White House pledges to ban anti-satellite missile testing | Government and politics
By AAMER MADHANI – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Monday that it is banning anti-satellite missile testing by the United States, a move that White House officials say is meant to underscore its hopes for establishing new standards of military action in space.
The United States has strongly criticized Russia and China for carrying out anti-satellite missile tests, although they also used an interceptor missile fired from a US Navy warship more than 14 years ago. to destroy a faulty spy satellite.
The issue took on added urgency after Russia launched a missile in November to destroy an old Soviet-era satellite. Vice President Kamala Harris, in a speech at Vandenberg Space Force Base on California’s central coast to highlight the administration’s decision, criticized the Russian action as “reckless” and “irresponsible.”
The strike created more than 1,500 pieces of space junk that increased the risk to American and Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station and China’s Tiangong space station, according to the US Space Command.
People also read…
“Put simply, these tests are dangerous,” Harris said. “And we won’t drive them.”
The Russian test came as it massed troops ahead of its latest invasion of Ukraine. The more than seven-week war left thousands dead and prompted the United States and its allies to hit Russia with massive economic sanctions.
A similar weapons test by China in 2007 also resulted in large-scale debris.
Harris pointed out that debris created by missile testing not only threatens astronauts and U.S. military interests, but could also impact commercial satellites the world relies on for weather forecasting, GPS systems that help drivers to navigate streets, TV shows and critical infrastructure.
“A piece of space debris the size of a basketball, moving at thousands of miles per hour, would destroy a satellite. Even a piece of debris as small as a grain of sand could cause serious damage,” Harris said.
The anti-satellite missile test ban announcement comes months after Harris announced at a meeting in December that White House National Security Council officials would work with officials from the Pentagon, Department of state and other US national security agencies to develop national security proposals. spatial standards.
The United States is the first country to announce such a ban. Harris said she hopes other nations will follow soon.
The type of direct-ascent weapon the Biden administration pledges not to fire relies on interceptor missiles that travel from the Earth’s surface to strike a satellite target hundreds of miles out in space.
Since the 1960s, the United States, China, India and Russia have conducted more than a dozen anti-satellite tests in space that have destroyed satellites and created more than 6,300 pieces of orbital debris, according to Secure. World Foundation, a non-governmental group that advocates for sustainable and peaceful uses of outer space.
At least 4,300 pieces of that debris are still in orbit today and pose long-term threats to human spaceflight, science and national security missions, and the future economic development of space, according to the foundation.
Anti-satellite missile tests by the United States in 2008 as well as one by India in 2019 targeted satellites at much lower altitudes, well below the space station at around 260 miles (420 kilometers).
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the missile destruction of a satellite in low Earth orbit was intended to demonstrate India’s ability as a “space power” alongside the United States, Russia and the United States. China. He ordered the launch weeks before national elections.
Russia’s defunct Cosmos 1408 satellite was in orbit some 65 kilometers higher when it was destroyed in November by a missile fired from northern Russia.
Brian Weeden, director of program planning at the Secure World Foundation, called the Biden administration’s decision an important one that puts pressure on China and Russia to take similar steps.
“They’ve been making a lot of diplomatic noise over the last decade to prevent a space arms race, while testing their own (anti-satellite) weapons and creating orbital debris,” Weeden said of Russia and from China.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.