NASA chief Bill Nelson condemns Russian anti-satellite test

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson condemned a Russian anti-satellite test on Monday (November 15) that put the International Space Station at risk of colliding with the resulting debris.

Shortly before 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT) on Monday morning, flight controllers woke up the seven-person ISS crew and ordered them to take refuge in their return craft as the orbiting laboratory traversed a field of orbital debris or space debris. , which apparently resulted from a direct ascent anti-satellite missile (DA-ASAT) that collided with a missing Russian satellite.

“Earlier today, due to debris generated by the destructive Russian antisatellite test (ASAT), ISS astronauts and cosmonauts undertook emergency procedures for safety,” Nelson said in a NASA statement. “I am outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action. With its long and legendary history in manned space flight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only US and international astronauts associated with the ISS, but also its own cosmonauts.”

Related: Russian anti-satellite test is ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ act threatening astronauts, US says

“Their actions are reckless and dangerous, and they also threaten the Chinese space station and the taikonauts on board,” Nelson added.

In addition to the seven people currently living and working on the International Space Station (two Russian cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts, one European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut and one Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut) ), there are three crew members on board from China. Tiangong space station.

The anti-satellite test created more than 1,500 pieces of traceable space debris and hundreds of thousands of smaller, undetectable debris in low Earth orbit, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a news conference on Monday.

Such debris not only threatens the safety of space station crews, but could also damage or destroy satellites in Earth orbit in the event of a collision.
– thus increasing the amount of space debris that satellites and other space missions will have to avoid in the future.

“All nations have a responsibility to prevent the intentional creation of space debris from ASATs and to promote a safe and sustainable space environment,” Nelson said. “NASA will continue to monitor the debris in the coming days and beyond to ensure the safety of our crew in orbit.”

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@ or follow her at @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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