The United States has announced its commitment to stop testing anti-satellite missiles that generate dangerous debris in space, a measure the NASA chief on Tuesday called an “important step.”
The White House said in a statement that the United States, the first country to make such a pledge, encouraged other nations to follow suit, with the goal of establishing a “new international standard for responsible behavior in space.”
“This is particularly important because there are an increasing number of states and non-state entities that depend on space services and space assets that are vulnerable to debris,” she added.
The announcement comes five months after Russia destroyed one of its satellites in a missile test that created a cloud of debris and forced the seven crews of the International Space Station to take shelter temporarily in their return ships.
Washington condemned the attack, calling it “dangerous and irresponsible.”
Russia and the United States are among the few countries that possess high-tech anti-satellite weapons known as ASATs. Missiles have also been used by China and India.
“There is no doubt that human spaceflight and the future of the space environment are incompatible with ASAT direct-ascending missile tests,” NASA President Bill Nelson said in a statement.
He described the US action as an “important step forward to promote a safe and sustainable space environment,” and called on other countries to follow suit.
Debris from anti-satellite strikes can collide with thousands of satellites in orbit that are essential to many systems, including communications and navigation.
Thus, the ability to destroy other nations’ satellites could prove to be a strategic military asset and such tests fuel concerns about the weaponization of space.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is published from a press release)