Russian anti-satellite missile test draws condemnation

Russian anti-satellite missile test draws condemnation
Astronauts on the ISS are increasingly having to take precautionary measures when fragments from old satellites and rockets come close. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: The US has critisized Russia for conducting a “dangerous and irresponsible” missile test that ‘endangered the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS)’.

The missile test blew up one of Russia’s own satellites which was unused, creating debris that forced the ISS crew to shelter in capsules.

The ISS currently has seven crew members on board – four Americans, two Russians and a German.

The space station orbits at an altitude of about 260 miles (420km).

At a press briefing, US state department spokesman Ned Price said: “Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a direct ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites.”

The spokesman added: “The test has so far generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations.”

Bill Nelson, the administrator of Nasa, said he was outraged at the incident.

He said in a statement that “With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts” as well as Chinese “taikonauts” aboard China’s space station.

Russian space agency Roscosmos downplayed the incident.

In a Tweet, Roscosmos said: “The orbit of the object, which forced the crew today to move into spacecraft according to standard procedures, has moved away from the ISS orbit. The station is in the green zone.”

The wayward material passed by without incident, but its origin is now under the spotlight.

It appears to have come from a broken-up Russian satellite, Kosmos-1408, a spy satellite launched in 1982, it weighed over a tonne and had ceased working many years ago.

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