Russia explodes a satellite creating a debris cloud in space
Russia explodes a satellite creating a debris cloud in space

The US State Department said that Russia destroyed one of its satellites with ground-based missiles and sent thousands of fragments into orbit around the Earth.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news conference that the United States had discovered more than 1,500 traceable pieces and thousands of small, undetectable fragments in the accident.

When the news broke, the Russian space agency Roscosmos reported that astronauts living on the International Space Station had to seek refuge due to clouds of space junk.

Every 90 minutes clouds seem to move across the space station, which is the time it takes the International Space Station to orbit the Earth.

At first it was not clear whether the debris threatening the space station was the result of a Russian test of anti-satellite weapons. The US State Department has stated that the debris cloud poses a threat to the space station.

"This test significantly increases the risks for astronauts on the International Space Station and other manned space activities," Price told reporters.

"Russia's dangerous and irresponsible behavior threatens the long-term sustainability of our space and clearly shows that Russia's opposition to the militarization of space is deceptive and hypocritical," he added.

But NASA Administrator Bill Nelson later confirmed that Russia's testing of anti-satellite weapons had prompted astronauts to seek asylum.

"This action is irresponsible and destabilizing," Nelson said in a statement. With its long and remarkable history in manned spaceflight, it is hard to imagine that Russia would endanger American and international cosmonauts, as well as Russian cosmonauts via the International Space Station. .

Seven people currently live aboard the International Space Station, including two Russian cosmonauts. The US Space Command is responsible for overseeing the tracking of space objects and debris in orbit, and said in a statement that it is aware of debris formation in space.

Russian debris cloud threatens the International Space Station

"We are actively working to characterize the debris field and continue to ensure that all space nations have the information they need to deal with satellites if they are affected," US Space Command said in a statement.

"We are working with the interagency on these reports and will provide updates in the near future," she added.

For the past two years, the US Space Command has been tracking anti-satellite weapons tests from Russia.

In 2020, the US Space Command announced that it will conduct two tests of the Russian anti-satellite weapon technology, Nudol. However, neither of these tests appears to destroy any targets in space.

NASA said it will continue to monitor the wreckage and ensure the safety of the International Space Station crew.

Testing of anti-satellite weapons is often seen as a political initiative aimed at demonstrating a country's ability to launch satellites. But these tests are a problem in the aviation industry because they tend to create vast expanses of satellite debris.

This debris cloud can stretch for miles. The resulting parts generally vary in size. Sometimes they remain in orbit for several years and threaten operational satellites.

Objects in low Earth orbit travel at 17,500 miles per hour. As a result, when space junk collides with another fast-moving satellite. This can lead to significant damage and even more splinters. Then threaten other satellites.

Anti-satellite weapons testing

China conducted a famous anti-satellite weapon test in 2007 that used kinetic energy missiles to destroy its Fengyun 1C satellite. Thousands of fragments were created during this event, some of which are still orbiting above Earth.

The International Space Station (ISS) had to improve its orbit last week to avoid debris from a satellite still in orbit.

In 2019, India also conducted an anti-satellite weapon test called Mission Shakti. Hundreds of parts were created after the satellite was decommissioned.

The United States also conducted an anti-satellite weapon test called Operation Frost in 2008.

The US military destroyed a satellite launched by the National Reconnaissance Office. The satellite's fuel tank contained more than 450 liters of the toxic fuel called hydrazine. Testing of anti-satellite weapons was seen as a way to protect people on Earth.

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