The United States blasted Russia for the “reckless and dangerous” anti-satellite bombing that caused astronauts at the International Space Station to evacuate to avoid the debris.
“Russia has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the security, safety, stability, and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations,” U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander, decried in a statement.
Russia reportedly tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile on their own decommissioned satellite, which resulted in a detritus field in the Earth’s orbit that has more than 1,500 pieces of trackable debris.
He classified the test as “simply irresponsible” and noted that the debris it created “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 collision avoidance maneuvers.”
The immediate threat was to the seven astronauts, including four Americans and two Russian cosmonauts, currently residing on the International Space Station.
NASA said that the astronauts were woken up at 2 a.m. EST and told to shelter in place in their spacecraft for two hours, while the space station passed “through or near” the cloud of debris three times. They continue to be at risk from objects that are too small to be tracked as they orbit 220 nautical miles over Earth.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that he was “outraged” by the action that he considers both irresponsible and destabilizing.
“With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts,” he remarked. “Their actions are reckless and dangerous.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price noted the US has repeatedly warned Russian officials about the danger of such tests, and would now be consulting with partners and allies about a response, but will make it very clear that “we won’t tolerate this kind of activity.”
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