salyut
Salyut space station modelWikipedia

A Russian military show, Voennaya Priemka, recently revealed a deadly Russian super-weapon, of the Cold War kept as a secret since the Soviet Union's 1970s space programme: the R-23M Space Cannon.

The weapon was created as a counter to US anti-satellite weapons and was meant to be deployed in space to shoot down enemy objects. The R-23M was a 23-millimeter automatic cannon that could be fired in the vacuum of space.

Now, a 3D model of the weapon has been made and it can be seen here:

The weapon was fired only once because the space station carrying it was to be decommissioned by burning up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

The space cannon served three Almaz Orbital Piloted Stations (OPS), Ars Technica reported.

The Almaz programme was a military reconnaissance space station with a reusable crew return module originating in the 1960s which later became part of the Salyut program in the 1970s, Ars Technica added.

The R-23M was based on the tail gun of the Tupolev Tu-22 "Blinder" bomber. It weighed 37 pounds and had a fire rate of above 950 rounds per minute, according to Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com, "blasting 200-gram shells at a velocity of 690 meters per second (1,500 miles per hour).  

Only three Almaz stations were launched into orbit and hidden as part of a larger Salyut cluster of seven space stations. The cannon was sidelined after the third mission and Soviet military began thinking on the lines of having space stations that were missile-armed.

According to Popular Mechanics, the weapon's development was assigned to the Moscow-based KB Tochmash design bureau led by Aleksandr Nudelman whose "team developed a 14.5-millimeter rapid-fire cannon that reportedly could hit targets as far as two miles away." This space cannon was fired on January 24, 1975  onboard the Salyut-3 space station, it added.