Russia has successfully tested an anti-satellite missile that shot down objects in space using weapon systems on earth, but the debris threatens the International Space Station.
Under the Department of Defence, United States Space Command announced on Monday, Nov. 15, that Russia tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile earlier on the day that struck a Russian satellite named COSMOS 1408 and created a debris field in low-Earth orbit.
“The test so far has generated more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and will likely generate hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris,” the agency said in a statement.
The test marks the first time the Russian military force has demonstrated the ability to shoot down objects in space with weapons from the earth.
However, U.S. Space Command commander Gen. James Dickinson said that Russia, with the new weapon test, has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the security, safety, stability, and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations.
“The debris created by Russia’s DA-ASAT will continue to pose a threat to activities in outer space for years to come, putting satellites and space missions at risk, as well as forcing more collision avoidance maneuvers. Space activities underpin our way of life and this kind of behavior is simply irresponsible,” the general said.
According to an initial assessment from U.S. Space Command, the debris will remain in orbit for years or even for decades, posing a significant risk to the International Space Station and other human spaceflight activities, as well as multiple countries’ satellites.
The agency said that it continues to monitor the debris’ trajectory to ensure all space-faring nations have the information necessary to safeguard their on-orbit activities if impacted by the debris cloud, a service the United States provides to the world, to include Russia and China.
“Russia is developing and deploying capabilities to actively deny access to and use of space by the United States and its allies and partners,” Gen. Dickinson said.
“Russia’s tests of direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons clearly demonstrate that Russia continues to pursue counter-space weapon systems that undermine strategic stability and pose a threat to all nations,” he added.
In response, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russian’s test.
“We condemn Russia’s reckless test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile against its own satellite, creating space debris that risks astronauts’ lives, the integrity of the International Space Station, and the interests of all nations,” Blinken said in a statement as reported by Daily Wire.
Earlier in October, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) called on the Biden administration to counter Russia after Moscow has shown its increased aggression on multiple fronts in recent months, including a build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border.