New Delhi, April 2: Days after India’s anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile successfully targeted a live satellite on a low earth orbit, a NASA administrator called it a ‘terrible thing’. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the space operation, codenamed Mission Shakti by India, has increased risk to the International Space Station (ISS) by 44 per cent. Bridenstine said NASA was tracking as many as 400 pieces of debris post-India’s A-SAT missile launch.
“At the end of the day, these activities are not sustainable or compatible with human spaceflight. It is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station. When one country does it, other countries feel like they have to do it as well. It’s unacceptable,” Bridenstine said in response to a question about India’s Mission Shakti at an event. Need to Address Gaps in International Space Laws, Says Pakistan After India’s A-SAT Test.
“We have identified as 400 pieces of debris from that one event. That’s what has been identified, but all of that cannot be tracked. We are tracking about 60 pieces right now — these are objects that are 10 cm or bigger. Of these 60, we know that 24 of them are going above the apogee of the International Space Station,” Bridenstine added. Objects in space are being tracked by the US military to predict the collision risk for the ISS and for satellites. China Reacts to India’s Anti-Satellite Missile Test, Says ‘Hope India Will Safeguard Peace in Outer Space’.
The NASA administrator also said that debris related to India’s A-SAT missile test has increased the dangers for astronauts aboard the ISS by 44 per cent. “We’re learning more and more every hour that goes by about this orbital degree field that has been created by the ASAT test. Since last week, the risk of small debris impact to the ISS has increased by 44 per cent,” Bridenstine said.
Watch: NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine reacts to India’s A-SAT missile test
On March 27, India’s anti-satellite weapon A-SAT successfully destroyed a satellite on a low earth orbit, joining a group of three countries – the US, Russia and China – with such capability. India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday said it kept in mind concerns related to debris in space. “The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks,” the MEA said.
It came out with a 10-point explainer to say the anti-satellite missile test was carried out to verify India’s capability to safeguard space assets and that it was not directed against any country. The MEA also said in a statement that India has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space.