U.S.: Russian anti-satellite test created large amount of space debris

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Russia on Monday tested an anti-satellite missile, creating a massive cloud of debris that could pose a threat to other satellites and even people in orbit, the State Department and the Pentagon said.

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why it matters: Weapons tests in space can generate thousands of pieces of debris that can remain in orbit and pose a risk to space-based technologies and people for years, even decades.

What are they saying: “Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a devastating satellite test of a direct climb anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

  • “The test has so far produced more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations,” Price said.
  • “In addition, this test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and astronauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities.”
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of note: Russia’s state-run space agency Roscosmos said there are currently seven crew members on board. International Space Station took refuge Due to the debris coming in the early hours of Monday

  • It is not yet confirmed whether the debris was related to the ASAT test.

Reference: Russia has previously tested similar anti-satellite weapons, but during these tests it had not previously intercepted any other object in orbit.

  • Russia tested anti-satellite weapons at least three times in 2020.
  • two of they test non-destructive direct-mounted missiles, while others include a space based kinetic weapons Aboard a satellite that injected a new object into orbit.
  • Testing in space was also non-destructive, but the object was released in close proximity to another Russian satellite – indicating that the object could destroy other space-based technologies.
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big picture: In recent years the military has focused more on the development and testing of anti-satellite weapons, and increasing competition in space may prompt more countries to pursue such technologies.

  • China tested direct climb kinetic Weapons in 2007 that spawned a cloud of more than 3,000 pieces of space debris. The ISS was forced last week maneuver itself Out of the debris trajectory because of that weapon test.
  • India successfully test-fires anti-satellite weapon in March 2019, That test also produced hundreds of debris, although the Indian government took steps to limit the amount of time it could remain in orbit.
  • Security experts have doubted the effectiveness of such weapons because it then poses a threat to any country or company with a satellite in its path of debris.

go in: stress on earth reflected in orbit

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