Astronauts to ISS take shelter on board after Russia anti-satellite test, US says

A Russian weapons test wiped out a dead Russian satellite in space over the weekend, creating a cloud of debris that forced astronauts on the Space Station, according to US officials. The International (ISS) must take shelter, according to US officials.

Objects in space tear through space at speeds of up to 17,500 mph, meaning even the tiniest debris endangers the space station and satellites vital to the global economy bridge, military and modern lifestyle.

Top officials at the White House, Pentagon and NASA have been briefed on the event, the three US officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, added that the State Department The US is preparing to make an official statement.
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The US Space Command, which oversees all military activities in space, declined to comment directly on the alleged Russian weapons test, but acknowledged an “event that created fragments” is rare in a single statement.

“We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure all space nations have the information they need to maneuver satellites if impacted,” said Major AnnMarie. Annicelli, a spokesman for the Air Force said. “We are also in the process of working with cross-agency agencies, including the State Department and NASA, regarding these reports and will provide an update in the near future.”

The target of the anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) was an old satellite called Cosmos-1408 that was launched by the Soviet Union in 1982 and has been defunct for many years, spatial analysts say.

American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts have been instructed to put on their space suits and take shelter on capsules attached to the ISS in preparation for a possible collision, according to the report. Russian news agency TASS reported. A German cosmonaut and three American cosmonauts boarded the Dragon capsule, while another American cosmonaut and two Russian cosmonauts climbed onto the Soyuz MS-19 capsule.

TASS reported the debris flew past the orbiting station in the early hours of Monday morning before flying away from it.

Brian Weeden, a former Air Force officer and space security expert at the Secure World Foundation, said:The ISS will continue to pass through the debris field every 90 minutes or so until tomorrow.

“All objects in orbit are moving at very fast speeds, often several kilometers per second, and so a collision between two of them could be catastrophic,” Weeden said. “A collision with an object a few centimeters in size or larger could disrupt the space station, potentially harming or endangering the astronauts on board. That’s why they take shelter in emergency lifeboats, just in case they have to evacuate.”

It appears that Russia conducted a test of the PL-19 Nudol surface-to-air missile from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, located about 500 miles north of Moscow, Weeden said. The Russian military has tested the missile at least 10 times since 2014 without ever hitting a target in orbit, according to the Secure World Foundation.

The incident marks the latest controversial development in the space, which is increasingly becoming the stage for the unintentional escalation of hostilities between world powers. The US, Russia and China, are all improving their arsenals of lasers, anti-satellite weapons and cutting-edge spacecraft designed to make each other’s satellites deaf, dumb, and blind in space.

Read more: America Really Has a Space Force. We went inside to see what it did.

Last year, the US accused Russia of twice testing anti-satellite weapons: a rocket flies straight and another orbital weapon. In 2007, China tested its anti-satellite weapon technology by targeting one of its own defunct weather satellites with a ground-based missile, sparking international outrage. economy when the exercise blew the target into more than 3,000 pieces, the global space community warned. , which could threaten other satellites for years to come.

It has been proven to be true. Just last Wednesday, the ISS was forced to fire up its thrusters and raise its altitude about a mile to avoid a remnant of the 2007 wreck, which was aiming to come close to a shipwreck. annoying way. The debris was not caused by direct impact with the station, but instead was on its way into what NASA calls a “pizza box,” the 2.5-mile-deep, 30-mile wide safe zone maintained by the ISS.

Whenever the pizza box is threatened, the station takes evasive measures. The event marks the 29th time the station has been forced to undulate and weave to avoid harm since 1999, but given the growing problem of debris in low Earth orbit, it is unlikely to be the first time. Final.

—With reporting by Jeffrey Kluger | Astronauts to ISS take shelter on board after Russia anti-satellite test, US says

Aila Slisco

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