Pentagon warns of a communication blackout for a year plus.

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“The concept that we are concerned about is Russia developing and — if we are unable to convince them otherwise — to ultimately fly a nuclear weapon in space which will be an indiscriminate weapon” that would not distinguish among military, civilian or commercial satellites, John Plumb, the assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing.

He said the threat was “not imminent” but that the Pentagon and the “entire” Biden administration were concerned about the program.

Asked about the potential effect of such a weapon, Plumb said low-Earth orbit — the most common orbit for satellites — would be rendered unusable for possibly up to a year because of the radiation from a nuclear detonation.

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It is difficult to estimate the precise impact of such a weapon depending on the size of a nuclear explosion, Plumb said. But he said a rough assessment would suggest “satellites that aren’t hardened against a nuclear detonation [in] space, which is most satellites, could be damaged and affected, and some would be caught in an immediate blast.”

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