The head of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on April 2 termed India’s destruction of one of its own satellites as a “terrible thing.” India’s testing of the indigenously-built anti-satellite weapon, A-SAT had created 400 pieces of orbital debris which led to new dangers for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
What had happened?
Five days after India shot down a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test to prove its advanced space powers, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine addressed the NASA employees and said that not all of the pieces were big enough to track, reported NDTV.
What we are tracking right now, objects big enough to track – we’re talking about 10 centimetres or bigger – about 60 pieces have been tracked,” Jim Bridenstine said. While the low-orbiting satellite was at a relatively low altitude of 300 kilometres, which is much lower than the ISS and most satellites in orbit. However, 24 of the pieces are going above the apogee of the International Space Station.
Debris may collide with ISS
“That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he said. Further, Bridenstine said that these kinds of activities are not compatible with the future of human spaceflight. “It’s unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is,” he added.
Reportedly, the US military tracks objects in space to predict the risk of collision for the ISS and for satellites. At present, they are tracking 23,000 objects larger than 10 cm, which include about 10,000 pieces of space debris of which nearly 3,000 were created by a Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007 at 530 miles from the surface. The Indian test has increased the risk of collision with the ISS by 44% over the last 10 days. However, the risk will lessen over time as the debris will burn up as they reach the atmosphere.
Ahead of the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a national address announced that India has established itself as an elite space power with an anti-satellite weapon, A-SAT. The indigenously built A-SAT has successfully shot down a live satellite on a low earth orbit which was cruising at an altitude of 300km in space.
“Today is 27th March. A while ago, India achieved a historic feat. India today registered itself as a space power. Till now, three countries of the world- the US, Russia, and China had this achievement. India is the fourth country to have achieved this feat,” he announced.