Mission Shakti: India declines to comment on NASA`s statement on ASAT

Christopher Davidson
April 5, 2019

"We have a strong strategic partnership with India and we continue to pursue shared interests in space and in scientific and technical cooperation, that includes collaboration on safety and security in space", US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino added while briefing reporters at the White House. The press release further explained that the test was conducted in the lower atmosphere to guarantee that there is no space debris.

The Indian government has refused to comment on NASA's assessment of India's A-SAT missile test. It did not, however, acknowledge that some debris may pose a threat to the ISS on its path back to Earth.

Unfortunately, it looks as though this might not be the case. He said the risk of the debris hitting the ISS has risen significantly.

NASA tracks more than 21,000 pieces of orbital debris, while a third of all debris was created by China's destruction of a weather satellite in 2007 and the accidental collision of American and Russian communications satellites in 2009.

"That is a bad, awful thing, to create an event that sends debris in an apogee that goes above the International Space Station", Bridenstine had said.

India's test in late March of an anti-satellite weapon created 400 of such floating items, of which 60 are large enough for NASA to track, and 24 are flying above the highest points of the International Space Station's orbit. "That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight", he said.

"The International Space Station is still safe". If the risk becomes too great then NASA does have the option to move ISS, but clearly would rather not.

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But this is not the only test of this type that has been performed. India shot one of its own satellite last week as part of a test of anti-satellite weaponry. It did so again in 2008, when a highly classified reconnaissance satellite malfunctioned shortly after reaching orbit.

The expectation is that, eventually, the risk will come back to normal.

There are potentially political ramifications to this recent test.

He also dismissed the notion that India's arrival on the space weapons scene will spark a new arms race - because one is already underway and India is simply striving to keep up.

Despite the satellite being destroyed at a low altitude of approximately 289 km some debris has still gone above the ISS which is at an orbit height of about 400 km.

Shortly after the test, however, Indian PM Modi tweeted: "Our scientists have given India the capability to smash those forces who threaten our peace and harmony". The country's thinking was that the demonstration would be a message to the world that India is now "a major space power". According to the space agency, Boeing is now aiming for an August date for its initial uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, though NASA cautions this is a "working date" and subject to change.

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