During Wednesday’s meeting of the National Space Council (NSpC), the Department of Defense officially came out against the use of anti-satellite (ASAT) tests.
On November 15, Russia conducted an ASAT against one of its old spy satellites. Unfortunately, the collision took place at an altitude just above the International Space Station. Which then caused the station to fly close to the debris field and force NASA, ESA, and even Russian crew members to their respective spacecraft for safety.
During the Biden Administrator’s first NSpC meeting, chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks came out against more ASAT tests to be conducted.
We would like to see all nations agree to refrain from anti-satellite weapons testing that creates debris. Such a display of deliberate disregard for safety, security and sustainability in space is one to be condemned and underscores the urgency of acting in defense of developing shared norms and having long-term sustainability of outer space.Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks
Russian officials called the US out on its ASAT test back in 2008; however, the scale of that test was relatively contained compared to Russia’s. So far, four countries have conducted ASAT tests, including the United States, Russia, China, and India. The most egregious being China’s that created about 40,000 pieces of debris in a relatively high orbit around the Earth.
During Wednesday’s NSpC meeting, it was discussed to begin plans to work with other nations to help bring a stop to these sorts of tests and punish those that do. Publicly this seems to be well agreed upon; however, only time will tell if this will be the final scare to space access or more will come.
Space Explored’s take
Bravo to the Pentagon and the members of the NSpC on taking a stand against all ASAT tests. Now is the time to take these words and place them into laws and treaties banning these tests, similar to the banning of nuclear weapon tests.
While examples like India’s dedicated test vehicle, designed to limit orbital debris, have been looked on favorably. Even at a limited compacity, allowing tests to continue will continue to escalate tensions, causing a further divide between nations.