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NASA calls India's A-SAT missile test 'terrible thing' as it created space debris
India became only the fourth country to successfully conduct an anti-satellite test.
Jim Bridenstine, NASA's chief administrator on Monday said that India's A-SAT missile test to destroy its own satellites is a "terrible thing." The event has led to 400 pieces of orbital debris and might be dangerous for astronauts aboard on the International Space Station (ISS).
The reaction came just five days after India successfully tested its A-SAT missile. While addressing the employees of NASA, Bridenstine talked about the debris that is spread in the low orbit of our planet. Not all the pieces of the debris were big enough to track, Bridenstine explained.
"What we are tracking right now, objects big enough to track - we're talking about 10 centimeters (six inches) or bigger - about 60 pieces have been tracked."
The A-SAT missile destroyed at a low altitude of 300 km which is well below the ISS and a lot of other satellites in orbit. However, 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."
The US military tracks objects in space to predict a potential collision with ISS or other satellites. They are tracking around 23,000 objects which are bigger than 10 centimeters. These include around 10,000 pieces of space debris, of which nearly 3,000 were created during a Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007 at 530 miles from the surface.
After the Indian missile test, the risk of collision with the ISS has risen by 44 percent within 10 days, Bridenstine said. However, with time the debris will burn up as it enters the Earth's atmosphere.