Russia said on Tuesday it carried out a weapons test that targeted a former Russian satellite with “pin-point accuracy” and denied claims by the United States, France and NATO that the test had been dangerous for spacecraft in orbit.
U.S. officials said Monday’s test generated a field of low-earth orbit debris that endangered the International Space Station (ISS) and would pose a danger to space activities for years.
The four Americans, a German and two Russians on board the ISS were forced to take refuge briefly in their moored capsules because of the debris released by the explosion.
At least 1,500 pieces of the destroyed satellite were important enough to show up on radar and with telescopes, the US State Department said. Countless other fragments were too small to track, but still posed a danger to the space station as well as to orbiting satellites.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the test was reckless, posed a threat to the ISS and a Chinese spacecraft in orbit, and showed Russia was developing new weapon systems.
In a joint statement, the French Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs declared that the test was “destabilizing, irresponsible and likely to have consequences for a very long time in the space environment and for all actors in space”.
In a previous tweet, French Defense Minister Florence Parly attacked “space vandals” who “generate[e] debris that pollutes and puts our astronauts and satellites in danger.
Space is a common good, that of the 7.7 billion inhabitants of our planet. The rampages of space have an overwhelming responsibility in generating debris that pollutes and emits our astronauts and satellites in danger.
– Florence Parly (@florence_parly) November 16, 2021 Dismissing criticism, the Russian Defense Ministry said the test debris did not pose a threat to the ISS, and Washington knew it.
“We have indeed successfully tested a promising system. It touched the old satellite with extreme precision. The fragments that have formed do not pose any threat to space activity,” said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. , quoted by the RIA news agency.
The target was a non-operational spacecraft, Tselina-D, which had been in orbit since 1982, the ministry said in a statement. He said the United States, China and India had carried out similar tests in the past.
The Defense Ministry said Russia is being forced to boost its defense capabilities due to U.S. weapons testing and Washington’s decision to create a space force in 2020.
Moscow said it had sought a deal to stop the deployment of weapons in space for years, but Washington and its allies blocked the deal at the United Nations.
(AXADLETM with REUTERS)
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