The head of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Tuesday branded India’s destruction of one of its satellites a “terrible thing” that had created 400 pieces of orbital debris and led to new dangers for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Jim Bridenstine was addressing employees of the NASA five days after India shot down a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test to prove it was among the world’s advanced space powers.
Not all of the pieces were big enough to track, Mr Bridenstine explained. “What we are tracking right now, objects big enough to track — we’re talking about 10 cm (six inches) or bigger — about 60 pieces have been tracked.”
The Indian satellite was destroyed at a relatively low altitude of 300 km, well below the ISS and most satellites in orbit.
But 24 of the pieces “are going above the apogee of the International Space Station,” said Bridenstine. “That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he continued, adding: “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight.” “It’s unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is.”
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