Indian ASAT test incompatible with future human spaceflight: NASA

World Tuesday 02/April/2019 16:54 PM
By: Times News Service
Indian ASAT test incompatible with future human spaceflight: NASA

Muscat: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called India's recent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test “unacceptable.”

According to Bridenstine, America's space agency has identified close to 400 pieces of orbital debris from the test, 60 of which were large enough to be tracked.

Speaking at a NASA town-hall, Bridenstine said, "Of those 60 we know that 24 of them are going above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS).

"That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris in an apogee that goes above the International Space Station and that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight," he stated.

Bridenstine added, "We are charged with commercializing low-earth orbit, we are charged with enabling more activities in space than we've ever seen before for the purpose of benefiting the human condition whether its pharmaceuticals or printing human organs in 3D to save lives here on earth or manufacturing capabilities in space that you're not able to do in a gravity well.

"All of those are placed at risk when these kind of events happen and when one country does it then other countries feel like they have to do it as well. Its unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is."

Bridenstine's comments came nearly a week after Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shahanahan called on the world to refrain from making space a 'mess'.

"Let's not make it a mess,” Shahanahan told reporters.

"Space should be a place where we can conduct business. Space is a place that people should have the freedom to operate. We cannot make it unstable. We cannot create a debris problem that ASAT tests create. So thoughtfulness goes a long way," Shanahan added.

On March 27, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his country had successfully shot down a live satellite with an ASAT missile.

Bridenstine stated that an orbital debris field had been created from the test and, citing an assessment by NASA experts and the Combined Space Operations Centre, said that the risk of small debris impact to the ISS went up 44 percent over a period of 10 days.

"While the risk went up 44 percent, our astronauts are safe, the ISS is safe. If we need to manoeuvre it we will, the probability of that I think is low. But at the end of the day, we have to be clear that these activities are not sustainable or compatible with human space flight."