Debris from anti-satellite test no danger to ISS, India says

The flying robots are propelled by fans and can move in any direction and turn on any axis in space

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Monday that over 400 pieces of orbital debris from the test had been identified, including debris that was travelling above the International Space Station - something he called a "terrible, awful thing".

On March 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India had shot down a live satellite in space and had become the fourth country to do so.

According to NASA, in the ten days, since India conducted the test the chance of debris colliding with the ISS is up by 44%. Reddy, at a briefing held at the DRDO Bhawan here, said the interceptor had the capability to intercept satellites in orbit of 1,000 km.

"Even though the satellite that was targeted was 120 kilometres lower than the altitude of the ISS, they were separated laterally by a large distance, since the ISS was over French Guyana in the Atlantic Ocean at the time of the test", said Reddy. "Our simulations show all debris will decay in 45 days", he added.

"The risk posed by debris generated is not much". A USA based satellite imaging company called Planet issued a statement; "Space should be used for peaceful purposes, and destroying satellites on orbit severely threatens the long term stability of the space environment for all space operators". "That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight that we need to see have happen", he had said. "We have conducted the test on 12th February against an electronic target which has given a lot of information for us with many applications".

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About 150 scientists worked round-the-clock in the past six months and about 2,000 components were sourced from 50 private industries.

Reacting to Congress leader P. Chidambaram's comment that it was foolish to let out secrets such as possession of such a technology, Reddy said mission of this nature post-test can not be kept secret technically as a satellite is tracked by many stations across the world.

Amid political debate on when the project was initiated, Reddy said the first discussion on the A-SAT test started in 2014 and the formal detailed presentation was made in 2016.

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy National Security Adviser Pankaj Saran said that India was actively engaged in all relevant worldwide negotiations about the outer space. Statement by the U.S. state department is the USA official position.

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