system developed in the late 80's as part of the Russia
n equivalent of the American Star Wars
program. When the Buran shuttle
project was delayed, the first Energia rocket
was instead used to launch a 100-ton payload
of space weapon
, called 'Polyus', or 'Pole'. Soviet official
s reported it as a "size and weight dummy mockup
Polyus was basically a black cylinder, 37 meters long and 4.1meters in diameter, with an off-the-shelf space tug at one end. It posessed deployable tracking targets, large tanks of gases to be released into the ionosphere, and an anti-satellite laser system. According to some reports, it also had an aircraft cannon not unlike the American 'Vulcan cannon'.
Mikhail Gorbachev was never acutally briefed on the Polyus. When he travelled to watch the launch, he was horrified that the Soviet Union was about to launch a Death Star that would put his diplomatic campaigns against Star Wars and SDI into question. He allowed the launch but ordered that the payload never be activated. Much to the chagrin of the Soviets, though, the space tug misfired and Polyus fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Note : This all looks sort of odd to me, so I myself am not entirely sure if this is completely factual, especially since I got all of my information from a Popular Science magazine. I'll add on if I ever get around to doing actual research.