It seemed like the 2024 equivalent of a Sputnik moment: In a cryptic statement this week, an American lawmaker privy to U.S. intelligence warned of a grave but unspecified security threat from Russia.

After days of uncertainty, U.S. President Joe Biden offered the most detailed account yet Friday of what the danger was. Russia has been developing an anti-satellite space weapon, but it doesn’t pose a "nuclear threat” to those on Earth. In fact, Biden said, it may never go ahead.

"What we found out was there was a capacity to launch a system into space that could theoretically do something that was damaging. Hadn’t happened yet,” Biden said. "And my expectation — my hope — was it will not.”