Debris from India's anti-satellite missile test endangers ISS

05 April, 2019, 08:29 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • First space test flight for Boeing’s astronaut capsule put back to August

The debris field was created on 27 March when India destroyed its own Microsat-R with a ground-launched anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon. That includes about 10,000 pieces of space debris, of which almost 3,000 were created by a single event: a Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007, 530 miles above the surface.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said India's anti-satellite test was a "terrible thing" as it created more than 400 pieces of debris that threaten the safety of the International Space Station and Amiercan astronauts.

Arms control advocates have expressed concern about the increasing militarisation of space. There are no direct repercussions at the moment, but India's image of a peaceful nation trying to make scientific progress in space has taken a hit.

Last week, India carried out Mission Shakti, in which it successfully targeted a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite.

Meanwhile, US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino on Tuesday played down the statement issued by NASA and said that the issue of space debris is an important concern for the US but that it still agrees with what the Indian scientists claimed about the debris.

The Indian Foreign Ministry initially defended its antisatellite test last week, saying in a statement, "Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks". This included 60 pieces which were larger than 10 cm in diameter, and 24 of which were travelling through the orbit of the ISS, which led them to raise the risk rate to ISS by 44 percent. It did not, however, acknowledge that some debris may pose a threat to the ISS on its path back to Earth.

"Destroying satellites orbiting in altitude bands that are heavily used for both military and civil satellites also can have ripple effects, producing risky clouds of debris that could stay in orbit for decades or centuries, disabling or destroying any satellites they collide with", said Grego in a statement.

The latest fragments add to the growing problem of space debris orbiting the Earth. China Reacts to India's Anti-Satellite Missile Test, Says "Hope India Will Safeguard Peace in Outer Space".

Not all of the pieces were big enough to track, Bridenstine explained.

Then, in 2008, the United States did so again when a highly classified reconnaissance satellite malfunctioned shortly after reaching orbit.

However, space companies and agencies around the world were not pleased with India's test. Brian Weeden, Director of Program Planning at the Secure World Foundation, - a private organization that promotes peaceful uses of resources in outer space - asked on Twitter if any companies are considering boycotting India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to send a message to the nation. When one country does it, other countries feel like they have to do it as well.


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