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Air Force begins testing antisatellite weapon

The US has tested its latest antisatellite weapon, designed to counter Soviet antisatellite capabilities. Air Force officials said the test Saturday was limited to firing an 18-foot missile from an F-15 fighter aircraft. They would not disclose the test results nor when subsequent tests would be conducted, citing the project's near-total secrecy.

But they did say a later test would include putting an object into orbit around the earth to serve as a target for the missile. The new weapon is designed to destroy surveillance or spy satellites.

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Shortly after announcement of the test, the head of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which includes Nobel laureates, former high-ranking military officials, and defense consultants, issued a statement deploring the decision to test the weapon, warning that it could touch off an arms race in space.

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