The scientists intend to use the massive soon-to-be-built telescope at the Altay Optical-Laser Center and convert it into a laser cannon. It will be capable to destroy targets in space, on the low-earth orbit which is between 160 to 2,000 kilometers (100-1,240 miles) above the Earth’s surface, as orbital debris are a threat to orbiting space ships. NASA estimates that there are more than 500,000 pieces of space junk traveling at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour around the Earth.
Because this is related to the power of the weapon, in the initial stage the laser cannon will need to focus sor some time to its target to vaporise it. However, if a satellite is pointed, things will be different. Researchers of Roscosmos (the Russian equivalent of NASA) declare they are working for a noble cause because there’s a lot of rubbish orbiting Earth right now and a lot of it is Russian. Russia has a Mars mission planned next year, probably more in the future. Space ships need a clean path. The new laser will make space a safer place.