Space Threat Assessment 2023

View the Report
Download PDF
Welcome to the sixth edition of Space Threat Assessment by the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). This resource for policymakers and the public leverages open-source information to assess key developments in foreign counterspace weapons. Drawing on six years of collected data and analyses, this series describes trends in the development, testing, and use of counterspace weapons and enables readers to develop a deeper understanding of threats to U.S. national security interests in space. The past year was dominated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where space capabilities, including commercial satellites, played a highly visible and compelling role in Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion. Thus, this year’s featured analysis provides an in-depth look at Russia’s battlefield employment of counterspace weapons. As space capabilities continue to demonstrate their utility, from peacetime to conflict, it should come as no surprise that adversaries seek to block their use. 

Russia, China, Iran, and others continue to pursue a wide range of space and counterspace activities, enabled by national policies, prioritized resources, and investments in supporting infrastructure. As General B. Chance Saltzman, the chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force, noted in February 2023, “We are seeing a whole mix of weapons being produced by our strategic competitors.” 1 Not only are these counterspace weapons in development and testing, but some have progressed to production and fielding in operational units.

Such weapons could create disastrous effects for an array of national security, civil, and commercial users, especially if destructive weapons are employed that create orbital debris and render large swaths of popular orbits unusable. The impacts of counterspace weapons use are no longer limited to military users alone. Harm to commercial and international space assets will also reverberate across the expanding space economy. While over 5,400 satellites are in-orbit today, more than 24,500 satellites are anticipated to be launched in the next 10 years, over 70 percent of which will be commercial.2

This year’s assessment covers the growing space and counterspace capabilities of China, Russia, India, Iran, North Korea, and other nations. This iteration of the Space Threat Assessment provides a framework that describes different types of counterspace weapons and a highlight of the main countries being tracked—China, Russia, India, Iran, North Korea, and others. The country sections include an overview of military space organizations, launch and satellite capabilities, and a brief review of counterspace developments. In addition, the report identifies key counterspace events in 2022, analyzes them in more detail, and provides a more comprehensive list of all notable counterspace activities and developments over the past year (January 2022–February 2023). The conclusion includes an analysis of notable trends and expectations for the coming year.

For more detail on past counterspace weapons tests, including historical tests by the United States and the Soviet Union, please review the prior Space Threat Assessments (editions 2018–2022) or visit the Aerospace Secu­rity Project’s interactive online timeline at

This report is made possible by general support to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report. Aerospace 

About the Authors