Image via NASA
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) had to seek shelter during a “debris-generating event,” after Russians reportedly shot down a satellite using an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon, and sent shards flying into orbit.
“US Space Command is aware of a debris-generating event in outer space. We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure all space-faring nations have the information necessary to maneuver satellites if impacted,” the US Space Command (SPACECOM) told American Military News.
It appears that the Russian Federation conducted a test of its direct-ascent anti-satellite missile on one of its own satellites in orbit, which ended up sending 15,000 trackable pieces of debris, and hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces into space. And the US government isn’t all too thrilled.
“This test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human space flight activities,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price. “Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of our outer space, and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s claims of opposing the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical,” he continued.
However, Russian space agency Roscosmos said that the ISS astronauts had been instructed to move into the spacecraft, in line with proper safety procedures. According to The Houston Chronicle, both US astronauts and Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS took shelter in the Crew Dragon and Soyuz spacecraft respectively after the alert.
“Friends, everything is regular with us! We continue to work according to the program,” tweeted Russian cosmonaut, Anton Shkaplerov.
It does remain to be seen if any action will be taken, with US Representative Mike Rogers, Lead Republican of the House Armed Services Committee, issuing a contemptuous statement condemning the test. “The reports that Russia has tested an anti-satellite weapon are concerning and exactly why we stood up Space Command and created the Space Force,” Rogers said.
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