The US military says it is aware of a “debris-generating incident” that could be linked to Russian weapons testing.
All seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station took refuge Monday morning aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked to the ISS to avoid a new orbital debris field, possibly a Russian satellite—over the weekend. Anti-weapon test was created by.
“The US Space Command is aware of the occurrence of debris in outer space,” the office said in a statement to reporters. “We are working actively to mark the debris field and will continue to ensure that all space-enthusiast countries have the information they need to operate satellites if they are affected.”
No official source has publicly confirmed the source of the wreckage, but two unnamed officials told CNN that the US government suspects it is related to Russian weapons tests.
Private space debris tracking company LeoLabs also reports that its radar data “confirms the detection of several objects near the expected location of Kosmos 1408.” Kosmos 1408 (sometimes referred to as Kosmos-1408) is a long-dormant Russian spy satellite launched in 1982. If the Russian government targets one of its older satellites in a weapons test, the result could be another problematic cloud of debris in orbit. As in 2007 the Chinese were left behind by weapons tests.
“I would expect thousands of pieces of debris listed from a satellite the size of Kosmos-1408,” Harvard astronomer and principal satellite watcher Jonathan McDowell said on Twitter.
Astronauts aboard the ISS have returned to the main station, but have continued to work with NASA to monitor the debris cloud and very carefully modify their sleeping arrangements, according to a broadcast with Mission Control in Houston.
The US State Department is expected to issue a statement on the situation soon.
This is a developing story.