View from the Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft of the International Space Station, as well as from the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft as the capsule approached docking on April 24, 2021.
The Russian military destroyed the inoperative satellite, spraying debris into low Earth orbit and forcing the astronauts to take refuge on the International Space Station as a cloud of debris flew past.
US officials from the Pentagon, State Department and NASA condemned the Russian anti-satellite weapon (or ASAT) test on Monday as “reckless” and “dangerous,” while US Space Command confirmed the test generated more than 1,500 debris. The test destroyed the defunct Soviet-era Kosmos 1408 spy satellite.
“Russia has demonstrated a willful disregard for the security, security, stability and long-term sustainability of outer space for all countries,” US Space Command Commander James Dickinson said in a statement.
But the Russian military called the US response “hypocritical”, saying in a statement translated by NBC that “the United States knows for sure that the fragments obtained” as a result of the ASAT test “do not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft. and space activities “.
Both the United States and Russia, as well as India and China, have previously destroyed their own satellites in anti-satellite defense tests. The US last tested an anti-satellite system in 2008, and Russia on Tuesday announced an Air Force test of the X-37 spacecraft, showing that the Pentagon is “actively developing” space weapons.
Industry experts believe the debris field created by the latest Russian anti-satellite defense test will remain in orbit for years, posing a threat to other spacecraft. Earth imaging company Planet, which has more than 140 small satellites in low-Earth orbit, stressed that Russia’s anti-satellite defense tests make it the fourth country to “detonate its own satellite with a rocket in the past 15 years.”
NASA confirmed that the International Space Station went into emergency mode on Monday, closing hatches while the crew took cover. According to the agency, the station “passes through or near the debris field” every 90 minutes.
“It is inconceivable that Russia would endanger not only American and international astronauts-partners on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.