Pentagon defends India's ASAT test in front US military oversight committee

U.S. Strategic Command Commander Gen. John Hyten testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in WashingtonAP

  • The Pentagon told the Senate Armed Services Committee that India's anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test was only conducted because the country is "concerned about threats" from outer space.
  • Previously the Pentagon had assessed the debris fallout from the ASAT test determining that most of it will burn up in the atmosphere within a couple of months.
  • Even so, there are many that condemn India's actions and believe that the test was a threat to peaceful cooperation in outer space.
The United States Department of Defense — the Pentagon — defended India's test of its anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asserting that the South Asian nation is justifiably "concerned about threats" from space.

The first lesson from the Indian ASAT is just the simple question of why did they do that. And the answer should be, I think to all the committee looking at it, is that they did that because they are concerned about threats to their nation from space.

US Strategic Command Commander General John E Hyten told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee

While the ASAT test was a point of pride for India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, reactions around the world were not as supportive as the Pentagon.

Last week, the Department of Defense had to determine that the debris fall out from the test would burn in the atmosphere eventually after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) slammed India for being irresponsible.

NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, subsequently resumed cooperation with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after having called the test a "terrible, terrible thing" and stating leftover debris threatens human space flight activities, especially around the International Space Station (ISS).

But as we've said previously, we have a strong strategic partnership with India, and we will continue to pursue shared interests in space, in scientific and technical cooperation with India, and that includes collaboration on safety and security in space.

NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine

Director of Program Planning at the Secure World Foundation, Brian Weeden, took to Twitter asking if commercial space companies are willing to take a stand and boycott India's polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV). Later, he clarified that he was just fostering responsible behaviour in space by pushing companies to think about the role they want to play.

(Companies) should probably consider the behavior of all countries pushing the space arms race. India is only the latest, but by no means the only one.

Director of Program Planning at the Secure World Foundation, Brian Weeden


Even a long-term ISRO partner, Planet Labs, issued a statement saying that while they enjoyed the working relationship between the two organisations, they "categorically condemn" the ASAT test.

India maintains that it did not violate any international laws in conducting its satellite test. When announcing the success of the ASAT test, Modi stated, "I want to assure the world today that it was not directed against anybody. India has always been against arms race in space and there has been no change in this policy."

See also:
It might be time for ‘space superpowers' to bring in a new space treaty

NASA slams India's anti-satellite test, may pull support from mission Gaganyaan

India's test of its anti-satellite weapon may have weakened its fight against dangerous space debris
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