparent success, the program was terminated in 1988.
In the USSR, the concept of an interceptor satellite was used, that is, a rocket entered the orbit of a satellite, approached it and exploded, causing irreparable damage with shrapnel with striking elements. In the 1980s, the USSR again carried out a program to develop an anti-satellite missile launched from the MiG-31. There is also fragmentary information on the Outfit-V missile defense and anti-aircraft defense system, under which in the 1980s, on the basis of the UR-100N UTTKh (15A35) intercontinental ballistic missile, the Rokot launch vehicle for attack satellites began to be developed. Due to the collapse of the USSR, among other reasons, the program was terminated.
The US currently has SM-3 missiles, which were demonstrated on February 21, 2008, when the missile shot down a military satellite that had gone into an undesignated low orbit.