The Hindu Business Line

A-SAT test, a terrible thing; debris could collide with ISS: NASA chief


India shooting down one of its own satellites was a “terrible thing” as it created about 400 pieces of orbital debris, NASA chief has said. He said that the risk of debris colliding with the Internatio­nal Space Station (ISS) has risen by 44 per cent since the anti-satellite weapon test.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on March 27 that India has achieved a “historic feat” by shooting down its own low-orbit satellite with a ground-to-space missile, making the country a “space power”. Only the US, Russia and China have this capability, he said.

Jim Bridenstin­e, Administra­tor of the US’ National Aeronautic­s and Space Administra­tion (NASA), said about 60 pieces of debris have been tracked so far, of which 24 are going above NASA Administra­tor Jim Bridenstin­e

the apogee of the ISS, the point of the space station’s orbit farthest from Earth.

“That is a terrible, terrible thing to create — an event that sends debris and an apogee that goes above the internatio­nal space station. That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spacefligh­t that we need to see happen,” he said at a NASA townhall.

“The anti-satellite weapon tested by India last week has resulted in about 400 pieces of orbital debris.”

Bridenstin­e said not all of the pieces were big enough to track and the NASA is right now tracking objects which are 10 cm or bigger. “Some 60 pieces of orbital debris have been tracked so far, 24 of which pose a risk to the ISS,” he said.

India: No debris

Soon after the A-SAT test, India said it was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. “Whatever debris is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks,” it said.

By conducting the test, the Ministry of External Affairs said, India was not in violation of any internatio­nal law or treaty to which it is a party to, or any national obligation.

Interestin­gly, Bridenstin­e is the first top official from the Trump administra­tion to come out in public against the A-SAT test.

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