NASA chief criticises India over debris from anti-satellite weapon test

India put Int'l Space Station at risk by shooting down satellite NASA

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said while the risk of the ISS went up 44 per cent the astronauts are still safe. File

Scientists from India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which conducted the March 27 test, and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have confirmed that the low-earth orbit space debris caused by the test would dissipate within eight days.

"The Anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) test by India last week has resulted in about 400 pieces of orbital debris", he added.

Bridenstine said NASA was preparing a request for additional funding to achieve the 2024 Moon landing goal. However, the debris will decrease by burning up as it enters the atmosphere.

"At the end of the day, these activities are not sustainable or compatible with human spaceflight".

The conspicuous test, called Mission Shakti, was a demonstration of India's newfound capacity in space, and a warning to rival nations to stay clear of India's satellite fleet. About 25 of those pieces have been catapulted by the anti-satellite missile test to locations above the ISS, from where, possibly, they would pass the International Space Station and gradually descend toward Earth. This increased risk is due to NASA identifying 400 different pieces of orbital debris from the event.

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India's decision to shoot down one of its own satellites in a bid to flex its military space muscle is a "terrible, bad thing" and not sustainable or compatible with human spaceflight, NASA's highest-ranked official has warned.

Experts say anti-satellite weapons that shatter their targets create a cloud of fragments that can collide with other objects, potentially setting off a chain reaction of projectiles moving through Earth's orbit. The 2007 test is estimated to have created about 25 percent of today's debris larger than 10 centimeters. It did not, however, acknowledge that some debris may pose a threat to the ISS on its path back to Earth. The state used a missile to destroy one of its own satellites. "As we've said previously, we have a strong strategic partnership with India, and we will continue to pursue shared interests in space, in scientific and technical cooperation with India, and that includes collaboration on safety and security in space".

Such activities are placed at risk by these kinds of events, he said, and "when one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well", he said. NASA has identified approximately 400 pieces from the destroyed satellite, of which 60 are larger than 10 centimetres (4 inches) wide-large enough to be tracked by the USA military's ground radars, SpaceNews reports.

The missile test was celebrated in India but also drew criticism because it was announced by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, while the government is supposed to be in caretaker mode before elections starting this month.

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