Russia has confirmed the tests of anti-satellite weapons. The United States accused Moscow of creating a danger to the ISS
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Russia had tested anti-satellite weapons, which formed debris in Earth’s orbit that posed a danger to the International Space Station. The Russian Defense Ministry has denied any threat.
Price announced that Russia shot down one of its old satellites with an anti-satellite missile. As a result, according to him, 1.5 thousand fragments of space debris were formed, the movement of which can be traced, hundreds of thousands of smaller debris, “now posing a threat to the interests of all peoples.”
“Dangerous and irresponsible behavior of Russia as a long-term stability,” – said a spokesman for the State Department.
On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that a test was carried out on November 15 that hit the inoperative Russian Tselina-D spacecraft, which has been in orbit since the 1980s.
At the same time, the Russian department emphasized that the wreckage of the apparatus did not pose a threat to orbital stations, and earlier such tests were already done by China and the United States itself.
“It is known that the resulting fragments of test time and orbital parameters do not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities,” the ministry said.
And its head Sergei Shoigu said that the anti-satellite system hit the Tselina-D device “jewelry”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in turn, called the accusations of creating risks for space activities hypocrisy.
“Now I can only say one thing. To declare that the Russian Federation creates risks for the peaceful uses of outer space is at least. There are no facts, ”Lavrov said.
Previously reported by the American company Seradatatracking the movement of objects in space.
According to the American company, this satellite was launched in 1982 and has not worked for several decades. “After the hit, there was probably an explosion that created a ‘debris cloud’ that triggered the safety protocols on the ISS,” says Seradata.
On Monday, the Russian state corporation Roscosmos, citing data from the American Mission Control Center, reported that the ISS was threatened by a collision with space debris. Because of this, the crew of the station had to take refuge in the Soyuz and Crew Dragon ships in case they had to urgently evacuate.
Later, Roskosmos clarified that the threat of a collision had passed. The orbit of the object, because of which the crew is today forced, according to the standard procedure, to transfer to spaceships, has moved away from the ISS orbit, the station is in the green zone. “
The ISS is in orbit approximately 420 kilometers from Earth.
Analysis: “kind of insane”
Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Writer
It is difficult not to call the testing of anti-satellite missiles a kind of madness.
It is impossible to control the entire cloud of debris from the high-velocity impact.
Thousands of these debris appear. Some of them rush to the Earth and carry no danger, but many go to higher orbits, where they go to higher orbits, including the vehicles of the country carrying out such tests.
What should the Russian cosmonauts on the ISS be thinking when they took refuge in the Soyuz capsule early on Monday morning? The reason was the risk that debris from these tests could enter their own orbital home.
The space debris situation, meanwhile, is rapidly deteriorating. 64 years of space activity above our heads means that about a million objects ranging in size from one to 10 centimeters are now flying uncontrollably there.
A strike from any of them could mean the end of a mission of a vital meteorological or telecommunications satellite.
Therefore, people need to clear outer space, and not further litter it.
Not the first time
According to Price, the tests “significantly increased the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the ISS, just like other manned space missions.”
The TASS agency reported, citing sources in the rocket and space industry, that on Tuesday the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin will hold negotiations with the provision of NASA in Moscow, during which it is expected that space debris will come closer to the ISS, which occurred on Monday. “
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also told reporters about the Russian anti-satellite tests and permission that Moscow had not warned Washington about them in advance. “We are closely monitoring security features that may be likely to pose security threats not only to national security interests, but also to the security of other space powers,” he said.
In this regard, Kirby stated that the United States has long been safe with international norms for the use of space.
In the summer of 2020, the United States and the United Kingdom are already announcing that Russia has tested anti-satellite weapons. In July 2020, after the Russian satellite-inspector Kosmos-2543 entered orbit, a small object separated from it in the other direction of the Russian satellite. The American space command calls it a “projectile,” but Russia claims it was a “small spacecraft” that was testing another satellite in orbit.
This case in the United States is associated with another that occurred in 2017. Then the Russian apparatus, according to the Pentagon, made maneuvers among the American satellite. In the United States, Russia is believed to be testing anti-satellite weapons in both cases.
Not only Russia
Such technologies are available not only in Moscow. The United States first tested weapons against satellites back in 1959. In 2019, India shot down its own satellite that showed up in space low-Earth orbit and declared itself a space power. China also has similar capabilities: in 2007, the country destroyed its own meteorological satellite, leaving more than 2,000 debris that can be tracked; this debris interfered with not only Chinese, but also other space projects.
Meanwhile, for several years now, Russia has been signing joint annexes on the non-deployment of the first weapons in space with countries that have no space programs – neither peaceful nor military. In addition to African, Latin American and Asian countries, America, such as signed, for example, with Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and others. “These statements are made for a reason,” and the first weapon in space (NPOK), which has existed since 2004, has been introduced into Russian politics.
In March this year, such an agreement was signed with Sierra Leone.