The United States announced Monday that it is “investigating the event that created space debris” after astronauts on the International Space Station were forced to prepare for a possible evacuation. The incident comes amid unconfirmed reports that Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapon’s test (ASAT) – a rare display of violence shown by the space community to risk crews in near-Earth orbit.
This has forced NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer to join their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for safety, according to a report from Spaceflight Now.
“US Commando Command is aware of an event in space that caused the debris. We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure that all space nations have the information they need to maneuver satellites when impacted,” the military said. . Clone.
“We are also in the process of working with … the State Department and NASA on this report and will provide an update in the near future. NASA has yet to comment on it, but its Russian counterpart Roscosmos downplayed the incident.
“The object’s orbit, which today forced the crew to switch to the spacecraft using standard procedures, has exited the orbit of the ISS. The station is in the green zone,” the agency tweeted.
“Guys, everything is going well with us! We are continuing to work on this program,” tweeted Anton Schkaplerow, the current commander of the outpost.
At the same time, Russian cosmonaut Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hay boarded the Soyuz spacecraft in the Russian segment, the publication said.
Both spacecraft can be used as lifeboats to bring the crew back to Earth in an emergency US space analyst Seradata tweeted that the wreck may have been caused by a missile test.
“Now the ASAT missile attack is suspected. Orbital data from SpaceTrak’s Teradata database contains Space 1408 in an orbit of 487 x 461 km – slightly higher than the ISS, but not by much,” the company tweeted, citing the old Soviet satellite.
“ASAT’s impact on Space 1408 will result in some debris being shot down beneath it … threatening the ISS with a traversing debris cloud.”
ASAT is a high-tech space weapon that few countries have – only the United States, Russia, China, and India have proven that they can shoot down their own satellites.
India was the last to run a similar test in 2019, generating hundreds of “space junk” that has been heavily criticized by other powers, including the United States The United States shot down a satellite in 2008, and China demonstrated a similar knockout in 2007.
Although the Russian attack has not been confirmed, Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell told AFP the available evidence was consistent with such a test The communications between space and Earth observed by analysts speak of a “debris cloud”, not a specific piece of debris.
“What I’m saying is that these are recent events that they’re talking about, not well-cataloged, familiar stuff, but a new set of uncataloged stuff,” he said. the famous Kosmos 1408 orbiter aligns with the debris cloud that the ISS will hit every 93 minutes as it orbits Earth.
If confirmed, such a test would be completely unnecessary, McDowell said “There is no element of public safety… This is purely a military test, a sword ring test. And that should not be done,” he added.
“I would say that people in the aerospace industry are increasingly feeling that we already have too much debris out there – knowingly creating more is unforgivable.”
The first cloud debris objects will enter the atmosphere within a few months, McDowell said, but it could take up to ten years for the clouds to dissipate completely.
More than 4,500 satellites are currently in orbit, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, with companies like SpaceX planning to launch tens of thousands more.