US, Russia and China with space debris in the thousands are complaining about 49 pieces from India's A-SAT test

US, Russia and China with space debris in the thousands are complaining about 49 pieces from India's A-SAT test
49 pieces of space debris from India's ASAT weapons test are still floating around in Earth's orbit
  • Space debris from India's anti-satellite weapons test is still in orbit around Earth.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Research Organisation (NASA) is still tracking 49 pieces of rouge debris that hasn't burnt up in the planet's atmosphere.
  • But India's contribution to space debris is a mere fraction of the mess created by the US, Russia and China.
The National Aeronautics and Space Research Organisation (NASA) pointed out that debris from India's anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test — dubbed ' Mission Shakti' — is still in orbit.

"A total of 101 debris pieces have entered the public satellite catalog, of which 49 remain on-orbit as of 15 July 2019," NASA stated in its Orbit Debris Quarterly News.

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NASA also pointed out that that initially there were over 400 fragments from the ASAT test. It also said that cataloging them was difficult due to the low altitude of the event and the rapid orbital decay.

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Yet, India's debris is mere fraction of the debris left behind in space by other nations around the world. The United States, Russia and China are miles ahead of anyone else.


Just doing their job or creating controversy?

India conducted Mission Shakti on 28 March 2019 and at the time G Satheesh Reddy, chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told Reuters that all the resulting debris would disseminate in Earth's atmosphere by itself within 45 days.

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Even acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the press that the debris from India's ASAT test will eventually burn up in the planet's atmosphere — instead of creating a debris field that would get in the way of future launches.

US, Russia and China with space debris in the thousands are complaining about 49 pieces from India's A-SAT test
Launch of India's anti-satellite weaponMinistry of Defence

Five months down the line, there's still debris that refuses to vanish.

Some experts feel that highlighting the debris left behind by India's test is nothing more than propaganda as India expands its space programme. "Smells of malicious propaganda against the country," Ravi Gupta, a former DRDO scientist, told the Times of India.
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"Only if the debris are above 10 centimeter in size, can be tracked by the US, not those smaller than that size. Secondly, if the debris are now around 100 kilometers in altitude, they don't pose a danger to spacecraft as most of the satellites, including the International Space Station (ISS), are hovering between 400 kilometers and 1,000 kilometers altitude," Gupta explained.

Russia, on the other hand, doesn't quite believe that the ISS is safe. A senior executive at ROSCOSMOS told reporters that more than a 100 fragments from India's ASAT test were a threat to the ISS.

Keeping that risk in mind, Russia is proposing banning ASAT tests altogether. ROSCOSMOS Chief Dmitry Rogozin told the press, "Roscosmos plans to initiate international negotiations with the aim of banning full-scale anti-satellite weapon tests held by way of destroying spacecraft and littering low orbits."
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See also:
India's test of its anti-satellite weapon may have weakened its fight against dangerous space debris

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

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