The NASA on Tuesday termed India’s shooting down of one of its satellites that has created about 400 pieces of orbital debris, endangering the International Space Station (ISS) as a “terrible thing”.
The U.S. space agency’s statement comes five days after India demonstrated its anti-satellite missile capability by shooting down a live satellite.Jim Bridenstine was addressing employees five days after India shot down a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test to prove it was among the world’s advanced space powers.The Indian satellite was destroyed at a relatively low altitude of 300km (180 miles), well below the ISS and most satellites in orbit.But 24 of the pieces were going above the apogee of the ISS, said Bridenstine. “That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he said, adding: “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight.It’s unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is.”As a result of the Indian test, the risk of collision with the ISS has increased by 44 percent over 10 days, Bridenstine said. But the risk will dissipate over time as much of the debris will burn up as it enters the atmosphere.Bridenstine is the first top official from the Trump administration to come out in public against the India’s ASAT test.
Last week, India carried out Mission Shakti, in which it successfully targeted a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite. India’s ministry of external affairs said at the time of the launch that the test was done in the lower atmosphere “to ensure that there is no space debris”. “Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks,” it said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed its success as “an unprecedented achievement” that makes India “a space power.” The missile test was celebrated in India but also drew criticism because it was announced by prime minister Narendra Modi while the government is supposed to be in caretaker mode ahead of elections.