Debris scattered across space after Russia blows up satellite, US says as astronauts forced to shelter in place on ISS

Andrew Griffin
Monday 15 November 2021 20:26
Comments
<p>Russia Space Station</p>

Russia Space Station

Debris has been scattered across space after a Russian satellite was blown up in a test, the US State Department has said.

The incident appears to have been a test of an anti-satellite weapon, or ASAT, that destroyed an old and out-of-use Soviet satellite.

The test has led to hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris that is now stuck in orbit and “threaten the interests of all nations”, a spokesperson said.

That includes those astronauts on the International Space Station who earlier today were forced to shelter in place on board their spacecraft, as part of emergency measures to avoid a dangerous cloud of debris. Officials are yet to confirm that the two sets of debris are definitely the same.

“This test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities,” a spokesperson for the State Department said in a briefing.

“Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardises the long term sustainability of our space and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s claims of opposing the weaponisation of space are disingenuous and hypocritical.”

Though the State Department said that it would not share “specific measures” that it would take in response, it said it would work with allies “to make clear that the United States that the international community is not going to tolerate this kind of irresponsible behaviour”.

The US and Russia operate the International Space Station in partnership. Crew members from both Nasa and Russian space agency Roscosmos were involved in the emergency “safe haven” measures that saw them retreat into spacecraft as the debris cloud passed near the space station.

There are now at least 1,500 pieces of trackable debris from the explosion, and many more smaller pieces floating in orbit.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in