“Endangering the ISS” –NASA Blasts India’s Anti-Satellite Test

 

ISS Astronauts

 

“That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris in an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” said NASA director Jim Bridenstine. “And that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight that we need to see happen.”

Bridenstine criticized India’s recent anti-satellite April 1 test that created 60 pieces of orbital debris big enough to track, 24 of which rise higher than the International Space Station’s orbit around Earth. At a livestreamed NASA town hall meeting Bridenstine said that causing this type of risk to humans in space, and low Earth orbit operations, was unacceptable.

“We are charged with commercializing low Earth orbit; we are charged with enabling more activities in space than we’ve ever seen before for the purpose of benefiting the human condition, whether it’s pharmaceuticals or printing human organs in 3D to save lives here on Earth, or manufacturing capabilities in space that you’re not able to do in a gravity well,” he added. “All of those are placed at risk when these kind of events happen — and when one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well.”

NBC reported that Bridenstine said that “NASA has identified 400 pieces of orbital debris from the event, including the 60 greater than 10 centimeters in diameter that the agency can track and 24 that travel through the space station’s orbital height. As of last week, the agency, along with the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg, had estimated that the risk to the International Space Station of small-debris impact had risen by 44 percent over a period of 10 days.”

“The good thing is, it’s low enough in Earth orbit that over time this will all dissipate,” Bridenstine said — whereas much of the debris from a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test is still in orbit. But at the end of the day we need to be clear, with everybody in the world, we’re the only agency in the federal government that has human lives at stake here,” Bridenstine said. “And it is not acceptable for us to allow people to create orbital debris fields that put at risk our people.”

The Daily Galaxy via NASA and NBC

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