The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed this Tuesday (16) the performance, the day before, of a test with an anti-satellite missile. “Concretely, on November 15 of this year, the Russian Ministry of Defense successfully carried out a test, which resulted in the inoperative Russian spacecraft ‘Tselina-D’, which has been in orbit since 1982, achieved.” indicated the folder, by means of a statement.
The United States accused Russia of having endangered the crew of the International Space Station (ISS), a laboratory that orbits the Earth at about 400 km high and where hundreds of astronauts from different countries have worked in the last 21 years.
In a statement, the US Space Command claimed that so far the Russian test has generated more than 1,500 traceable orbital fragments – and will likely generate hundreds of thousands of smaller orbital fragments.
“Russia has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the security, safety, stability and long-term sustainability of space dominance for all nations,” said Gen. James Dickinson, commander of the United States Space Command.
“The debris created by Russia’s anti-satellite missile 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 maneuvers to avoid collisions. Space activities support our way of life and this type of behavior is simply irresponsible,” he added.
US Space Command said it continues to monitor the trajectory of the debris and will work to ensure that all nations that travel space have the information they need “to safeguard their activities in orbit if they are impacted by the debris cloud, a service that United States supplies the world, including Russia and China”.
“Russia is developing and deploying resources to actively deny access to and use of space by the United States and its allies and partners,” Dickinson accused.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the safety of all actors seeking to explore and use outer space for peaceful purposes was jeopardized by the Russian test.
“The events of November 15 clearly demonstrate that Russia, despite its claims to oppose weaponry in outer space, is willing to compromise the long-term sustainability of outer space and jeopardize the exploration and use of outer space for all nations through their reckless and irresponsible behavior”, he criticized, also in a note.
Russia speaks of “hypocrisy” and “threat” from the US
In response, the Russians accused the Americans of hypocrisy. “The United States is well aware that the fragmented results, in terms of the time the test took and the orbital parameters, did not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, space equipment and activities,” argued the Ministry of Russian defense.
The folder, led by Serguei Choigu, guaranteed that the fragments of the destroyed satellite “were included in the main catalog of the space control system”, which immediately began monitoring them until they disappeared. “Previously, the United States, China and India had already carried out similar tests in ultraterrestrial space”, claimed Moscow.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense finds hypocritical statements by State Department and Pentagon representatives who have tried to accuse the Russian Federation of creating ‘risks’ for ISS astronauts,” the statement said.
The text held that “for several years” Moscow had been urging the United States and other space powers to sign a treaty to prevent the use of weapons in space. “The draft of this treaty was presented at the UN. However, the United States and allies are blocking adoption. Washington has openly declared that it does not want to be subject to any obligations in space,” the statement said.
The Russian Defense Ministry cited, however, that the US created the Space Command in 2019 and that it adopted a new space strategy, in which one of the main objectives would be “to create an integral military advantage in space”.
“For its part, the Pentagon, even before these official steps and more afterward, is actively developing and testing without in-orbit notifications the latest attack and combat weapons of various types, including the latest modifications of the unmanned spacecraft X -37”, indicated Moscow. “US actions are assessed as a threat and are incompatible with the stated objectives of the peaceful use of ultraterrestrial space.”
Sixty-four years of accumulated garbage
Jonathan Amos, BBC science affairs correspondent, analyzed that anti-satellite missile testing can only be seen as “a form of madness”, as the impossibility of controlling the debris field that results from a high-speed impact poses a threat for future operational missions, including those of the testing country.
“The space junk situation is rapidly getting worse. Sixty-four years of activities above our heads now represent around 1 million objects running around out of control, with sizes ranging from 1 to 10 cm”, he highlighted. “An impact from any one of them could mean mission end for a vital climate or telecommunications satellite. Nations need to clean up the space environment, not pollute it further.”
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