Washington: The head of NASA on Monday called India’s destruction of one of its satellites a “terrible thing” that had created 400 pieces of debris and led to new dangers for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Jim Bridenstine was addressing employees of NASA after India shot down a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test.
Not all of the pieces were big enough to track, Bridenstine explained. “What we are tracking right now, objects big enough to track – we’re talking about 10 centimeters or bigger – about 60 pieces have been tracked.”
But 24 of the pieces “are going above the apogee of the International Space Station,” said Bridenstine.
“That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he continued, adding: “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight.” “It’s unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is.” The US military tracks objects in space to predict the collision risk for the ISS and for satellites. They are currently tracking 23,000 objects larger than 10 centimeters.
The Indian satellite was destroyed at a relatively low altitude of 180 miles (300 kilometers), well below the ISS and most satellites in orbit.