International Space Station Crew Forced To Take ‘Emergency Safety Measures’ Due To Russia’s Anti-Satellite Missile Test

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the crew on the International Space Station (ISS) had to take emergency safety measures due to debris generated from an anti-satellite missile test allegedly conducted by Russia.

“Earlier today, due to the debris generated by the destructive Russian Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test, ISS astronauts and cosmonauts undertook emergency procedures for safety,” Nelson said in a statement on Monday.

Earlier, the State Department accused Russia of conducting a test of an anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites, which generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces.

Nelson also said NASA will continue monitoring space debris caused by the test to ensure the safety of the ISS crew.

The NASA chief called the Russian actions reckless and dangerous, adding that they are “unthinkable” given Russia’s long history of human spaceflight.

According to NASA, the ISS crew was directed to close the hatches to radial modules Columbus, Kibo, the Permanent Multipurpose Module, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, and Quest Joint Airlock.

Hatches between the US and Russian segments remain open, the agency said in a statement. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier said the US would work with allies to respond to the incident.

US Space Command later in the day said the satellite struck in the November 15 Russian anti-satellite missile test was the Soviet-era Cosmos 1408.

UK Slams Russia

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace criticized Russia’s reported test of an anti-satellite missile, saying it demonstrates a complete disregard for safety and stability in space as the debris from the tests could put space activities at risk.

“This destructive anti-satellite missile test by Russia shows a complete disregard for the security, safety and sustainability of space. The debris resulting from this test will remain in orbit putting satellites and human spaceflight at risk for years to come,” the UK Defense Ministry on Twitter quotes Wallace as saying.

The US State Department condemned Russia that the test would significantly increase the risk to astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), as well as to other human spaceflight activities.

The statement also said that Russia`s allegedly dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardized the long-term sustainability of outer space and clearly demonstrated that Russia’s claims of opposing the space weaponization were disingenuous. The spokesman concluded that the US would work with its allies to respond to Russia’s “irresponsible act.”

In December 2020, the US Space Command announced that Russia had conducted a new test of a rocket aimed at destroying satellites. After that, tests of the Russian anti-satellite missile were reported in April.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said back then that Washington was trying to justify its own plans to deploy weapons in space this way.

At the same time, similar weapons are being developed both in the US and in other countries. In 1985, the US using an ASM-135 ASAT anti-satellite missile launched from an F-15 fighter aircraft, shot down its Solwind scientific satellite at an altitude of 1,820,866 feet.

In 2008, an American SM-3 naval anti-missile destroyed the USA-193 military satellite at an altitude of 810,367 feet.