NASA to continue cooperation with ISRO after White House prodding

Leslie Hanson
April 6, 2019

India used an indigenously developed ballistic missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites at a height of 300 km (186 miles), in a test aimed at boosting its defences in space. The only three other members of space super league are the United States, Russia and China.

The United States has said that the issue of space debris is an important concern and it has taken note of the Indian government's statements that its recently conducted anti-satellite test (A-SAT) was created to address "space debris issues", according to US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino.

"We will continue to monitor the remaining debris from your test as it relates to the safety of our human spaceflight activities especially at the International Space Station", wrote the NASA Administration, according to the letter.

The US military tracks objects in space to predict the collision risk for the ISS and satellites.

"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. Precedent, however, suggests it could take much longer than that; in 2008, the U.S. 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.

Addressing the media for the first time after the anti-satellite launch on March 27 along with Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) G. Satheesh Reddy, Deputy National Security Advisor Pankaj Saran said that India is already actively engaged in all relevant global negotiations on outer space, including a group of experts on prevention of arms race in outer space.

Troublingly, NASA says around two dozen pieces of the destroyed Indian satellite were flung to orbits higher than the ISS, which now orbits the Earth at an altitude of 410 kilometres (255 miles).

The fear is that a shard of the shattered satellite could strike and damage the ISS. The ISS orbits over 100 km higher than the orbit at which India carried out the ASAT test. He said that even NASA has claimed that the risk was for 10 days which are over today. The ISS is "still safe", he said, adding the ISS could be manoeuvred if necessary, a contingency he described as having "low" probability. It is indeed a significant step in space capability for India, which has increased its focus on becoming a space power with a probe sent to Mars in 2014 and plans for a manned space flight in 2022.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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