NASA Says India’s Satellite Destruction Created Threat to International Space Station


NASA chief administrator, Jim Bridenstine said that India's A-SAT missile test to destroy its own satellites is a "terrible thing".

NASA said the decision to shift the date was guided by limited launch opportunities during the previously planned April-May time frame, as well as planning requirements for the launch of the AEHF-5 military communications satellite for the Air Force in June.

The latest fragments add to the growing problem of space debris orbiting the Earth.

Bridenstine said NASA had identified 400 pieces of the debris and tracked 60 of them. The US military is in total tracking about 10,000 pieces of space debris, almost a third of which is said to have been created by the Chinese test.

"We are charged with commercializing low Earth orbit; we are charged with enabling more activities in space than we've ever seen before for the goal of benefiting the human condition, whether it's pharmaceuticals or printing human organs in 3D to save lives here on Earth, or manufacturing capabilities in space that you're not able to do in a gravity well..."

"And that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight that we need to see happen".

In March, SpaceX successfully completed a almost weeklong test mission in space.

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The US has downplayed NASA's criticism of India over space debris created by the country's anti-satellite missile test, saying two nations would continue to pursue shared interests in space that includes collaboration on safety and security in space.

The Foreign Office further said such test should be a matter of grave concern for the global community not only in terms of generation of space debris but also because of its ramifications for long term sustainability of peaceful space activities.

Pallava Bagla, a science writer at the New Delhi Television Channel, said Wednesday that Indian officials have clearly indicated that the debris will decay in three weeks.

Even collisions with tiny objects can be catastrophic in space, largely due to the pace at which spacecraft are moving in orbit, a minimum of 7.8km per second.

Bridenstine went on to say, "The good things is, it's low enough in Earth orbit that, over time, this will all dissipate". He added, though, that both the ISS and the astronauts were safe.

"Destroying satellites orbiting in altitude bands that are heavily used for both military and civil satellites also can have ripple effects, producing unsafe 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.

Bridenstine said NASA was preparing a request for additional funding to achieve the 2024 ambitious Moon landing goal. In orbit, we have 2,000 functional satellites.