• The head of the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Jim Bridenstine 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 (ISS).
  • Mr. 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 justify 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 ISS.
  • “That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station.
  • 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.
  • But the risk will dissipate over time as much of the debris will burn up as it enters the atmosphere.
  • The U.S. military tracks objects in space to predict the collision risk of the ISS and satellites.
  • They are currently tracking 23,000 objects larger than 10 cm.
  • Chinese test created 3,000 debris
  • That includes about 10,000 pieces of space debris, of which nearly 3,000 were created by a single event: a Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007 at 530 miles from the surface.
  • As a result of the Indian test, the risk of collision with the ISS has increased by 44 percent over 10 days.