“A terrible, terrible thing.” That’s what NASA is calling India’s destruction last week of a satellite in orbit. The agency warns that debris from the test – called ‘Mission Shakti’- could threaten the International Space Station.
CGTN’s Giles Gibson reports.
NASA said it’s identified 400 pieces of orbital debris from India’s recent test. It’s tracking 60 pieces that are 10 centimeters or more in diameter.
“Of those 60, we know that 24 of them are going above the apogee of the International Space Station,” explained NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris in an apogee that goes above the International Space Station, and that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of space flight that we need to see happen.”
NASA said the chance of the ISS colliding with debris has risen by 44% over ten days. Officials said they can maneuver the space station if they need to.
India’s space agency, though, insists that it carried out its test in a low-earth orbit – far from the ISS and other satellites – and India’s prime minister said that his country is not becoming an aggressor in space.
“I want to assure the global community that this new ability that we have achieved is not against anyone. It is a defensive initiative of a fast moving India,” Modi pronounced.
As the extraterrestrial dispute between Washington and New Delhi intensifies, the Trump administration is moving forward with plans for a US Space Force.
The White House said the new branch of the military will help defend “vital national interests in space.” But this controversy shows that galactic competition between the world’s great powers has already launched.