Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapon experiment in which an old Russian satellite exploded without prior warning to those responsible for the space sector in the Western armies, the Cosmos 1408 satellite was launched back in 1982 during the Soviet Union
On Monday of this week (16/11/2021), Russia carried out an anti-satellite weapon test when it launched a missile at a Soviet satellite that was launched in 1982 and stopped working a long time ago. The problem is that this satellite is sailing in an orbit at an altitude of about 485 km that crosses the orbit of the International Space Station as well as the Chinese space station and now thousands of fragments known as space debris are moving in its orbit.
The station currently houses seven astronauts, including two Russian cosmonauts. Two taikonauts are staying at the Chinese station.
The Americans learned that the Cosmos-1408 satellite had exploded based on commercial and government surveillance data. The satellite, which weighs about 2,000 kg, was launched in 1982.
State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that the satellite was destroyed by an anti-satellite weapon and spoke on behalf of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. "The Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of an anti-satellite missile with a direct launch at one of its satellites," he said at a State Department briefing on November 15. "The experiment has so far produced over 1,500 pieces of traceable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all countries."
Crew members took shelter for two hours as a precautionary measure to protect themselves during two passes near or within the debris cloud. The space station passes through or near the cloud every 90 minutes, but the requirement to shelter only on the second and third passes after the event was based on a risk assessment done by the Office of Waste and ballistics experts at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They had earlier been instructed to close the hatches to several modules on the station, including Columbus, Kivu, the Fixed Multipurpose Module, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, and the Quest Joint Airlock. The openings between the American and Russian wings remained open.
On Monday, the flight control team of the International Space Station (ISS) was notified of indications of a satellite breakup that could create enough debris to pose a threat to the station. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released the following statement about the incident:
"Earlier today, due to the debris created by the devastating Russian anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) test, the astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station took emergency procedures to maintain their safety.
"Like the minister in Lincoln, I am outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action. With its long and storied history of human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but their cosmonauts as well. Their actions are reckless and dangerous, also threatening the Chinese space station and the techonauts on board.
"All nations have a responsibility to prevent the deliberate creation of space debris through anti-satellite weapons and to foster a safe and sustainable space environment.
"NASA will continue to monitor the debris in the coming days and beyond to ensure the safety of our crew in orbit."
"Russia has demonstrated a willful disregard for the security, safety, stability and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations," said Gen. James Dickinson, commander of the US Space Command, in a statement on Nov. 15. "Russia's tests of ground-based anti-satellite weapons clearly demonstrate that Russia continues to develop space warfare systems that undermine strategic stability and pose a threat to all nations."
The British government also spoke out against the test. "This devastating missile test by Russia shows a complete disregard for the security, safety and sustainability of space," Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement. "The debris created from this experiment will remain in orbit, putting satellites and human flights in space at risk for many years."
Prior to the US State Department's statement, there was widespread speculation that Kosmos-1408 was the target of an ASAT test, especially given the closure of airspace near the Plastek spaceport ahead of the launch.
His company's ground-based radars tracked Cosmos-1408 as a single object three times a day until they found it disintegrated into multiple objects at 11:20 a.m. EST on Nov. 15, suggesting the object had disintegrated within the past day.
"We had the Chinese ASAT test in 2007. Looks like we now have another one. That's not what we should be doing," said Bill Gerstenmeier, vice president of construction and flight reliability at SpaceX and former head of NASA's human flight programs. It should be noted that a year later the USA also conducted a similar experiment of its own, but the satellite in question was at a much lower altitude and a significant portion of its remains were supposed to burn up in the atmosphere.
The Chinese experiment from 2007 created debris that continues to pose a danger to satellites and the International Space Station. Just last week the station performed a waste avoidance maneuver when one piece of waste from the same inspection showed a risk of the piece of waste moving close to the station.
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