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Although legacy Soviet space technology continues to provide an advantage for Russia today, the country has not continued to make advances in space at the same rate as it did during the Cold War. Space Shuttle program in 2011, the Soyuz launch system has been the only vehicle transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).Many of Russia’s satellite constellations deteriorated in the 1990s and 2000s due to a declining budget and crumbling economy; however, the country has maintained its global prominence in human spaceflight. Russia was a founding partner of the ISS and is the second largest contributor to its construction and operation.

With its first operational ASAT weapon program dating back to the early 1960s, the Soviet Union conducted extensive ASAT tests before its fall in December 1991.

Soviet-era ASAT technologies give Russia a substantial advantage in the development of kinetic physical counterspace systems.

In the early 1980s, the Soviet Union began developing its most powerful anti-satellite weapon yet, known as the Naryad.

Also a co-orbital ASAT, the Naryad was designed to reach altitudes as high as 40,000 km, and could contain multiple individual warheads in a single launch, posing a threat to satellites in GEO.

Russia’s most recent kinetic ASAT tests have used direct-ascent technologies, representing a departure from the traditional co-orbital systems that dominated the Soviet approach.

Intended for missile defense purposes, the PL-19 Nudol missile is capable of striking a satellite in LEO in much less time than a co-orbital ASAT.Russia believes that the militarization of outer space is a security threat and one of its “main external military danger[s].” The Russian military doctrine approved in 2010 states that “the securing of supremacy on land, at sea, and in the air and outer space will become decisive factors in achieving objectives.” According to the same document, one of the nation’s “main tasks in deterring and preventing military conflicts” is to develop “an international treaty prohibiting the deployment of any types of weapons in outer space.” In 2008, Russia and China submitted the “Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects” to the UN Conference on Disarmament.from the Soviet Union’s rich history of developing and operating anti-satellite weapons during the Cold War.The Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) constellation of PNT satellites deteriorated through the 1990s, dropping to just 9 functional satellites out of the 24 that are necessary for global coverage.In 2011, Russia began work on a third generation of satellites (GLONASS-K) that will greatly improve the accuracy and reliability of the system, and the constellation has now returned to the full network of satellites necessary for global coverage.Despite a deterioration in diplomatic and military relationships in recent years, Russia and the United States maintain a strong partnership in civil space; the two nations share training, communications, operations, and launch capabilities in support of the ISS.

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