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India anti-satellite missile test a 'terrible thing,' NASA chief says
"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 Tuesday, Tapan Misra, senior advisor to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman, said that India would not conduct any actions to deliberately cause accidents in space, as reported by The Indian Express. After suffering a significant setback during preparations for a launch pad abort test in June 2018, the company managed to keep those problems from going public for about a month.
"What we're tracking right now - objects big enough to track, we're talking about 10 centimeters or bigger - about 60 pieces have been tracked", said Bridenstine, referring to the fallout of the Indian space test.
"The reports that some of the space debris created by this test has been pushed above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS) increasing the risk of collision are deeply worrying", it added.
However he said: "The global space station is still safe. That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight that we need to see have happened", Bridenstine said.
The successful missile test, named Mission Shakti, was revealed during a live televised address from the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
While India has joined an elite club of countries with ASAT weapons, the development has irked agencies and governments around the world.
NASA said the long-duration flight was "in the best interest of the agency's needs to ensure continued access and better utilization" of the space station.
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Pallava Bagla, a science writer at the New Delhi Television Channel, said Wednesday that Indian officials have clearly indicated that the debris will decay in three weeks.
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).
Pakistan has warned that other countries may now conduct such tests while reiterating that it remains a strong proponent of the non-militarisation of outer space. "That's a bad, awful thing to create", he said. If current schedules hold, SpaceX's first crewed flight would send two NASA astronauts to the station and back in July, months before Boeing can do so. While it's entirely legal for a nation to shoot down one of its own satellites, the display does raise questions about the goal of such risky endeavours. That said, Bridenstine assured the town hall audience that the six people now on board the ISS aren't in any immediate danger.
Then, in 2008, the United States did so again when a highly classified reconnaissance satellite malfunctioned shortly after reaching orbit.
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