United States space agency to continue cooperation with ISRO

Alicia Farmer
April 6, 2019

Earlier this week, NASA's administrator had warned of the danger the debris posed to the the International Space Station (ISS).

The successful anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test on March 27 was truly a moment of pride for every Indian.

Shanahan said last week he believed India had avoided a similar scenario by testing at a lower altitude.

"That is a bad, awful thing, to create an event that sends debris into an apogee that goes above the International Space Station", said Bridenstine at the town hall.

On March 27, India shot down one of its satellites in space with an ASAT missile, which made it only the fourth country after the United States, the USSR and China to have used such a weapon. India's Ministry of External Affairs too has said the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Precedent, however, suggests it could take much longer than that; in 2008, the USA destroyed a defunct satellite at an altitude of 250 kilometres (150 miles), and it took about 18 months for all the material to fall back to Earth, according to SpaceflightNow.

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NASA has since notified that due to India's A-SAT test, the risk of small debris impact to the space station increased by 44 per cent over the period of 10 days. The issue of space junk is also one which India argues will be solved by the low orbit of the satellite. A US based satellite imaging company called Planet issued a statement; "Space should be used for peaceful purposes, and destroying satellites on orbit severely threatens the long term stability of the space environment for all space operators".

"Recently, we sent you a letter indicating a suspension of activities under the NASA-ISRO Human Space Flight Working Group", he wrote.

Such activities are placed at risk by these kinds of events, he said, and "when one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well", he said.

Laura Grego from the Union of Concerned Scientists said the almost 2,000 satellites now in orbit are put at risk by such tests. India became the fourth country to join the club.

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