US Lambastes Russia Over Anti-Satellite Missile Test that Risked ISS Safety

The US registered a strong objection over a Russian anti-satellite missile test on Monday, November 15, calling it "a reckless and dangerous act." The US further noted that it won't tolerate Russia's behavior that puts the safety of the crew at the International Space Station (ISS) at stake and endangers international interests.

The US Space Command noted that Russia tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite, or DA-ASAT, that struck a Russian satellite and produced a debris field in low-Earth orbit of more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris. The debris field is likely to generate hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that 'threaten the interests' of all nations, according to the US Space Command.

According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, the Russian missile test "will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities." He further called "Russia's claims of opposing the weapons and weaponization of space disingenuous and hypocritical." Price also added that this kind of "dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of outer space."

North Korea test-fires newly developed hypersonic missile
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'US won't tolerate this kind of activity'

"We are going to continue to make very clear that we won't tolerate this kind of activity," Price spoke of the missile test. He further informed that the US has warned senior Russian officials several times about the danger of such a test. He, however, did not comment on whether there had been ar formal diplomatic communication to Moscow about the issue.

'Pentagon is keeping a close eye on Russia'

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that "the most immediate concern is the debris itself, which is now floating out there, and could become a hazard, including to the International Space Station, so there's concerns about the debris itself." According to Kirby, Pentagon is keeping a close eye on the "kinds of capabilities that Russia seems to want to develop which could pose a threat not just to our national security interest, but the security interests of other space-faring nations." Kirby further stated that they would like to see norms for space, which can be used "responsibly by all space-faring nations."

International Space Station crew had to take shelter in capsules

According to the Russian space agency ROSCOSMOS, the crew on board the ISS were forced to take shelter in capsules in fear of the station being hit by some passing debris. However, it is not clear if it was the result of the Russian anti-satellite weapons test. NASA is yet to speak on the incident. There are currently seven astronauts on the ISS. The missile test comes at a time of already increased tensions between the US and Russia over the border situation with Ukraine. Only a few successful anti-satellite weapon tests have been carried out by the US, Russia, China, and India so far.