NASA has pledged to no longer carry out anti-satellite tests, which generate a lot of space debris and are likely to become dangerous projectiles for future missions.
Washington has announced that it will no longer carry out tests of anti-satellite missiles, which generate thousands of dangerous debris in space , a measure described on Tuesday, April 19 as “an important step forward” by the head of NASA .
The United States, which is the first to make this pledge, encouraged all other nations to follow its example, with the aim of establishing ” a new international standard for responsible behavior in space” , according to a press release from the White House.
“This is particularly important given that an increasing number of States and non-governmental entities relying on space services are vulnerable to debris” ,” she said.
This announcement comes five months after an anti-satellite missile was fired by Russia against one of its own satellites.
There is no doubt that human spaceflight is incompatible with destructive direct-ascent ASAT missile tests. @VP Harris’ leadership to address these threats and reduce risk is an important step forward to foster a safe, sustainable space environment. https://t.co/OiNwhBLV8s
— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) April 19, 2022
This test caused a cloud of debris that forced astronauts on the International Space Station to take temporary refuge in their ships, in order to prepare for a possible emergency evacuation in the event of a collision. Washington then denounced “dangerous and irresponsible” behavior .
“There is no doubt that manned spaceflight and the future of the space environment are incompatible with destructive anti-satellite missile launches” ,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said in a statement.
The US measure is “an important step forward in promoting a safe and sustainable space environment, now and in the future” , he added, calling on other countries to make a similar commitment.
In addition to Russia, anti-satellite fire has already been carried out by the United States in the past, as well as by China and India.
The debris generated becomes dangerous projectiles, which can in particular strike the thousands of other satellites in orbit, on which countries rely for many activities, for example communication or location.
Being able to destroy other countries’ satellites can therefore also prove to be a strategic military asset, and such tests fuel fears that space will turn into a battlefield.