According to U.S. officials, a Russian “weapons test” resulted in more than 1500 pieces of space debris that are now endangering the seven astronauts on the ISS.
An aging Russian satellite was destroyed by a Russian missile on Monday, Nov. 15, according to the U.S. State Department.
“Needless to say, I’m outraged. This is unconscionable,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said. As far as he’s concerned, the Russian government’s decision to conduct this test and put the lives of foreign astronauts, as well as their own cosmonauts, at risk is ridiculous.
Nelson warned that the astronauts were now at four times the average level of danger. On the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands of tiny bits that go unnoticed, “any one of which can do enormous damage if it hits in the right place.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that satellites were also at risk in his criticism of Russia.
Despite Russia’s assertions that it opposes the weaponization of outer space, the test revealed that Russia is “willing to… imperil the exploration and use of outer space by all nations through its reckless and irresponsible behavior,” Blinken added.
The U.S. State Department confirms and condemns that Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) test in low Earth orbit.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/2WIUuWV6Mh
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) November 15, 2021
Four Americans, one German and two Russians were commanded to take refuge in their moored capsules as soon as the threat became apparent. As they traveled through the junk, they had to seal and reopen the separate lab hatches on every orbit as they approached or passed through the material. They spent two hours in the two capsules.
Nelson said that towards the end of the day, just the hatches to the station’s central core were open, as the crew slept.
At 28,000 kph, even a speck of paint might do serious harm. Impact from a large object may be disastrous.
Spokesman for the State Department Ned Price stated that the United States has regularly expressed concern with Russia about the conduct of nuclear testing. There will be no tolerance for this type of behavior in the future, he said, according to reports.
It is possible that the danger may continue to disrupt the astronauts’ scientific research and other activities, according to NASA Mission Control. Crew members landed aboard the space station on Thursday night, with four of the seven arriving the next morning.
As he said his goodbyes to Mission Control, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who is almost halfway through a year-long mission, termed it “a crazy but well-coordinated day.”
“It was certainly a great way to bond as a crew, starting off with our very first work day in space,” Mark Vande Hei remarked.
In 2007, China conducted a similar weapons test that resulted in a massive amount of debris. Last week, one of those parts came within a few hundred feet of the space station. NASA decided to transfer the station despite the fact that it was later deemed a danger.
At 420 kilometers, the International Space Station (ISS) is well beyond the heights of the anti-satellite missile tests carried out by the United States in 2008 and India in 2019.
Cosmos 1408, a defunct Russian spacecraft, was orbiting 65 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
A total of 20,000 particles of space debris were already being tracked by the US Space Command prior to Monday.
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said that it will take days, weeks, or even months to catalog the newest wreckage and determine its orbits. Due to air drag and other factors, the shards would spread out over time, he added.
According to McDowell, the space station is particularly vulnerable because the test was conducted near its orbit. Even China’s space station and the Hubble Space Telescope will be at “somewhat elevated risk” during the next several years because of their low-Earth orbit locations, he said.